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Tech Tip: OEM Circuit Board Mounting

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Tech Tip: OEM Circuit Board Mounting

This week’s Tech Tip goes out to all of our Stagehand OEM boardcustomers. Gareth ran through a tricky troubleshooting process last week with a client who has 8 OEM boards and they started faulting regularly. When the E-Stop was depressed, some boards would properly E-Stop, some would reset themselves (not good) and some would not do properly register the e-stop status change. (worse!) The theater sent a video and some pics of the custom racks they had made and everything looked right from this end. Gareth noticed that the boards had been mounted to the metal faceplate with metal bolts, and although the bolts were isolated from the boards with plastic washers, Gareth asked them to switch to the standard nylon standoffs, which cured some, but not all of the problem. After visiting the theatre Gareth discovered that the bezels of the LCD screens were grounding against the faceplate of the rack. By increasing the length of the nylon standoffs, they ensured an air gap between the LCD bezel and the rack faceplate thereby insuring that the power ground and digital ground were isolated (important).

So this week’s Tech Tip is: If you use our OEM boards, mount them with plastic standoffs and make sure there is an air gap between the bezel of the LCD screen and the backside of your faceplate. Your gear will thank you.

Purdue University Lecture

Gareth has been invited by Rich Dionne, Technical Director at Purdue University, to be a guest lecturer for a full-day seminar at the school on October 15.

This presentation will have a slightly different structure than Gareth’s regular lecture format. Because of Purdue’s historically strong electrical engineering department, Gareth and Rich have decided to break the lecture up into two parts: The first half will be an overview of scenic automation and the second half of the program will delve into the design of the OEM circuit board and the programming of the micro-controller. Rich will be inviting students from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering to attend the lecture. He explained to us that there is a long history at Purdue of collaboration between the engineering school and the technical theater department.

Interestingly, during the lecture the Purdue Boilermakers’ football team will be in Happy Valley playing against Penn State, who also rock the Creative Conners gear in their theater. Go Big 10!

Meet Your Neighbors with the CCI Customer Map

We’ve just finished putting together a Google Map of all of our US customers. We’re going to use this map for the “Clients” page of our new website, but we also want our customers to use it to see if there are other theaters in your area that are also rocking Creative Conners gear. We’ve got some theaters in Seattle and Southern California that are sharing their gear with each other and having a lot of success putting up large shows without buying more equipment.

So check out the map. If you need an edit for your organization’s info, just email me at and I’ll take care of it. The map would be even better if each organization’s blurb included a short list of the gear that they are willing to share, so if you want to do that, again, just let me know.

You can see the map here:

Let us know if you like it, or if you have any ideas about how to make it better.

The Return of the Stage Automation Workshop

In 2009 through 2010, we ran a stage automation workshop in conjunction with Adrian Davidson from Stage Machines. They were quite successful, but we ran into problems with scheduling and space constraints and stopped hosting them. Now with the new shop space and additional staff, we have scheduled our first Stage Automation Workshop 2011!

This year’s workshop will held on Friday October 28 and Saturday October 29. It will be hosted in the Creative Conners new shop in Warren, RI and will feature talks and demonstrations from Gareth, Adrian and Royal Marty, the new CCI product engineer. We will cover machines and control, deck tracks, reaving, rigging, turntables, and hydraulics.

The cost is $595 for students and $995 for professionals. We will have all kinds of information about the workshop when our new website launches later this week, but in the meantime, you can get more details by contacting me at

We’re excited to get this going again and we hope you will join us.

The new shop is fully functional!

That’s a lot of space!

That’s our break area






We’re totally excited to announce that the new shop is up and running! In August, Gareth signed a lease for a new shop space and convinced the local zoning board to allow him to make things there. While Gareth started moving the gear, Emily began the decorating and furnishing process (check out the awesome coat rack). By the beginning of September, we were in the new space full time. We built work benches, cable racks and storage racks and fabricated our first gear last week.

We have approximately 6 times more fabrication room, a separate office and even a break area. We also have a day care next door so we get a lot of 4-year-old looking through the windows at us. We must be pretty interesting while we type emails.

New people, a new space and, hopefully by the end of next week, a new website. Keep tuned for an announcement about that.

Mr. Conner Goes To Korea

Creative Conners added another country to its portfolio of international customers when we provided the automation control for Show Tech Line’s production of 200-pound Beauty. Gareth went with the gear to Andong, South Korea to install and train the operator. While he was there he got to see the local sights and sample the local cuisine, which included raw beef. He waited for someone to cook it, but when his tablemates started eating it uncooked, he jumped  right in. When in Rome…

Actually, Gareth noted with interest how many things in the Korean technical theater scene are similar to the way we do it here in the states. He also saw that there was a lot of interest in live theater right now and the theater that he worked at was a beautiful facility that was just completed by the local Korean government.

It was nice to see the Creative Conners idiom of distributed control work so successfully. We were able to ship a complete 5-axis system of control on one pallet that we air-freighted to Korea. Once it cleared customs and was delivered to the theater it was a straight-forward plug-and-play installation.

The trip was a success and we may have more work coming our way from Korea.  The logistics of working with international customers is always tricky, but we see a lot of great work being done there and we’re making real efforts to be a partner on international shows. We’ll keep you posted.

Introducing The Creative Conners Spot Block

We love our deck sheaves, and we hear that lots of other people love them too. They’re quiet, thin and designed specifically for theatrical applications. Playwrights Horizons liked theirs so much they asked us to build some spot blocks with the same features. So we designed and fabricated (and even painted!) four new models of pulleys and we were so happy with the result that we are adding them to the product line. Now that Royal has joined the shop as Product Engineer, we have streamlined the design for mass production and we are working with Clark-Reder Engineering to obtain an official load-rating.  We will start selling the new Spot Block models in October.

Our new Spot Block product line uses a 2” Mega-Coupler for attachment to 1.5” pipe or 2” truss tube. We are making both singles- and double-sheave versions with either 3.5” or 5” diameter sheaves. The cost for the 3.5” size will be $235 for the single sheave and $390 for the double. The 5” diameter blocks will cost $265 for the single and $450 for the double.

The shop, the staff, and the product line are all expanding at CCI. We have more new products in the pipeline and we’ll share a sneak peek as soon as we can.

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