Cobham’s Wireless Transmission System Proves Its Live Production Seaworthiness

Cobham, the RF transmission specialist company, has announced the successful deployment of its SOLO 4 Wireless Transmitter and PRORXB receive system for live television coverage of the Abu Dhabi Yacht Club’s Ghanada Dhow Sailing Championship on 7 June.

Cobham, in conjunction with Dubai-based technology solution provider GloCom SNG, installed transmitters on two race event chase boats and a helicopter, a receive and transmit ship, plus onshore receive systems at the ADYC headquarters and ‘Nation Towers’, the two skyscrapers near the southern tip of Abu Dhabi.

According to GloCom Senior Engineer Rakesh Mishra, “Cobham’s transmit and receive systems worked perfectly. Reliable, high quality video and audio was sent and received from the chase boats and helicopter throughout the race from all the supplied links.

“These events are extremely challenging for the race participants and due to the performance of Cobham’s technology we were able to show just how challenging and difficult these races are to their enthusiastic, land-based, followers around the world.”

The dhow races are an important part of the rich, long-standing heritage of sailing races in the UAE. GloCom SNG and Cobham have become very much a part of that heritage by ensuring that the appropriate technologies are deployed for uninterrupted coverage of the races, often in tough weather conditions.

Eighty of the 60ft dhows, each rigged with two masts and sails that closely resemble the historic dhows used for pearl diving and fishing in days gone by, were involved in the 2014 race. The highly sophisticated racing dhows require significant skill from their respective skippers and crews to deal with wind and waves. The same resilience to challenging race conditions is expected of the technology used to cover it, and the Abu Dhabi Yacht Club has come to rely on GloCom and Cobham to provide technology that doesn’t just survive, but thrive, in the conditions thrown at it.

Cobham’s Broadcast Sales Manager JP Delport said, “The Cobham RF solution was comprised of a few different aspects. The onboard video from the chase boats was transmitted to the ADYC and Nations Towers using our 10W SOLO 4 H.264 ENG TX. The receive points were equipped with our high-gain PRORXB receive antennas as part of a rebroadcast solution. We also equipped a ship as a mid-point with receive and transmit capabilities, plus two fixed-camera positions.”

The 2RU PRORXB wireless receiver platform is a feature-rich COFDM receiver designed to work with the next generation of H.264 wireless camera systems.

Designed specifically for the demanding broadcast market, the PRORXB ensures that video is recovered free from the distortions typically associated with fading and multipath interference.

Delport added, “The challenge we faced was to ensure that all of our onboard transmitters were not just completely splash proof, but able to work inside specially designed splash-proof housings at an ambient temperature of at least 50C. All systems had been rigorously tested beforehand and performed flawlessly during the event.”

The battery-powered Cobham SOLO 4 transmitters performed, uninterrupted, for up to 10 hours at distances of 80 kilometres with no impact on image quality or continuity.

With proprietary Cobham COFDM and H.264 encoding technology at its core, the SOLO 4 transmitter and PRORXB receive units has proven their ability to provide excellent live production image quality over wireless links, with support for composite, SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI video input formats.

Cobham will be at IBC 2014 on stand 1.F41.