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Stuff We Love – Oreo Separator Machine

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Stuff We Love – Oreo Separator Machine

Royal found this amazing video that’s making its way around the web, and we wanted to share it with all you tinkerers out there. Enjoy.



Gareth at USITT 2013

Gareth Conner presenting at USITT 2013

USITT 2013 is just around the corner, and if you’re planning on attending, you should check out Turntables on a Budget with our very own Gareth Conner. Gareth will be presenting with Scott Bartley from Central Connecticut State University. The session is Thursday, March 21, from 1:00PM – 2:30PM , Room Delta Center 103BC.

Here’s a description of the session:

This session will cover the building of turntables in a wood scene shop using a variety of construction techniques and drive options. Discussions will be on construction techniques able to withstand the forces of various drive mechanisms, how to cut and assemble turntables and be able to disassemble for storage and reuse. A guest panelist will present a variety of options on automation from building your own system to renting or buying. Question and Answer to follow presentation.

Gareth and I will both be in Milwaukee for the beginning of the conference and we’d love to meetup with any and all of our Creative Conners community, so if you’ll be there, drop me a line at


Blast From The Past

Last week Gareth was looking for some archived files when he happened upon the original Creative Conners website files. It was a nice look at our humble beginnings and far we’ve come over the 8 years. Below are some screenshots – let us know if you’ve been part of the Creative Conners family long enough to remember these:


Creative Conners homepage circa 2004

Creative Conners website circa 2004 - Pushstick theater winch

Creative Conners website circa 2004 - Stagehand theater motor controller

Creative Conners website circa 2004 - Avista Cueing Software

Great Video from Manitoba Theatre Centre

Our good friends at The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre sent us this great video of our gear being used in Gone With The Wind, which just wrapped up last weekend. Besides the Revolver that they own, they rented another Revolver and 2 Pushsticks, so it was good-sized show. Here’s the video:

The set designer is John Lee Beatty. Ben Ross is the Technical Director. Thanks for the video, Ben!


Gareth’s Book Recommendations for UConn

Book recommendation for Gareth's UConn gig

As part of my temporary teaching gig at UConn, I’m going to talk about some of the books and catalogs I keep close by at the shop. None of this is required reading for the class, just a list of my favorites in case anyone is looking for some light vacation reading. 😉

Here’ the list:

McMaster-Carr catalog. The McMaster website is awesome when you know what you need, but the paper catalog is still a better way to discover new hardware that you didn’t know you needed.

80/20 catalog. 80/20 is a line of extrusions, like a giant erector set. The name refers to the axiom that “80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.” It’s kind of like a Swiss Army knife, not great at anything but ‘good enough’ at many things.

College Physics, Serway & Faughn. This book was instrumental for me when designing the original Avista software and again just recently when I was working out the physics needed for the new Simulator in Spikemark 3. It’s embarrassing how little physics I need in my day-to-day work, pretty much just the first chapter or two of my high school physics book. Newtonian physics can take you a long way!

Pocket Reference. This little book is awesome. Besides all kinds of charts for machining and construction, there are some handy ‘life’ references, like earthquake intensities and the material required for each wedding anniversary. Very helpful.

Mechanical Design for the Stage, Alan Hendrickson. This is a great book, and if you’re looking to jump into stage machinery, there’s no better place to start. I wish I had this book when I was starting out, it really brings together the knowledge that was previously only found in several books.

Mechanical Design, Analysis and Synthesis, Erdman and Sandor. This book was my first ‘real’ mechanical design book and it opened my eyes to a bunch of new techniques for designing cool linkages and more interesting mechanical solutions to motion problems.

Simplified Design of Steel Structures, Parker & Ambrose. Great for specifying steel profiles in structures.

Advanced Mechanical Design, Erdman and Sandor. A follow-up to the first Mechanical Design. Also good, but I don’t reference it as much as the maroon book.

There’s lots of other books I go to when designing machines, but this is a great ‘short list’ for anyone interested in machine design.


Spikemark 3 Is Here!



Spikemark 3. With Simulator. Have fun.


We’re really excited to announce the official release of Spikemark 3! We’ve been hard at wok on it for almost 2 years, and the final results are awesome. Spikemark 3 now includes Simulator, so you can play around with automation cueing and watch the results in Spikemark. Designers can use Spikemark during the design process, Technical Directors can use it to program full dry-techs before load-in and reduce tech rehearsal times, and anyone can just open it up and start experimenting with automation. It’s pretty exciting and we’re hoping this will get Spikemark in front of more people who might be interested in automation but aren’t sure what it can do or how hard it will be. Check out our updated Spikemark page for all the details.

Here’s our new Spikemark Video that gives you a quick overview of the new features:



We also added in a Machine Library, so now you can add machines into your show just by dragging them onto the cue grid. They library machines include motor and tuning parameters, so you can drop a machine in, connect it and run it!

But wait- there’s more! Spikemark is a free download for anyone who wants to use Simulator, and the full version (allowing you to connect to motors) is a free upgrade for anyone who owns Spikemark! Grab it today and start having fun.

Spikemark by Creative Conners. Automation for Everyone.


Helping Out With A Local School Show

Gareth testing the Arts Alive wagon

We were approached a couple of months ago by Arts Alive Barrington, a local group that promotes arts education in the public schools here in Rhode Island. They’re helping to stage a production of Aladdin for the students at Nayatt School and they wanted our help doing a magic carpet ride, so we said sure and we’re putting together a basic friction-drive wagon. Here’s a video of our test run with Gareth on the unit.


And here’s a poster for the show that Gareth saw in the local Starbucks!



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