Pdb3 scores with HelixNet at Spotless Stadium
AUSTRALIA: Spotless Stadium in Sydney was originally built for the 2000 Olympic Games and today serves as the home ground for AFL team, the Greater Western Sydney Giants. During the course of the current season, Microhire, which provides game day production services, brought Pdb3 aboard to supply the communications solution for the production and broadcast teams during the Giants’ home games. This has seen Pdb3 put its Clear-Com HelixNet system to use that it had acquired via the manufacturer’s Australian distributor, Jands.
‘We bring in two HMS-4X HelixNet master stations, an HRM-4X HelixNet remote station and an HKB-2X HelixNet desktop station,’ explained Paul Barrett of Pdb3. ‘We put one master with the audio operator and use that to interface programme audio, talk-to-ears paging, IFB, the ground announcer’s comms system and an audio feed from the OB truck for the broadcast director. We then run an IP link to the comms tech’s rack, where we have UHF bases that can interface with HelixNet via their four-wire module and relay connections. We also run an XLR cable to the show caller’s remote station, and another to the camera switcher’s desktop station.’
A total of 20 two-way radios are integrated with the system on game days and distributed to camera operators, floor operators and the sound team. Each of these three teams is allocated its own channel, all of which are fed into the master station.
‘HelixNet gives me some of the matrix-type functionality of integrating two-ways, IFB and programme, but with the simplicity of a partyline system,’ Mr Barrett noted. ‘Traditional partyline has the problem of cancelling the transmit and the receive if you need to integrate a two-way radio or a four-wire feed to a broadcast truck. With HelixNet being natively four-wire, there’s none of those issues with echo or cancellation, which you get on a matrix system.’
The recently released Version 3 firmware update to HelixNet’s software adds other advantages to the system, one being that it can configure devices via its Core Configuration Manager (CCM) web interface. The update also includes User Roles, enabling users to save and load audio setting and assignments for each device. It was with these functionalities that Mr Barrett was able to convince the Microhire team to deploy the Clear-Com solution as opposed to an matrix system it had previous experience with.
‘Version 3 enables full web-based control of the comms system, which makes it much easier to configure,’ enthused Mr Barrett. ‘Previously, we had to physically push buttons and turn dials on the master station to configure the system, but we can now do it through the web. The benefit is that it’s very fast to install and remove.
‘Because our comms equipment is sub-hired, the User Roles feature in Version 3 also makes it very easy to deploy,’ Mr Barrett continued. ‘I can simply save my files, and the next time I get equipment, load it up and set the User Roles I want each device to have, we’re away. It’s all about faster deployment when it may be different hardware each week. Because CCM is a simple web interface, it would also be easy for a non-comms tech to deploy the system, if need be.’
More than halfway through the AFL season, the HelixNet system has proven to be a success. There were initially doubts about moving away from a full matrix system due to fears of losing functionality, but these concerns have since been quashed.
‘There’s been no problems or complaints at all,’ Mr Barrett concluded. ‘Everything Microhire have wanted to do we’ve been able to accommodate with the HelixNet system. It’s a great halfway between party line and matrix that fits really well in the sports broadcasting environment.’