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Spikemark Tip: Max Speed

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Spikemark Tip: Max Speed



This month we’re going to look at Max Speed; how to determine Max Speed, how the Stagehand interprets Max Speed and what happens when Max Speed is set too high.

The Max Speed setting in Spikemark limits how fast a motor can move in a cue. This value must be set no higher than the maximum speed the motor can physically attain when given full power. If you want to restrict speed during a show, you can set it lower than the motor speed at full power (eg. perhaps a winch can move at 5’/second but you want to limit cues to run no faster than 2’/second). To determine the Max Speed for a particular motor, first set your position scale. Then you need to run your piece at full speed, so get your machine ready and clear the deck. In Spikemark, navigate to the Manual Controls module of the Motor Settings pane, select a direction and then run your motor by sliding the manual slider all the way to the right, which will send a full-speed signal to the motor. In the Speed module directly above Manual Controls, the speed that the motor is running at is displayed. Note the speed when you have the slider all the way up. This is the maximum speed the motor can attain.

This speed (or anything lower) is what you should enter into the Max Speed field in the Speed module. (Sometimes we take a point or two off just to be safe) Now when you’re programming a movement, if you enter a speed value higher than the Max Speed, Spikemark changes your value to the Max Speed, since it can’t go faster than that anyway.

The important part of this month’s Spikemark tip is that the value you enter into Max Speed should never be higher than what is actually possible. We often get tech support calls from customers who enter an artificially high number because they just want the axis to move as fast as possible. The problem with this approach is Spikemark sends the cue to the Stagehand and the Stagehand calculates the total time the cue should take based on the acceleration and speed, even if the speed is not attainable. When the cue runs, the movement doesn’t complete in time because the motor can’t run fast enough, so the Stagehand continues to run the motor at full power until its target position is reached and then stops, but it stops without deceleration because it is racing to catch up with the programmed cue. And no one likes a movement that ends without deceleration. I like to think of it as a business man running late in the morning, racing for the train, and throwing himself through the closing train-car door as the train is pulling away from the platform; there’s nothing leisurely about the motion.

Of course, all of this only happens when Abort On Position Error is turned off. If Abort On Position Error is turned on, the cue will fail early in its life cycle, because it won’t take long for the actual position to fall behind the expected position and the Stagehand will abort the movement once the Position Error grows too large.

So the moral of this months Spikemark Tip is: Don’t set your Max Speed higher than it can run. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next month!


Curtain Call Test Video

Last week we finished testing our new Curtain Call traveler winch and shipped the first two production units out to Geffen Playhouse. The truss and track was generously lent to us by Stage Machines. Here’s a video of the rig in action:

Creative Conners is now a Light Source Distributor

After purchasing many of the fabulous Mega-Couplers from The Light Source for our various products, we decided to become a distributor for them. As of today, we will be stocking and selling 3 styles of the Mega-Coupler. You can find out more on our website by clicking here.

Thanks to Light Source for bringing us into the family!


Spikemark Tip Of The Month: Update!


Spikemark About Screen


There will be a more in-depth Spikemark Tip next week, but we have a small but important tip for this week that has come up a couple of times recently and we want get the word out. The tip is:

Update your Spikemark installation.

That’s right. Update. It’s free and it’s easy. Spikemark has been around for almost 3 years now, and there have been a lot of bug fixes that you may not have if you’re running an older version. Here’s how to do it: Open your installation of Spikemark and check you version number by going to Help > About. That will show you which version you’re running. The current version is 2.6.1, so if your version is older than that, it’s time to update.

First, backup your show files to somewhere besides the computer, like a thumb drive. ┬áThen go to our website and click the item ‘The Brains” in the top menu. ( Click the Spikemark Installer link and follow the installation instructions. When it’s done installing, you should check your installation by connecting to your motors and running some cues.

That’s it. See you next week!


Keeping Up With Creative Conners

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Updates From Creative Conners

This week I wanted to give all of our loyal readers an update on what’s going on here at Creative Conners since our last update in November. It’s been a busy winter, and with temperatures in the 60’s today, it looks like spring is almost here!

We have some new customers that I wanted to welcome to our community. University of Michigan, Flint has jumped in with the purchase of Spikemark and an OEM board. Interestingly, Creative Conners now supplies automation to 8 of the 12 Big 10 schools!

In other University news, Appalachian State University rented a Pushstick setup for a turntable they needed to automate. Syracuse University also jumped in with a complete control purchase that they supplemented by borrowing CCI gear from both Ithaca College and Geva Theatre Center for a pretty heavy automation show. The University of Houston purchased some gear and borrowed some more from The Alley Theatre for a show with a moving ceiling.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County bought a Pushstick rig for the new theater they’re building on campus. Finally, Joe Aldridge from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (Also the President of USITT) purchased a Pushstick Starter Kit for his program.

In the Regional Theater world, we welcome Cleveland Playhouse to the Creative Conners world. They purchased 2 axes of control and motors for their traproom elevator project. Another newcomer is Dallas Theatre Center, who also jumped onto the Creative Conners bandwagon with a 2 axis motor setup. Welcome, Matt! With these 2 theatres, we can now claim to have Creative Conners automation equipment in 50% of LORT member theatres!

Another new face is Tuacahn Ampitheatre in Utah who rented a Revolver Starter Kit for their summer season.

Finally, a big “Welcome” to our newest friends up north, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, who rented a Revolver Starter Kit from us and hope to purchase their own next season.

Perhaps the biggest news of the last couple of months was the introduction of our newest winch, Curtain Call, a traveler track winch. We’re pretty excited about it and we sold 2 units to Geffen Playhouse that we’re sending out next week.

Things are really shaping up in our shop. We’ve added some fabrication tools, Gareth bought a new truck (his 12 year-old Tacoma rusted away) and we stored 8 sailboats for a week to help out our next-door neighbors, Zim Sailing.

That’s about it from here. Hope you all are well and enjoy the spring!

Official Spot Block Rating

Spot Block 5" double

If you get our monthly email newsletter, you saw that our fabulous Spot Blocks now have an official load rating- Our engineer has given them a safe working load of 500 pounds, which is great. So order yours now!

The SWL includes a 5-1 safety factor for overhead lifting. We’re sending 2 Spot Blocks to a testing lab for ‘destructive testing’, which should be interesting. They video the test, so when we get the video of exploding Spot Blocks, we’ll post it here.

If you didn’t get our monthly email newsletter, then you you should sign up! There’s a box to enter your email address in the footer of our website, so it’s super easy, and we only email you once a month.

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