The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, has recently upgraded its boat tour to include audio and video support. AVC-Electrosonic (the Edinburgh office of Electrosonic) was responsible for the AV installation.
The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift. A testament to the heritage of Scottish engineering innovation and excellence, it is the centrepiece of The Millennium Link Project which has restored the inland waterways of Scotland to use. The Falkirk Wheel was completed in 2002 and links the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals across central Scotland replacing a series of 11 locks abandoned in the 1930’s.
Boat trips on The Falkirk Wheel have been very popular with visitors, and in an upgrade to the existing tour presented by the boat skippers, technical and historical video modules are now shown to visitors by on-board monitors. Audio is broadcast in English with five other languages being delivered via audio tour handsets synchronised to the video. (The audio tour facility can also be used as part of a walking tour of the whole site.)
Modules are individually selectable by the skippers via a touchscreen panel, allowing them the essential flexibility in timing required; The Falkirk Wheel being a working part of a busy waterway system as well as a visitor attraction.
The AV installation for the tour upgrade was by AVC-Electrosonic of Edinburgh. Program content was produced by Sheena Irving AV, and project management was by Fraser Randall for British Waterways Scotland.
The following additional information is given for the technically minded:
• Eight 17″ daylight viewable flatscreen monitors are suspended in custom-made support brackets within the passenger saloons of the Antonine and the Archimedes tour boats.
• A Crestron touchscreen is operated by the boat’s crew, who select a video programme module relevant to each stage of the tour, from a selection of six. A waterproof, hand-held remote control offers a second method for controlling the system.
• A hard-drive video player delivers the selected video clip and English language interpretation, which is replayed via loudspeakers in the saloon.
• A DVD player, also under Crestron control, can be used to replay alternative material for special tours and corporate events.
• Five other languages are stored in hand-held audio guides, which visitors can also use on a site-wide tour, and replayed in sync with the video programme. The Crestron system communicates RS232 codes to the Sycomore synchronisation system, which in turn emits infra-red signals to the audio guides. The presence of the infra-red signal disables the keypad to negate user interference, and locks the stored audio information to the video programmes. Synchronisation is frame accurate.
• The crew are able to select programme modules in any order, and an interval clip automatically runs at the end of each selected module. The interval clip will loop continuously until another programme module is selected. This allows for the variations in the tour durations caused by other canal traffic, weather conditions and so on.
• A new generator was installed on each boat to provide power to the AV system.
• The AV hardware is rack-mounted within the wheelhouse store and supplied via an on-line UPS that smooths and regulates the power supply whilst the generator is running, and can sustain the entire system for 20 minutes should the generator stop supplying power.
• The installation was challenging due to the lack of space within the saloon, the restricted access to cable routes etc on a marine craft, the need to obtain MCA approval for all aspects of the work before commencement, and the uniqueness of the project.
Founded in 1964, Electrosonic has always been among the first to apply new technology creating state-of-the-art solutions to meet the challenges of the professional audio visual and digital media markets. Today, Electrosonic combines design with high-quality product, engineering and integration for corporate applications, control rooms, broadcast, advanced imaging, museums and exhibitions, digital signage, theme parks and visitor attractions.
Electrosonic operates across the globe with offices in Dartford, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Stockholm, Dubai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, and Orlando.
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