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Automatic/Resistive rope locks. What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by Protech, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. Relentless Rigging

    Relentless Rigging New Member

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    Bill have you ever seen an off-the-shelf system do this? These are not even riggers and the system was weighed for the woman, 30lbs lighter.

    This CW system exists because an innovative design team set goals. User-friendly, self-contained, self-plumbing, positive pedal lock, retractable liftline etc.

    If your consultancy made an equally innovative approach to manual theater linesets you could advance them from 1927 Model A technology to 2017 Toyota safety and usability.

    That nobody else has done it in 100 years is all the more reason to do it.

     
  2. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    I understand your motivation there, Derek, but I have to disagree.

    *That's not what you're training people for*.

    This is the old "do we put ashtrays in the no-smoking restroom anyway, so people don't burn up our TP dispensers" question, to an extent. Or, more to the point, it's "NFL football is so dangerous *because of* all the padding and safeties"; it is, in the final analysis, a false sense of security: you're training people that it's safe to be more careless, when out in the Real World... it's not.

    "Your scientists were so busy thinking about how they could, that they didn't stop to think about whether they should." -- Ian Malcolm
     
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  3. Relentless Rigging

    Relentless Rigging New Member

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    That's an argument for rear wheel drive cars with drum brakes, steel dashboards and no seat belts.
     
  4. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Relentless Rigging Are you suggesting there's a problem with this? My 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate Wagon took me everywhere I pointed it including into the rear bumper a a fellow in front of me when I fell asleep, but that's another story.
    Maybe I should've had the radio turned up louder and more windows open?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  5. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As I noted, I've done very manual counterweight in new builds recently, so I have done something in getting clients to move into the 21st century by motorizing. It seems what you are promoting would allow an out of balance condition and would require more than 50 pounds on the rope lock, which I believe is contrary to the ESTA standard and normal practice - and I'm simply not going to take on that liability. If its important to you, work to get the standard to allow it.

    That something has not changed in 100 years, does not automatically make it bad or wrong. (Cooking dinner over a campfire in a cast iron dutch oven comes to my mind.) I'm still waiting to see the cost benefit analysis of this kind of change at the end of the era of manual counterweight rigging. I don't know if its 10 years or 50 years but installing counterweight in new build is coming to an end that is not that far off. Yes, motorizing will have to improve, but it has improved so much in the last 20 years I have no worries it will continue and as the market (continues to) expand, I'd guess the pace will increase. And I'm not convinced that a high school with all motorized rigging can't do more than one with counterweight simply because of the man hours and skills needed. And I note the things motorized can do well - like handle premature stripping of an electric or building a video wall piece by piece. And it seems to handle performer flying pretty well also, and at higher acceleration and speeds than manual.

    Besides, I don't like to do R&D with my clients budget. I like tried and tested and accepted technology. I don't want to tell a client that "no one has ever done it like this before" when there is a hitch. Let manufacturers with much deeper pockets and much more potential reward build some and offer it for less as a way to get it in the field.
     
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  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Well, what are we training people for? Life as an independent rigger right out of high school? Probably not.

    The hard truth here is that most students who work on their school's shows will not go onto technical production as a career. The ones that do will sooner rather than later be in an environment where someone will be hand-holding them through their rigging systems, whatever they may be. Zero percent of them will start out their career as independent riggers. Any TD who encounters them on their overhire crews should know better than to let their youngest crew members loose on their counterweight sets without training and supervision.

    Most schools don't want students touching the rigging at all anyway. Designing rigging systems with the express intent that they provide professional-grade experience even if it comes with extra hazards under the guise of career development is misguided. Students are more likely to be brought into the professional art and technology of theater through acting, production design, set construction, lighting, and audio than anything to do with the lifting mechanisms above the stage. To that end, if having motorized rigging with safety mechanisms like load cells and slack line detection means schools can comfortably give students a little more leeway in how they use these theaters than we're one step closer to fostering in a students a career interest in this industry.

    --

    As for motorized v. counterweight, in all likelihood the prices for motorized & for automated sets will come down over the next several years. It'll still be subject to the cost of materials and won't see the decline that LED's have realized over the last 10 years, but great strides have been made recently in bringing the overall new construction installed cost down compared to counterweight. Once that comes to a little more fruition, it'll be even more compelling once combined with the lowered operating costs of not having to spend money on all the labor of shlepping bricks day in and day out.

    The trend toward motorized/automated isn't going to be staved off by any nostalgia for counterweight systems or the idea that any day some VC startup is going to revolutionize the way we think about counterweight systems with disruption and without adding costs. Counterweight will, by its nature, have far-reaching implications on requirements for structure and installation that motorized has already begun to address.
     
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  7. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Wait.

    I seem to be getting replies that suggest people think I object to motorized rigging.

    That wasn't the post I replied to. I was solely talking about automatic braking line-locks.

    As for what people are being trained for, I tend to assume they're being trained for what is in the real world -- which is mostly traditional rope-locks, right? I don't see that we do *the people who will do the work* any favors by training them on stuff that mostly isn't deployed, and I'm perfectly happy, for the record, with "no one touches the flyrail until you're signed off" -- we're not *trying* to avoid stupidity; we're trying to avoid accidents from trained people (with these fancy stoppers) (as far as I can see).
     
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  8. de27192

    de27192 Active Member

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    I agree, I do not think that counterweight should be specified for new-build theatres.

    It is lifting machinery and whilst it is hand-operated, it is operated in a manner where the operator can easily lose control and the system continue with the lift. There is no emergency stop button. This makes it hazardous to a point where I feel it's difficult to justify it at all, nevermind justify designing it into a system.

    You always hear the flymen whinging that you can't feel it snag on a cloth or whatever. But that 'feel' is just replaced with visual information instead. Used responsibly I don't feel that powered flys loses anything but offers a lot of safety benefits to both the operator and others working on stage. It should be on the cards for all major theatres to upgrade to powered flys.
     
  9. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely. The check for my theatre will be... oh, $150k or so; you can make it out to...
     
  10. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @de27192 Oh you're making me feel so much older and just when I got comfortable with those new fangled cast iron weights replacing my sundaes and leaky sand bags!
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  11. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    In a high school, not one centered on the arts, I'm not sure what's best for the staff and students while there doesn't override concerns about training for after school.
     
  12. JonCarter

    JonCarter Active Member

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    I began my theatre work on a crew in a Jr. High (not one centered on the arts) built in the '30s with a counterweight system. We learned VERY fast to apply some common sense to batten loads and c'weight numbers. Then high school (again not one centered on the arts) built in the early '20s. Hemp house with about 30 line sets and 2 (count 'em, 2) sand bags. We learned VERY fast that if you're moving things, you'd better know what's on the batten and who's on the line set with you. College was a dream. Auditorium built in the late '50s. Counterweigt system except for the light bridge, which was powered. Again: a bit of common sense re: batten loads vs. counterweights and no problems. (Outdoor theatre interspersed with the above. Whee! No flies, but lotsa rain on the electrics!) Then a few years in a community theatre plant built in the '40s--counterweight system--common sense re: batten loads & weights--no problems. Then a couple years as TD for a children's theatre company which used a Jr/.High's auditorium. Counterweight system. Worked with high school crews. We ran a lot of shows, including a production of 'Peter Pan' which ran on weekends for 5 years. Three people flying, 2 spot lines w/2 operators for each. Harnesses sewn out of canvas by the costumers. Never dropped one. THINK what will happen when you move something (or for that matter, do anything). KJH 1-1.jpg Common sense. The most important safety device you have is the one between your ears.
     
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  13. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Oh ghod... someone's mentioned home-grown flying... 1/4 :)
     
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  14. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @JonCarter Oh silly me! When I first read "Outdoor theatre interspersed with the above. Whee! No flies, but lotsa rain on the electrics!" my initial take was 'No flies? How odd! I'dve thought lights in an outdoor theatre would've attracted flies like crazy' similar to "moths to a flame." It was several hours later when it dawned on me you meant an outdoor theatre with no flown line sets / scenery et al. How dumb I felt to have glanced over it and thought immediately of bugs and the associated constant maintenance. Oh dopey me!
    For 13 years, 1964 - 1977 I used to co-maintain a 10Kw commercial AM transmitter site in farming country outside of Hamilton, Ontario. On cooler spring and fall evenings the bugs were clamoring for the heat of the building escaping from the densely screened air vents. When you drove down the lane to the TX building in the midst of the six towers, you learned to rapidly unlock, enter and re-close the door before turning on the interior work lights as you'd basically need to fight your way through the swarming flying bugs frantically fighting for access.
    Outdoor theatre and no flies. Please forgive my momentary lapse.
    I think the line that will stick with me from your post is:
    "The most important safety device you have is the one between your ears."
    I know it's the one that allowed me to service two 10 Kw transmitters on dark lonely nights and live to tell about it.
    Yes, of course I know we should ALWAYS have had a buddy with us when working inside either of the transmitters but people do take vacations and maintenance does go on. I can already hear the chastising I'm about to receive but, in my opinion, I'd rather be alone servicing gear I'm familiar with than in the company of someone totally unfamiliar with the cautions required when working within comparatively high voltage / high RF power level environments.
    In 13 years I only received one RF burn and that was due to making an adjustment to a air-cored tuning coil out in an ATU at the base of a tower when the engineer in charge barked on the wireless "Plates are OFF" seconds before he'd actually pushed the "Plates OFF" button. I still remember the aroma of my scorched flesh and I also learned to have Les keep his mic keyed on so I could hear the reassuring clank of the contactors once he'd actually pushed the "Plates OFF" button.
    There's ALWAYS something to be learned. Sometimes you learn how to do something and sometimes you learn how NEVER to do something. Both are equally valuable lessons.
    I'll relinquish the lectern and descend from the podium.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
    (The daffy old blind geezer)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  15. JonCarter

    JonCarter Active Member

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    We didn't have many files, but the mosquitoes were pretty fierce at times. And there's nothing like trying to focus in a light rain--asbestos leads love to soak up water. Everything sizzled a bit. One learned fast to work w/one hand in pocket and wear rubber soled shoes. Painting with stage paint was fun, too. Often had to re-paint things after a good rainstorm. We finally switched to casein paints in about 1956.

    Directional array, eh? When in high school I worked weekends at a local radio station in Cleveland. It was the "black" radio station, and my staff anncr. and I were the only two white guys at the outfit. We worked the Sunday shift when all the nationality shows were on. the Polish, Slovenian, Czech, German, Russian, etc., show hosts wouldn't work with black crews. Studio & transmitter at one location--5kW non-directional. Never had to get into the backside of the transmitter when it was "hot" tho.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2017
  16. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Automatic rope locks to ancient radio transmitters? Oh my.
     
  17. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @BillConnerFASTC @JonCarter @derekleffew @dvsDave @What Rigger? @Jay Ashworth @TJCornish @FMEng @MNicolai @de27192 @Relentless Rigging @TheaterEd @StradivariusBone and @ ALL OTHERS [As if]
    Perhaps the significance / importance of Jon Carter's post was lost or skimmed over. In any event I strongly believe it and suggest it bears repeating; Quoting Jon Carter:
    "Common sense: The most important safety device you have is the one between your ears."
    Whether you're working alone or as part of a team.
    Whether you're following the rules to the letter or violating every rule in sight.
    Whether you're teaching / working / learning in an educational environment or have been at your trade for decades.
    Whether inspectors are on the job site that morning or known to be in another part of town.
    I postulate @JonCarter 's guidance should prevail.
    One more time: "Common sense. The most important safety device you have is the one between your ears."
    Thank you @JonCarter for the benefit of your experience and wisdom.
    Thank you @BillConnerFASTC for prompting my reiteration of what I firmly believe is a concept of paramount import.
    Quoting @BillConnerFASTC : "Automatic rope locks to ancient radio transmitters" As Mr. Conner astutely points out:
    Mr. Carter's basic guidance stands the test of time in a great variety of arts, crafts, trades and situations.
    Thanks again ALL for raising this to the forefront and keeping it there for the health, life and longevity of all.
    As always:
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
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  18. JonCarter

    JonCarter Active Member

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    Wow! Thank you, Ron! That's the nicest thing anybody's said about me this week. :) Or maybe in several weeks.
     

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