Staying Connected from Start to Finish
On a bright September morning, members of the Belgian Agoria Solar team and ST Engineering iDirect came together to carry out testing on the antenna system that will provide the communications during their crucial race next month in Morocco.
The race, an alternative to the cancelled World Solar Challenge across Australia, will test the team to their limits as they navigate challenging terrain and conditions across the Atlas Mountains.
Testing the communications system was essential so that the team could familiarize themselves with its operation and to assess its performance.
The satellite connectivity that will be provided through Intelsat’s FlexMove and the Kymeta™ u8 antenna will enable the team to access critical meteorological data as well as to keep in contact with fans and update them on their progress on social media.
It’s a stressful time for the Solar Team as the first contingent will travel to Morocco this week. Every item packed for the race has to be listed in an inventory so they ensure they have everything they need, even down to the smallest cable. If something doesn’t work, it can’t easily be replaced once they are in Morocco.
UNPACKING THE u8
Frederik Van Maele, race strategist, and Ruben Van Acker, Live show coordinator for the Solar Team, were reassured by Kymeta’s excellent support from its NOC. During the race, the team will have a 24x7 line to the Kymeta engineers for any assistance they might need.
SETTING UP THE u8
The u8 antenna performed flawlessly during testing, with seamless switching between terrestrial and satellite capacity. Both Frederik and Ruben were able to operate the system themselves via a Teamviewer session with the support of Kymeta.
Once Frederik and Ruben arrive in Morocco, they will drive the race route several times in preparation for the event so that they are familiar with where the connectivity blind spots are located and to test out the antenna’s performance.
TESTING LIVE SHOW CONNECTIVITY
FACEBOOK LIVE SHOW
The focus for the second part of the day was to go through the set-up for a Facebook Live show.
In previous races, after each day is over, the team always sets up camp and installs a mobile TV studio to broadcast a 20-minute Facebook Live talk show. This gives them the opportunity to reflect on the day they’ve had and to share their experiences with their audience. There are many people following the team’s journey including their family and friends; the school pupils and high school STEM students that they have visited throughout the project; partners and anyone who wants to find out more about the race.
For the broadcasting and mobile journalism aficionados among us, here are the details of the Liveshow set-up:
4 HD streaming webcams will be connected. 3 for close-ups of the guest speakers and 1 to capture the whole set-up. All the cameras will connect to 1 laptop with internet connectivity and a software solution including LIVE mixing, switching, recording and LIVE streaming of SD, full HD and 4K.
A Facebook Livestream was established and our Head of Media and Broadcast, Hans Massart, was only too happy to test the quality of the cameras. The ST Engineering iDirect team tested the feed on their own devices and used different resolutions to make sure all was working as it should.
CHAMPIONSHIP SEPTEMBER 2021
Testing continues for the BluePoint Atlas
Over the weekend the BluePoint Atlas solar car underwent the final preparations for the Moroccan Solar Challenge and the new car was tested one last time on a race track and the Belgian roads by the team's 3 student pilots Ruben, Birgitt and Gilles.
The Solar Team will leave this week for Morocco where their next international race will take place. During 5 days they will cross the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains for a total of 2500 km.
In the meantime on another race track ... Another win for the BluePoint solar car
That same weekend, the team was also preparing to let the BluePoint, the solar car from the 2019 race, prove itself one last time during the iLumen European Solar Challenge, a biannual race that takes place at the former F1 track of Circuit Zolder in Belgium. It's a non-stop 24 hour race starting on Saturday and ending on Sunday.
The ST Engineering iDirect team was there to witness the kick-off of the 24h race.
And we’re thrilled to report that the BluePoint car came first, making them European Champions!
As current World Champions and fresh European Champions the Agoria team has a lot of titles to defend in Morocco.
The Solar Challenge Morocco starts on Monday 25 October 2021 and will end on Friday 29 October 2021.