In Autumn of 2014, Precise was chosen by our client, a leading parking systems integrator in Australia, to supply and integrate dynamic LED variable messaging signs to the Scheidt and Bachmann (S&B) Access Control system at Hobart International Airport (HBA), Tasmania.
Before discussing the final solution, it is important to understand the different key parts to this project. Firstly, there was the obvious Scheidt and Bachmann Access Control hardware – the loops, the boom gate etc. Secondly. there was a central Server with the management application from scheidt & bachmann, which handled the data processing. Next, because there was no existing physical conduit available to route a wired connection between the sign and the server location, the decision was made to have a radio/wireless link between the two locations. Finally, there was the LED signs that would display the counts.
Below is the schematic of the different systems. Ultimately, it was decided that Precise would deliver the key elements as described below-
1. a system that would read and extract the parking count data from the Scheidt & Bachmann application and deliver the data to the signs
2. the LED signs
The key problems that precise would have to solve here would be:
1. Successfully integrate the signs to the Scheidt & Bachmann system.
2. As the Scheidt & Bachmann management is a stand-alone proprietary product, Precise would have to design the intermediary (hardware+software or software only) solution that would help do point 1.
3. Create and test the above solution to work with the custom wireless communication requirement.
4. Ensure robust communications between the signs and the Scheidt & Bachmann server that is more than a kilometer apart using a wireless link
The architecture of the final solution is as per the illustration below.
The Custom Software Development
The first iteration of the solution was very different from the final one. The initial approach was to use an off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi controller board from a 3rd party provider. This controller would be housed inside the sign enclosure. The Raspberry Pi would have the processing code to fetch the counts and translate that into a display. However within a few months of running this solutions, precise would that the 3rd party devices would stop communicating. After a few instances of this happening, Precise decided that the best decision would be to move to a new implementation altogether, which was the final version as seen in the illustration.
In this approach there was a singular Linux PC which resided along side the client’s server and on the same network. The linux PC would have a script running that fetched the counts data form the server and transmitted that to the signs over the wireless link. The Ethernet to Serial converter at the sign side would convert the message to serial and broadcast it to the sign over the RS485 bus.
The second iteration was a success. Despite the challenges of having to replace change implementations, the final outcome was a stable solution without any drop outs or inaccuracies.
Subsequent developments at similar sites such Westmead have resulted in a windows- executable application that can reside in the client server that can communicate with multiple sign on a LAN.
The LED Signs
For this implementation, Precise used it’s The LITE series 200mm(character height) 4 Digit sign display from the Theon LITE series. At the time, this was our latest range of signs, which was being used already in multiple number of sites across Australia and globally. The robustness of its design and the fact that it was specifically engineered for outdoor parking applications made it an obvious choice.
The LITE series 200mm 4 Digit sign comes in an IP65 enclosure, which means that it is protected from total dust ingress, and that it also is protected from low pressure water jets from any direction. This makes it suitable for the outdoor conditions in Tasmania.
The 200mm character height is Precise’s recommendation (and accepted generally across the industry) for such outdoor use cases. In addition to this, the signs are also designed with LEDs rated for optimal outdoor performance.
Often in-bespoke implementations such as this, things rarely go as planned. You will be required to ideate and iterate several times over. This is when expertise serves as a crucial differentiator. Our client was looking to Precise to deliver a working solution that would help them hand-over a successful project. Precise was able to leverage many years of hands-on experience from being on-site for countless hours solving and troubleshooting similar problems that our customers may face. This experience coupled with our highly skilled in-house engineering team that can deliver cost-effective and efficient solutions, means that our clients have a highly reliable partner in Precise Displays.
Do you have a project today that Precise can help you deliver a robust solution for? Reach out to us and we are happy to have a chat to see how we can help.