Most hated equipment

How did you get your lousey gear?

  • I bought the hype. (It looked so COOL!)

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What piece of gear is first on your list of things to blow up when you finally get your pyro licence?

Mine's my Mackie power amps. Let me just say... "Don't belieev the hype!"
Interesting topic and whilst I have had my professional pyro licence for several years, I cannot recall blowing any of my equipment up.

Perhaps this is because my philosophy is that (unless it is broken) it is going to be good to someone. I was really lucky when I started out in that a lot of my initial gear was either donated to me (sometimes through generosity and other times because it was a tax loss if it went missing from the original owners inventory), purchased second hand at a very good price or I have fixed stuff that had simply been tossed out. Even today, I am in a position where I get very good deals on some new equipment, and I still take abandoned gear, fix it and give it a new home.

I have also been able to build some of my equipment as well, which has really helped out with the cash.

Over the years I have sold or traded for better equipment as the money has come in and whilst I will often warn people about buying “lesser” brands, if they can afford something a littler higher up the food chain. However, if that is all they can afford, or if they have a plan to buy that and earn some money so they can upgrade, they have my total support.

Remember, at the end of the day you need to have something to enable you to do the work and earn the money. As soon as you are profitable, you can sell the old and buy better. If you have nothing to start with, it makes it more difficult to earn a buck.

For me to throw something away or blow it to bits – it would have to be beyond repair (either to the cost involved or the scale). In fact, if it were working and I had no use for it I would give it to someone who would benefit from it.

This is not to say that I have not had days where I would just love to send something on its way with a thundering ka-boom and puff of acrid smoke. I don’t want this to sound like me saying that my philosophy is right and yours is wrong, as that is not what this is about. I am simply sharing my views and offering a little info on why I have these views and values.
i have my share of equipment i would love to get rid of, i checked off the "alll the school can afford" thing in the pole, even though that is only partly true. as far as lighting, all our fixtures and the circuits onstage are crap and extremely old. this really pisses me off because in 99 they ran new dmx and replaced the dimmers, but we are still using incredibly old lights... the other part is that the administrator in charge of tech does not understand the necessity for quality. the district just spent about 60K on a new sound system, but he makes me use those crappy akg mics that are like 5 for $100, i have been borrowing sm58s lately but he wont buy us any.... also, while im on my rant about stupid stuff with the new sound system, he wont let me move the board into the house, so im mixing from a horrible booth that sounds completely different from house!

ok my rant is done... for now
ccfan213 said:
... this really pisses me off because in 99 they ran new dmx and replaced the dimmers, but we are still using incredibly old lights...

the other part is that the administrator in charge of tech does not understand the necessity for quality.

the district just spent about 60K on a new sound system, but he makes me use those crappy akg mics that are like 5 for $100, i have been borrowing sm58s lately but he wont buy us any....
ok my rant is done... for now

And cited as a rant and not complaining, it still sounds like you have spoiled expectations of what you should be given,

verses the realization of the reality of what you have so far and acceptance of what's done so far and what you must now do to make it live up to your expectations of what you should be given as if a toy and not making art with what you have. No I don't know $20.00 microphones but do know what is now $20.oo might be of use to others given lesser budgets, or in comparison to real art made no matter the microphone in the past, no doubt much more quality than others have had to work with.

Seems a more excuse by way of equipment and lack of being handed the world standing in your way than making the most of what you have.

Anyway this is just my impression of what's said that hopefully while you no doubt do the best with what you have and are thankful for what you have, it's just those other goals not hardships put in front of you that prevents both art and enjoyment from taking place for you and others you present to.

As for incredibly old lights... same statement. If Appia and Craig could design without Lekos, and others such as Tipton and Rosenthal could given a pallet of incandescent ancient versions, also make art, it might be expressed that as with sound, it's not just the equipment standing in the way of the magic.

If you don't have pneumatic staple guns, you use screw guns and drywall screws. If you don't have them you use clout nails in making a soft flat. No matter the fastener, the flat is the same in the end. Theater art is without specific toys as a necessity they enhanse but are not the end to this either.
Ahh, therin lies the rub: He who can still mix a good show from any "where", any "how" will always be collecting fat checks. The trick for my brother who is exiled to the crappy sounding booth is to take frequent walks out to the house during rehearsals untill you know all the differences between how the two sound. Taking a few strolls has saved my mixes often, when stuck under or in a balcony, under the lighting guy's truck... wherever.
Back to the question at hand. I used to have a 5' aluminum ladder in the store room I'm charged with stocking. Along the back side of it, perhaps one out of four rungs was not broken. This in additon to paint step gone and spreaders kind of working at least correctly.

I finally had enough of the ladder about five years after it had become this bad. Didn't ask, just signed out one of the Menards cards - in this case the one with the General Manager's name on it, and got myself a new ladder.

Nobody told me to replace the ladder nor said keep it besides me dealing with all these years something that worked to some extent and would not be stolen by the production people as another specific reason not to replace it.

So I bought a new fiberglass 4' ladder. No 5' ones available. Within a week, production people were already swiping it, but it was too late to go back to the old ladder.

Instead of pyroing it, I turned it into easily recyclable materials one foot at a time with a Sawzall. This thing did not come apart easily, much less people across the other end of a large shop were upset with me for making so much noise - it was also not quiet to take apart.

It would seem everyone in the shop knew at that point what I was doing, but given the look about me would not stop me from making all that noise. No doubt they had at some point also climbed that ladder in wondering if it's legs would finally just kick out on you.

That was a good day and one that had been years in the coming.
I'm an option 3 type myself. Back in the day when I knew damn near nothing about IT, I spec'ed a few machines. Now the manufacturer gives recommended specs for the what if environment - high load, the works. Gotta know the environment you're spec'ing the equipment for in addition to the task it's going to perform. Think of it as spec'ing air force one to get your alderman to city hall. Now I spend far too much time complaining when people overspec equipment. One of my big pet peeves. No need for a ten pound bag and a five pound job.
ship: granted i may be a little greedy with the mics, but i know the school can afford it and is just being cheap. i forgot to mention the dangerous condition of our circuits and lights, the wiring is exposed, and there are abiout half as many safety cables as there are fixtures. two weeks ago when someone touched a wire, he didnt realize it was exposed, and iit burned a hole in his glove, and three weeks ago someone was shocked.

BNBsound: i often leave the booth to mix during concerts and stuff to hear the house, but because i am constantly muting and un-muting people during shows i cant get up and go outside to hear, and i have not had the opportunity during rehearsals to hear how things sound, i only got the rented wireless two hours before dress rehearsal,
I must say, I've enjoying reading your posts over the past year. Been lurking mostly and just started posting. I agree with you on what Appia and Craig could do with very little. Appia is my hero, and probably one of the best of all times. The difference is this though. The audience had never seen anything like that before. It was knew to them, and exciting. In this day and age of moving lights and computer enhanced sound, audiences want more than ever.

Having said that, I almost prefer to work with less. I've working in black boxes with 12 circuits, 10 6" fresnels and a couple of 3.5" elipsoidals. And I must say, the most fun ever designing that type of show. I'm coming up on my first show in our big theatre and we have somewhere around 212 circuits to work with. Don't know the exacts yet, I'm still pretty new here. But I can already tell that it's not goning to be nearly as fun.

That's just my $.02
I can remember back in the past sound people in a theater noting something like 20Db’s difference between the lower level and balcany - much less no ability to mix from the boxes off to the sides.

Still, given they realized some amount of techical specifications between where they ran sound, and even what specific parts of the audience would hear as opposed to others, they were able to do the mix no matter where located once the audience was let into the theater and for the most part changes stopped. Is it perhaps not possible to do your mix where you need, than move the board to where it must be in running the show?

Fixture wiring is not something that needs replacement by new gear, it just requires due care and supervision of it thus by those using it. Hmm, you note unsafe gear and someone using it burned thru his or her glove. Buy a new fixture, or disqualify that fixture from use before ever powered up might be in question here. Sorry and I recognize your efforts - understand me here, but still that you state as lack of investment is it seems in most ways a lack of investment in skill and time than something new gear will fix.

So yes, perhaps these cheap microphones are crap, and perhaps the school in investing huge amounts in other things are not investing in the less expensive and extensive parts of the system. Still the requirement is to do the best you have and make magic with what you have. Making your punch list for goals known by those that have a track record for investing in your theater will be helpful, but such things are also expected to be dealt with in having patience or stress on necessity over other things or paying off bills for what you already have.

I remember back in the day, I loaned some Nachamichi microphones to the theater. They were high priced and helped the sound people some. Such sound people of course found much more use in the shotgun microphone and sub-woofers, but they helped. In the end, given no doubt similar $20.00 microphones, the above on loan, and the single shot gun without wireless, they still did their best to do their job. There was goals but reality of the now also put them to work.

Read further into Appia. Yes, to some extent he made revolutionary innovations into lighting such as similar to the latest in moving light gear in an audience following as if the newest movie watching in liking or not these new developments, but also in doing his design and using what he had available, he made magic with it in presenting the support of the show in using stock gear - just in a new way. Me, I’m a Craig and Brecht designer - Neiher person by faith. Caspar Neiher created quite the designs all thru his career without modern technology. Craig like Appia invisioned things but when it came down to it, created it with what was available as my point. This in Craig in having a dream but only a few realized shows being the point especially. While he had vision, he at times would not compromise in making art with what he had available and necessary. You can walk from a productioin or you can do the best with what you have given the Neiher example. Art is still something that has been made over the years given those using the equipment to it’s extent useful, much less to it’s greatest extent.

Audiences expecting glammor and bang for their buck are a problem - just as on a technical sense, the intensity of light on stage has risen in expectations over the years. Key here is still to make art with what you have available and overcome the hardships in doing so. In your having fun with overcoming problems, it’s the key factor here. A moving light is a tool and of no more value than a carbon arc source where appropriate in your pallet. Given a more limited source of paint, you have to both make do with and still make art with what you have or can come up with given intent.

You will find even 212 circuits also limited and the challenge that’s the life to your design intent of making it realized and good.

If of help, and welcome to the forum by the way, it would seem you are split between the art they produced and the expectatations of giving the audience what you think they expect. The audience still viewing theater is a fickle bunch between the grandparents that would see the kids using bedsheets for capes and thinking it good, the parents in seeing the kids on stage and fighting for prime video tape camera space, the Broadway person expecting a show worth the ticket price and the faithful that will watch a black box show with crap effects for it’s story. Who is your audience, is only part of a factor in what you can get away with but not the goal. The goal is to make art no matter who is watching the show. This is what Appia will have been doing you recognized. No matter the equipment or intensity on stage, art in a show when supporting a production that’s making use of the effort - and the lights or sound not overpowering it as a problem, that art in lighting balance can be done no matter if ray lights or moving lights in supplement of the show given good design. Separate the paint in the pallet with proper beam angle and intent of use.

In reading my past posts, one might find info about a show I forget the title to where there was a suspected Hitler character on stage many years after his demise. The actor playing him could find his Hitler light anywhere on stage. This beam angle and in general intensity given even a single Leko was all this actor needed to put his presentation over the top of what he already was doing to make that question essential to the story. It by research was the exact angle needed to make him most seem like the Hitler of past news reel images of the monster. That’s the extent of the special effects - one Leko with even a EHD lamp in it that otherwise disappeared on stage and was invisible.

At least by way of me seeing it, or gauging the audience, this actor in helped by and using his special lighting beam was making art to a level similar and even more so than what some Park Ave nue resident might expect in NY to something large profile. They did enjoy the production even if by far more simple. Art was made. This enhansement of the performance can be in part because of the tools available in doing so, but is not dependant upon it. Much less the audience for this show were in no less enjoyment given this single specifically positioned Leko and not much else for better than normal lighting design, or expectations of them needing glitz, they did enjoy the show.

If you have a AF-1000 strobe light available in your pallet and it might be useful to a scene, use it. If your scene it would seem needs one but you don't have one, you overcome and come up with another solution.

Just design, let the TD figure out how to make it happen. This as opposed to retarding your design to make it work.
the school wont let me move the board. they have had several professional sound techs, including the company who put in the system and someone who has mixed on broadway and major concert tours tell them it is nearly impossible ot mix from the booth, and the original plan that the principal approved had the board outside, but the asst principal changed the plan at the last minute and wont let us move the board. the same guy is unlikely to let us fix the wiring, i dont know much about how to do it and idk if my ld does or not and i would not want to experiment with that kind of thing without actually knowing what im doing. but i am in the process of trying to get them to call an electician to come fix everything up.
ccfan213 said:
i forgot to mention the dangerous condition of our circuits and lights, the wiring is exposed, and there are abiout half as many safety cables as there are fixtures. two weeks ago when someone touched a wire, he didnt realize it was exposed, and iit burned a hole in his glove, and three weeks ago someone was shocked.

Hi Matt,

This is a definite safety issue and I am sure that you would sacrifice your new mics for the money to be used to rectify such things.

Regardless of where the board is or should be, the wiring should be fixed and if it has not already been brought to the attention of the school administration, it should be. Essentially, this issue has been present and known about for at least a month and quite frankly is unacceptable.

I would also hope that such accidents are reported to the administration and documented somewhere. What can seem a minor shock can later manifest as something a little more serious.

Obviously there is only so much you can do (or should do as a student) but the school has a responsibility to students. However, unless such issues are brought to their attention, there is little hope of a resolution.
our assistant principal has done nothing, even though we have told him several times over the last 6 months. sometime this week the guy whose glove cought on fire (he is a professional hired by the drama dept) is meeting with the head of the arts dept for the entire district because the school clearly wont do anything.
ccfan213 said:
our assistant principal has done nothing, even though we have told him several times over the last 6 months. sometime this week the guy whose glove cought on fire (he is a professional hired by the drama dept) is meeting with the head of the arts dept for the entire district because the school clearly wont do anything.

It amazes me how someone in the position of A/Principal can simply ignore such incidents. Has anyone gone over their head and taken the problem directly to the Principal?

Hopefully the fact that this is now being taken outside of the school administration may just embarrass them enough to change their policy. Although, it shouldn’t have to come to this.
agave said:
My most hated equipment: Is it made by Kliegl Bros?

Normally that's a "Is it Altman" question. Were I to choose a stage version of a Fresnel, it would be a Kliegl with it's screw adjusting crank once upgraded to stuff like grounede.

No matter the gear, while I'm opposed to destroying gear, when unsafe cutting the plug off in not making it usable without repair is a good standard for normal other than $2.00 per pin multi-cable gear. I would hope that in the case of the fixture that arched into someone's glove that it's plug was cut off while un-plugged, and the fixture was brought down for repair.

Such gear with supervision often can be and should be repaired by students as a maintinence type of educational thing. This given proper supervision. Anyone ever look at the metallic inner sleeve of many fiberglass braided sleeves over cable whips? While it certainly helps to repell heat, it also in a short will without a doubt be waiting for someone to make contact with the whip as opposed to just conductor in a short condition.

Anyway, my own stress is still that fixture maintinence is less principal or electrician responsibility than that of the students to learn how to do when they have supervision. Otherwise if you lack instruction, the same cutting and taking out of the inventory is still valid, only such equipment waiting upon you to fix with supervision or on a service call will at some point lessen the amount of fixtures available for use. This number than will be a graphic number of those in need of repar that need funding and attention verses those left in service.

If you need a rule on unsafe fixtures:

You cut the plug off the equipment not servicable, and if the administration has a problem with you doing so - given you otherwise lack proper supervision in fixing it or teaching you to fix it, - you just have them contact me directly. Not only am I on a first name basis with many manufacturer's engineering reps, but I'm no slouch myself. My rule, what gear can't be safe or within proper supervision repaired, it's made so it cannot be used and taken out of service.

Gimmie a break on being other than reasonalble but for the most part there is a difference between taking a sledge hammer to gear you don't like and what burns a hole thru someone's glove.
i cant go to any other admin because all they will do is go tell the same guy, who will do nothing. there is no one in our school who can provide us with proper supervision to put new plugs on, but the district electrician came today and said he will be back tommorow with stagepins :) so hopefully i will have safe equipment by the show im doing this weekend.
we don't even bother telling the admin about our broken equipment, usually me or my teacher fix it since we are the only ones who know how. If we go through the admin we would ahve to call an electrician and have him come in to repair it while we loose out on the equipment for a few years. It takes forever for things to get done through admin so we do it ourselves, and when we do something they don't like, we get yelled at by the union, and we don't care. For instance, for one of our shows, we covered the stage with plywood for a better dancing surface and teh union yelled at us saying we can't do that, yet they don't yell at us for painting the stage. We don't care anymore. So when our equpment gets broken, we fix it and no one hears about it. They only find out that its broken when we can't fix it ourselves. We do many repairs to lights, we always swap out the twistlock plugs for edisons and back, we don't listen to admin anymore.
Adaptors in swapping plugs is the key. Otherwise in ding the swapping of plugs type of thing, those cables just keep getting shorter and shorter with ever application of proper installation and not attempting to use pre-stripped wires. In my case, those trying to do me a favor don't do so, much less the not needed ferrules get stuck in the connectors in costing more than the extra effort in saving me time and not doing it properly will have implied. I now make most all cables a few inches to a few feet longer than necessary due to almost constant on-site change overs and doing me favors.

This also given those doing me favors in even using electrical tape to now outer jacket a 8/5 jumper in removing 18" of it's outer jacket at the male end so it can become the forgotton tails can "be saved". Must have been what... $0.40 cents in wasted electrical tape to "save" this cable that in the end will be replaced or just cut shorter anyway. No concept of effort per what's servicable.

Economical use of equipment means that if something more than once needs an adaptor or special piece of cable, it requires a adaptor or special piece of cable and not abusing what you have. This especially given 16ga wires on fixture whips, what in stage pin are you using to ferrule under the connector. Are you using the 12ga ferrules provided with the plug - a new one each time you had to adapt, or are you using in addition to the 12ga ferrule a 16ga one?

On initial wiring one can often use what's provided, but if trying to "save" the fixture whip length, your using crappy strands of wire is by far not an option beyond even using proper ferrules for the wire plus proper ferrules for the plug.

While not standard for the industry, such 16ga insulated ferrule in addition to 12ga ferrule sleeve over it work well as a system at the plug. Given ever time short of adaptor, you now need to cut the conductors and start over with wire, it's both in cordage and ferrules not economical to change plugs much less each time done so ensure it's well done. Much cheaper to do adaptors.

In being long, get my point?

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