Vancouver 2010: Bexel Provides Widespread Fiber Support for Games

The Vancouver Games may still be a few weeks away, but Bexel Broadcast Services has been busy providing fiber optic support for the 2010 Winter Olympics since last fall. With over 8,000-plus terminations/fusion splices, 340-plus cables totaling about 48 miles and 135 Optical Distribution Frames (patch panels) located throughout most of the Olympic facilities, Bexel has had a crew of six people on location working full time since November.

Due to installation requirements, some cables must be terminated on-site after installation which is where Bexel’s experienced technicians are most valuable to its clients.  “We are able to provide the equipment and skills to fusion splice or repair just about any connector including SMPTE Hybrid connectors in the harshest environments regardless of the weather conditions or location,” adds Scott Nardelli, Bexel chief business development officer.  “Terminating in a controlled environment is one thing, but working with a fiber optic strand about the size of a human hair in sub freezing temperatures on the side of a mountain is where our experience and techniques pay dividends.”

“Our involvement in the Olympics began back in October when we started manufacturing cable assemblies in our Dallas facility,” says Nardelli.  “We pre-terminated many of the cables in advance and shipped them to Vancouver for installation at the various venues.”

In addition to terminating the fiber at the IBC, Cyprus, and Whistler Mountain venues, Bexel is also providing fiber optic transmission equipment that will allow for a reliable camera signal to be sent from the camera positions on Whistler mountain to the production trucks located at the base of the mountain more than three miles away.

Bexel is using two different pieces of equipment to make sure the HD images captured on the mountain reach the production unit.  Both are similar in function but vary in their application.

SMPTE cameras already generate an optical signal, but require SMPTE cable to properly power and operate the camera.  The equipment provided by Bexel eliminates the need for SMPTE cable by allowing the camera to power locally while still passing the optical signal to the CCU.  Although it seems simple enough, safety mechanisms in the CCU prevent the camera from powering up unless it’s senses a connection to the CCU.  This device simulates the connection allowing the camera to operate normally.

The second device performs the same functions with one big difference; it actually converts the RF signal produced by the LDK 8000 triax backed camera to an optical signal for transmission to the CCU.  Likewise at the CCU the signal is converted back to RF.

“Single mode fiber is an important part of the overall solution and the best choice to accommodate the long distances commonly found in alpine sports,” adds Andy Berry, Bexel project manager.

The transmission equipment Bexel is providing will give the client the flexibility to use single mode fiber to send and receive signals from the camera while interfacing with the existing SMPTE format found on the camera and CCU base station or conventional triax. While SMPTE still has a roll in alpine events, it is somewhat limited by the long distances required.  In addition, SMPTE cable has both copper conductors and optical fibers and is less economical as you typically need one cable for each camera.  By converting to fiber only and powering the camera locally, users can service 12-24 or more cameras on a single  lighter and less costly cable that can be repaired more easily and is able to handle the extreme environment.

In addition to providing technical services prior to the start of the Olympics, Bexel’s technicians will be on-hand during the games for emergency restoration and repair of any optical cable at any venue.

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