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Electric Remote Winch

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by Austinro, May 11, 2007.

  1. Austinro

    Austinro Member

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    We are doing a choral/dance routine to some of the music of Jesus Christ Superstar in a couple of weeks. Because this is a Catholic school, there is a huge cross hung above the stage that we generally take down for shows and such. For this show, we would like to do something different and lower the cross remotely for "Superstar." Combined with a flying scrim and some gobos, it should be an amazing effect. For this plan we need a winch that can be remotely operated. It only needs to lift 50-100 lbs, but it needs to be remote to around 200 ft (the distance to the control booth). We can run cables as needed. The lift speed doesn't need to be that fast.
    Thanks
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    how much money you have? Your going to need a serious winch to do what you need to do. To SAFELY control a moving load with an AC motor, you need a variable frequency drive and everything that goes along with that, some sort of controller, a brake for the winch, motor and drum, shivs, cable, and all that other stuff. Your looking in the 5-10k range for the whole setup. You are not going to be able to go out and simply get an off the shelf 12v car winch and make this happen, they are not intended to hold things over someones head.

    So... with that said... I would stay WAY away from an electric winch of any kind, unless you want to rent a chain motor which would be totally doable and safe, slow, but safe. So a few questions.... have you guys ever flown anything before? Do you have a grid of any type? I am going to assume you do not have any linesets. You could rig up a pretty simple block and tackle system that would easily fly what you want, however, if you don't have any clue what that means, you should not be doing it and no one here will help you.
     
  3. Austinro

    Austinro Member

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    We have manual flypoints to where we need to go, as we fly things all the time. We want to automate as much as we can, hence the motor. And we have a special tech motto, and it goes to the tune of "Nothing is too sketchy for ________ theater." We just need a remote winch for relatively inexpensive. If we don't find anything, we'll just probably make one and run an extension cord. If we run a worm gear, we won't need a brake, as the downward force won't have enough torque to pull the gear. We would like to buy or rent something rather then having to go through the trouble of making it.
    We had specialists come in the past to make actors fly for Peter Pan, and through that we learned a good deal of the basics. We also have an alum who is the brother of the current light designer who recently graduated from UCON with a tech theater degree, and we have some Tish graduates who we have in the rolodex if we need help in a pinch.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I don't think you understand that if you are not qualified for this, you should not be doing this. Controlling items with motors is one thing, and its pretty easy to do, but doing overhead automation of any kind is a serious risk if not done properly. Also, ANYTHING OVERHEAD HAS TO HAVE A BRAKE, PERIOD. Odds our this thread will get closed because it is discussing rigging, but before that happens I think we need to get it through your head that you should not be doing this work. I am not even going to bother touching the "Nothing is too sketchy for ________ theater." That is just a horrible idea. If you want to do this right, go rent a chain motor, it will set you back 150 a week. Your best bet would be to rig it to a lineset and fly it, I have no idea why you are trying to over "engineer" this, and I say that very loosely. Learn the KISS method, Keep it simple stupid.

    I am happy that foy or ZFX came in to do your fly work, but haveing a brother of someone thats an LD does not mean he can rig, the lighting guy can rig, or you can rig.
     
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I shall refer you to Creative Conners Inc.. It sounds like what you need is the "Pushstick" and the Avista Controller. I believe all can be rented from them.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Thats a great company, and they make some great stuff. If that is in your price range, go for it, I would have them send a tech to set it up though. Running automation is easy, setting limits and safe working speeds for automation, not any fun unless you know what you are doing.
     
  7. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Footer, you're the man!

    "Nothing is too sketchy for ________ theater." is scientific proof that the inmates are running the asylum. AKA- you. are. an. idiot.
    So I will say to Austinro: Stop. You, your pals, your in-laws, your acquaintances, your LD or whomever- are NOT riggers. Go hire an actual rigger.
     
  8. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    Austrino I am with Footer. This sounds like an unsafe project unless you pay professionals to come and install this equipment.

    Also remote controlling it from the booth adds to the danger. This should be controlled from the stage to prevent accidents. The operator needs to have a clear line of sight to prevent accidents.

    How were your fly crew trained. Was it handme down traing from the last crew or did you have qualified trainer come in.

    If your crew hasn't had qualified training then spend the money on that instead.

    Definitely do not design the system yourself without professional help.
    Your comment about not needing a brake scares me.

    Whatever you are flying will be exerting back pressure on the motor.
    A worm gear without a brake won't stop the motor from turning when it is unpowered. Different weights will just mean the scenery comes down at a different rate. Ask your physics teacher if you don't believe me.

    Just remember you and your fellow high schoolers are not bullet proof.
    If you have enough trained flyemen just fly it in. You can disolve the scrim with lighting then fly it out. It wouldn't also need to be done all at the same time. Also how would you stop the cross from swinging as it's been lowered?

    Sorry for the lecture but the old adage is "Safety First".
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Sorry Austinro, but I've got to agree. This is a VERY dangerous thing you are thinking about doing. Just because Foy came in and flew people for Peter Pan doesn't mean you suddenly know what you are doing. If you make a mistake someone could very likely get killed. GAME OVER, no reset button! Lifting heavy things over head is very dangerous and should never be attempted without professional rigging help.

    I keep telling this story but no one listens... Our college rents a larger proscenium theater for big musicals. In order to just fly a couple of drops in and out on their fly system, my ADULT student has to spend three days working with their in house flying guy before he will be given the ok to run the system on his own. THAT is how serious just running a simple counterweight system is out in the real world kids. Now your incompetent theater teacher may think a student "knows" what they are doing because Jimmy who graduated last year taught him how to do it. But that's not safe! The same thing goes for what you are talking about. Any time you lift something heavy over head you need a REAL PROFESSIONAL who KNOWS what they are doing.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2007
  10. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    If you have linesets why not use them? to save one crew person? I have built winches for moveing set peices on deck and there was nothing simple about it. The pharse all you got to do.. is something that makes my blood boil. Sure put in a worm gear, but this is the real world not some lego set were everything matches up and there are standereds. A pro star motor is not that much a week even with someone coming in to set it all up.
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    no, a motor will not run that much a week with a package to go with it, but if you are renting just one motor, your going to be paying for it.
     
  12. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    I looked quick online and found half ton loadstars for under a $125 a week which isnt too bad. Building a unit to raise and lower will be about 4 times that at least and not be rated.
     
  13. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    i've seen some homemade fly systems work...and i watched them fail while lifting just a 30-35 lbs. it came crashing to the stage floor and stoped about a foot from hitting it when a pully ripped out. thankfuly this was durring intermission and the stage was empty while things were being reset. I would hate to imagine what would happen with a larger load and another homemade fly system
     
  14. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    This is why having a bunch of mechanical and structural engineers hanging is always a good thing for a high school.
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Exactly. That is why you don't try to rig something yourself especially when your motto is "Nothing is too sketchy for ________ theater."
     
  16. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    fyi this was not a high school theatre....:-(
     
  17. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

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    ok, I would like to take this one step further, if no one minds. I was recently working at a high school as the LD. I am technically a rigger. I have rigged shows, and have attended Mountain Rigging School, workshops with Tomcat and Applied, etc, etc..... I, however, feel that I do not rig enough to be proficient at it and hire a rigger whenever I am putting big stuff up in the air.

    I was at the school and there was a father of a student, who is a residential construction worker (builds houses) with a few students and they were putting a $99 cable winch that they bought at Sams Club up in the air to fly a person in the show. They were going to bolt it to extra 2" lighting pipes that were in the show and put the pipes above the building steel. They were using standard hardware store zinc bolts and nuts and no washers to attach the winch to holes they had drilled in the pipe.

    I suggested that they hire a rigger, talked to the director and the TD, as well as the head of the department. They were convinced that this would be safe and would not take my advice.




    What does everyone think about that?!?
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  18. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You should have called OSHA, local fire dept, the schools insurance company. You should have not walked out of the building saying "its not my issue" when in fact because you knew better, it was your issue. That is very unprofessional to walk out and know that they were still going to roll with it. If you see something unsafe, I don't care if your driving down the highway and see someone on a scaffold without a harness, its your duty to report it. I might sound a bit harsh here, but you should never walk out of somewhere with a known life safety risk and let it still happen.
     
  19. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

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    deleted post
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2007
  20. len

    len Well-Known Member

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