TV Power: The Caterpillar trailer travels the NASCAR circuit, providing power for TV gear.
When avid fans watch NASCAR races on TV, there's one thing guaranteed to upset them even more than a crash that takes their favorite driver out: a power outage that blacks out the broadcast.
Unless such a catastrophe happens, few give any thought to how the TV equipment, from broadcast booths to remote cameras, is powered up. In all but the largest venues broadcasters are responsible for powering the remote booths where editors and directors put the show together.
Like the mobile TV control booths, the power stations travel from race to race. One of the newest of these monstrous generators is managed by Entertainment Services, owned by a Jacksonville, FL Caterpillar dealer. It's been used by Fox Sports, among others.
"Caterpillar wanted to package four generator sets in a NASCAR trailer. It will supply power for TV and radio equipment, air conditioners, tents, anything they need at a NASCAR event," says Eddie Valentin, sales application engineer at MQ Power's Engineered Products Division in Carson, CA.
MQ Power developed the system, which makes it simple to route 8,000 to 10,000 ft of power cables. Keeping a TV crew in operation requires fault tolerance and plenty of electricity.
"There are four 175 kW generators, or 700 kW total power," Valentin says. The system that distributes all that power spans 20 ft of the trailer, which is 53 ft long.
The power distribution is built on a set of rails, using Rittal's Maxi PLS bus bar system, specifically a three-pole, five-wire system. That made it possible to customize the system without a huge investment in time. "It's got pre-drilled holes and connectors," Valentin says, "so we could set it up without the need for a lot of labor."
The output of so-called very clean power remains steady at 208V. Each of the breakers is customized for the truck or tent it's powering, with amperage set for the peak requirements of the equipment being used at a given time.
Over the course of the week, levels change significantly. Setup typically begins on Wednesday, and more equipment is activated as race day nears. The controllers and enunciators move power levels up and down in 1 kW increments as it's needed. Typically, two or three of the generators power the equipment, while the fourth is kept on hand as a backup.
Providing this power takes about 300 gal of fuel per day. This fuel is stored in two 350-gal tanks that are double walled. Since the vehicle is often parked near areas where people congregate, sound attenuation is used to dampen the sound of the diesel engines.