No Rest for the Weary: CP Communications Builds Six RF Trucks in Six Months
For the CP Communications’ teams in Elmsford and Wappingers Falls, NY, the concept of “down time” is a foreign one. Coming off the 2014 New York City Marathon — an already daunting show made more so by infrastructure challenges — CP might have enjoyed a few minutes’ respite. Instead, the company won the new golf contracts from Fox Sports and Golf Channel, which called for construction of six RF trucks — in six months.
Says CP Communications SVP Kurt Heitmann, “It’s a little crazy up here.”
Securing the contracts in November, CP has until April to roll out six trucks to support the various golf events across both networks. The company built two new 53-ft. expando fiber transmission trucks: HD21 will support Fox Sports’ golf schedule, including the U.S. Open in June, and HD11 recently made its Golf Channel debut at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
“We call them HD because they’re both fully capable of doing a production,” Heitmann explains. Both trucks can accommodate a small switcher — CP owns a 1M/E, 32-input For-A production switcher — and are outfitted with Grass Valley Kaleido multiviewers, Miranda routers, DiGiCo SD-10 audio consoles, AJA Ki Pro recorders, and camera-control capability that can handle a broadcast production.
“They’re laid out as a production truck,” he continues, “but they’re an RF truck. That’s what’s cool about those [trucks].”
HD21 and HD11 boast a baseline six RF cameras and 14 RF microphones each but can expand to 30 cameras for large shows, such as the U.S. Open (Fox Sports secured a 12-year multimedia-rights agreement with the U.S. Golf Association in 2014). They are built to accommodate the camera complement — usually Sony — of the main production truck onsite and handle QC, shading, paint, transmission, and more for the broadcast.
Each truck comes equipped with 19 mini sites to handle all RF on the course: cameras, microphones, and more. “Everything on the course — all the RF mikes, all the RF effects, all the RF cameras, return video, comms — [is] all laid out in the fiber infrastructure — RF over fiber — and then it’s distributed out of each truck to the clients,” explains Heitmann. “The trucks are really built with shared resources [in mind]. With [productions like] these golf tournaments, we try to share the resources to multiple clients out of one truck and just add if we need to. They’re all built for that.”
CP also refurbished its RFHD5, RFHD6, and RFHD7 53-ft. production trucks, gutting all three and rebuilding them from scratch. In addition to new lighting, wiring, flooring, ceiling, masts, and doors, they have the same RF infrastructure and similar equipment complements to HD21 and HD11, albeit with smaller routers. HDRF5 recently completed the Puerto Rico Open for Golf Channel, while work on HDRF6 and HDRF7 continues in CP’s field shop in Upstate New York.
For the sixth truck, CP overhauled its 40-ft. DSM1 trailer, formerly an audio-training unit. DSM1 accompanied HD11 to the Honda Classic in Florida to handle the PGA Tour Entertainment show.
“[DSM1 was already] acoustically treated, and we just had to add a mast and some racks and kind of tailor it to a small subswitch RF truck,” says Heitmann. “DSM1 can do a digital submix, and it also does the overflow of comms on a TPC or a U.S. Open — those large-scale shows. It’s basically a little B unit that uses the router of the A unit and ties right into it.”
With only a few weeks remaining until the April deadline, Heitmann is confident that his team can pull off the gargantuan feat: “Our engineering staff has been committed. They haven’t see much of their families … [but] the CP group has pulled together [in an] unrealistic timeline to build six trucks in six months.”