Motorized rigging

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by tdub, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. tdub

    tdub Member

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    Any thoughts on upgrading to a motorized rigging system. Recommendation appreciated.
     
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  2. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Assuming you have a stage that justifies this rigging, I would by all means recommend upgrading if you can afford it. Focus on high trim, travel, capacity, and speed as the major issues.

    I'll presume that high trim will be same as you have now if counter weight or possibly higher depending on rigging pit, length of arbor, single or double purchase, and maybe things I've overlooked.

    Travel is usually not an issue for motorized but may affect what products as some max out around 50 or 60 feet. With a 4 or 5 ft low trim, what do you need to get to high trim?

    Capacity is somewhat subjective. In a high school or smaller college, I like to get to 1500 pounds for the general purpose sets, and 2000 for electrics (and shells). Its a major factor in cost for motorized - and I would consider 900-1000 in some cases. A main valance, perhaps for ever assigned legs and drops - sure. Maybe even less capacity - but with a lot of thought. How much you will rehang and how much will remain the same forever to be considered. When I designed Alley Theatre rigging - itwas all 2000 pounds and nothing assigned.

    Speed is the other factor affecting cost - the speed and capacity affecting the size of the drive and motor. WIth counterweight you can get to 150-200 fpm no problem. Tall stages you might reach 300-400 fpm. current "packaged hoists" don't go there - with fixed speed units in the 20-30 fpm range; and variable in the 90 to 180 fpm range typically. Subjective. I have a couple projects with a mix of fixed (legs, electrics, etc.) and variable - 1000 pounds at up to 180 fpm - and they seem pleased. Alley Theatre are all up to 400 fpm.

    No simple one answer. Keep in mind that you might be as low as $10,000-12,000 a lineset, up to$50,000 or more, based primarily on speed and capacity. I'd say you need a consultant (not me - retiring) who has experience planning this kind of work and knows the products. I'd be happy to talk to you about it, or about consultants that you might look at, but not for hire - strictly as a CB friend.
     
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  3. danTt

    danTt Well-Known Member

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    The other major thing to take a good look at is the controller. There are a lot of companies doing motorized rigging these days, but in my experience most control software for them is terrible. Make sure you're looking at and testing the interface of whomever is bidding on the project before you commit to anyone, nothings worse than having an excellent system that you can't (or refuse) to use.
     
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  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Dan. A good consultant will arrange demos of the likely consoles.

    I meant to add that motorized rigging requires much more maintenance than counterweight, and more expensive. An annual call at several thousand dollars. Also life is not as long as counterweight. Controls maybe 10 years. Drives hopefully 15-20. Motors and gearboxes maybe 30. Compare with counterweight at 40-50.

    Just a consideration.
     
  5. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @tdub Posting in support of @danTt and @BillConnerFASTC Automation / control manufacturers coming from a robotic assembly line / precision milling and machining background MAY be marketing equipment that's at least as good BUT, without a background in theatre, their control software won't speak your / our lingo. Manufacturers marketing to theatres will have software annotated in familiar terms such as: In. Out. On. Off. U/S. D/S. See what I'm saying? Cranking in the cutting tool in increments of .001 inch MAY offer more accuracy than you need but how much time do you want spend converting a vertical or horizontal travel distance of many feet to thousandths of an inch? Similarly their terms for acceleration, deceleration, velocity, maximum and minimum speeds attained aren't likely to be terms you've become accustomed to. "In a hair" 's not likely in their vocabulary / nomenclature. Companies such as ETC, Niscon, and many, many others will have software that speaks your lingo.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  6. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Fight Leukemia

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    Depends on what you're looking for and what you want to do with motors. I'm in the last week changing over 7 of my linesets to be motorized (mostly) electrics and for use with a new shell. They're the slow type, but it'll allow us to do a lot of stuff without having to reweight anything. In the long run its a pretty big benefit to us, but a small portion of our 45 lines over all.
     
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