When Raycom, professional wireless sound solution specialists, was asked to specify, supply and commission a brand-new and large RF wireless distribution system for ITV's popular reality television show, "I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!," the company knew they could rely on Wisycom, designer and builder of the most sophisticated RF solutions for broadcast, film and live production. Raycom, representatives for Wisycom in the UK, outfitted the Australian jungle with Wisycom technology to ensure all of the talent was heard loud and clear.
For the production, Raycom supplied 40 Wisycom LNNA Active Antennas, coupled with a number of Wisycom MAT288 Programmable RF Matrix Combiners to cover over five million square feet of jungle, one of the largest systems of its kind. The LNNA antennas were installed around the site and fed back through a number of MAT288s, providing the most suitable solution for the production.
"A system this large required extreme care to make sure the gain structure was correct to maintain the dynamic range throughout the system," says Pyers Easton, managing director of Raycom. "This ensured the system was free from overload and did not introduce noise. The system also had a high degree of redundancy, protecting the entire system from a dropout if an antenna was to fail. Raycom was confident in the refined equipment and technology that Wisycom has to get the job done."
The MAT288 enables specific coverage areas to be selected on the front panel, or remotely, in addition to allowing gain control where required. DC power was provided for active antennas, along with voltage and current measurement to provide remote diagnosis of antenna feeder issues. For other non-permanent locations, another pair of antennas fed back to the studio using a Wisycom BX1 - Fiberbox 'plug and play' RF over fiber system.
The entire system was broadband and unfiltered, and the antennas covered from 470 to 870MHz. With 5W walkie talkies on 515MHz that could potentially be in close proximity to the antennas, the large signal handling of the amplifiers was critical, as any overload could cause serious loss of signal. In the finished system the combined noise floor was -112dBm with no overload, even when levels were up to 20dBm with a walkie talkie right under an antenna.
"The LNNA antennas were ideal, as the gain could be set from the front panel in 1dB steps from 0 to 15dB," says Easton. "This means that the correct gain could be applied to compensate for feeder loss. In some areas, such as the Bush Telegraph where the celebrities are very close to the antennas, gain could easily be taken out to ensure the local antennas' contribution to the mix was at a similar average level of the areas where talent was further away."
Hardwire runs between matrix combiners and antennas also had to be considered. Some of the feeders were up to 500m long, so Wisycom BAW amplifiers were deployed at appropriate points, providing gain range from 0 to 22 dB with very high line driving power, making them ideal for this unique and detail-oriented application.
"Wisycom is thrilled to have been chosen for such a one-of-a-kind production," says Massimo Polo, sales and marketing director for Wisycom. "We take great pride in our distributors. The expertise and prowess of Pyers Easton and the Raycom team continues to pleasantly surprise us and surpass our expectations. Wisycom products coupled with Raycom's RF expertise worked seamlessly to provide a reliable solution. We are excited to see the next big project that comes their way."
"Despite the tough conditions and wild nature of the location, the Wisycom system proved to work flawlessly," says Easton. "We look forward to even more extreme projects and will be bringing Wisycom along for the ride."
Since 1984 Raycom has used its close working relationship with the UK's premier broadcasters and location sound engineers to secure distribution rights with some of the world's most innovative manufactures of professional broadcast quality audio solutions. Raycom is however not simply a distributor. Through its 30 year history Raycom has always considered a high level of customer support and long term after care service as pivotal. Guidance in product choice and a full repair service is offered by the company either from its own workshop or those of its manufacturer partners. In all cases the customer is kept informed of progress and highly experienced RF engineers admirably deal with even the most unusual issues. A hands-on, in the field, knowledge of radio frequency technology has over the years enabled Raycom to understand the needs of its customers and select the best product solutions. For more information, please visit www.raycom.co.uk.
Wisycom is a designer and builder of the most sophisticated RF solutions for broadcast, film and live production, renowned for their durability, flexibility, reliability, practicality and cost-effective price points. Wisycom's design process is driven by attention to detail, customer feedback and ultimate quality, from the selection of components to the manufacturing process, which takes place at the company's Italian plants. The company prides itself on serving as a technical advisor and partner to every customer. From custom design to evaluation and dimensioning of systems, the Wisycom team stands by its customers through every step of the process. For more information, please visit www.wisycom.com.