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Clear-Com at the San Diego Opera, Part 2

Nov 25, 2013 11:38 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Yeah, everybody likes that when setting up any kind of stage show because people are running around everywhere and you never know exactly where to find them. Tell me about the T-Desk software. Is that what you use for the initial setup?

We have seven base stations, I think, and we’re buying an eighth for this year. We’re adding another system just to give us more capability. And all of those can be tied to a router and then you can have a closed system where you’re seeing every one of those base stations just on your laptop with the T-Desk software. And not only are you looking at them, but you can literally just change any beltpack, any base station. You can do anything that the system’s capable of from the laptop. [Timestamp: 6:20]

You could have a real sense of power with that.

You know, it just gives you a real sense of relief as well. You don’t have to wonder what’s going on with somebody’s beltpack. You can physically look at it and see that the person is doing this or that. They’ll get into situations where they’ve done something with their beltpack and they’re not sure how they did it or how they got there, and you can just tell them or back them out of it or change it for them. And the software is incredibly user-friendly. I mean it couldn’t be more straightforward. You look at it and it’s obvious everything that is going on. There’s no guess work. You don’t have to fumble through a lot of menus to find out what you want. You just go there and do the work and it’s tremendous. [Timestamp: 7:05]

And you have all the different coverage areas set up with the base stations. What sort of antennas do you use for those base stations to do the coverage areas?

Whip antennas that come with the base stations for local area use, when you’re local to that base station. We have to extend out because the base stations are in a metal cabinet or road case or whatever, and so just to get the improvement of the reception, we mount the antennas out. We get them as high up as we can. We have a set of what we call hard legs. It’s the first set of legs down stage are hard and so I can attach the antennas to the back of them. And then several of the base stations are remoted out. By that I mean I take a remote antenna box and place it in an area, in this case the dressing room and the rehearsal hall and the production offices, where I want to be able to maintain wireless communications. And by just linking that remote antenna with the base station via a Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable, then that antenna is remoted to that area. It’s great because it not only carries the reception and the transmission via that Cat-5 cable, but it also carries power. So I mean I don’t even have to worry about plugging the remote antenna into a wall. The power is derived over the Cat cable as well. It’s so simple. [Timestamp: 8:33]

Fewer cables running all over the place. With all that’s happened with the wireless spectrum the past few years, long-term planning had gotten to be more than a little dicey figuring out your plan.

We weren’t sure where we were going to go, because when the FCC started auctioning off all the spectrum four years ago, nobody knew where wireless communications as far as theatrical use was going to go. I mean we were absolutely the orphaned stepchild in this scenario and the FCC could care less about—I don’t know if they could care less, but we were the bottom of the totem pole as far as being allocated usage in the RF spectrum. So we just didn’t know what was going to happen and we didn’t want to invest in the system until all of that shook itself out and became clearer. We knew somebody would pull our iron out of the fire eventually and it was Clear-Com with the 2400 system. Now we’re digital, we’re way up there and we’re not going to bother anybody. We don’t have to worry about it, at least for the next who knows how many years, but it should be 30 years until the FCC figures out how to infringe on our digital domain up there. [Timestamp: 9:48]

Yeah, a lot of people were waiting for that situation to settle down to figure out what they were going to do.

Thankfully Clear-Com did it as far as we’re concerned. They hit the ground running and they got us what we needed.

I appreciate your telling us about it, Bill. Intercom is one thing that most people don’t think a lot about until the moment they need it and things have gotten pretty confused. I’m glad you got the improvements made. Bill Scott from the San Diego Opera and the Clear-Com Tempest 2400 Digital Wireless system.

My pleasure. And if I could just put in a plug, I just encourage anybody listening to please attend the opera. It’s a beautiful art form and it really needs your support. So I’ll see you at the opera.

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