Rocking the Daisies is the largest Music Festival in South Africa with 25 000 attendees, located at Cloof Wine Estate in the Western Cape.
Vodacom (parent company Vodafone ) Partnered with Steyn Entertainment for a 2nd year in a row & provided a managed Internet connectivity solution to the Production teams, Media, Local & International artists, Nutickets Gates access & Nutickets NFC tags top-up stations for the festival.
My role in this partnership was to design, build & managed the entire solution for over 10 days. I don’t think people understand the scale or amount of blood sweat & tears that goes into producing an event of this scale as I was fortunate enough to be around the different role players throughout the festival. I must say it’s insane!!!
1x Ubiquiti 5GHz AirMax AC Sector Antenna 120degree
8x Nano beam AC 19dbm
4x Power Beam M5 400 (legacy hardware from RTD2015)
4x Unifi Outdoor+
6x Unifi AP Pro
3x Unifi AC Pro
1x Mikrotik Cloud Core CCR1009-8G1S (this year I’ll be adding in the USG & might get the Pro along with a managed switch)
1x Mini desktop PC with Unifi Controller software
1x Mobile Cow ( Mobile base station ) providing 80Mbit/s DIA microwave link (Where the 5Ghz AirMax AC is located)
There were 13 hotspots located throughout the festival with the longest range of around 1.7km & main area was a radius of roughly 400m. Configuration of the Access Points & Nano Beam units was pretty simple, each AP gets VLAN’s & 2-3 SSID’s depending on where it is located. ( the Unifi controller software is pretty awesome )
The mikrotik cloud core handled the VLAN/DHCP, firewall & bandwidth management. I placed it in the production office & then realised that it should be moved to the COW as that was the central point of all connectivity ( the reason I wanted it in the production office was purely that if something went wrong I could replace or hard boot it in a matter of seconds. )
The festival lasted for 3days but the build-up is around 6days prior as you are working with different teams, locations & buildings only going up a day or two before the actual festival started. This was my 2nd year designing, building & maintaining the wifi network for Rocking the Daisies and the scale was so much more than the year before, I think a key point here is the relationships I had built up with the different teams on-site from 2015.
Where things get tricky is that the construction team needs to smash 2m poles into the ground & attached clamps to a 3m pole where the radio link would be attached to. It was either waiting for stock to arrive or waiting on a team to get the pole hammered into the ground & sometimes I’d assist depending on the timeframe as well as assisting with the stakes & rope tie down because time is definitely not on your side.
The Main Gate wifi needed to cater for around 25-50 devices that would scan 25 000 tickets & update databases as festival goers entered into the venue, here I used a AC-Pro in the tent as per the image below & Nano Beam on a 5m pole just to be able to get line of sight to the COW, what makes this so much simpler is that the AP injector & NB injector are located at the same power point and the lan cable plugs from one injector to another & no other hardware is needed at all.
Soft check, where accreditation is done for the vendors/crew & located 1.7km away had an AP-Pro & Nano Beam with around 10 devices connected into a cargo container & two tents.
The NuTickets Control Command where updates and backups were run on the 600 NFC readers that were used at all the vendors as this year RTD went cashless. In total there were around 27 000 NFC tags being used. So you didn’t need a credit card or cash in hand to buy food, alcohol & or clothing.
Main Stage provided to be a problem with everything working right up until the event started, there seemed to be an insane amount of interference. I moved the Nano beam link from a 5m gum pole to having it attached to the main stage which required someone that was certified to climb up and fasten it to the structure as it is a health & safety risk. From there about a 50m cable ran down and into an Outdoor+ which seemed to have helped, what I would do differently here is use a 2.4/5Ghz AP so there isn’t interference on the 5Ghz freq.
Another factor to take in was the travel time to each hotspot as you needed a vehicle roaming pass to get around inside the festival otherwise it was driving around the outside depending what was happening at any location.
During the 10 days of working & living onsite you do get the odd occasion to relax & one of those moments was doing one of my other passions which is Photography. I got to do a photoshoot at sunrise with the Head of Social Media at RTD Su Little with Her two children Rocky & Daisy.
Some other interesting side notes;
Hopefully I will be doing RTD in 2017 & I have already started planning how everything is going to be deployed ( I should know next month roughly ).
I would love to test out some of the new UBNT hardware (UAP-AC-HD & UAP-AC-M-PRO) as I’m sure we will start to rollout wifi for the public this year in certain locations throughout the festival. *hint hint*
Overall I love he UBNT brand and recently met Warren Philips who is the Africa Channel Manager while prepping for the Val de Vie Pink Polo where he drove out to the event to bring me a UniFi AC Mesh Pro AP to test at the event, It's all about after sale service & Warren has been an absolute LEGEND!