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Calgary Stampede Runs Strong with New Communications Network

Big event demands flexible intercoms

Three Clear-Com intercom hubs in and around the granstand provide the connections necessary to keep the show running smoothly.

ALAMEDA, CA – Clear-Com, a manufacturer of professional voice communications systems, announced that the Calgary Stampede, a not-for-profit community organization, has installed the new HelixNet partyline intercom system, which will interface with the organization’s existing Tempest2400 wireless intercom system to produce the world-renowned 10-day outdoor show. Known as the largest rodeo in the world, the event will be held July 4-13, 2014, in Calgary, Alberta. Clear-Com’s Canadian distributor, GerrAudio, assisted in the system design and drafting specifications for the project tender, which was ultimately awarded to Sound Art Canada, the Stampede’s local dealer.

The Calgary Stampede attracts more than a million visitors annually and features competitors in various events such as a tournament-style rodeo and chuck wagon racing, as well as a high-profile concert series featuring world-class talent in country and rock music performing live each night.

The organizers required a robust and reliable intercom system that could integrate with its existing Clear-Com partyline systems. They also needed to be able to expand as the event grew and, crucially, be able to withstand the possibility of heavy rain, flooding and other severe weather conditions. Last year, the Stampede was significantly impacted by severe flooding just before the event, so planning for floods and bad weather is now a given in any system design.

Clear-Com’s HelixNet HMS-4X main station shown in the Calgary Stampede Grandstand sound booth, allowing up to 12 discrete intercom channels when linking three base units.

Designers decided on Clear-Com’s HelixNet system links over fiber optic cable, rather than copper lines, to transmit full-duplex communication between the HMS-4X main stations, enabling greater reliability and simpler configuration. The system allows for up to 12 discrete intercom channels when linking the three base units, satisfying future expansion. HBP-2X digital beltpack users are able to access any two of the 12 channels using a single standard microphone cable, reducing cable requirements from 12 to one. The ability to offer any channel at any destination is also a huge benefit for users who need access to multiple channels due to the massive footprint of the event.

Three main hubs of communication are located in the main grandstand building, in the under-stage structure and in the arena’s infield production building. By deploying a HelixNet main station with a fiber-optic module and two analog modules to each of these hub areas, and adding a PS-704 power supply to these main stations, the organizers have the option of using digital or analog intercom systems. This complements the existing system with the benefit of flexibility and future expansion of the digital HelixNet, while adding critical redundancy. In addition, the HelixNet offers clean integration to external host broadcasters’ own intercom systems.

“I have worked with various Clear-Com systems in the grandstand for 40 years and they have proven to be reliable and have worked flawlessly. We rely heavily on our communication systems for the safety of our performers and to ensure our events run smoothly. We cannot have any down time,” said Gordon Anderson, event services technician for the Calgary Stampede. “The Clear-Com HelixNet partyline system integrates seamlessly with our other Clear-Com systems, and offers excellent digital sound quality, providing reliable and clear communications within the most demanding production environments.”

HelixNet will work alongside the Calgary Stampede’s three existing Tempest2400 digital wireless intercom systems, with approximately 28 wireless beltpacks. The Tempest system is designed for coverage of multiple events in a large outdoor venue.

“Tempest has really opened up the radio frequency spectrum for microphone planning,” said Dan Frerichs, general manager at Sound Art Canada. “The beltpacks are very robust, and there hasn’t been a pack returned for repair yet, in three years. In a large outdoor venue in the rain and dirt, that’s pretty impressive!”

“Calgary Stampede hosts hundreds of events each year, and it needs reliable and flexible systems that can be used in a variety of ways,” said Jay Wallace, regional sales manager at Clear-Com. “We are thrilled to be able to provide Stampede with the HelixNet partyline intercom system, taking the worry out of pre-show preparation as well as live performances, and allowing the Stampede production team to execute with precision by using reliable and coordinated communications systems.”