Live from the Derby: BSI Hits New Heights via Massive 4K Scoreboard

BSI is once again playing a big role at the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown races and its work this year began earlier than usual as it helped out with the unveiling of the new 4K video board at Churchill Downs last weekend. “We provided two wireless cameras for Churchill Downs for the debut of the board,” says Lou Meyers, BSI engineer-in-charge and one-off event logistics supervisor.

Lou Meyers (left) and Peter Larsson (right) of BSI on site at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

Lou Meyers (left) and Peter Larsson (right) of BSI on site at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

The board, however, is doing more than just serving out video captured from the BSI wireless cameras and other hard-wired cameras around the track. Because it reaches a height of more than 17 stories the top of the video board is an ideal location for two wireless receive sites.

“We have eight antennas on the board and it has helped a lot because we don’t have to rent a lift that needs to be raised and lowered,” says Meyers.

Meyers says the board also helps because it is not centered on the backstretch and is instead skewed towards turns 3 and 4. In previous years the lift for the RF receive sites was skewed more towards turn 1 and 2.

“It benefits our coverage for the jockey mics as well as helmet camera coverage,” adds Meyers.

As always the UHF frequencies are crowded and every available PL pair available in the 1.4 and 2.3 GHz bands are in use.

New this year are attenuator power controls that, due to software changes, can now be controlled remotely. That means the pointer with the transmitter does not need to listen for instructions to switch between low, medium, or high power, decreasing the chance of error and allowing the operators in the BSI trailer to make sure power levels are properly maintained.

Eight wireless talent mics are in use for NBC’s production along with two on the scout riders and three on the jockeys. Eleven wireless HD cameras are also in use. There is also a POV in the in the stall of Derby favorite California Chrome.

“The Preakness will have reduced wireless elements and depending on whether or not the Belmont is a race for the Triple Crown there may be more wireless gear. Regardless the Belmont will provide its own unique challenges as it is two times the size of Churchill Downs and the TV compound and horse barns have a huge grandstand in between them. That requires additional RF support on the rooftop to ensure signals are properly received in the compound.