Cue lights...?


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Has anyone had any experience with using cue lights? Our theatre is now changing the rules so that for the first time, people backstage will be calling the show, and we were wondering if it was worth getting cue lights...
Also, whereabouts could we get them from, or could we even make them?

Thanks in advance for your help and input!
Cue lights could be useful for providing cues such as for the Pinrail if they are not on the headsets or others of the crew in remote locations that need a visual Go signal but are not in site of the stage manager. It's also useful in moving a mass of people on stage such as for a chorus of them. The Chicago version of the Rockettes Christmas show in past years has used cue lights for instance no doubt for this purpose.

Such a "go" light could especially be useful for less practiced casts or chorus's who might not know what lines to be listening for or have not been following the show. Short of having a "people mover" having some visual "stop light" off stage would be useful.

As for buying or making them, it's fairly easy to make dependant upon how bright, focused and intense you wish to have. Such things are possibly just as cost effective or required to be bought dependant upon your situation. Most theatrical supply companies worth their salt can probably either make or find a source for such things and there would be a number of options from A-Lamps with shatter proof covers on them to some form of LED system. Otherwise if you have surplus lighting fixtures, one gelled red and another gelled green/blue would be sufficient when installed and focused in an easy to see place to be used as a cue light.

Control of them can either be as a switch at the stage manager's podium, or run by the light board as per a lighting cue.

Possibly good to have one lamp (Red) as "standby", the other (Green) as "Go". There is other options such as leaving the red always on other than when in "go" mode. Could do red/yellow/green also in having both options.
One possible idea if you are making one is to get a 2 way switch. When the switch is in the center nothing is on, push it up and its ready as ship said, and bring it back down and it sends the power to the green. Make sure you never have two on at the same time at any rate.

I actually have a question though as well. For a Cue light , which I have never heard of before, is it a light that is like somewhere onstage or near the arch and everyone out in the audience can see, including say followspots that can't use a headset, or is it in a location where only people offstage or something can see. It sounds rather usefull however.

What makes sense to you? Would it be a good idea for someting that the audience can see, or if tasked for the follow spot (not normally a us for such a thing but in going with it) something that instead might be better fitted as per a LED above the fixture so it's only the operator that sees it?

Same with back stage be it mounted in a porthole, or dropped in behind a leg of some sort.

Lots of ways to do it by way of origional theater's Q light system were even if removed, there might be a duplex box with conduit near the fly rail if the theater is old enough and you now know what it's there for, or if it's just some box dropped in just above head height that shows some lamps. Perhaps some reverse focused Lekos etc. Something noted as a cue.

On the two way switch, a on/off/on switch would certainly work for having only one phase of power and rated for the amperage. Not specifically as a threeway switch rated for this purpose, nor would a two phase switch when jumped between phases for dong this. Thus is in part the question of making something that is acceptable within the authority of those that make rules for what your theater can and cannot do, verses that wich even if the same at times is made and more factory in construction.
I guess that depends on what you need to get done. I know that it doesn't make very much sense to place it where the audience can see it, if its only needed for backstage, but more of the application I was thinking would be like at my school where we have two followspots and not always enough working headsets. Something like a go light like that places in an area where it wasn't very noticable unless looking would be rather nice.

Other than that, I was thinking just a really simple system with a 9v and a switch with a couple wires. Nothing to complicated. The idea was that it could be easily put together for a show (in my mind not much has to be more perminant than a week because thats all our shows ever run for) and then able to be dismantled or changed readily for the next show.

Now heres a question--a system with a control box that has an on-off-on switch in it and a 9volt battery. One could run that through XLR cable, possibly? I know some people use edison cables and adaptors for their speakers, which is dumb, but this is 9volts, so even if someone plugged a mic into it, well, phantom power is DC, right? if it is, then all you are doing is giving a mic 9 volts of "phantom power." And, if you are using it with LED's, you probably only want about 3 volts, so you'd knock it down...infact you coul djsut use two AA's. Anyways, connect one lead to each "hot" side of the switch, and the third to ground, and there is a 2 light cue light system which can be used through a snake.

It's very possible that it won't work, please tell me though, so I'll know. Otherwise, I might build one. My intercom system doens't work well for some shows, and I'm increasingly finding myself running shows that I do not know at all. A cue light would make it rather simple, and avoid having the director who's sitting in the audience whisper me cues (she tends to not talk nearly loud enough!)
sorry about the crappy circuit diagram...

again, don't build or use that until someone says it won't kill your board!! I have no clue if it will think you are giving it an input. It might work if you put diodes on each lead in the first box, but I don't know!!!!

edit: another thing I forgot!! Somewhere somehow you need to make sure you use the right voltage. You could install a chip that regulates the voltage, preferably at the end right by the LED, to get it down to 3 volts.
bdesmond is correct in stating that the cable will add its own resistance but you would have to use a fairly long cable run to reduce the power form a 9V battery. 30’ of 22AWG cable is going to have a total resistance of less than 1ohm (copper cable resistance for 22AWG is 0.0162 ohms per foot).

Just remember to use (Length x Resistance x 2) to calculate the resistance in your cable (as a 30’ cable is really a 60’ cable as power has to flow to the LED and then back to the battery).

To run a LED from 9V you need to place a 390ohm resistor in series with the LED.

There are charts available that will tell you the resistance of copper wire per foot or if you have access to a low ohms meter, then you can measure it yourself. This is the chart that I have:

<table align="center" border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="6">
<tr><td>AWG</td><td>Resistance in ohms</td></tr>

I would stay away from trying to harness phantom power are there is a possibility that you could short it and cause damage to your board.

In your first proposal, you were going to attaché the positive (hot) leads to the switch as well as the negative (ground). Be careful with switches as it sounds like you may have caused a short. Some switches are dual pole and others are single pole. Dual pole switches are two separate switches in the same package. You will commonly see these used in situations where you want to reverse the polarity feeding a motor, like in the power windows, sun roof etc on your car. Push the switch one way and the motor turns clockwise, push it the other way and the motor turns anti clockwise. Other uses are where you want to turn off both the Active and Neutral input on a device. For your purposes, you only need a single pole switch.

When wiring your ON/OFF/ON switch, take the positive lead from the battery and solder it to the centre terminal of the switch. Next, connect the positive lead for one LED form one of the remaining terminals and the positive for the second LED from the remaining terminal.

Your switch should look something like this:

Terminal 1: Positive to Red LED
Terminal 2: Positive from battery
Terminal 3: Positive to Green LED

This way, when the switch is in the centre position, neither LED is illuminated, Push the switch up (connects 2 and 3) illuminates the Green LED and pushing the switch down (connects 1 and 2) illuminates the Red LED.

If it were me, I would power it from a plug in power pack as it will supply a constant power supply. You probably have some kicking around home that don’t get used or were left over after the appliance it use to power or charge was thrown away.

[edit - I have no idea why there is so much space above my table]
Mayhem said:
[edit - I have no idea why there is so much space above my table]

Mayhem, it's really quite simple. If there was no space above your table, you'd have trouble sitting around it to eat. :)

and I think my diagram has it wired like you suggest--positive to the switch, switches between two leads from there. Ground is not wired to the switch, only to pin 1 onthe XLR's.

And yes, I have TONS of wall warts :)

The cable in a snake...any idea what AWG it is? I don't have a snake with me, especially not the snake I use the most. I do have a few mic cables lying around but I think wiring in a snake is a smaller wire...
JahJahwarrior said:
...I think my diagram has it wired like you suggest--positive to the switch, switches between two leads from there. Ground is not wired to the switch, only to pin 1 onthe XLR's.

And yes, I have TONS of wall warts :)

The cable in a snake...any idea what AWG it is? I don't have a snake with me, especially not the snake I use the most. I do have a few mic cables lying around but I think wiring in a snake is a smaller wire...

Yes - the picture is correct for the switch but my comment was in relation to your initial post and also as a warning when wiring things up. Have seen a few melted wires from people shorting out their power supply with an incorrectly wired switch.

Not sure on the AWG of a snake and I would imagine that it would vary depending upon the quality. Last one I remember using was possibly 18AWG - but that is just a guess.
Well then, I might make a guess. At most I'd think you'd only have 1-5 ohms resistance, and that's not going to do much. I mean heck, the quality of most resisters is plus or minus 5%. If anything the LED will be a little bit dimmer.

And yes, in my origina post I probably did describe it wrong :) thanks for warning peopl!

Now all i need are some project boxes, TRS 1/4" jacks, a spdt switch, and some LED's. I wanna build it! :)
Well, I built one. If anyone wants pictures or detailed info, I have it and can give it. It's in two modules and will work with a snake, you could build adaptors for 1/4" even 1/4" TS, but with TS you cannot have a warning light and a go light likeit does now.

It's held in two project boxes, each rather small, about the size of my hand. on-off on switch, red power LED, power jack and wallwart, I used "Size M Coaxial" power jacks and plugs or something like that. yellow warning LED and a green GO LED. Short XLR leads on each box.

so, I feel accomplished! ;)
Looks good - well done.

What axe is that in the picture. Les Paul in style from what I see.

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