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DIY vs. Money

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Clifford, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    This is what I'm facing: At the end of this last school year, our school's digital media class gave us 3 big fresnels (they might be even larger than 8"). I have two questions. Why do all the other departments at my school have better theatre equipment than the theatre?

    But my real question is this; the new lights all have male stage pin connectors, and our theatre's channels are almost entirely L5-20F. We have a couple stage pin sockets left in the wings, in floor boxes, but these are too far away for us to run the fresnels on the battens. We need adaptors. We have no money. Should we create adaptors ourselves out of old stage pin leads and a few new twistlock connectors, or wait for money. We don't need these lights, but we'd really like to use them.

    kthanxbi
     
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    When it comes to this type of work, I always insist that it ONLY be done by someone who knows what they are doing / has the appropriate skills and traning. I would never allow a student to deal with wiring just for liability reasons, even though I have know many that know how to. If your director or other staff member is skilled in this area, I would suggest they do it, or wait for the $$$$.

    Another thought; perhaps you can get one of your school maintence staff members to wire the connectors for you. Of course, this would depend on your directors relationship with the department. Often times theatre folks in educational settings have a great relationship with such school support staff. Many districts require these individuals to maintain certification as an electrician (amongst others certs). Just my $0.02.

    ~Dave
     
  3. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    First, those fresnels are intended for the TV/Film industry, so make sure they won't trip a 20a breaker.

    (This applies if they are under a 20a draw)
    Also, remember that adapters are for temporary changes, which in your case it sounds more like you need a permanent solution. The easiest thing to do is find three twistlock plugs, and remove the stage pin plugs, replacing them with the twistlocks. Only do this though if you have some electrical handiwork up your sleeve already, otherwise you should find somebody who does know what they're doing to do this for you. It's simple though, and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to complete

    Secondly, in answer to your first question. The difference is simply; your digital media department only needs three, a typical theatre wants as many as they get, and at some schools this is 10 or 20 times the amount of fresnels that class needs. And that's only the fresnels.
     
  4. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    We only have 7 fresnels. Well, 10 now.

    Thanks for all the input. I'll check up on the 20A part. I still have to find the make. When we got them we only had fifteen minutes left on the last days of school. They worked when I ran them to the stage pin channels I mentioned (and nothing tripped or died or burnt). In hindsight, I probably should have checked them for amperage first.

    We aren't actually that close to the maintenance people. Fortuanately I know a volunteer in the science department from robotics. He's got certifications for all kinds of things electrical and mechanical (works as a mechanical engineer at Northrop Grumman). I'll ask him.

    Thanks again for the help guys.
     
  5. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hindsight is always 20/20 :)
     
  6. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    That's a phrase we use a lot in our theatre.
     
  7. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    Not to be a stupid headstrong kid, but wire it yourself if you really must --

    I ended up wiring a bunch of adapters for my old school, though most of it was Stage Pin to edison, just because it needed to be done and didn't have the money to get real adapters

    plus the theatre store by us "made" all of their adapters as well, with the same parts from home depot that I used, though I think they painted the adapters so they weren't bright fluorescent orange and yellow.

    make sure to do your research before hand -- measure twice, cut once (I can't think of a better analogy in this situation, just don't get yourself electrocuted!)
     
  8. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    I think it would be quite a feat to get electrocuted by nothing that wasn't live.
     
  9. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    Oy, yes, the point being to not be electrocuted once it is plugged in and BECOMES live ;)

    (yet another reason not to plug lights into hot circuits, but that's a different issue...)
     
  10. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    I'm pretty sure I'm just going to go with the volunteer. He has every degree of soldering certifaction known to man, so I know he's got some electrical in him.
     
  11. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    To follow up on students and wiring... And I'm not saying it should never be done but... Sometimes I am surprised by the mistakes even experienced people make. Shortly after high school I was working with a friend who knew all kinds of things about electronics and wiring. We had done electrical projects many times before which made me wonder...
    You see, we were doing a production of A Chorus Line at a community theatre. We borrowed 20 ellipsoidals from our old high school so we could get a downlight special for every dancer on the chorus line, and the community theatre had no surplus. The problem was, the high school was a newer 3-pin install and the community theatre was a 1995 twist lock system. So we begin swapping connectors on the lights. (No adapters or budget for renting them). We made a deal that we would each do ten and would set them in the corner as we completed them. As we were both on about our 9th instrument he looked at me and said, "Which way have you been hooking up the ground?" I said that obviously I had been connecting the green ground wire to the green painted terminal in the connector. He answered back with "Oh, I've been putting the green wire in the silver terminal and the white wire in the green terminal."
    Well the big problem was out of that pile of 18 or so instruments, I had no way of knowing which ones each of us had done, so I had to go through each one separately and correct the incorrect ones. It sucked, and it was pretty frustrating because we didn't exactly have much time. Plus, I had some pretty good friction blisters going on by now, but I am glad I found out before they went up to the grid where I hot focused them. (Background: This theatre had a large semicircle thrust with a non-movable lighting grid directly above the chorus line). But what if I had never found out?

    Maybe I should have known, after all, he was the same guy who once three-fer'd a Strand Iris cyc light and tried to plug it in to a backstage wall outlet using a 3-pin to edison adaptor. The result of that was a good-sized burst of sparks as soon as the plug was put in the receptacle. The lights didn't come on and it destroyed the adapter. Interestingly enough, it didn't trip the breaker.

    I guess the point of these stories is; even people like this guy, with years of electronics classes and technical theatre experience, sometimes don't think.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    How many times must I say "Male End First!"?
     
  13. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    How strange... I always thought of it as "a 3-pin to Edison adapter" takes a 3-pin theatrical light and adapts it to work in an Edison outlet. An "Edison to 3-pin" would take something like a table lamp with an Edison plug and convert it to 3-pin. I guess I'm backwards. Am I going to hell?
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Depends on which Lighting Shop you rent from.
     
  15. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    Turns out the fresnels draw 16.7 amps max, so it's not a problem. Just have to get the connectors changed.
     
  16. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    that is the logic at my shop.

    When asking for a adapter you would start with what you have and go to what you want. While that doesn't fit the way power flows it makes more sense from a logic standpoint, since most feel they are converting the light to the outlet as opposed to the outlet to the light.
     
  17. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Eh, I just call 'em MEDs and FEDs based on the edison end of it. However, for other things (say L6-20 to stagepin), we do use the "what you have to what you want" standard. But always use M and F to denote which end is what when it's not a MED or FED. For instance, 5M3F or 3M5F or L6F-PinM.
     
  18. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I've been disillusioned by Derek.

    I suppose I'll have to change my ways.
     
  19. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    May I kindly refer all member of the "what you have TO what you want" crowd in the direction of any Lighting Textbook that contains a "Shop Order" section, even Designing with Light?

    And would someone please get me an InHell to IceWater adapter?
     
  20. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Briggs and Straton make a very good model of that kind of adapter. [​IMG]



    On another note, You should not paint cables. The paint can break down the rubber jacket. Also, never paint span sets, because the same thing can happen. Home depot and practically every wire store carries black SO cable. Its very unprofessional to paint an extension cord black. I also hate it when people cut up extension cords to make a bunch of adapters.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2008

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