Powering Moving Set Pieces and Props?

Matt Nowell

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Location
North Carolina
Hey guys,
We are starting to design tech for a musical we are doing in a few months, and there are a few wagons that have to be outfitted with lighting and foggers. Sadly, they have to appear and then disappear during the scene, as well as move around the stage; so presetting the wagons is out.
I need some advice as to how to best power those instruments.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey guys,
We are starting to design tech for a musical we are doing in a few months, and there are a few wagons that have to be outfitted with lighting and foggers. Sadly, they have to appear and then disappear during the scene, as well as move around the stage; so presetting the wagons is out.
I need some advice as to how to best power those instruments.
@Matt Nowell
How to power the movement?
How to power the lighting??
How to power the fogger(s)[plural]???
Are the lights LED's, how many and what makes / models.?????
Are the lights POWER HUNGRY inefficient heat producing incandescents??????
How to control all of the above wirelessly???????

Calling @RC4
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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Matt Nowell

Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
Location
North Carolina
@Matt Nowell
How to power the movement?
How to power the lighting??
How to power the fogger(s)[plural]???
Are the lights LED's, how many and what makes / models.?????
Are the lights POWER HUNGRY inefficient heat producing incandescents??????
How to control all of the above wirelessly???????

Calling @RC4
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Hey @RonHebbard
I apologize. How to power the lighting and foggers? We will more than likely use two foggers depending on what we can get our hands on. I'm not exactly sure how many lighting instruments we will use, it depends on the size of the wagons. But, I can tell you that they will all be LED units for this show. I don't know what brand yet, it depends on what we can get; but no movers, more than likely just LED pars or strips.
Thanks for the quick response by the way. This is more of a general theory question rather than "Hey, tell me exactly what I need!" kinda thing, haha!
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hey @RonHebbard
I apologize. How to power the lighting and foggers? We will more than likely use two foggers depending on what we can get our hands on. I'm not exactly sure how many lighting instruments we will use, it depends on the size of the wagons. But, I can tell you that they will all be LED units for this show. I don't know what brand yet, it depends on what we can get; but no movers, more than likely just LED pars or strips.
Thanks for the quick response by the way. This is more of a general theory question rather than "Hey, tell me exactly what I need!" kinda thing, haha!
@Matt Nowell Are you planning having cables or multi-cables dragging along behind your wagons or are you looking for battery powered solutions? @Sharon RC4 This thread's got your name all over it.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
@RonHebbard Battery powered solutions. Cables being dragged along behind moving set pieces and actors is what I'm trying to avoid, haha!
@Matt Nowell Dragging cables behind your MIDI controlled performers is DEFINITELY to be avoided. Wireless control of cast members is clearly an emerging technology. :dance:
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbad
 

theatrewireless

Jim @RC4Wireless #RC4DoesThat
Joined
Aug 21, 2009
Location
Raleigh, NC
@RonHebbard Battery powered solutions. Cables being dragged along behind moving set pieces and actors is what I'm trying to avoid, haha!
Hey Matt, as Ron indicated, this is our specialty -- I've been designing the gear that solves all these problems for 30 years (and won a couple of awards for the resulting products). Give me a call at 919-229-9953, or email [email protected] and we can discuss your project in more detail. I'd love to be part of it.

Thanks!
Jim
RC4
 

Crisp image

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Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Location
Eastern Victoria Australia
I guess itwould depend on how big the foggers are. I put a 400w smoke machine under a radio controlled wagon and powered it with a 600W inverter on a car battery. Now do the calculations to convert 12v to 240v takes a lot of amps. I usually round it to 10a per 100W but it is most likely a few more.
Then the lights. I also converted some 240v LED to 12 v DC by removing the AC power supply fro the light. No conversion factor needed for that. It just depends how you want to go about it.

Regards
Geoff
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Foggers use heat and pumps. They draw a lot of power and need pre-heat time. My personal opinion is that powering them with inverters and deep cycle batteries for a school production is needlessly complicating things.
 

Ben Stiegler

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Joined
Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
Would you preheat your Fogger on shore power (so to speak) before untethering for the wagon moves now scene?

@TimMc - curious to hear how you would do this?

What about 2 techies behind the wagon .. one with a dry ice filled cooler (on wheels) and the other with an oriental style folding hand fan to move the mist?
 
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RonHebbard

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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Would you preheat your Fogger on shore power (so to speak) before untethering for the wagon moves now scene?

@TimMc - curious to hear how you would do this?

What about 2 techies behind the wagon .. one with a dry ice filled cooler (on wheels) and the other with an oriental style folding hand fan to move the mist?
@Ben Stiegler Back in about 1973, a few people from Prince Edward Island's Charlottetown Festival wrote, produced and toured a production entitled "Kronburg 1593" (Sp?) The set had two tall tapered towers, somewhat forerunners of Les Miz's towering, hydraulic accumulator powered mobile barricades.

In the case of the PEI production, each of the two towers had a stage hand living (existing) inside each tower for the entirety of each performance, including matinee days. Within the base of each tower there were 12 volt car batteries, CB radios with headsets for cueing, pillows to rest on, food, beverages and garbage pails to collect refuse, including human wastes. By the time the tour arrived in Hamilton, Ontario the bases of the towers were somewhat inhospitable (and that's putting it politely)
The stage hands positioned their towers about the stage by crawling along the deck wearing knee pads and gloves. The CB radio's accommodated cueing and standbys to awake slumbering stage hands.
When you saw the production from a patron's perspective, it was TOTALLY slick and polished.
From within the bases of the towers, no so much.
There's definitely no business like show business; everything about it is appealing! ( Sorta like following the elephants in the big parade.)
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

JD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
If room permits, then Dry Ice foggers are the way to go. Water is heated prior to show so they can be plugged in during the pre-heat. All you need then is a battery powered inverter that will handle the blower motor.
 
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RonHebbard

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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
If room permits, then Dry Ice foggers are the way to go. Water is heated prior to show so they can be plugged in during the pre-heat. All you need then is a battery powered inverter that will handle the blower motor.
@Matt Nowell AND DON'T be breathing dry ice fumes in a confined area. (or anywhere for that matter) Dry ice fumes are unpopular when they roll off a stage and settle in an orchestra pit full of AF of M musicians.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
@Ben Stiegler Back in about 1973, a few people from Prince Edward Island's Charlottetown Festival wrote, produced and toured a production entitled "Kronburg 1593" (Sp?) The set had two tall tapered towers, somewhat forerunners of Les Miz's towering, hydraulic accumulator powered mobile barricades.

In the case of the PEI production, each of the two towers had a stage hand living (existing) inside each tower for the entirety of each performance, including matinee days. Within the base of each tower there were 12 volt car batteries, CB radios with headsets for cueing, pillows to rest on, food, beverages and garbage pails to collect refuse, including human wastes. By the time the tour arrived in Hamilton, Ontario the bases of the towers were somewhat inhospitable (and that's putting it politely)
The stage hands positioned their towers about the stage by crawling along the deck wearing knee pads and gloves. The CB radio's accommodated cueing and standbys to awake slumbering stage hands.
When you saw the production from a patron's perspective, it was TOTALLY slick and polished.
From within the bases of the towers, no so much.
There's definitely no business like show business; everything about it is appealing! ( Sorta like following the elephants in the big parade.)
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
You are reminding me that I got “baked” as A1 into a 4th of July float at 100 degrees near Chicago with a cassette deck, amp, and speakers ... power from tow vehicles inverter. 1972 ... high school techie, up for anything. No buckets. That was the last job I ever did for the Republican Party, tho, and it was a kinder and gentler time. [these days, I fantasize about RF jammers
for said organization’s events ...
 
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Crisp image

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Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Location
Eastern Victoria Australia
Would you preheat your Fogger on shore power (so to speak) before untethering for the wagon moves now scene?
You could but I did not. they only take a few minuets to warm up and then the scenes were only a couple of minuets long and they don't put out that much smoke (400W) for that long so they would last each show with a charge between times.
 
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almorton

Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Location
Caterham, Surrey, UK
In the past we've used car batteries, leisure batteries and alarm batteries as power sources on moveable set pieces or even on the talent (small packs of AA sized rechargeable batteries) and used the excellent RC4 wireless dimmers to control LED (and low power incandescent) lighting. The RC4 kit will also act as a wireless DMX bridge, so you can pipe the DMX into other fixtures on the same set piece. We're currently using a Look Solutions Power Tiny Fogger on a show - this is a battery powered fogger which has virtually instant start up (no warm up required), is quiet, generates a decent quantity of fog and can be controlled either by a dedicated radio remote or with a DMX add on. For fixtures that need mains voltage we've had some success using inverters, but bear in mind that you'll always get less out of the inverter than you put in, because they're never 100% efficient, so if the load needs say 600W you're going to have to put more than 600W into the inverter. At 12V, that's in excess 50A, so you'll need very chunky cabling and the battery won't last long.
 

Olddog

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2018
Location
Canada
Typical car battery is in the 40 AH range, there are inverters for boats and backup systems that use line power then switch to battery and have a charger built in. UPS with the alarm off as well.
If you're using dry ice watch for the hazard of spilling hot water.
Other options are battery powered foggers that don't require preheat like Tiny Fogger.
Also manual foggers that are preheated on line power then pumped like Handy Fogger.

low cost inverters are often modified sine wave and electronicy things don't like that.
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Location
Eastern Victoria Australia
Typical car battery is in the 40 AH range, there are inverters for boats and backup systems that use line power then switch to battery and have a charger built in. UPS with the alarm off as well.
If you're using dry ice watch for the hazard of spilling hot water.
Other options are battery powered foggers that don't require preheat like Tiny Fogger.
Also manual foggers that are preheated on line power then pumped like Handy Fogger.

low cost inverters are often modified sine wave and electronicy things don't like that.
A typical car battery cant be compared to at a deep cycle battery contained in a UPS or other such backup device. A car battery is designed to give high current (200A or more) output quickly over a short time. This is referred to as CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) Deep cycle batteries are designed to produce lower current draws over a sustained timeframe. I have a car battery that is the same physical size as my deep cycle 100AH. There are some hybrid batteries that are used in boats to give cranking to start the motor but also supply the long low draw to power accessories. Deep Cycle batteries are usually heavy in comparison to normal car batteries.

You can get some great priced pure sine wave inverters from the likes of Ebay. I have a couple of them and have tested them using an oscilloscope and they are good.

Regards
Geoff