Machine Setup

Once the control and electrical connections are made it’s time to free the lifting line from inside the Spotline Practical. From the exit well on the bottom of the machine, release the bell housing from the velcro ties and let the cable hang down.

Look up into the machine, you will first see lifting line riding along the white plastic idler before heading into the drum. Ensure the lifting line is not twisted, and is relatively taught as it transitions from the drum to the idler to the exit of the machine.

Between the drum and the idler, the lifting line must tuck in front of the slack-line sensor arm, such that the smooth metal rod is exerting gentle pressure against the lifting line. In the event this arm has slipped in transit, the machine will not function, and the Stagehand display will read “Ultimate Limit”.

The following steps will reorient the inner components and clear this limit. This process is best accomplished by (2) technicians.

  1. Apply gentle tension to the lifting line.

  2. Use the ULT limit override button to jog the machine until at least 12” of lifting line is free.

  3. Place the machine in E-Stop, or remove power using the (2) onboard breakers.

  4. Snake a hand into the machine.

  5. Bring a small amount of lifting line back into the body of the machine, and tuck the resulting bulge of slack in front of the smooth metal rod arm of the slack-line sensor.

  6. Release the slack from the machine, clear all hands, and resume applying gentle tension to the lifting line.

  7. Power the machine on and confirm the ultimate limit is cleared.

Your lighting practical should be connected to the wire rope thimble under the bell housing, not hanging from the powerCON connector. Once rigged securely connect the power connect your practical’s power to its dimmer using the provided powerCON TRUE1 connector.

Manual Operation

Manually jogging the Spotline Practical is the same as jogging from any Stagehand. Press and hold FWD or REV and spin the jog wheel CW to increase speed or CCW to reduce speed. The Stagehand display will change to show jog direction, speed percentage and encoder counts while jogging.

Limit Override

The Spotline Practical has initial and ultimate limit circuits. The FWD and REV (initial) limits are set with the two pole rotary limit switch while the ULT limit is triggered by engaging the roller arm limit switch or when the slack line switch is engaged. When the machine engages an initial limit, motion is prohibited in that direction. When the machine engages an ultimate limit, all motion is prohibited until the condition is cleared. Most of the time this is the exact behavior you want: engaging a limit means something has gone awry. Time to stop, evaluate what happened, and make a correction.

However, sometimes, especially during load-in or shop testing, the limit is merely improperly set and it would be convenient to temporarily override the limit switch. The limit override buttons on the face of the Spotline Practical allow you to do just that. Press and hold the corresponding button and you can drive beyond an engaged limit using manual jogging procedures. Use extreme caution when utilizing the override buttons! It is simple to push the ULT override and jog the machine - it is much more complex (and time consuming) to have to disassemble the machine to untangle the lifting line.

The limit overrides are a convenience feature that should only be employed temporarily. Don’t do anything dangerously negligent like tape the override buttons down, or wedge a paperclip in the buttons in order to permanently disable the limit signals.

Understanding the Stagehand Display

If you are familiar with other Creative Conners controllers, you’ll notice that the Spotline Practical motion controller is identical to our standard Stagehands.

Motion Controller

The two-line alphanumeric display on the Spotline Practical motion controller uses OLED technology to make it easy to read backstage without a distracting backlight. It also has excellent viewing angles, making it easier for you and other operators to see status information at a glance. The controller is primarily used through our Spikemark software, but it is handy to have some bits of information displayed on the Stagehand faceplate for those times that you are working onstage near the machinery and not sitting in front of a computer running Spikemark. Also during shop setup, load-in, and strike you may not have Spikemark running and need to manually operate the Spotline Practical. The following list explains the information that you can glean from the controller display.

  1. Network Connectivity

When sitting idle, the Stagehand will display its IP address on the bottom line and whether the Stagehand is actively connected to Spikemark. Connected means that the Stagehand has an active connection with a Spikemark computer, Disconnected means that the Stagehand is not actively communicating with Spikemark.

  1. Encoder Position

If you press either the forward or reverse jog button, the Stagehand will display the direction it is traveling and current speed as a percentage of full power on the top line. On the bottom line it will display the position in raw encoder counts. Inside Spikemark the position data will be shown in scaled units, such as feet or inches, but on the Stagehand the raw encoder counts are displayed, since the Stagehand isn’t aware of Spikemark’s Position Scale. The position information is helpful when testing equipment in the shop prior to load-in.

  1. Limits

When a Forward, Reverse, or Ultimate Limit is struck the top line of the display will flash an appropriate fault message in rotation with any other fault messages. If you strike a directional limit switch, either forward or reverse, you will have to run the motor in the opposite direction to clear the fault message. If you strike an ultimate limit you will have to physically clear the limit switch before the fault message will clear.

  1. Drive Fault

The internal servo drive has many fault conditions that can cause it to interrupt power to the motor and cease motion. Mechanical overload, encoder signal loss, over-speed, and under-voltage are just of few of the common faults that will render a Stagehand unresponsive. All of these faults register a common “Drive Fault” message on the status display and in Spikemark.

To clear a drive fault, correct the cause of the fault and then either power cycle the Spotline Practical or use the drive reset feature in Spikemark.

Spikemark resets the drive by strobing Aux 2 (one of the available outputs on the Stagehand card). If you are unable to remotely reset the drive, navigate to the Advanced section of the Stagehand Properties and confirm Strobe Aux 2 is selected under Drive Reset Method.

  1. Brake Fault

The Spotline Practical will only display Brake Fault when there has been an internal error detected. If this error persists after a power cycle, contact Creative Conners for assistance.

  1. Emergency Stop

When the Emergency Stop circuit is activated, or unplugged, the Emergency Stop fault message will be added to the flashing fault messages. Any motion that was occurring when the Emergency Stop was detected will be stopped. To clear the fault, release the Emergency Stop button on the Showstopper. Once the fault is cleared, any motion that you wish to execute will have to be restarted. If you were jogging, you will need to release the jog button and start again. If you were running a cue through Spikemark, that cue will need to be re-loaded and run again. A Stagehand will never restart automatically after an Emergency Stop fault is cleared, since such behavior could pose a serious safety risk.

Brake Testing

The Spotline Practical controls two safety brakes for use in hoisting applications. However, since the Spotline Practical cannot confirm that both brakes are functioning mechanically and that neither has jammed in a released state (very rare, but possible), nightly pre-show check should include a brake test. If the Spotline Practical is not readily accessible for a daily check, the brake test can be accomplished at Load In, then once every 1-2 weeks through the run of the show. The Spotline Practical has convenient buttons on the faceplate to assist you with testing the brakes. To test that your brakes are operating correctly in a hoisting application, read through the following steps in their entirety and then perform each action as follows:

  • Clear the stage below the suspended scenery

  • Press the Brake Test button

  • While holding the Enable button, press the Load Brake button. This will manually release the load brake. The motor brake should still be engaged and will hold the load. If the suspended scenery slips down, release the Load Brake button immediately. Since the motor brake did not hold the load as expected, that brake has failed. DO NOT OPERATE THE MACHINE UNTIL THE MOTOR BRAKE IS REPAIRED OR REPLACED. FAILURE TO REMOVE THE MACHINE FROM SERVICE COULD RESULT IN DAMAGE, INJURY, OR DEATH.

IP Address

Once the Spotline Practical is physically connected to the network you will need to set the IP address in order to communicate with Spikemark. This is accomplished the same way as any other Stagehand controller.

  • Click the jog wheel, the SET IP screen will be displayed

  • Scroll to the octet you want to change and click the wheel

  • Turn the wheel to increase or decrease the number until you reach your desired value. Click the jog wheel to set the value.

  • Repeat the process for all octets that need to be adjusted.

  • Once complete use the jog wheel to highlight ‘OK’ and click the wheel

Subnet Mask

In addition to the IP address, each Stagehand controller also has the ability to set the subnet mask. The default subnet mask is If you find yourself in a position where you need to adjust the subnet mask, please take a step back from the edge and ask yourself if it is really necessary. If the answer is yes, click and hold the scroll wheel to reveal the SET SUBNET screen. Follow the same procedures used to set the IP address to adjust the subnet mask.

Slackline Detection

The Spotline Practical has a minimum loading requirement of 5lbs. When the Spotline Practical is lifting less than 5lbs, the lifting line will have the tendency to become slack. To combat this problem, the Spotline Practical is integrated with an ultimate limit that detects when the lifting line has gone slack. This is to prevent the lifting line from unspooling and getting caught inside the enclosure. When the slack line detection trips, you will usually need to re-add tension and add more weight to your lifting line. In some rare occasions, if the ultimate limit override was used to move through the slackline detection, the limit could slip behind the lifting line and keep you in a constant ultimate limit state. To fix this problem, you will need to shut down the machine and manually reset the slackline limit. This can be done either through the lift line exit, or by opening the machine.

Setting the Limits

In addition to the slack line detection which triggers the ULT limit, there is an interior collision limit which will trigger an ULT limit fault when an obstruction is detected inside the machine (e.g. the payload is about to be sucked into the body of the machine) as well as FWD and REV rotary limits. The ULT limits are not adjustable, but the FWD and REV limits are user-adjustable.

The FWD and REV primary limits are set individually via the rotary limit switch located below the Stagehand card on the face of the enclosure. Remove the (4) socket-head cap screws from the cover plate, then remove the dust cover with a #1 Phillips screwdriver. You should now see the top of the limit cam stack. To adjust the limits:

  • Loosen the center screw.

  • Turn the appropriate cam screw to adjust the limit.

  • Tighten the center locking screw once set.

  • Test motion by jogging into and tripping the limit.

  • Reinstall the 2 covers.

Maintenance Schedule

Like any machine, the Spotline Practical requires maintenance to stay operating to the fullest capacity.


  • Perform a brake test, if possible.

  • Run the machine in a cue to confirm operation.


  • Perform a brake test.


  • Inspect entire lifting line for kinks, nicks, or damage.

  • Confirm all limits function

  • Check limit chain lubrication

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