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All aboard: AVC-Electrosonic supplies AV at The Falkirk Wheel

test 30 April 2007

The Falkrik Wheel 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 1930s.

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.

Eight 17in 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 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.

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.

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