Cable Track instead of cable pick motor

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by JBKC21, Mar 25, 2017.

  1. JBKC21

    JBKC21 New Member

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    Hey all,

    I've done a ton of reading on here but have never posted. I can't find the answer I'm looking for, so here goes!

    I have a very interesting setup here at my venue that makes using a motor for a cable pick very challenging. I have to worry about aesthetics just as much as function. I've researched everything from cable reels to block and tackle type systems. None seem to be what I'm looking for.

    I've came up with the idea to use cable track that is normally used on automated manufacturing equipment. I've never seen this done before, so I'm curious if it's ever been tried. Pros? Cons?

    Here's a quick example of what I'm thinking.

    cable track example.jpg|none
     

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  2. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I have worked with this kind of setup and it works pretty well if you don't anticipate frequently changing the cables running through the IGUS chain (it's a brand name I know, but I've never heard it called anything else). A couple of thoughts:

    The stuff is not as rigid as one might like when full of cable and used in this orientation. In one work place they chose to buy oversized IGUS that was more rigid, but excessively large and more expensive. In another we had to build structure on top of the lower truss to collect the chain and to keep it from falling over sideways. Neither was a terrible option.

    Buy the nicer stuff that you can press a cable into without completely splitting the tray in half or using a pull line. Otherwise you'll be upset with yourself when you need "just one more ethernet cable".
     
  3. JBKC21

    JBKC21 New Member

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    Thank you for the response. Would only have two cables going thru the track, 1 DMX and 1 Soca. These cables would only be changed once a year when we prepare for the colder months and revert to a basic par rig. The stuff I'm looking at is the IGUS E-Chain series. It's about $800 for 40ft.
     
  4. JBKC21

    JBKC21 New Member

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    Not a great example because we are currently setup for NCAA's but this will give you an idea. Typically, we have a DS and US truss hung from the main rig. They usually live about 5 feet below the main rig for our shows.
     

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  5. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    That sounds like the right stuff. Just make sure it has the split in the top of every link so you can push in a new cable when someone decides to throw you a curveball.
     
  6. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I've worked with a similar product in my automated scenery shop days and our manufacturer, who I can't recall, referred to it as drag chain. We were using it to protect dimmed circuit power cables and AC servo motor drive and control cables within six automated floor tracks in the full width automated tracks within the floor decks of the various productions of the musical 'Tommy' we built for Offenbach (Frankfurt) Germany and London, U.K. Feller Precision found a very heavy duty, ball bearing jointed, metal version which could be used to push substantially heavy rolling scenery upon the two decks we built for Andrew Lloyd Webber's North American touring version of "Sunset Boulevard". Yes: Steel chain you could push. Four lengths of Feller's steel chain were used to roll several tons of Sunset's two story mansion down and upstage supported upon hydraulic accumulator powered scissor lifts custom built by Handling Specialties. The hydraulically powered lifts were heavy on their own and then came the weight of that two story mansion on top of them. Those were two very expensive leapfrogging touring decks entirely covered in 3/4" matte black Arburon.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Something else you may want to consider is an idea I borrowed from one of the elevated stage lift manufacturers. I first saw this installed in 1973 by Otis Elevator Limited and it's still working happily and reliably. They fabricated two lengths of two inch schedule 40 steel pipe each approximately 12' long then added custom hinging at three points.
    One heavy duty hinge is supported by the concrete floor below the seating lifts.
    A second, inverted, identical hinge is supported from the structural steel framework on the underside of the lift.
    The third hinge is where the two pipes meet crossing each other a few inches from their free ends.
    Threaded couplings and Kellems Grips were added to all four ends of the pipes and elevator control cables pulled through the two pipes with generous loops left for gently flexing at all three hinge points.
    There are two audience seating lifts, the smaller for the first four rows of seating on its tracked rolling wagons and a second for rows 'EE' through 'HH'.
    Points to consider:
    a; This system generated considerable side thrust but nothing the vertical locating tracks for the lifts couldn't handle.
    b; This system is still working while you can see many abandoned retractable cable reel assemblies littering the floor beneath the lifts which were also installed in 1973 for various other systems including mic and line level audio lines along with 70 volt speaker lines from the original Altec under-seat speakers installed under every second seat on multiple stages of delay.
    Decades later, somewhere in the early 2,000's, I copied Otis's hinged pipe system and employed it to solve an oversight on someone's part in the design of the seating lifts in Toronto's Four Seasons Opera and Ballet Center.
    If it's been working reliably in Hamilton since 1973, I see no reason why it shouldn't work just as well forty miles down the road in Toronto. General contractors PCL seemed to agree and were pleased to see a proven solution. The IBEW foreman requested our blessing to route some of his "over-seen" cables up the outsides of our over-built system.
    Possibly we have someone from either of those two venues here on CB?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    How about a stacking cable guide?

    [​IMG]

    Similar to the method ETC uses with their Prodigy, I believe.
     
  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Not too bad but substantial flexing occurs at the 180 degree folding / bending points.
    I believe I recall a previous CB poster complaining of having this problem in his venue on a regular basis.
    With Otis Elevator's methods, the cables came out in approximately 5' loops of liquid-tight mechanically protective flex at the ends of each of their pipes. With each pipe being approximately 12' in length and being only sightly off vertical when at their highest points of travel, the vertical travel requirements of the lifts were accommodated.
    If the arrangement in Hamilton is still working since 1973, I find little fault with it.
    Simple, solid, elegant mechanics. (Pillars of the elevator industry.)
    My answer to the OP's changing of cables twice yearly would be to install enough capacity to house all of the cables all of the time and save the twice yearly labor.
    Multiple people, multiple thoughts, multiple choices. Pick your solution and get back to us in 44 years.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  10. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    ETC offers a pantograph system like this but their Prodigy Cable Management is completely different. For appearance it can't be beat.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2017

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