MC HAMMER once said...


Well-Known Member
Can't touch this!

Today during crew call, I was running a cable to a floor pocket. The pocket was under a tab, and when I grabbed it to move it out of the way, I felt a cable in the curtain. Upon further investigation, I discovered that a cable was hanging down from the pipe the tab was on. I also saw that the cable had no end on it, just bare wires! Just then, it swayed a little, hit the curtain, and *POP* it sparked! Somehow, there was a live wire hanging from the rigging of a tab and I had no Idea how it got there, or why it was bare! Scary part was there were kids running around the stage all day due to crew call and one of them could have easily done something stupid like stick it in their mouth or swing from it or something! I traced the cord to the first electric (which had been turned on for worklight) and immediately unplugged it and dropped it from the pipe. It seems like I don't flirt with death as much as death flirts with me!
Wow, that sounds safe.

I wonder what that cable was used for. It must have been put there for some reason, I mean, no one is stupid enough to run a bare cable from the electric down to the deck. Either that or someone was mad at the theater and wanted to burn it down...
My guess was someone had a boom off the side of the tab and needed one more circuit than the floor pocket had available. When they removed the boom they yanked it away from the power conductor from above instead of un-plugging it first. Possible especially if they did not know that it was getting power from above and they thought that by un-plugging from below it was all done. Were not very observant crew people but it no doubt was a strike. This or they yanked down the power feeding the boom from above without getting out a ladder than removed the boom. In any case it was done from a distance without manually un-plugging the connectors no doubt. This one had loose terminals and the plug came loose instead of the connection.

The bare end than was not noticed either by those coiling up the cable or working in the area, or someone figured they would get back to the problem. I can see this especially if the connection were taped to prevent it from coming apart given it’s a suspended connection.

Of even more worry to me is not just the bare live conductor hanging off the pipe, but more the fact that the wires came loose from the plug. You have one that would come loose, you probably have a lot of them that are loose enough to come apart when given a good tug. These loose connections within a plug are just as dangerous as the bare wires and something I would be concerned about. A quick and fast thing I might do immediately upon strike would be to do at least a shake and tug test to both ends of all the cable within my inventory. The shake test on Edison and twist type plugs will detect the wire clamp that’s loose but won’t work as well on stage pin plugs. It might however detect loose wires. Stage pin plugs I might open up the cover of to run a verification that the terminals are tight, and if used crimp terminals are sufficiently done. In this way you can also check strain reliefs are not on conductors but jackets instead and ensure all of your cable is in good condition. Get out the pin spreading tool also.

Time for a good maintenance call to the cable. Just as when one end of a cable falls apart, there is a really good chance the other end will have similar problems, when you have one cable fall apart, there is likely to be issues with at least some of the rest of the cable in the inventory. It’s also a good time for training the crew in basic wiring skills to also ensure further repairs etc. are well done.
That's possibly the wierdest thing: The cable was perfectly intact, the plug had been unwired and just left there. The conductors were bent away from each other, but no tape, and it was barely off the ground!

I can't believe how anyone could pull off a show with how disorganized the lights are! I am way behind on Sleeping Beauty, mostly because of time spent simply finding things! I hope to get my toolboxes built during the run of the show, and that will solve most of my problems. I am planning on using Ship's cable label system, but I can't find where to buy clear heat shrink.

As far as training crew: what crew? I literally have one crew member, and he isn't even 100% reliable. He disappeared once for almost a week! Sometimes he will bring in his little brother, a freshman, to help. Past him, I literally have to bribe friends to come help for a few hours! I don't have anyone interested in lighting at all, except for one guy who might be coming on as an intern later in the season.

On another note, my assistant an I are in the process of installing rear speakers in the theatre to accomplish full 5.1 surround sound! (Actually 5.2, there are 2 subs, but we only have 6 amp-channels, so they are chained.)

Another cool thing more safety related is that my dad may be getting a body harness to donate to the theatre, so yay safety!
i'd love to help with lighting too bad i live in beloie wi.
Don’t feel bad, I probablhy have 50 people at one point or another I am forced to train that can be anywhere from semi-compitent to total idiot but paid as a professional lighting techincian. At the moment, the shop boss is gone on a tour. I’m taking bets on his semi-compitent even member of IATSE - assistant (or most experienced person left in the shop no matter the opposed politics of the shop) as to how many idiots he will fire in the next two weeks given last time and only for a week it was one person. Of note today, in bridging such a bet to him today he already fired me as one person almost as fired. Too bad I'm working for someone else - both our boss's, but in any case it's one person down as fired, and one person kicked off a local install given he was late to work and others just as qualified were on time to work this morning. Don't show up to work - no matter the importance of the show you are dooing and don't expect to work it. Instead push boxes for a day or living.)

Yea, “we hire only the best” has become more quote than reality. Can of at leat two hands worth of tech people only count at best one hand worth of even potentially able tech people living up to their status. The rest might as well get a job surving ice cream for all they care or are able to fulfill their jobs. Want a career in lighting, it's not only how qualified you are but how needy the market is for employment much less how many people without experience or IQ are willing to do the job economically you would otherwise excell in for a few months but advance further in in necessating someone in your absence of replacement for that might last a wee bit longer.

In any case, heat - Brian there is my dude. I also have another source for it in another brand - Insulation Products that will try their best and be good for other than what clear heat shrink Insulation Products offers, but does not offer in general the same grade of clear heat shrink the other company does. Should Insulation Products be sufficient in less than world tour use, it will be cheaper. For price it might be more economical to start with the smaller comany that will both print your labels and supply the clear over it than go onto the more national company for heat shrink that can also do it all but might not be as cheap.

Give Brian at Heat Shrink a call - good stuff his product. Granted it’s almost $6.00 per foot for me on a 3:1 or 4:1 heat shrink necessary to fit over a Soco plug than shrink down to a 12/14 cable, still they offer such things and as opposed to taking off the about 2.5" dia. Plug in an effort to replace the heat shrink on it, it’s who I call for a clear heat shrink that will shrink down and protect the cable.

Between McMaster for certain heat shrinks, Insulation Products and Heat for mostly clear and very specilized adhesive lined heat shrink, I do good savings given I buy at least 200' of 19mm 3:1 clear heat shrink every three or four months. What you pay is q question of what you buy. What I buy from works for me but there is lots of other vendors out there.

Note especially however that good quality heat shrink alone in touring conditions won’t prevent the heat shrink from re-expanding. You tend to need to physically glue the heat shrink to the cable to bond it with it and prevent it from ripping or expanding further. Such adhesives are another story and only necessary for huge abuse conditions. If you don’t abuse, you don’t need to glue.

Interns are fun and helpful, let them develop sufficiently in using the limits of their brain power you inspire them to consider above efficiency at first or you might just seem too demanding in commanding policy without reason. As long as you ensure a certain training program above what might suffice but not be perfect technique, and allow them breathing room to hang themselves, it all should work out fiine.

This past week I trained into replacing torn up ripped up heat shrink on cable to the one stand out person in the shop as having the lowest IQ of all tech people employeed by us. A seriously deficient IQ. Never forget that the drive to learn with others to you is not the same as you have. Teach what you can as best but at the end of the day, what little you expect them to understand the how and why to do of will be more worth what you had hoped than them understanding the why and rational of.

Teach your assistant to make you useless, but at least teach them to be sufficient with patience if less than you in abilitiy to understand. Alwasy also remember that as a assistant, they are a reflection of you. No matter the mistake, forgive, educate and forget - otherwise if not sufficient by such foot notes to benefit, fire them.

In assistants, what works for me beyond recognizing praise is not forgetting the carrot following the stick that is positioned beyond the general crew’s eyes.

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