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Catching the train – connecting passengers with live information

Leicestershire-based Infotec specialises in the design, development, manufacture and supply of electronic LED, TFT and LCD display systems. Used by operating companies, infrastructure owners and system integrators, display screens are deployed in a range of environments including rail, underground, bus, airport and road, and in urban areas and places such as sports stadiums and retail environments, wherever textual information has to be presented to the public.

Issue:

Railway operators complying with the Disability Discrimination Act must now ensure that every station entrance has live train arrival, departure and information displays, known as Customer Information Systems (CIS). Typically, such screens are mains powered with external data supplied via Ethernet cable from a master computer.

Laying data cables to remote areas of the station or across the tracks may prove difficult, or impossible without excessive expenditure to remodel the station. This was the case with Infotec’s £150,000 project, their largest yet, to install an LED screen Customer Information System at Brighton station. Infotech wanted to replace the cable connections of the CIS with wireless radio links and needed rugged, compact radio modems to provide them.

Solution:

Infotec chose Wood & Douglas to provide radio modems for the majority of the 40 displays, which needed to receive data from a purpose-designed master unit and transmitter. Infotec selected Wood & Douglas’ Orion radio modems to fulfil this role. The Orion’s compact, rugged die-cast enclosure made it easy for Infotec to disguise the units which are located at the displays, thereby discouraging vandalism.

The Orion is a fully-configurable radio modem offering synthesised VHF and UHF options and a choice of over-air protocols to balance throughput and data link integrity. In this case, what was needed was fast update of time-sensitive travel information across many locations. The Orion’s store-and-forward capability also enables up to three displays spaced at a distance of 50m to be linked to each other, considerably extending the physical range of the system.

The Orion is easy to interface to other equipment, with a flexible serial data port whose speed and protocol can be configured. Its speed and data link capacity enable live data to be sent to and between the screens, where Infotec’s purpose-designed scripts create a range of display modes. Different scrolling line messages are displayed for Summary of Arrivals and Departures, with the latter interspersed with Next Fastest Train information.

  • Low-cost wireless data transmission for public display screens
  • Flexible serial interface and over-air configuration
  • Tough, low-profile form factor helps preserve system integrity

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