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Title: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Peter Kowalczyk on March 11, 2022, 06:24:19 PM
We're gearing up for another summer concert series at my local regional park amphitheater, and my contact at the department told me yesterday that they're prepared to act on my recommendation to install some buried / permanent wire runs out to front of house.

I was going to recommend:

Qty 4 Shielded Cat 6A terminated in EtherCON
Qty 8 110-ohm STP for DMX or analog Audio, terminated in Qty 4 each XLR(F) and XLR(M) Pairs on each end
Qty 2x 20A circuits
Qty 1 6" PVC Conduit with a pull cord for future expansion or temporary snakes.

I'm probably the most frequent technical user of this space, and this is more than enough for my needs now and in the foreseeable future.   There is one event happening for a second year where they did have a nice old-school Gamble EX56 analog setup at FOH, and I assume they pulled an analog multicore for that, but unsure the details.  I'm going to try to reach out to them.

For a sense of scale, the stage here is a concrete slab about 40' wide plus wings and 30' deep, FOH position is about 100' back on the gently raked lawn, and the lawn seating ends another 150' behind that. 

If you were coming in to work in a space like this, are there any other cable runs you'd like to see?

Thanks!

Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 12, 2022, 02:34:34 AM
Make sure you terminate all cables to a waterproof box with panel mounts.  No loose cables. well labeled.
You might consider two separate pipes, one for the permanent install and one for the optional pull.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: David Sturzenbecher on March 12, 2022, 07:38:34 AM
Make sure you terminate all cables to a waterproof box with panel mounts.  No loose cables. well labeled.
You might consider two separate pipes, one for the permanent install and one for the optional pull.
Two pipes would be required.  The open one should be at least 8” with no bends and each end should have draining provisions.

I second having the permanent cables terminate to a plate housed in a weatherproof box.


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Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Steve-White on March 12, 2022, 08:15:02 AM
What Dave and David said.

I would run the 120V stuff in a 3-wire style and not two separate runs.  L1 + L2, single neutral. ground and run it in a metallic conduit.  Also go up a wire size to 10GA for all 4 conductors.  This is the cleanest way to run single phase AC.  Allows for future changes such as an isolation transformer and keeps everything at a single ground potential for the audio and minimizes line voltage drop.

Make another 3-wire style run dedicated to stage lighting, and a utility outlet for fan, coffee maker, phone charger, etc.  Sharing a single metallic conduit is fine for the AC line.

Control lines are fine in non-metallic.

A spare empty conduit run is something we always did on work like that or even in residential for areas that had limited access.

Do it right, do it once.  :)
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Jason Raboin on March 12, 2022, 09:33:28 AM
You could just increase the quantity of network runs and then use ethercon to XLR on either end as needed.  More flexibility that way.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Mike Caldwell on March 12, 2022, 12:26:25 PM
Some people coming in may still use their own snake and drive line regardless of what you install.

8 inch is a good suggestion on the open conduit, actually I would call
that the minimum.

Keep a pull rope in it and I would suggest before someone just ties
their snake to the rope to pull it through that first they tie a big rag
to the rope to do a test pull to see if the conduit has filled with water.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Brian Jojade on March 12, 2022, 04:11:33 PM
Some people coming in may still use their own snake and drive line regardless of what you install.

8 inch is a good suggestion on the open conduit, actually I would call
that the minimum.

Keep a pull rope in it and I would suggest before someone just ties
their snake to the rope to pull it through that first they tie a big rag
to the rope to do a test pull to see if the conduit has filled with water.

100% this!  Even if the tube is properly installed to drain completely it can end up filled if rodents decode to plug it up a bit.

Recommended installation, if in a flat area would be to have the tube crown slightly with the high spot in the middle so any water would not want to flow through the pipe.

Cap the ends when not in use.  I personally like to have a long enough pull rope that I can leave it attached to each cap so there's no chance of it 'accidentally getting pulled out of the tube.  The extra length can simply be stuffed into the tube when capped.

Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 12, 2022, 05:09:51 PM

Cap the ends when not in use.  I personally like to have a long enough pull rope that I can leave it attached to each cap so there's no chance of it 'accidentally getting pulled out of the tube.  The extra length can simply be stuffed into the tube when capped.
Right, make the pull rope at least twice the length of the tube, and permanently attached to the caps.
Put a knot or ring at the center point to attach your snake.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Tim Hite on March 13, 2022, 06:41:03 PM
We're gearing up for another summer concert series at my local regional park amphitheater, and my contact at the department told me yesterday that they're prepared to act on my recommendation to install some buried / permanent wire runs out to front of house.

I was going to recommend:

Qty 4 Shielded Cat 6A terminated in EtherCON
Qty 8 110-ohm STP for DMX or analog Audio, terminated in Qty 4 each XLR(F) and XLR(M) Pairs on each end
Qty 2x 20A circuits
Qty 1 6" PVC Conduit with a pull cord for future expansion or temporary snakes.

I'm probably the most frequent technical user of this space, and this is more than enough for my needs now and in the foreseeable future.   There is one event happening for a second year where they did have a nice old-school Gamble EX56 analog setup at FOH, and I assume they pulled an analog multicore for that, but unsure the details.  I'm going to try to reach out to them.

For a sense of scale, the stage here is a concrete slab about 40' wide plus wings and 30' deep, FOH position is about 100' back on the gently raked lawn, and the lawn seating ends another 150' behind that. 

If you were coming in to work in a space like this, are there any other cable runs you'd like to see?

Thanks!

If I were dong it, I'd go ahead and run 50A 125/240 or 50A 3ř out to the FOH position. That would give you enough for follow spots in the future, and the cable cost increase in minor. Get a spider box for FOH. You'll need a 1" rigid PVC conduit for this run and 4-5 6AWG THHN copper wire.

For the signal cable runs, I'd be looking at fusion welded SDR 41 HDPE rather than PVC. I have a distributor in Sparks, if you need. They make sweep 90's with a long radius to allow for fishing cables and you can do radius bends with the pipe, as well.

I don't know that I'd put anything in the cable run if all the venue has is outside vendors. Let providers pull their own snakes, as needed.

There s an amphitheater here in Rancho Mirage that has done something similar. Then providers came and damaged the in house cable runs. When I arrived to advance a show, I pointed it out. Everyone was pointing fingers at each other. Someone from teh city decided to get upset with me for pointing out the damage.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 13, 2022, 09:17:25 PM
There s an amphitheater here in Rancho Mirage that has done something similar. Then providers came and damaged the in house cable runs. When I arrived to advance a show, I pointed it out. Everyone was pointing fingers at each other. Someone from teh city decided to get upset with me for pointing out the damage.
It the in-house cabling is terminated at plates on both ends, what can you mess up? It's just plugging in xlr's or ethernet.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Brian Jojade on March 13, 2022, 09:28:48 PM
It the in-house cabling is terminated at plates on both ends, what can you mess up? It's just plugging in xlr's or ethernet.

I think what he meant is that there was only a single conduit, and the in house runs were there when the act pulled cables through and damaged wire that was already in the tube.  Putting the house runs in a dedicated tube and leaving a completely empty (except for pull cable) tube for acts is the way to go.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Peter Kowalczyk on March 14, 2022, 01:18:57 AM
You could just increase the quantity of network runs and then use ethercon to XLR on either end as needed.  More flexibility that way.

Thanks, I thought of that, but wondered about controlled-impedance for DMX.  Now, if Cat 6A is good for 10-gig Ethernet, I have to assume it would be okay for DMX.   At least one google hit tells me it's designed with a characteristic impedance of 100 Ohms.

Has anyone tried sending straight DMX down category wire?  Gotchas?
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Peter Kowalczyk on March 14, 2022, 01:21:37 AM
100% this!  Even if the tube is properly installed to drain completely it can end up filled if rodents decode to plug it up a bit.

Recommended installation, if in a flat area would be to have the tube crown slightly with the high spot in the middle so any water would not want to flow through the pipe.

Cap the ends when not in use.  I personally like to have a long enough pull rope that I can leave it attached to each cap so there's no chance of it 'accidentally getting pulled out of the tube.  The extra length can simply be stuffed into the tube when capped.


Good thoughts here.  The pipe has a few degrees of rake from the FOH position down to stage.  However, the sand 'dancefloor' is lower in elevation than either, so I don't see how this pipe could avoid having a low-point in the middle.  Maybe we'll need a clean-out access port there at the inflection point?
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Nathan Riddle on March 14, 2022, 08:52:09 AM
Thanks, I thought of that, but wondered about controlled-impedance for DMX.  Now, if Cat 6A is good for 10-gig Ethernet, I have to assume it would be okay for DMX.   At least one google hit tells me it's designed with a characteristic impedance of 100 Ohms.

Has anyone tried sending straight DMX down category wire?  Gotchas?

110 vs 100 ohms, it's fine.

---

To OP:
2-4x SDI runs would be nice for video stuff.
Though, LED Walls are gonna run 3-4 lines of Cat6A unless they put the processor on stage.

I like Jason R.'s idea of more of replacing the STP with Cat6A (2x Cat5e FTP instead since Behringer doesn't like the added twist rate of 6/6A).
If the house venue has a few ethercon breakout boxes then it solves the problem of a company not having any and needing traditional xlr's...
Heck, you could just run the cable and terminate to 3-XLR for now...

If it were me some quick testers & some adapters to prove to the touring company the house cabling works would be nice. I know I always shy away from house lines if they look like junk. Store in the WP box somehow?

Testers:
-SoundTools XLR Sniffer/Sender Cable Tester (https://www.ratsoundsales.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=soundtools-xlr-snifsend)
-Network Cable Continuity Tester (https://www.amazon.com/Network-Tester-Continuity-Twisted-Connections/dp/B08JQ6J6XZ/)

Adapters:
-XLR-F barrel
-XLR-M barrel
-3XLR-5XLR (dmx conveter)
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Steve-White on March 14, 2022, 10:52:08 AM
I think what he meant is that there was only a single conduit, and the in house runs were there when the act pulled cables through and damaged wire that was already in the tube.  Putting the house runs in a dedicated tube and leaving a completely empty (except for pull cable) tube for acts is the way to go.

That would be the expected result of such a setup.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 14, 2022, 02:32:02 PM
I think what he meant is that there was only a single conduit, and the in house runs were there when the act pulled cables through and damaged wire that was already in the tube.  Putting the house runs in a dedicated tube and leaving a completely empty (except for pull cable) tube for acts is the way to go.
The two pipe setup was what I suggested.  The house one being terminated to waterproof boxes and the aux one with end caps and pull rope.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Steve-White on March 14, 2022, 03:34:08 PM
The two pipe setup was what I suggested.  The house one being terminated to waterproof boxes and the aux one with end caps and pull rope.

I see your 2 and raise you 1 more.  AC, control, guest.  Can't run low voltage DMX with AC, so adding an auxillary conduit will be a total of 3 for the optimal solution.

Two for the house, AC & control.  A 8" for the guest run.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Tim Hite on March 14, 2022, 07:54:02 PM
I think what he meant is that there was only a single conduit, and the in house runs were there when the act pulled cables through and damaged wire that was already in the tube.  Putting the house runs in a dedicated tube and leaving a completely empty (except for pull cable) tube for acts is the way to go.

It the in-house cabling is terminated at plates on both ends, what can you mess up? It's just plugging in xlr's or ethernet.

Ahh no, the integrator (a large backline rental company) decided to just leave a bunch of 10' lengths of CAT 5e sticking up in a Christie box with another meal port above it in the slab. Someone had slammed the metal lid on a couple of the UTP cables.

Also, terminating to a panel is not compatible with AES50 for X/M32, spec says no connectors in the signal path.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Nathan Riddle on March 15, 2022, 08:54:23 AM
Also, terminating to a panel is not compatible with AES50 for X/M32, spec says no connectors in the signal path.

Then they shouldn't put connectors on their devices. They should all include a 300ft roll of tactical cat5e ftp  :P

Spec 'says' and what will work reliably can be different.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Tim McCulloch on March 17, 2022, 08:26:08 PM
Time for The Dave Stevens Anvil of Reality®

I'm not using your installed cables.  Period, end of story.  If your venue stuff causes any problems whatsoever, it's my job on the line.  I'm not going to take your word that it's all okay and yes, I'm sure it worked fine at the last show... but it's my reputation with my client and my income at risk.  Chances are also pretty good that the venue will not have the mix of cable types/quantities I need, so it's a kludge and that's not on the agenda.

Next, I'm not pulling my tour cabling through your conduit.  End of story.  Period.  If something got stuck or damaged... well, same consequences as above.  If the venue insists, I can arrange for an identical cable package to be shipped to the venue, they can pull it and if it tests 100% when I get there, I'll use it.  And they can pull it back out, ship it back to the tour vendor and pay for any damage found.  But my tour snakes ain't going down the venue hole into a fully enclosed pipe.

Now, wearing my local sound vendor hat...  I'll use your empty 8" conduit after we run a burlap sack ('borrowed' from rigging) through the length and back.  If it makes the trip, dry, we'll pull.  If there are obstructions or water I have 300 ft of Yellow Jackets that just got added to the invoice.  But we'll use my cables.  If it's a 'family day in the park' with story tellers, magicians, jugglers, singer/songwriters, I might use the installed cabling because there's a decent chance that enough of it works.

From the "darn, I wish they'd done THIS when they re-built this place" file - Absolutely agree with @Tim Hite about running dedicated AC service to FOH.  Depending on the size of the venue and anticipated future use, I'd recommend 2 services:  first a single phase 120/240 single phase 50 amp for a spider box at FOH; second a 120/208 3 phase 100 amp service with disconnect, in a suitably rated enclosure.  If the park is big enough to need 3kW spots, or an audio delay ring (or both), having 3 phase at/near FOH will be a Really Good Thing.

The advice to up-size conductors is good.  I think one of the primary reasons I've had few power-related problems over the years is my belief that fat copper is more electron-friendly. 8)  Today, with the price of copper being what it is I'd expect budgetary push back but try to get bigger wire to the furthest and most likely full load locations.  It helps.  Really.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Brian Jojade on March 31, 2022, 03:50:09 PM
Time for The Dave Stevens Anvil of Reality®

All of that is pretty spot on.

Pulling temporary wires through tubes isn't something that a touring show wants to do for the reasons laid out.  Using and troubleshooting house cabling typically takes as long or longer than just dropping the already configured snake.

Smaller local shows typically have a little more flexibility for pulling stuff through a tube, especially if they don't have cables that are as tour durable and want some protection.

The absolute ideal scenario is a chase way with a lid that can be opened.  Harder to get that installed in an outdoor venue though
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Paul Johnson on June 06, 2022, 12:59:28 PM
If you are digging a trench, then 2 x 6" pipes is well worth the small extra cost, with one continuous draw rope up one, down the other. At some point you will get a kink and a jam, and two bores is safer.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: dave briar on June 06, 2022, 09:33:07 PM
If you are digging a trench, then 2 x 6" pipes is well worth the small extra cost, with one continuous draw rope up one, down the other. At some point you will get a kink and a jam, and two bores is safer.
Or better yet, two 12”:

https://ibb.co/kKQh6Nd
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: Paul Johnson on August 31, 2022, 10:24:18 AM
I have noticed a big shift in cabling this summer with the touring shows. Data cables are on the up for lighting and copper DMX of the traditional kind is on the way down. We have 4 DMX runs to the stage area and this year, the first question is about cat5/6 - just for the lights people, with Artnet seemingly the flavour of the month. A few are even asking if we have fibre, which we don't.

I'd increase the quantity of data cable you stick in, it seems to be the way we're going.
Title: Re: FOH Cable Runs for Outdoor Amphitheater
Post by: lindsay Dean on August 31, 2022, 12:56:05 PM
The city I live in the amphitheater has an (estimated) 18x16-in concrete trench with locking hinged iron covers and (water drains) that goes from front of house position all the way into the stage area, it's much easier than conduit, they don't have to leave cables laid out and whoever needs to can just throw their cables in the trench and go about their business, seems like a cleaner idea.