By Stan Hunter
My job as an A2 over the last 40 years started with using fixed frequency UHF Vega and VHF Swintek mic’s to the present day with all varieties of digital synthesized RF mic’s, intercom and In-Ear Monitors. As the spectrum grew more congested and tight, a multitude of spectrum analyzers cropped up to assist us in planning our events. Some were too big to travel with…some were too expensive…and others were not sensitive enough or limited in their range of scanning.
Being a freelance A2 / RF coordinator I do mostly corporate business meeting and video up links. I have to recommend what band and type of gear that my clients need to rent for their particular event. Even with a computerized RF coordination program to plot frequency allocation you still need a way to see the “invisible waves” out there that need to be avoided and worked around. Some are in the “old” VHF, some are in the 900 MHz bands, and even now some are in the WiFi 2.4GHz bands.
Therefore I need a device to scan all the usable areas of the RF spectrum. I also work with some fellow RF coordinators, making a data base of spectrum layout of the various sites around the world in which we do shows. I go to a venue and scan the spectrum in the actual venue to get an accurate layout of what frequencies are present.
You can not always depend on the FCC data base for accurate information. Not all of the Terrestrial HD TV signals will penetrate into a venue. This is where the spectrum analyzer is invaluable. You can see what posted FCC channels are really present and at a level that may hamper your RF devices. Some venues even shield their walls to block the congested RF signals.
I choose the Invisible Waves RF-Vue Spectrum Analyzer for several reasons:
• Touch screen control of the scanning functions
• Expanded range of frequencies
• Export CSV files
• Store scanning presets
• Audio demodulator to listen to signals
• Portability and battery powered
• Ease of use
• Self-contained unit
As a coordinator of a large scale business meeting with many breakouts rooms with RF mics, general session RF mics, and exhibit area RF mics, I can move around a venue with just one device to scan the spectrum and then use my RF coordination program to assign the various frequencies that are need. As many as 80 mics in the breakout rooms; 25 or 30 RF mics (Shure Axient, UHF-R and Sennheiser), 3 or 4 Telex BTR, RAD, Tempest RF Com systems and 4 or 5 IFB and IEM in the main general session room are the norm these days and all in a very limited and congested spectrum! Then you add in all of the Media’s ENG crew RF mics and IFB’s!
Using the RF-Vue Spectrum Analyzer is great when traveling to a venue to do a spectrum survey. One device does all the scans and can save them and then be able to send them to the client as CSV or PDF snapshots.
Stan Hunter is owner of Stan Hunter & Associates based out of Cobden, IL and specializes in corporate events, video links and large scale RF coordination.
In the photos below are shots of the author in his RF control environment and his set up.