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Pushstick Assembly Video

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Pushstick Assembly Video

Screen capture of the YouTube video of the Pushstick Assembly video

Last week Tom and I assembled 2 Pushsticks for Tom Carroll Scenery in New Jersey, and we set up our camera to take a photo every 60 seconds. We then converted the stills into a stop-action movie and posted it on YouTube. If you like this kind of thing, we also did a stop-action of the move to the new shop. Enjoy.


Gareth’s UConn Teaching Gig

Today is a big day for me – I’m teaching my first college-level class! Last summer, I was contacted by Jack Nardi, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut about teaching one of his classes while he’s on sabbatical. I thought it was a great idea – I can try something new, and spread the Gospel Of Automation, so I said yes. Today at 8:30 is the first class.

Officially, I’m an Adjunct Faculty Member teaching DRAM 5297-001: Investigation in Special Topics – Automation. There are 14 classes, starting on Jan 24 and ending on May 2nd. I’ve been told that the class size is between 8-12, composed of mostly 1st and 2nd year grad students with a couple of undergrads. For the class, I’m teaching a survey in the techniques of scenic automation, primarily focused on using electric motors since that is my forte. I don’t particularly like fluid power, so we won’t spend as much time on that stuff (but will obviously cover the basics of hydraulics and pneumatics).

I am developing my own curriculum based loosely on the format of our Stage Automation Workshops, covering the 6 steps of automating scenery, which are: Build, Constrain, Power, Measure, Automate, Cue.  I’ve used to outline the curriculum, so if you’re interested in the specifics, here’s a link:

I’m sure I will adjust this as I go along and figure out which ideas need more time, and which are remedial for the students. I want to keep a good mixture of lecture & hands-on experimentation. Luckily, at CCI we have access to a lot of bits and pieces of automation gear so I hope to give the students a chance to really try out some concepts in a safe environment where failure is both stress-free and educational.

I figure every good teacher has an overall goal for a class, so here’s what I came up with: I want students exiting the class to be ready to handle common automation tasks in a typical regional theatre environment without panic. I want students exiting the class to be able to design and construct the basic stage machines (turntable, winch, elevator). I want them to know what components and vendors to go to for help. I want them to be able to create a simple control system out of a catalog. And, I want them to develop a relationship with Creative Conners. 😉

Ian asked me what my personal goals were for interim teaching. I look forward to the opportunity to dig into non-Creative Conners solutions. Getting a chance to revisit various automation techniques that are not required to be commercially successful should be a lot of fun. Purely academic automation.

Finally, I’m interested to see how much incidental knowledge I can share. One of the reasons that I hope to perform an equal amount of scripted lecture, and unscripted experimentation is so the students and I get a chance to discuss troubleshooting techniques and tools, as well as brainstorming on solutions for either in-class experiments or their production work.

I’ll keep everyone up-to-date on how it’s going. So wish me luck, and, uh, Go Huskies!



The “New” Big Lathe

Creative Conners New Lathe

Yesterday afternoon we took delivery of our new lathe. It’s used, so we shouldn’t call it new, but it’s new to us! We had a smaller lathe before, but it had limited uses for the work we do here. This machine will allow us to machine more of the parts we put on the Pushstick and the Revolver, including the threaded rods on the Revolver and the 2″ shaft that gets turned down to 1.25″ for the 2hp Pushstick.

It weighs 4500 pounds and was delivered by a rigging company who didn’t seem to think it was all that heavy, so you wonder what they consider “heavy”.

For the machining geeks out there, here are some specs:

Reconditioned Osama 18”x 40” Precision Geared Head Lathe, w/ hardened and ground bedways, 7-1/2 Hp main spindle motor, quick change universal,gear box, w/inch and metric threading, steady rest,  flood coolant system, spindle foot rake, longitudinal carriage stops and standard equipment, wired 220/3/60 ac volts.


Swing over bed                               18″

Swing over crosslide                    10.2″

Swing over gap and width          26-1/2″


Spindle hole                                    2 – 1/16″

Spindle speeds (12)                       20-2000 rpm

Taper of spindle bore                    MT6

Taper of center                                MT4

Type of spindle nose                      D1-6 camlock




Wanted: Pictures of Scenery

We’re putting together a really awesome catalog for the spring, and we need some pictures of scenery to spruce it up. If you have any shots of your gorgeous scenery, or can take a picture of your current set, we’d be much obliged! The higher the resolution, the better, and please send along the photographer’s name if they want credit, plus the name of the show and the set designer. If we use your photo in our catalog, we’ll give you a $100 credit towards your next purchase from Creative Conners.

The image doesn’t necessarily need to show the Creative Conners gear, just scenery that is being powered by the gear.



2013 Price Changes

We’ve made a small number of changes to our product pricing, which are now reflected on the website. So if you’re thinking about making a purchase, make sure you’ve got the latest prices, or better yet, call us and we’ll put a quote together for you, or email us at


Lexus Car Show Video

Lexus Dealer Event powered by Creative Conners

Our good friends from Mystic Scenic Studios did not one, but two car shows last week in Detroit. In addition to the Toyota show I posted about on Wednesday, they also did the scenery for the Lexus show. Here’s a video for the reveal of the IS350. The lighting towers that open up for the car to drive through are powered by custom machines by Mystic Scenic and controlled by Creative Conners, as is the turntable. Enjoy!



New Stagehand Packaging!

Our new packaging solution for our Stagehand motor controllers

OK, so it’s not super-sexy, but we’re pretty excited. We just took delivery of our new custom Stagehand packaging supplies. The new system includes custom die-cut foam inserts, and our logo is now printed on the boxes. This will definitely help our Stagehands ship without getting damaged and our customers can hold on to them for keeping their Stagehands safe between shows.

The packaging was worked out by Justin McMahon at LJM Packaging here in Rhode Island.

Combined with our fancy packing tape, our products look good even before you open them up!

Our new packaging solution for our Stagehand motor controllers

Our new packaging solution for our Stagehand motor controllers


Toyota Car Show Video

Automated turntable by Mystic Scenic and Creative Conners

Our own Royal Marty went out to the Motor City last week to work with Mystic Scenic on the Toyota Press Event. Mystic built a ‘donut’ style turntable for the concept car reveal and used Creative Conners gear to automate it. The totally cool part are the transparent video screens, so you can see the revolving car revealed through the graphics – a pretty neat trick. Check out the video below.



Cutting Threads With The CNC Mill

The tensioning system on our Pushstick winch uses an idler shaft with a 3/4-10 tapped hole in each end, and 3/4″ threaded rods that move the shaft back and forth. Up until now, we had to cut the threads with a tap, a really big wrench, and a fair amount of elbow grease. There were a couple of problems with this technique: The amount of time it took and the potential for repetitive stress injuries.

With ou new Tormach CNC mill, we have a new technique. Instead of plowing into the hole with a tap, the Tormach goes into the hole with a small thread cutter and cuts the threads by slicing down in a spiral pattern. You can see in the video that the table moves the shaft around in a circle and the cutting head moves down at the same time to create a 10 threads per inch.

A great example of a CNC mill making our lives better.


New CNC-Milled Production Parts

Revolver drive shaft bearing mount image

Here’s  a shot of the latest part to come off of our Tormach CNC milling machine. This is a bearing mount for the drive wheel shaft on the Revolver. The bearing is a press-fit, so the inside diameter of the mount has to be pretty accurate, and these came out perfect! These are aluminum and are heading out to get powder coated later today. Nice work, Royal!


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