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Challenge Equipment

To implement The Challenge and to broadcast it live internationally, as well as to TV stations, requires detailed and complex planning and a variety of specialized equipment and personnel – all working together as a team.

Using the same 21st Century method of borderless and unconfined planning principles – where artificial, outdated and limiting geographic, national or structural restrictions are disregarded in favor of personal or corporate excellence wherever it exists, Webtel.mobi has assembled a multinational team of companies and individuals from ten countries – all of whom are of the best in the world at their specific tasks.

Working under the direction of Webtel.mobi, this consolidated team will implement, record and broadcast The Challenge from The Challenge locations and ten other countries simultaneously – broadcasting it to 200 countries, in multilingual format, over the internet and on television, via satellite and terrestrial feeds.

 A brief overview of some of the equipment being used to implement and broadcast The Challenge is as follows:

1.   The Air Fleet
2.   Camera and Broadcast equipment

3.   Transmission
4.   Internet Streaming
5.   Search and Rescue Equipment

1. The Air Fleet

A. The Search and Rescue Helicopter – (Falcon 1)


The helicopter in which the Search and Rescue team will be carried is a twin-engined Bell 412. This aircraft is one of the systems of choice for Search and Rescue organizations around the world. With two engines, the helicopter is certified to operate over water.

It is a development of the Bell 212 or Twin Huey, it in turn a twin-engined development of the famous US utility helicopter known as the Huey. The Bell 412 differs from the 212 in that it is fitted with a high performance four-bladed rotor made from composite materials. The INAER Group owns 24 of these workhorse aircraft.

The Bell 412 which will be part of the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge air fleet is equipped with an external winch. This will assist the specialized rescue team in the event of Search and Rescue being required. People can be lowered into, and winched up out of, the waves if there is an emergency.

Bell 412  Data Table

Length: 15.11 m
Weight: Maximum takeoff weight 5 398kg
Engines: Pratt & Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac
Maximum Speed: 246km/h
Range: 784km
Ceiling: 3 500m

B. Camera Helicopter – (Falcon 2)


A Eurocopter AS355N will be carrying a gyro-stabilized Cineflex camera mounted under its nose, with which the flight section of the event will be filmed.

The Cineflex camera is a state-of-the-art visual recording device used in a wide range of applications, from big screen movies to law enforcement duties. The mount is stabilized in five axes and the camera provides high-definition images. The Cineflex system is operated on board the aircraft by an expert technician, who is able to control the camera via remote control.

Although lighter than the Bell 412, the Eurocopter AS355N is also twin-engined and has a very high speed capability.

Eurocopter AS355N Data Table

Length: 12.94 m
Weight: Maximum takeoff weight 2 600kg
Engines: 2 x Turbomeca Arrius 1A turboshafts
Maximum Speed: 278km/h
Range: 650km
Ceiling: 6 000m

C. Personnel Helicopter – (Falcon 3)

The helicopter in which event personnel will be transported is another Bell 412, similar to the Search and Rescue helicopter.

The Bell 412  will be used to transport event personnel from Morocco to Spain and may be used for additional filiming work. A fast helicopter like this is needed to ensure that the critical personnel can be transported from the Drop Point to the Landing Zone.

Bell 412 Data Table

Length: 15.11 m
Weight: Maximum takeoff weight 5 398kg
Engines: Pratt & Whitney PT6T-3D Twin Pac)
Maximum Speed: 246km/h
Range: 784km
Ceiling: 3 500m

D. Jet-powered wing

The wing is made of aerospace-quality carbon fiber. This is both for lightness and strength. The wing weighs about 30 kilograms in its “dry “ state and just under 60 kilograms with its fuel load of about 30 liters. The carbon fibre also imparts strength which far exceeds that of steel of the same weight.

The wing has a span of 2.5 meters and is about 1.8 meters wide at its central point, with an overall height (at the moveable sections) of 0.35 meters.

It is powered by four Jet-Cat P200 jet engines which each develop 22 kilograms of thrust, have an automatic start system and run on a fuel which is a mixture of kerosene jet fuel (95%) and turbine oil (5%) for lubrication.

The wing flies at an average speed of 200km/h and when climbing does 180km/h, while in a dive it can achieve as high as 300km/h. Its rate of climb is 300 meters per minute.

For safety, the wing is equipped with an automatic engine shutdown system in the event of an emergency. It is also fitted with a parachute which will deploy in an emergency to bring the wing itself safely to the ground.

The wing is steered by the body movements of the pilot, who also has a throttle control to accelerate the engines.

Jet-wing Data Table

Length: 1.80 m
Weight: 30kg (dry) 60kg (with fuel)
Engines: 4 x JetCat P22, total thrust 88kg
Maximum Speed: 300km/h
Range: 45km
Ceiling: 2 500m

E. Launch Aircraft – (Eagle1)

The Pilatus PC-6 is the launch aircraft, from which The Challenger will exit to commence The Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge. Launch will take place at approximately 6 500 feet above sea level.

The PC-6 is a rugged, versatile STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) aircraft which has been used all over the world in a variety of roles. It can be airborne within 195 meters and land within 130 meters while carrying a 1,500 kilogram payload. The Pilatus PC-6 holds the world record for highest landing by a fixed wing aircraft, at 5,750 meters on the Dhaulagiri glacier in Nepal.

It is particularly suited as a platform for deploying the jet wing. It is able to fly very slowly (down to 100km/h) and has a wide door which makes the entry and exit process easy.

Pilatus PC-6 Data Table

Length: 11.00 m
Weight: Maximum takeoff weight 2 770kg
Engines: Pratt and Whitney Canada turboprop
Maximum Speed: 244km/h
Range: 1 612km
Ceiling: 8 200m

F. Transmitter Aircraft – (Eagle 2)


This pressurized aircraft will fly “top cover” for the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge air fleet below and will have as its primary task the role of relaying microwave radio transmission signals of the broadcast images from the AS355N camera helicopter and Sony HD cameras on the ground to a broadcast truck which will be parked at the Landing Zone in Spain.

The Beechcraft Super King Air has been specially modified to serve as a platform for relaying signals from cameras covering the event. It is fitted with multiple antennae, including a specially designed and certified extendable boom antenna, which is two meters long and is deployed mechanically from below the belly of the aircraft.

The aircraft also has a custom-made – and certified – radio frequency transparent pod below the fuselage (which resembles a cargo pod in other aircraft). This contains highly sensitive receiving and transmitting equipment. It carries a crew of four for this mission.

The Super King Air family has been in continuous production since 1974, the longest production run of any civilian turboprop aircraft in its class. It has outlasted all of its previous competitors. More than 6 600 have been delivered to customers around the world.

Beechcraft Super King B200 Data Table

Length: 13.34 m
Weight: Maximum takeoff weight 5 670kg
Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops
Maximum Speed: 545km/h
Range: 3 338km
Ceiling: 10 700m



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2. Camera and Broadcast equipment

A. Cameras
High Definition Sony HDW 730S

Broadcast-standard cameras operated by Associated Press Television News (APTN). They will be linked by Gigawave Radio frequency (RF) transmitters to the relay aircraft.

The cameras will be used to video events on the ground prior to the take-off to begin The Challenge, as well as events at the Landing Zone in Spain.

As they do this, the Gigawave transmitters fitted at the back of the camera will send a signal up to the camera helicopter, which will turn will relay that signal to the orbiting relay aircraft, which will direct the signals to the OB (Outside Broadcast) trucks on the ground in Spain.

Sony HDW 730S Data Table

Picture acquisition modes: 1080/50i and 1080/54.94i
Sensors: 0.8cm, 2.2 million pixels
Signal to noise ratio: 54dB
Vertical smear: -135dB
Weight: 5.4 kg

Cineflex HD V14

Gyro-stabilized camera system mounted on the Eurocopter AS355N. Mounted on a special, aviation safety-approved removable mounting on the nose of the helicopter, the Cineflex camera will film all aspects of The Challenge in and from the air. It is able to swivel through 360 degrees and able to tilt upwards at an angle of 25 degrees.

Cineflex HD V14 Data Table

Maximum operation speed: 320km/h
Width: 37 cm
Weight: 32 kg
Zoom lenses: Fujinon up to 1 140mm focal length
Gimbal: five-axis gyro-stabilized

Thomson LDK 6000 Triax camera

A Thomson LDK 6000 studio quality HD camera will be mounted on a tripod at the Landing Zone, to record The Challenge team as they approach Spain through the air.


Fitted with a zoom lens, the camera will be able to begin filming in high definition and with close-ups while The Challenge Team are still several kilometers away, and follow them all the way through to touchdown. It will also be made available to members of the media for live interviews after touchdown.

The LDK 6000 will link directly to the OB (Outside Broadcast) trucks which will be parked near the Landing Zone.

Thomson LDK 6000 Data Table

Power: Triax or DC 12V
Weight: 4.3 kg
Dimensions: 214 mm (H) x 125 (W) x 241 (L)
Optical system: F1.4 Prism
Color correction filters: Electronic
Pickup device: 3 x 2/3" 16:9 HD-DPM+ CCDs
Picture elements: 9.2 million pixels
Smear: No vertical smear
Sensitivity: 2000 lux F9
S/N ratio in Y signal: 55 dB typical
Modulation depth: 55% @ 27 MHz

Stills camera and Lens

Aviation photographer Frank Herzog, who will be shooting the still photographic images on the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge, uses a Canon EOS 1D Mark3 digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera, as well as other specialized aerial photography equipment and techniques. He also uses a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 zoom lens, a Canon 35-70mm zoom lens  and a fixed focal length 300m f2.8 lens.

Canon EOS 1 D Mark 3 Data Table

Effective pixels: 21 million
ISO rating: 100 to 3 200
Minimum shutter speed: 30 seconds
Maximum shutter speed: 1/8000 second
Continuous drive: Maximum 10 frames per second
Weight: 1.335kg


Canon 70-200m zoom lens Data Table

Focal Length Range: 70-200mm
Angle of View: Diagonal: 34° – 12°
Angle of View: Horizontal: 29° – 10°
Angle of View: Vertical: 19°30' – 7°
Lenses / Groups: 23/18
Aperture Range - Wide / Long: f/2.8-32
Number of Aperture Blades: 8
Rounded Aperture?: Y
Weight: 1.1kg




Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM Data Table

Min aperture: 22
Max aperture: 2.8
Min foc dist: 0.38m
Filter diameter: 77mm
Mounts: canon ef
Dimensions: 83,2 x 123,5mm
Weight: 950g


Canon 300mm f2.8 Data Table

Specifications
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens
Focal Length Range 300mm
Angle of View: Diagonal 8°15'
Angle of View: Horizontal 6°50
Angle of View: Vertical 4°35'
Lenses / Groups 17/13
Aperture Range - Wide / Long f/2.8-32
Number of Aperture Blades 8
Weight 3.8kg


B. Recorders
Sony HDW-S280

There are two recorders in the camera helicopter which have high and standard definition outputs. They will be used to record The Challenge footage in high definition (which can also be altered to standard definition if required).

Sony HDW S280 Data Table

Power: AC or DC
Power consumption: 80W
Weight: 6 kg
Replay formats: HD/Betacam/Betacam SP/Betacam SX
Playback time:

Up to 62 minutes

 

C. Monitors
Sony LMD-9050


The recorders work in conjunction with a Sony LMD-9050 20-cm LCD monitor, which is also mounted in the helicopter. This monitor enables the camera operator to view images in real time and adjust the Cinflex camera movement via remote control.

Sony LMD-9050 Data Table

Monitor size: 20 cm
Power: AC or DC
Format: HD/SD

 


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3.Transmission

A. Gigawave RF transmitters



For primary transmission of signals from ground cameras to the helicopter The Gigawave D-Cam Clip-on attaches directly to the camera and transmits information from there to receivers in the camera helicopter. The D-Cam Clip-on is designed for use with both Standard and High Definition formats, for outside broadcast applications and for studio work. It is known for its quality and reliability.

Gigawave D-Cam Clip-on Data Table

Frequency band: 1.3 - 7.5GHz
Tuning range: 300 MHz
Transmit power: 100mW
Data rater: 4.98 - 31.7 Mbits/s


B. RF transmitters and receivers

There will be various types of these devices in the camera helicopter and in the Super King Air. Specialized antennae on the Super King Air will pick up RF signals and then transmit them via RF transmitters to the OB (Outside Broadcast)trucks on the ground.


C. Outside Broadcast (OB) Audio mixing desk - Lawo
Exterior View

Two OB (Outside Broadcast) trucks will be parked near the Landing Zone in Spain. Both are equipped to receive the RF signals from the Super King Air, mix them, edit the images and then uplink to a satellite.

Interior View


One truck will be provided by Euro-Linx and will be linked by cable to another provided by APTN. Euro-Linx and its director will manage the live feed side of the broadcast, while APTN will prepare the Video News Release (VNR) for distribution across their global networks.

The equipment suite in the OB truck includes:

Video mixer – Thomson Kayak 200

A video mixer or switcher is used to select between several different video sources and in some cases composite (mix) video sources together and add special effects.

Audio mixing desk - Lawo MC²66



This has 512 DSP channels and 144 summing busses which guarantee maximum power, while top quality signal processing ensures maximum precision. Its newly developed operation philosophy “assign at destination” allows fast and secure interference also in critical live situations.

OB Truck Data Table

Make: Volvo
Power: 250kW
Dimensions: 14.0m x 2.5m x 4m
Gross weight: 14 tons
Camera capacity: 12 cameras

 

D. Eutelsat



The Eutelsat satellite will be used to transmit The Challenge footage to the BT Tower in London, from where it will be redirected to the encoders for open internet live streaming, directly to third party broadcasters for live broadcast of the event. It will also be used for live post-Challenge interviews.

Eutelsat Communications is based in Paris and operates 27 satellites in 22 positions in geostationary orbit and is one of the three top operators in the world for the supply of fixed satellite services. Television channels broadcast via the Group’s satellites are in excess of 3,200. Eutelsat’s services are available in more than 150 countries.


E. BT Tower in London



BT Tower will receive live Challenge footage from Eutelsat, which will then be redirected from BT Tower to third party broadcasters for live broadcast of the event.

The BT Tower is a 189m-tall tower in London which was built to carry aerials for the reception of microwave radio signals. Tall structures like the BT Tower are necessary for the reception of radio signals, because these generally rely on a line of sight link.


BT Tower Data Table

Location: 60 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, London
Architects: Eric Bedford and G. R. Yeats
Cost: Pounds 2.5 million (1961 currency)
Completed: July 1965
Height: Main structure 177 meters; with aerial structure 189m




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4. Internet Streaming

The broadcast signal of The Challenge sent to Eutelsat will be received via terrestrial satellite dishes, and then decoded, distributed, analyzed, encoded and streamed to the internet via a secure high speed connection.

Some of the equipment that will be used for the live internet webcast is as follows:-


A. Control room

For the management of centralized switching, monitoring and production of the audio and video incoming signals, insertion of local commentary, encoding and onward transmission to the internet.

B. Satellite dishes

Reception of the broadcast signal from the Eutelsat satellite is via steerable 2.4m Ku and fixed 1.8m dishes

C. Tandberg receivers-decoders

These receive and decode the Eutelsat satellite signal received by the above satellite dishes.

D. HP 8560A Spectrum Analyzer

This instrument analyzes the incoming signals from the satellite allowing for the optimization of this specialized live feed. 

E. Tektronix WVR6100AD waveform monitors


Waveform monitors and rasterizers enable detailed verification of incoming content quality of audio and video signals. For The Challenge webcast, they will allow operations staff to verify incoming content conformity and quality.

F. Servers for encoding

These powerful SuperMicro servers are fitted with Viewcast SDI Osprey 530 AV acquisition interface cards. These broadcast quality digital devices perform capture and encoding functions prior to the Webtel.mobi Intercontinental Challenge live content being distributed to the internet - in this case through the Akamai CDN (Content Distribution Network).

For the management of centralized monitoring and mixing of the audio and video incoming signals, insertion of commentators’ voice data, encoding and onward transmission to the internet.

Akamai Technologies has around 50,000 servers deployed in more than 2 000 locations in 72 countries around the world, which means the Akamai Edge Platform is easily able to absorb customers’ peak traffic. Akamai’s network intelligence detects when traffic is increasing and automatically load balances traffic among servers and datacenters that are best suited to service each user.  Dynamic load balancing decisions are based on real-time analysis of a user’s location, real-time Internet conditions, server and datacenter infrastructure capacity and load.

Each end user request for www.webtel.mobi is  dynamically mapped to an Akamai edge server via Akamai’s intelligent DNS. Upon receiving a request for content, an Edge server will retrieve the appropriate content (HTML page, image, document, etc.) from a local cache or from the origin if the content is uncacheable, apply features selected by the customer, perform any appropriate edge processing, and finally deliver the resulting content to the requesting user




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5. Search and Rescue Equipment

A. Search and Rescue Helicopter

The Bell 412 Search and Rescue helicopter will have on board two former Special Forces operators trained in deployment from aircraft, sea swimming, sea rescues and winch operations. They will go into the water if there is an emergency. They will also be able to deploy a rescue raft should this be necessary.

Hand signals will be the main form of communication between the Search and Rescue swimmers and the flight engineer on the helicopter. The flight engineer will also manage and control the hoist/winch.




B. The Spanish Coast Guard
(Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency)

The Spanish Maritime Rescue Agency has received an Advisory Document regarding The Challenge, and has Search and Rescue maritime units in the ports of the area prepared for any emergency at sea, including a fast action boat of 15 metres in length, and one of 21 metres in length. The Spanish Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency employs over 1,500 professionals who provide the service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The resources that belong to the Maritime Rescue Agency have been strategically placed along the almost 8,000 kilometres of the Spanish coastline and include 16 rescue vessels, 55 fast intervention vessels (Salvamares) and 9 search and rescue helicopters. All these units have been designed for maritime rescue and pollution combat operations; they are manned by specialists and provided with the most advanced technical resources.


C. Marine Search and Rescue equipment
Rescue Raft

The raft to be used is the T4 model. It is fully approved for air taxi, corporate and general aviation. These life rafts have a lanyard-activated, manually-operated carbon dioxide (CO2) inflation system. A manually-operated hand pump, secured to the boarding station handle affords full inflation, or topping off of the flotation chambers, if required. Each of the two compartmentalized chambers is maintained to equal pressure by individual pressure relief valves.

T4 Data Table

Rated Capacity: 4 Persons
Overload Capacity: 6 Persons
Total Tube Buoyancy: 399.2 kg
Deck Area per Person
(at rated capacity):
0.34 sq m

Semi-dry Wetsuit

One piece wetsuit made from neoprene with semi dry cuffs (which provide extra warmth and water retention on ankles, wrists and neck area) – something critically important because the swimmers will be working in the extremely cold conditions of the North Atlantic Ocean in winter. The semi-dry concept incorporates many of the advantages of wetsuits and dry suits in a sleek and comfortable package. It offers a low profile, strong sealing and protection in the water, yet it doesn't require bulky undergarments. It features a heavy-duty, self repairing dry zipper across back shoulders to keep water out, avoiding that cold rush often experienced when entering the water.




Jet Fin flippers, low profile mask, and snorkel


The fins allow for quicker propulsion through the water and are less cumbersome in the closed confines of a helicopter, which makes them the fins of choice for Search and Rescue personnel. The fins combine paddle power, acceleration and maneuverability with a split fin's effortless efficiency and comfort. Its articulated joint, like that of a whale or a dolphin, lets the blade pivot, reducing drag while generating and maximizing thrust. These are very important, as the currents in the area where the Rescue Divers will operate - the North Atlantic where waters of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea mix and swirl violently - are extremely strong

The snorkel is used by the rescue swimmers to breathe while they swim through the water. The snorkel keeps the sea water around the swimmer instead of inside his mouth. The semi-dry design keeps the water from splashing over the top of the snorkel, allowing the swimmer to breathe air instead of water. After returning to the surface from depth, the swimmer simply exhales easily to clear the barrel and tube to clear the snorkel. The curved shape allows the snorkel to hug the swimmer’s head instead of dipping into the water as he peers around below him during his time on the surface.

The low-profile mask sits close to the face of the swimmer. This means it is less easy to snag on obstructions in an environment like a helicopter. Also, because it sits closer to the face, it is easier for a rescue swimmer on to hold on to, to lessen the chances of it coming off during the deployment jump from the helicopter into the water.

It is made of crystal silicone for a soft, comfortable fit and features a low-profile one-way purge valve which allows the swimmer to simply exhale through his nose and drain the water instantly



PFD (personal flotation device)

This is a "Rescue Life Jacket" which provides additional flotation and buoyancy for the swimmers. It has two systems to inflate – a pill in the jacket that dissolves when it hits water and causes the jacket to inflate (this is for when the person wearing the jacket is unconscious); and a pull handle that inflates the jacket when pulled by the person wearing it. It also has a back-up inflation tube which can be blown into by the swimmer.

It is fitted with an emergency whistle, strap for a light and toggles for attachment. It is also fitted with reflective trim on the buoyancy chamber.



Marine helmet, survival/rescue knife and multi tool

The helmet provides protection for the rescue swimmer in the water against objects which may crash into him and which he is unable to avoid because he is working with his hands. Survival/Rescue operations demand a versatile knife able to withstand the most extreme abuse. The Survival Rescue Knife was designed specifically with this in mind. The blade is finished with a rich Teflon coat which helps to protect the stainless steel from the elements. It features a strong clip point that’s fine enough for delicate work, yet possesses enough belly for efficient cutting, slashing and skinning strokes as well. At 5mm thick, the Survival Rescue Knife offers the sturdiest possible point and edge configuration, without sacrificing sharpness. The SRK’s handle sports a single quillion finger guard and a deeply checkered Kraton grip. The multi-tool is used as a back-up and has additional capabilities.



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