Boston, MA – May 2015… Held annually on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday of April, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known racing events. This year’s event took place on April 20th, but from a technical and logistical perspective, preparation began much earlier. To ensure the best possible radio communications infrastructure, an amateur radio communications steering committee was formed to guide the Boston, MA-based Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) and roughly 300 communication volunteers, utilizing XLR radio connectivity solutions drawn from the catalog of Charlotte, NC-based Neutrik USA.
Matthew Forman (K6MCF) is the infrastructure lead for the amateur radio communications steering committee. Now in his fourth year volunteering, his pre-race responsibilities included establishing the necessary infrastructure to ensure a fully functional amateur radio communications system along the entire course, including overseeing the allocation of all amateur radio frequencies and making certain that communication workflows and the equipment to execute those workflows were available and firmly established. During Marathon Monday itself, Matthew oversaw the communications for the event’s non-emergency medical sweep bus program, which provides an avenue for injured runners who drop out of the race a way to get to their loved ones, dropping them off at the Finish area. He discussed his experience with Neutrik’s 6- and 7-pin XLR connectors.
“In addition to the medical and hydration stations, we have large teams at both the Start and Finish areas that support both logistical and medical centric radio communications,” Forman explained. “Many of our responsibilities are, in some way, related to the medical needs of a runner at any one time, such as the wheelchair teams at the Finish or mobile medical teams at the Start. It’s critically important that the pathways that carry audio, low voltage power, and control data for our infrastructure function reliably—and that’s where Neutrik connectivity comes in.”
“To make certain that the various lines function reliably and consistently,” Forman continued, “we use Neutrik® XX Series XLR connectors. Both the 6- and 7-pin models provide a robust, fast, and locking connection that inspires confidence. Audio transfer is crystal clear and the interchangeable colored boots and rings make it really easy to identify cable types and lengths. The Neutrik XLRs provide ease of use for cable assembly and they exhibit a very high build quality. Additionally while it may not seem quite as important, Neutrik connectors have a very rugged and professional appearance. A lot of Amateur Radio equipment, especially temporary deployments, can look ‘hacked together’—but not with Neutrik. By contrast, Neutrik products not only provide the confidence and reliability that we have a robust connection, they also help us maintain the confidence of the Boston Athletic Association and the various State and Federal organizations involved in this endeavor.”
According to Forman, one manufacturer of radios and, subsequently, their control heads use connectors that tend to be both expensive and sometimes challenging to use. As a result, Forman and his team, splice the Neutrik connectors into the cables—thus creating a standard XLR interface that can be more easily interfaced with. In doing so, the alternate standard, which was originally created by Eric Montague (N7ECM), has been growing in popularity, as it effectively replaces the expensive, proprietary connectors on the radios. “The Neutrik connectors provide both the reliable performance and the ease of use that make our work easier,” Forman says.
With thousands of feet of cables and adapters combined with over 250 Neutrik connectors tying all the equipment together, knowing that quality customer and technical support services are available should they have questions is yet another Neutrik attribute Forman finds indispensable. “Neutrik has been very responsive to us on those occasions when we reached out to them,” he reports. “Equally important, the company has clear and well developed documentation available right on their website when we need to research an issue or look up a spec sheet.”
Before turning his attention to other business, Forman offered these parting thoughts. “The 2015 Boston Marathon was an amazing race and enabled the Amateur Radio Community to, once again, display its communication prowess. As radio communicators who can find ourselves conveying critical information on tight deadlines, we can only be as good as our equipment. I am happy to say that Neutrik helped ensure our temporary infrastructure performed well and reliably. Neutrik’s superior build quality, reliability, cost effectiveness, and widespread availability make it the brand we can trust and rely upon.”
For more information about the amateur radio volunteers for the Boston Marathon, visit http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/event-information/volunteer-information/amateur-radio-operators.aspx.
About Neutrik USA
Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Neutrik USA, a subsidiary of Neutrik AG, is the leading supplier of robust and reliable professional connectivity solutions. Neutrik manufactures a wide array of XLR connectors and receptacles, jacks and plugs, fiber optic connector systems, and accessories for a broad range of customers ranging from rock bands to lighting design and industrial equipment to broadcast studios. For more information, please visit Neutrik USA online at http://www.neutrik.us/, http://www.experience-neutrik.com/, and become a part of its social network family at www.facebook.com/Neutrik.