Technology has changed how musical fountains are run, and the way in which sound & light shows are controlled.
What is common between the laser fountain at Jamshedpur, the indoor musical dancing fountains at Wonderland Amusement Park in Bangalore, the Veegaland Amusement Park and the interactive play fountain at Kochi, and the sound & light show in the Andamans?
The answer: they are all using an infotainment controller, which has the ability to synchronise sound and visual effects. These controllers can be integrated with different forms of entertainment such as laser shows or sound & light shows. We have developed two different infotainment controllers. One, a software-based controller, is both a playback controller and show edit controller. The second is a CD-based controller, which only controls playback.
Infotainment solutions are popular in the tourism industry. Having been behind many dancing fountains in India, we are also aiming to set up fountains and sound & light shows in the Middle East.
A software-based infotainment controller can be used both as a show editor and to control playback of a musical dancing fountain. The software controller has components such as show editor, digital fountain controller (sequencer), Opto isolator relay interface, relay panel, hydraulic controller and audio controller. The show editor software has a response time of one-twentieth of a second, or 50 milliseconds. A keyboard is used to activate the fountain formations or light channels. The software provides all the features to program the songs according to the ability of the programmer and the choreographer. The latter can hear the songs and select suitable fountain formations which suit the beat and pitch of the music. The software allows the choreographer to activate any fountain formation and light effect at any particular time.
The show-control software is the brain of the musical dancing fountain, and the sequencer is the heart. The sequencer receives the signals from the PC, interprets the signals, and routes them to their respective channels and circuits. It is connected to the PC through a serial or USB port, and comes in different capacities depending on the size of the fountain. The sequencer is available in 48 channels, 96 channels and 144 channels capacity. It interprets the signals from the computer, and routes them to the Opto isolator relay interface. It then provides an interface between high voltage and low voltage, takes in a low voltage signal from the sequencer, and gives a 230 V output to activate that particular channel and circuit. The Opto interface isolates the fountain controller from the high voltage electrical controller, and thus acts as an in-built protector of the fountain controller.
Then there is the relay panel, an electrical panel which has contactors to control each fountain formation and light circuit. The relay panel takes in the 230 V signal from the Opto and activates that particular contactor; the panel also has the facility to activate the fountain formations and lights in manual mode for day-to-day maintenance of the fountains. In addition, the relay panel has an SFU unit as a safety requirement.
That’s not all. The hydraulic controller controls the fountain formations, plus there’s an audio controller with an amplifier bank and matching speakers spread over the viewer’s gallery. The audio controller is designed as per the site and customer requirements. Audio signals from the PC are beamed across the gallery through the audio controller.
Musical Fountain Video Gallary
Our CD-based standby controller is an only-playback controller used for operating the fountain. Songs are programmed through the software-based controller, then the programmed songs are written onto a CD. This CD is played through a CD or DVD player. The signals are fed to an audio sequencer, which is analogous to the sequencer of the software-based controller. These signals from the audio sequencer are fed in to the Opto. The show value of both the software-based controller and CD player-based controller are the same.
The traditional control system for a fountain is based on PLC (programmable logic controller) and contactors, which are used extensively in factory or electrical controls. These are general-purpose devices that do not provide a general framework for implementing standardised designs. Some of these designs use even tape-based replay systems.
There are also some manufacturers who adapt the DMX (digital multiplex) controllers (which are used for lighting control) for implementing these infotainment solutions. However, lights do not have the kind of latency that is characteristic of electro-mechanical systems, hence these DMX control-based shows are not well synchronised. What’s more, DMX-based systems depend on the PC for timing out the sequences, and also lack the flexibility of on-line edits, calibration etc.
The latest infotainment controller is custom-made to be a dedicated general-purpose controller meant for a range of applications where a mix of high latency, low latency and zero latency products are used together. (For example, the dynamic movements in a fountain have very high latency, solenoids have lower latency, and light & sound systems have zero latency.) It has also been custom-made for features such as online play-back-edit, which enable the system to learn the latency of any particular channel or device, and adapt it to the entire output. The controller also has built-in redundancy. The 50-milliseconds timing interval of the controller provides close synchronisation. Finally, the design is made dedicated for a variety of infotainment shows, and this enables the user to use one type of controller for the many attractions that may be in operation in an amusement park.