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Circuit and Gear Podcast – Episode 3

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Circuit and Gear Podcast – Episode 3

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Royal and Gareth revisit NORD gearmotors and discuss the advantages and disadvantages compared to SEW. Next up, they discuss different uses for the Stagehand FX. And then they finish with some advice for stage technicians that want to learn a little more about programming.

Check it out!

Circuit and Gear Podcast – Episode 2 is ready

Episode 2 of Circuit and Gear, our scenic automation podcast, is ready for download! Grab a cup of coffee, strap on the headphones, and take a listen!

Check out our Podcast!

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We love chatting about scenic automation, machinery, electronics, programming, and cool gadgets. In that spirit, we’ve launched our new podcast: Circuit and Gear! Sounds fantastic, right? How can you start listening to the musings of our automation junkies? There are three ways:

If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know and enjoy!

Packaged Hoist for Cruise Ship


On March 4th, we got the call from Scenic Solutions.  They needed three hoists in a hurry for the Royal Caribbean ship, Alure of the Seas.  The ship was moving from the U.S. to its new home in the Mediterranean, and in the process the theatre was to be refit with new shows.  The new scenic design called for a chandelier hoist and two  automated linesets downstage of the proscenium.  While the chandelier hoist was ideally suited for our stock Spotline hoist, a custom machine was needed for the automated linesets.  With space tight, and a April 15th deadline even tighter, Royal Marty and Gareth Conner started brainstorming.  

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Click to see all the sketches…

Collaborating in OneNote, Royal and Gareth sketched out some concepts and landed on a zero-fleet design that could meet the required specs of 3 lifting lines with 40′ of travel, 500 lb capacity, and 36″/second maximum speed.  The hoist needed to be compact enough to fit inside of a pre-built truss and allow for the battens to be placed within 12″ of each other.  With the basic design in mind, Royal rolled up his sleeves, popped open Solidworks, and got to work.  A few days (and nights) later a 3d mechanical design was ready for engineering review.

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To insure that this latest hoist met our own high standards for safety, and the standards of ANSI E1.6-1-2012, we worked closely McLaren Engineering Group as they reviewed the design.

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With the engineering review satisfied, the new hoist headed out to our production floor.  One of the manufacturing challenges we faced was designing a drum long enough to accommodate full travel of 3 lift lines that could be machined using our 4-axis milling machine.  Since a single long drum wouldn’t be practical to manufacture on our equipment, the drum was split into multiple sections that stacked onto a common drive shaft.  This nifty design allowed us to make the drums in small chunks and fit them together like Lego pieces to assemble a long drum. Of course, the tricky bit is getting the helical groove to break precisely on the seams so that once assembled the groove is continuous with no misalignment that could prematurely wear the hauling lines. Our ability to produce tight-tolerance, CNC-machined components in-house made it possible without delaying the production schedule.


A CNC waterjet cut frame parts out of flat plate steel that were then welded into a rigid structure. All the mechanical components were bolted together to create the first of two hoists.


As the first hoist was undergoing load-testing, the second hoist was built and then tested. After load testing was complete, both hoists were then installed in a pre-fabricated aluminum truss.


A mere six weeks from the start of the project, both custom packaged hoists and a Spotline were crated up and headed out the door.

To bring these mechanical beauties to life, our Stagehand Pro, Showstopper 3, and Spikemark software were ready for action. Built specifically to handle the rigors of vertical lifting, the Stagehand Pro was a perfect fit for this job. The Showstopper 3 Consolette’s new jogging joystick and positioning dial made setup easy on-site. Spikemark’s intuitive interface made writing cues a (sea) breeze on the ship.

Royal Marty met the equipment in Spain to supervise the installation and help train the automation crew. Upon his return, Royal reflected, “It was a really great blend of custom machines, and stock control products. The new hoists had to be designed to squeeze into a tight spot in the theatre. Using the new Showstopper and Spikemark was an awesome combination with these hoists.” Six short weeks from the initial call, to shipping out the door, we’re really proud of the result and grateful to Scenic Solutions and Royal Caribbean for the opportunity to do what we do best… Make it Move!

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