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Conventional Fixtures Converting Twist-locks to StagePin

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by marcusianl, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. marcusianl

    marcusianl Member

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    Hello everyone,

    Last year, my high school received a renovation and we got a new stock of ETC S4s (11 19s and 22 36s) and 20 PARNels, plus 6 15 cell strips (not sure on the make or model).

    We have all our old Lekos, Fresnels, and strip lights (the Leko's are of various models, I think all the fresnels are Altman by the looks of them, but I was only at the school for a year before the renovation, and again I have no idea on the strips), but they have twist-lock plugs, and the new instruments are Stagepin.

    My question: should we change the plugs? I have no idea how much such an endeavor would cost, and I'm presuming that myself and my other crew members attempting to do it ourselves is a horrible idea. The new instruments do a pretty good job of covering the stage, but having some true fresnels to play with would be helpful and allow us to use the PARNels in other places.

    What is the going rate to get an electrician or other certified person to change the plugs for us? Is it even worth changing them? Our stage is 25' deep by 44' 2" wide, and the height is somewhere around 20' (haven't gotten an accurate measure). We have three on-stage electrics and one FOH catwalk.

    Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,
    Marcus
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Its about 5 dollars in parts, and usually takes 5 minutes or so a plug to do it right. Give your local lighting company a call, odds are you can just take the basecaps to them and they can swap them out. I would say 10 dollars a cap is not unreasonable.
    marcusianl and (deleted member) like this.
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    If the male connector on the old fixtures is NOT an L5-15 or L5-20, it should be replaced. If it is...

    Assuming the permanent building wiring is stagepin, and since you're not sure how much you'll use the old fixtures, a more economical solution may be to build or purchase a number of (10 perhaps?) stagepin (male) to Twist-Lock (female) adapters. Materials cost for these would be about $15/each. A quick internet search reveals a retail price of $30/each from one vendor.
    [​IMG]
    Adapter, Male Stagepin To Female Twistlock

    I suspect your local friendly lighting vendor could do better. If after a period of time, you find you're always using the adapters with certain fixtures, then you can/should convert those to male 2P&G.

    Yes and no. A worthwhile project, under the supervision of a Qualified Person, per the NEC. Any of the students have a dad (or mother!) who is a licensed electrician? Properly installing a plug, (commercial electricians call them "cord caps") is a great skill for students to learn, but does require instruction by a professional.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
    marcusianl and (deleted member) like this.
  4. marcusianl

    marcusianl Member

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    I think that might be the ticket. I'll talk to my instructor on Monday. I don't know if any of our parents are electricians, but we have a lot of friends in the local theatre community and I'm interning with one of them (a lighting designer) this year. Perhaps they could instruct myself and my fellows in how to swap plugs.

    For now, I think we'll get maybe 5 of those adapters, and then deal with converting all the fixtures later.
  5. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    The adapters is the best short term solution. It gives you the ability to use the old instruments and the time to learn how much you will use them. If you learn you are using them on a regular basis then change them out permanantly. Changing plugs is a simple and useful skill to learn but it is best taught by an experienced lighting person or an electrician. Many times you have to troubleshoot instruments and you will need to know what you are looking at when you take a plug apart.
  6. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the above posters on the usefulness of knowing how to change a plug and knowing whats inside them. Often, you will find shorts in there, along with loose connections that once you have been shown whats going on by a qualified person, you can then diagnose and fix. Just make sure that you get shown how by someone who is qualified, because you can screw equipment up (and yourself) pretty bad if you do things wrong. As for the adaptors, thats a great solution. You can even make your own, which will teach you how to make them, and its probably cheaper than buying them. I like mine to be about 18" long. While your at it, you can also make Edison to 2P&G adaptors as well, if you dont have them already. (Your already ordering the cable and ends...)
  7. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

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    Given that marcusianl mentioned that they were at a school, I think chances are good that the school district has an electrician on staff, or possibly a shop teacher who does wiring as a curriculum unit (I remember doing a basic wiring chapter in Industrial Arts in Jr. High). Might as well use the free resources when you can.

    I'm assuming that the school was converted to stage pin distribution as part of the renovation, but converting the old fixtures was not part of the scope of work, thus the leftover twistlocks. Since any fixture that emits light is useful for *something* in theater, I'd concentrate on converting the lot, instead of spending more per light for an adapter.
  8. theisbr

    theisbr New Member

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    Converting the plugs is not very hard like many others have said. I remember doing it back in High school, and it has been a very handy skill to have ever since. It allows you to troubleshoot, diagnose, and sometimes fix problems with cables that have come loose from the connections in the plugs. I like the idea of getting the raw materials and making the adapters yourselves. It should only take about 10 minutes of instruction if you have some mechanically inclined students that can distinguish color and use a screwdriver.
  9. marcusianl

    marcusianl Member

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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. This coming week I'm going to be in school working on setting up the space for the year all week (teacher planning, so the school is open but students don't have to be there). We do have a shop teacher, but I don't know if he teaches any electrical curriculum. I'll ask, and if not there's some TDs at other schools in the area who can help us out. The administrators are usually pretty good at letting us do what we need to do without complaining about it, so getting the parts should be easy.
  10. ishboo

    ishboo Member

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    We have two theatres at my school, one has twist-lock, the other stage pin. Our inventory is all stage pin now. Students with little experience made them (safely) and they work quite well.
  11. dramatech

    dramatech Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    Marcusilani,
    Where in Southern Florida are you?. I am in Central Florida, and might need an excuse to visit the South.
    I am and have been both a theatre and certified master electrician for many years. You can contact me at dramatech@verizon.net.
    No charge if we can find a mutual schedule. For the next few weeks we are loading in Gypsy, but then I am free during the week for several weeks.

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