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Don't touch the lamp.

Discussion in 'Safety' started by GainesWorthy, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. GainesWorthy

    GainesWorthy Member

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    In a Tech Class I was in one student, remaining nameless (No it wasn't me) was only in the class for an easy A. Half way through the year he realized this was NOT an easy A nor was this the right place for him.

    What made him realize he wasn't in the right place?

    When we were in our catwalk doing a light check there were 5-7 lights burned out. This was coming back from Christmas break. He was in charge of replacing them, when asked if he knew how he replied. "Yeah, I just take the bulb out and put in a new bulb. There were two things wrong with that. First, he didn't know how. Second, it's a lamp, not a bulb.

    So two weeks later we had the lights on in the catwalk at 100% intensity. We were having an assembly over some new policy that Char meck was going to apply.

    Suddenly 3 or 4 (can't remember exactly) lamps explode, and the white hot glass comes raining down. Don't ask why there wasn't a lens there, cause I don't know.

    Everyone was freaking out. And my teacher, I and the smarter students running the assembly just planted our palm into are face.

    He was forced to switch classes, but sadly not pay for the lamps.....

    A very careless, mistake done by that child, very careless.

    -Gaines
     
  2. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    A church rents out our theatre every sunday. I've never been on the crew for it, but word spread like wildfire my sophomore year when one of the pars (or maybe it was a fresnel) exploded. No glass fell though.

    See, here first year tech students only in it for the credit thinking it'll be an easy A... they don't touch the lighting instruments. That's done by upper-level students; if any Tech 1s want to, they can join one of us after school some day and find out what goes down.
     
  3. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I love my students, and give them plenty of room to work in tech, but they don't touch the lamps. I teach them how, and show them old burned out lamps, but I do all of the changing myself. Just easier for me to do it myself, and it saves me on lamps, ceramics, and damage to the instruments.
     
  4. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I teach them how to do it, but in the long run it has become something I've opted to cut out of the hands on aspect of the curriculum. For example, I once had a rash of lamps placed on top of the retaining clip, which ruined not only the batch of lamps but the ceramics in the lights. For liability reasons, that meant I had to do the labor myself to change out every ceramic. Loose lamps, bubble spots, two dropped lamps...Students of mine who go on to careers in lighting will, hopefully, have the aptitude to catch on to how to change a lamp and swab it. The majority of my students are just in to enjoy the class, and aren't serious enough to handle some details.

    Many students are more than capable of changing lamps - like the type here on CB, I'm sure - and I absolutely believe students are capable of professional level work. This part just isn't cost effective for me.
     
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    First of all, I believe that if you are running an educational program in our industry, the best way to learn is hands on. You can only get so much from books and talks. I know that lamps and bases can get costly, but there is not substitute for practical experience. Also, there is nothing that says that properly trained high school students can't handle changing lamps. This is all in addition to the fact that I wouldn't want to go around and change all the lamps myself, I have better things to do.

    It happens, every now and then you get careless people, or you get trained people who just make a mistake. I am sure that every one of us has, at some point, grabbed a lamp by the envelope and neglected to clean it. It happens. Most of the time though, you learn after you get catastrophic failure. So, maybe the person in the OPs story needed some extra training or supervision. If it is obvious that someone doesn't know how to do something you should help them.

    I hate to say it, but if the OP knew or had an idea that the other person didn't know what they were doing then the OP should have stopped to help. If you knowingly let someone screw up it is as much your fault as theirs. It sounds harsh but it is true. We are talking about an educational situation, if you know something and someone else doesn't but needs to, teach them. If you feel unqualified to teach, then find someone who is qualified.

    You never want to sacrifice safety for any personal issues you have with another person. Just because you don't agree with the motivation that a person has for taking a class that you enjoy doesn't mean you should let them make mistakes that could/did cause safety hazards.
     
  6. ReiRei

    ReiRei Active Member

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    If you only teach a kid how to do it without letting them try, they're going to fail more at it. Luckily, I had two really helpful lights guys show me how to do it. And when I messed up, they were just like, oh well clean it off and try again. Now I can show people how to do it properly.

    What's going to happen if those kids go off to some theatre company and they have never actually changed a light? Someone's going to hit them with a stick, and then show them how to do it. Probably a good skill to learn... huh? You can't learn just by watching, theatre is hands on.

    People need to be honest about when they touch lights as well. My light crew is usually good about it except for a couple people. They just clean off the lamp in question and then put it in, without touching it. I've never seen one or heard of one exploding in my theatre. However, our lights aren't usually at 100% for functions, they're usually at 70%.

    And I bet this "careless child" in question wasn't taught properly. Nobody's going to put their hands all over a lamp on purpose. Ahem... and if he's in the class for an easy A, do you think he really cares whether or not it's a lamp or a bulb. Really, don't be insulted if he obviously wasn't there to be a theatre genius.

    I have an idea... woo I'm smart... Teach kids how to change lamps with already burnt out lamps. That way they can get a feel for it, and not actually break anything. Problem solved.
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I think Sayen's reasoning is that there's more to changing a theatrical lamp than just pulling out the old and putting in the new. The contacts on the old lamp, as well as the socket, should be inspected for evidence of arcing. The new lamp, if of a bipin style, must be inserted fully into the socket, this can be scary for the unitiated--always afraid of the lamp breaking off in one's hand. If an ERS, the fixture should be bench-focussed with every lamp replacement (some fixtures require it).

    All have vaild points in this debate. I've worked on touring shows where the road crew would not let the local guys plug in certain connectors (Mass connectors come immediatlely to mind) as the risk for damage by the untrained was too great. Yes, it's a catch-22, but many tasks in our industry are like this. I don't let a person run a followspot for a concert until they have successfully a) shown prior experience, b) completed the training class, c) shadowed an experienced op during a show, d) run one of my spots for a simple show, or several. Even then, they are not permitted or taught how to change the Xenon lamp or perform maintenance/repair on the fixture.
     
  8. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Following on from Derek.
    We have loaders come in to provide extra man power from bump ins and bump outs. Is it a sad reflection when one of the first questions asked of them when commencing an out is do you know how to disconnect NL4?

    Frankly I would not be leaving to a loader any connection around that fickle master fibre, nor would likely any of those who use it in an entertainment environment. It's too easy to get wrong and too expensive when it does go wrong. There is also a reason why threadlocker and glue impregnated heatshrink are used when assembling our multipins as a layer of resistance to those who are not able to work out how to disconnect them and instead twist the whole connector:twisted:.
     
  9. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    Sounds like fun!
     
  10. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    Although I've changed lamps multiple times before, I'm still curious as to what happedns when when the glass breaks in your hand?

    By this, I mean putting too much pressure on it and breaking it, does it implode, explode, just break, or what?
     
  11. cbmac

    cbmac Member

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    One example I saw (not me) caused a nasty slash in said hand...he used gloves next time. Thought I'm sure even leather could be breached.

    I don't use gloves but some sort of protective media to hold the lamp and attempt to put insertion pressure on the base only.

    What are other peoples methods? How and what do you choose to swab with?

    What is the general feeling about the Korean lamps? We seem to go through a bunch of FLK's in our catwalks. One guy thinks Osram or other brands might be better.

    We also smoke a lot of bases for these. Any thoughts?

    Regards,
    Mac
     
  12. 1kfresnel

    1kfresnel Member

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    The foam packing inserts that come with the lamp makes a nifty protection device for installation and removal, and in my opinion, are better than gloves. The reason for this is two fold. First, the inside of the foam hasn't been fouled up with who knows what as much as the fingers of your favorite tech gloves have been. Second, having one insert in every box, along with a pile of extras on the lamp shelf, there's no excuse not to use something besides your bare fingers! I've seen people overlook this simple, built-in tool as a candidate for changing lamps.

    I have come across some lamps that are packed in more of a protective cardboard holding mechanism built into the box, which is why we keep the pile of foam from previous lamps handy. Another useful trick for lamp packing foam -- a damper for floor microphones, it's just the right thickness to pad under them. An sound vet once taught me to angle the floor microphones a few degrees back towards the stage, and by folding over the edge of the foam it works out just right.

    I couldn't agree more with keeping the pressure to the base as much as possible! Inserting bi-post lamps can be an unnerving experience for some first-timers.

    If the unfortunate does happen, we swab our envelopes with a small dose of 90% isopropyl alcohol.

    I permit our students to change lamps, and we really haven't had much of an issue in recent years. We have a wall of busted lamps as examples of why, including one that has a nice big fingerprint from the former TD right on giant bulge. From day one of training, we stress don't touch the lamp, don't touch the lamp, and don't touch the freaking lamp -- and if you do, notify myself or one of the senior light techs so we can clean it. I believe hands on experience is essential, and I find leaving the door open to say "I touched it" without recourse has worked out very well. A simple cleaning and life moves forward.

    The students are shown how lamps function in various instruments, and I explain, visually, why a deformed or exploding lamp in an ellipsoidal is a real PITA that can damage the reflector either directly, or indirectly when the lamp has to be broken to remove its bulging envelope from the reflector. Thankfully, I haven't had to break a stuck lamp in years. I also have a lecture on letting lamp cool, and not getting the super-hot envelope melted to your skin and next to impossible to get off as it's burning through your flesh. :) Gobos are a different story...

    While working in a school setting, our lamps come through the districts central inventory and are subject to lowest bid. That being said, I haven't had too much trouble with either lamp life, or base damage (though I do keep a few spares around at all times -- it always seems like one of our older instruments is on the bench for some TLC). [PET PEEVE] Getting people to not leave the lights on all day is more of my lamp-life problem. The facility is used for orchestra, theatrical dance, etc during the school day. The old house manager panel is not reprogrammable/re-patchable without sending the IC back to the manufacturer to have them re-burn it, so they generally end up turning on way more than they need/should have and letting them run for hours. I would simply let my light board run a timed program but the schedule varies so much. [/PET PEEVE] I am working on new controls, but they are still a ways away.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
  13. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    In highschool we always changed the lamps, and never had any issues of people touching the lamps. We all knew not too. I actually try to wear safety glasses or make sure the lamp is wrapped in something, such as the foam packing material, or rubber material they come with, just incase of breaking. I once had a FEL blow up in my hands while i was holding on to it searching for new ones on line. It scared the crap out of me but that was about it as far as injury. I then recenty had a brand new HPL blow up on me when i was installing it into a brand new S4. It scared the crap out of me also. I was just pushing it down on the lamps metal base and the globe blew off of the base. Most reciently i had to dislodge a studio beam lamp out of a fixture, it was so swollen that i could not get the lamp out of the fixture, so i ended up breaking a part of its globe off to get it out, then proceded to dump the glass fragments out of the fixture. When it comes to mass connectors i hate touching them, they are very fragile and i perfer to let the audio techs disconnect those. The lamps that scare me to touch are our 4k xenon lamps. At 1000 bucks a pop, and another 2-3K worth of blown up optics if the lamp were to blow is not fun to be around. Plus there is a 3/4" bolt that bolts the 2awg wire to the lamp. They look like big welding wires. It seems very wrong to put a ratchet on a lamp. I use alchohol to wipe down the lamps if they were accidently touched, and on the mover lamps i wipe them down to be safe, with the enclosed cleaning swab they send with the lamp.
     
  14. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I have the same problem - now I leave only the cheap lights plugged in when I'm not the one using the room. I wish I could get away with billing other departments on campus for lamp hours when they leave the lights on.
     
  15. chris325

    chris325 Active Member

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    Although I have not witnessed any lamp explosions, I recently took down a Colortran 50 degree leko to hear the sound of broken glass inside. I then proceeded to spend the next hour completely taking apart the fixture to remove the shattered glass, which had worked its way into every part of the fixture. (Yes, I realize that Colortrans today are completely crap. Almost all of my high school's lekos and fresnels are Colortrans, along with our board. Really, the only great fixtures we have are four source four zooms. We plan to replace the quickly dying 24/48 board with an ETC board, along with phasing out all of our lekos with source fours.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  16. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    That's how I've taught my students to do it for 17 years. Just telling them how it's done without letting them do it is like taking a correspondence course in dance--you can do it, but what's the point . . . :rolleyes:
     
  17. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Yup, what's the point?:
    [​IMG]
     
  18. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Alex, you just made my Christmas card list . . .
     

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