Saturday, February 17, 2007

GPS Transponders

Tomorrow is the Prologue, which is only 2 miles long. 3.2 kilometers. That's a tough distance. These thoroughbreds aren't used to doing track cycling distances. Should be interesting.

I walked past both Bobby Julich and Dave Zabriskie today at the hotel. Those guys look like genetic freaks. They're built like supermodels. Their legs are so long, their crotches are approximately where a normal person's belly button would be. No wonder they're so fast, with levers like that.

Since almost all the timed events I do are either outside the US or are Euro-centric sports, the people here in TV production think I'm weird because I talk in meters and kilometers. I asked a tech for a "two meter cable" today and he looked at me like Dr. Pepper was oozing out of my ears.

All my TV equipment is installed in the truck. A lot of my stuff was damaged in shipment, it took me two days to repair a lot of stuff, reload software, and reconfigure. I had 3 CD-ROM drives damaged in transit, for example (out of a possible 4).

We had a good production meeting today. The CSC guys passed around this transponder. This is what CSC are using to track the whereabouts and speeds of the riders. They are putting these things in the seat packs of the top 5 riders on GC, a few other riders, and on 3 or 4 race vehicles. I really wish those CSC guys luck, they've never done this before and it's a tough technology. 50-milliwatt signals from the riders' seat packs are amplified and relayed via aircraft. They've got both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft following the race. Eventually, the data winds up on a server in Pennsylvania. From that server, some guys from Adobe are doing a tracker map on the Amgen Tour of California web site. I have access to the same data; I can feed it though one of my character generators and put it on the air in a textual format:

Breakaway 112 Km
Yellow Jersey +4:23
Peloton +6:33

Something like that.

You won't see that GPS stuff during the Prologue, because, obviously, it is irrelevant. We'll start with it on Monday. If you don't see it on Monday's broadcast, then it's not working, and rest assured there's a lot of screaming going on somewhere very close to the TV compound.

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