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AV Skydives with Felix Baumgartner, Part 2

Dec 20, 2012 3:28 PM, With Bennett Liles

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And of course the big advantage with MediorNet is that you can feed all types of signals into it, not just intercom but have everything in one system rather than having to set up something for video and something else for communications and having a bunch of redundant systems operating side by side.

That is true. The MediorNet system is a realtime network capable of switching HD video signals, multiple audio signals, and of course communication and Ethernet as well as serial data if we break it down to that. So the MediorNet system on site provided all the signals being switched between mission control and the OB truck or our Reidel office. The down links were included into that system and we even connected the edit room, the BBC’s office, the media station and such areas so everybody on the whole compound was capable of getting the signals they needed to have in realtime. [Timestamp: 6:13]

In part one we mentioned the hostile environment at the edge of space but you had a pretty hostile environment right there on the ground. I mean, you had all of this gear set up and operating out in the desert with heat and dust and wind. Did you have special fiber lines and connectors for the equipment out there?

Yes, indeed, what we used was a so called Pure XT cable that we provide since last year with a special kind of connector, the Neutrik OpticalCon Quad. So the combination of those both types, so that special cable with this connector really gave us the capabilities of getting the cables wired in the same way without any precaution but still all the connectors are very sealed. We didn’t have any problem with dirt inside the connectors and the system was really working properly and without any failures. [Timestamp: 7:09]

And we all know what dirt can do to fiber-optic systems and you’ve got plenty of dust and contaminants out there where it was happening. Was that system also used to carry other types of signals like GPS or telemetry?

Yes, the system itself transported multiple Ethernet streams as well as the Ethernet connection for the mission team. Other signals were the serial signals for the GPS. So these GPS signals were also received on the optical tracking sides as well and getting back to our receive side, these signals were transported through the MediorNet to mission control where they were needed. [Timestamp: 7:52]

OK and we know there were a lot of press people out there for this thing. How was the press feed set up? I mean how many recorders and cameras could be set up and accommodated by this system?

The overall amount of different recorders either if its video or just audio recorders could be almost anything. What we did was providing the generated press signal that was generated by the OB truck, we provided the signal inside the observer’s launch where all the media stayed during the mission and inside the observers launch we had capabilities for more than 32 independent audio recorders as well as the possibility to distribute the signals for the SNG broadcasters or other recorders at place. [Timestamp: 8:40]

There were rehearsals and simulations set up before each actual flight in the series to check out not only the equipment but the procedures as well. So how did all of that go? Did you have to make changes as a result of things that came up in the simulations?

Really major changes weren’t necessary. We had the typical adaptions inside mission control, so every one of our intercom panels inside mission control had 16 buttons with various functions and of course there were some adaptions made on people who were able to talk to several groups or mix new groups together. Other points that needed to change were obviously on the checklist for the flight, so even from man flight 2 to man flight 3 there needed to be some adaptions on that list just because the new size of the balloon needed to make adaptions there and change timing a bit. Nevertheless we had RF checks with the capsule outside on the flight, flight deck, and also full rehearsals with the full mission controls night before the launches really start. So the rehearsals were there to really check if everything’s on the list and if everything’s good for go. So there were minor changes but not big changes on the overall system. [Timestamp: 10:05]

Well, I know it was a big thrill being a part of it. You had a lot of gear and a lot of people to coordinate and once in the air there was no second chance and the pressure was on. So it’s all over and you’ve had a chance to regroup, so what’s coming up now for Riedel?

Yeah, of course, there are coming up a few projects. A few with onboard cameras, a so called “city challenge,” a new race series in Europe and other peak events. I can truly say that there’s probably no such project as Red Bull Stratos in the pipeline for the next year, but we’re happy to see what’s coming and there’s definitely another thrilling project in the future. [Timestamp: 10:46]

Matthias Leister from Riedel Communications. Thanks so much for joining us on the SVC Podcast with the details from the big Red Bull Stratos jump with Felix Baumgartner. I know it was a blast being there. Thanks for telling us about it.

Yeah. Thank you.

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