Doha, Qatar | March, 2010 – Doha is home to an increasing number of grassy areas and parks, offering its’ residents the opportunity to walk, jog and exercise in what was a universal desert landscape of barren sand and rock less than a decade ago. From the perfectly manicured Corniche to the 88 hectare Aspire Park, visitors can relax under the shade of trees or by the water. Aspire Park can easily be identified from afar as it sits below the tallest building in Doha – the imposing Aspire Tower. This 300-metre structure served as the focal point for the 15th Asian Games hosted by Qatar in December 2006 and rubs shoulders with the Khalifa International Stadium. However, it now serves as a beacon for those wanting to make full use of the park’s attractions and in doing so escaping the city’s bustle, increasing traffic and ongoing construction.
Aspire Park surrounds the Villagio Mall and Aspire Zone and contains a small hill, the only lake in Qatar with bridges and 21 fountains, benches for picnics, football pitches, aquatic birds and over 700 various species of domestic and imported trees from Australia, China, Spain and Thailand. The rubber floor jogging alley which meanders throughout the park includes small solar panel lights for the benefit of runners who prefer to use the park at night. In addition, there are horse riding trails, a bicycle track, a wooden chip track, a walking track and plenty of parking spaces. Given the high summertime temperatures that Doha experiences, visitors can only stay in the park from evening till early morning, so Aspire Park attracts more people during the winter months.
The Aspire Foundation invited AV suppliers to come forward in March 2009 with a PA system solution in Aspire Park that would allow paging station announcements, background music and calls to prayer. The guidelines were strict and would not, for example, allow any civil works to be conducted in which speaker cabling could be dug into the ground. Doha-based systems integrator and distributor Techno Q did their homework to perfection and were appointed as the contractor for the project, based upon the meticulous designs submitted by Aftab Ahmed. Mr. Ahmed’s submission was largely approved on the basis that the loudspeakers would be installed onto 46 lighting poles throughout the park. The entire park is Wi-Fi enabled via the transmitters placed in these lighting poles, for which two free fibre optic cables and an AC power supply were available for exploitation. Some of the poles also include CCTV security cameras.
“With a power supply already existing in the lighting poles, I simply needed to source a self powered loudspeaker model
that could be managed and configured remotely via the fibre optic connections in each pole,” explained Mr. Ahmed. His
search directed him towards the Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network technology – or RHAON for short – in June 2009.
This technology simplifies and streamlines the control of digital audio networks and offers control over the self-powered loudspeakers
via Ethernet Cat-5 connectivity. A total of 104 Iconyx IC Live and IC Live Dual loudspeakers were customised by the Californian
manufacturer specifically for this project to incorporate RHAON technology with fibre-optic connectivity. IC Live digital beam steering loudspeakers together with RHAON digital networking have combined to provide networked control and supervision and user programmable DSP in each loudspeaker over a single Ethernet Cat5, thus networking all of the self-powered loudspeakers in four defined zones. The two spare cores of fiber optics that exist in each lighting pole are now connected for CobraNet and RHAON control.
A Windows GUI is used to assign each loudspeaker to one of 64 audio channels, controlling the eight bands of parametric EQ, 40ms of delay, gain and soft knee compression via the onboard DSP. Control and monitoring includes high input level, high temperature, over-current and out-of-range impedance value warnings that indicate driver failure. Automatic discovery of connected network devices, drag-and-drop signal routing and other CobraNet features are included in the RHAON software.
IC LIVE: POWER AND CONTROL
The Iconyx loudspeakers produce multiple sonic beams that have been individually shaped and aimed from a single Iconyx array using the software controlled DSP. Up to 4 and 8 beams can be created on the IC Live and IC Live Dual speakers respectively. IC Live loudspeakers integrate multichannel high-current Class D amplifiers to power the arrays of transducers. The unobtrusive, tall IC Live enclosure design ticked
all the boxes for Aspire Foundation, as the IC Live and IC Live Dual models could be flush mounted to the lighting poles, without scarring the park’s landscape. On average, the IC Live loudspeakers have been spaced some 50-60 metres apart and are usually found close to the running track placed at heights between 2.0 and 3.0 metres height. “The higher we can place the loudspeaker, the better the coverage,” confirms Mr.
Ahmed. “Unfortunately, the poles are less stable with speaker weight being placed further up the poles.”
Having found the perfect loudspeaker solution for Aspire Park, Techno Q was to be provided with another challenge by the Aspire Foundation as enlightened by Mr. Ahmed. “We weren’t allowed to drill any holes into the poles and so we had to create a unique clamp design, which had to be approved by the Foundation.” Techno Q have learnt to be incredibly resourceful over the years and as such have an in house engineering department that dedicates its’ attention to such problems. Each customized clamp is tightly locked into position on the pole having been affixed to the IC Live and IC Live Dual speakers. Finally, each speaker cabinet has been weatherproofed to IP64 standards in textured grey paint whilst the individual transducers and tweeters have also been treated in weatherproof resin.
Call for prayer times vary on a daily basis and to meet this flexibility Techno Q employed an AudiaFLEX CM digital signal processing solution by Biamp Systems, which is programmed by their own proprietary DaVinci software. Techno Q has developed the software to accurately broadcast
two minute calls for prayer at specific times of day according to the day in the calendar.
The entire audio system can also be monitored via DaVinci software from a laptop and configured should any setting require an adjustment, such as the delays or equalisation. Any of the four defined zones in the park can be muted, such as the football pitches for example, should the
players want to concentrate on their game.
Having commenced work on Aspire Park in 2003, the Aspire Foundation was initially hoping to complete the project before the start of the Asian Games. Luckily for all parties, the timing was perfect as RHAON technology wasn’t launched until 2007, and so the delay has allowed them to install a networked, evenly dispersed loudspeaker system over an extremely large outdoor area. Having already saved substantial cabling and infrastructure costs, the Iconyx speakers carry the further benefit of not being readily visible.
The runners may easily perspire around Aspire Park, but the Techno Q engineers have certainly inspired other systems integrators with a relatively simple, yet ingenious public address solution.