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FAQ

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Have a question?  Check below for helpful tips and answers to some of our commonly asked questions.  We hope you find the answer you’re looking for.  If not, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’re pleased to answer any questions you may have.

What sparked your interest in scenic automation and, ultimately, drove you to start Creative Conners?

I’ve always been fascinated with machinery and computers.  When I got a chance to work on an automated set as a young carpenter at the Old Globe in San Diego, I knew I’d found my niche.

Where can I find an encoder compatible with the Stagehand controller?

The Stagehand controller requires a quadrature encoder with differential line drive that can be powered at 24vdc.  There are many encoder manufacturers that provide encoders with these specifications.  Some we’ve used in the past are:

  • Dynapar – flange mount model #H22100010003B_
  • Encoder Products 770 Series. For a 145tc frame size, the product number is: 770-B-S-1000-Q-HV-C-B-N-N-N.
  • US Digital – flange mount model #HD25-2500-F-N-H-I-D with cable #CA-RC10-SH-NC-10
  • Hohner – various models
  • BEI – various models (using the 7272 output chip)

Model numbers, where listed, are good starting points, but many different mounting configurations & resolutions are available.

What components do I need for a complete system?

A complete system consists of your PC running Spikemark software, one Showstopper and a Stagehand connected to each motor.

Can I use my own motors with Stagehand?

Absolutely.  Our Stagehand product line is compatible with permanent magnet DC motors, VFD-duty AC motors, or any other device that can be controlled with a +/-10vdc speed signal.  Stagehand also requires that the motor be fitted with a quadrature encoder that has differential line drivers.  Please contact us to make sure your motor is compatible.

How many motors can one Stagehand move?

One.

How can I move more than one motor?

Each motor is connected to its own Stagehand.  Stagehands are then connected to each other and to a PC running Spikemark with standard network cables and hubs.

Where do I get standard network cables and hubs?

These days you can get network cables and hubs just about anywhere.  Popular options are Staples, RadioShack, Best Buy, Amazon, etc.

Can I buy cables from Creative Conners, Inc.?

Sure, we sell all the power cables, Ethernet cables, and Showstopper cables that you need to hook up a system.  Shop our À La Carte page for more info.

Can I build my own cables?

Certainly, we specifically design our components to connect together using standard connectors.  Most of these connectors and cables can be purchased from industrial suppliers like Grainger and McMaster-Carr.  The encoder connectors are easily obtained from Digikey or Mouser.

I see that Stagehand has a DMX connector; can I run it from my lighting console?

No.  We use the same connector as many manufacturers use for DMX (XLR 5-pin) on our Showstopper cables.  This means you can easily purchase cables from lighting manufacturers or use existing cables.  However, the circuit is not DMX.  All control signals are actually sent through the Ethernet cables.

Are the motor speed and acceleration programmable?

Yes, speed and acceleration are adjustable for each motor in every cue.

How many positions can I set for a motor?

There is no limit to the number of positions you can set for a motor.  If you want to have a winch travel across the stage 1/4″ in each cue, that would be fine.

What is a cue?

In our Spikemark software, a cue is any number of motors moving to their programmed positions (at their programmed speeds and accelerations) all starting at the same time when the operator presses “GO”.

Can I link cues together?

Yes, cues can be linked to automatically execute a chain reaction.  Spikemark supports time links, position links and completion links.

For example, if you have a series of curtains on traveler tracks and you’d like to create a staged reveal, you could use time links.  Simply write a cue for each curtain opening and then link them together with a 5 sec. time link.  This would create an effect where the downstage curtain opened first, followed 5 seconds later by the next curtain opening, followed 5 seconds by the next curtain opening, etc.

Can I run two cues at once even if they are not linked?

Yes, Spikemark will let you “pile on” cues.  This is handy if you have two cues that need to be staggered slightly.  However, the timing might be a little different in every performance since the cue is driven by dialogue or performer position.

Take a look at our user forum to connect with other folks who are using our gear.
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