The National Marine Aquarium is a registered charity committed to promoting a sympathetic understanding of the sea through programmes of education, conservation and research. It is the lead partner in Just Add H2O, a programme for schools that aims to bring the marine curriculum alive. Opened in 1998, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon, operates the largest public aquarium in the UK, including Britain’s deepest tank, and has since become one of the most popular attractions in the region.
The award-winning Aquarium has a complex internal structure to accommodate its 55 tanks with much of it underground in damp conditions. The staff had previously used an analogue radio system consisting of a Tait repeater and Rexon and Entel handsets, but the sound quality was poor and the coverage was incomplete with a number of black spots where communication was impossible. The National Marine Aquarium was considering investing in a digital solution to improve its internal communications infrastructure.
Premier Communication Electronics (PCE) provided the National Marine Aquarium with the following:
- 40 x Hytera PD785 digital UHF radio handsets
- 1 x Hytera RD985 digital UHF repeater
- 1 x duplexer
- 1 x bespoke antenna system
- 35 x earpieces and microphones
- Application for Ofcom licence
- Programming and installation
PCE’s engineers carried out a site survey to identify the black spots before setting out to design a solution that would overcome all of these.
The repeater was installed in the Aquarium’s technical room attached to the bespoke antenna system, built by PCE’s engineers using a four-metre mast to give it the height required to ensure the signal from every handset could be received by the repeater. A duplexer was installed to enable the repeater to receive and transmit at the same time.
The Hytera radios provided by PCE gave the National Marine Aquarium the waterproof solution it required. The handsets were even tested with a quick dip in the shark tank, although they would normally only need to survive the inevitable puddles and damp conditions that surround the tanks. The handsets also feature large HD colour displays than can be used for texting purposes.
The digital handsets coupled with the ear-pieces and microphones from PCE ensure each of the members of staff can hear each other clearly above the noise of the tanks.
The Aquarium was keen to upgrade its radio system to a digital version and PCE set about designing a solution that would meet their needs for complete coverage and better sound quality. The bespoke antenna system solved the problem of the black spots and the waterproof 40 digital handsets and earpieces eliminate the noise interference from the tanks.
The National Marine Aquarium has invested in a Hytera solution that also gives staff members texting capabilities and the ability to make private calls between users or groups of users.
Every handset is also equipped with an emergency button too so help can be immediately called for should an incident occur involving a member of staff and or one of the thousands of 280,000 visitors who flock to this attraction every year. This solution perfectly illustrates how efficient a two-way radio system can be for businesses that want to communicate to multiple members of staff but operate in large, noisy and challenging premises where mobile phones are simply not suitable.
National Marine Aquarium managing director Dr David Gibson said: “As a busy leisure attraction, it’s important that our staff at the Aquarium have access to communication systems that help them keep in touch with each other, wherever they are in the building.
“We know that the Aquarium is a challenge, given the number of tanks which can cause interference for radios, but we are confident PCE’s new solution will be a welcome addition for
our teams on the ground.”