Broadcast RF are exclusive suppliers to the Sky Sports Super League providing all wireless cameras including the Broadcast RF Ref Cam system.
18 months ago Broadcast RF started the development of a lightweight wireless camera system designed to be worn by Rugby League referees. The idea was to offer it to Sky Sports to enhance their weekly coverage of this sport by providing a ref’s eye view of the match.
The choice of camera was crucial to the project, it needed to be HD but still small and light enough to be worn on the side of the referees head. The most suitable camera then available only had an HD Component output, meaning a converter was required to feed the wireless transmitter. This inevitably added to the overall weight and power consumption of the transmission system which required a pair of batteries to power it all. Nevertheless, the system was trialled by linesmen and was accepted by them although it was felt to be too cumbersome for the match referees.
A new camera was then identified that had an HD-SDI output, which meant it could feed the transmitter directly resulting in a marked decrease in weight and size of the transmit system. This new camera also featured full remote camera control meaning the OB vision engineers had control of the camera picture, exposure and colour matching etc.
The transmission system elements were housed in a small backpack which the referee wears inconspicuously and comfortably under his match day shirt. This Ref Cam system was use during the 2013 Sky Super League season.
Broadcast RF, a company that continuously pushes the boundaries, were not content with this solution. Our development engineers were set another task, to make a new Ref Cam system smaller, lighter and even more comfortable to wear.
Broadcast RF continued to refine the design. A smaller back-pack was built containing the new Cobham Nano HD transmitter, cooling fan, camera data receiver and battery. The two antennas are incorporated into the shoulder straps. An advantage of the Cobham Nano transmitter over its predecessor the Solo 4 transmitter was its reduced power consumption, meaning the entire system could be powered from a single battery for the duration of the match.
The latest camera is a custom built stripped down version of its predecessor and has its electronics in a small housing on the back of the headband. This balances the system better and means less size and weight over the referee’s ear.
This system has been in regular use throughout 2014 and has met with favourable responses from the referees as well as the OB directors and the viewers.