Motor Groups

Groups: What Are Motor Groups

A motor group is a collection of two or more motors that monitor each other's faults and stop when something is wrong.

Grouped motion is not synchronized motion

Motor Groups do not require the same targets or speeds. Because of this, you can have a couple motors lifting a truss, and program the movements to lift or lower the truss level but also tip the truss up and down. Nifty, right?

Groups: How They Work

Spikemark makes it look easy, but there’s a lot happening under the hood to keep things moving - and stopping!

Spikemark software and the Stagehand motion controller connect through an Ethernet connection. Motor Groups create an additional network connection to Spikemark which is only used to communicate the group status with Spikemark. This additional connection operates fast. When a Group is jogging or running in a cue (even Move to Position), the group is looking for the “OK” status every 100ms. If that status doesn’t make it through to each member of the group, motion is halted.

Groups: Not Every Stagehand can be Grouped together

Groups are really powerful tools and any Stagehand can operate in a group, but there are some restrictions to keep in mind. The most important detail is that some Stagehands cannot be grouped together.

The dividing line: which Stagehand Control Card is inside your Stagehand?

Rev1 - Rev5 Stagehand cards = Group away!

Rev6 Stagehand card = Group away!

Let’s look at 2 examples of Stagehands that can be grouped together, and one example that won’t work:

Good to go:

  1. Stagehand Pro 3 and Stagehand Pro 4

  2. Stagehand Apprentice and Stagehand Classic

No dice:

  1. Stagehand Pro 5 and Stagehand Pro 4

Take a look at the list below to find your Stagehand - any Stagehand in the same column can be grouped together in Spikemark:

Stagehand Mini

Stagehand Apprentice 2

Stagehand DC/DC Max

Stagehand Pro 5

Stagehand AC (The Classic)

Stagehand Mini^2

Stagehand Hydraulic

Stagehand Apprentice

Stagehand Apprentice DC

Pushstick Mini/Spotline Mini/Spotline Practical

Stagehand Pro 2/Pro 3/Pro 4

Groups: Adding & Editing Groups

Groups: Creating a Group and Adding Motors

  1. Select one or more motors

  2. Right Click on a selected motor to Add it to a Group.

The Group Dialogue Box will automatically pop up.

  1. Click the "+" to create a new Motion Group.

  2. Highlight the name and change it to DS Scenic Truss.

  3. Click to the left of the name box to make sure it's selected. It will highlight blue.

  4. Click "OK" to confirm adding to the group, and close the Group Dialogue Box.

Groups: Leaving a Group

Right Click on the Motor in the Group

Leave Group will keep the Motor in the show but will just remove it from the group

Click Leave Group

Delete From The Show will delete the Stagehand that is apart of a group

Click Delete from the Show

Groups: Deleting a Group

Proceed with caution - Removing a group cannot be undone!

Right Click on the Group Header

Remove Stagehand will delete the whole group and motors within that group from the show. If you want to keep all the Stagehands in a group, but delete the group, you will need to Leave Group first, then delete the whole group.

Groups: Properties

The Group Properties panel is on the right, and looks similar to the Stagehand Properties panel. To see the group properties, click on the Group.

Pro tip: If you want to adjust the properties of a motor in a group, just click on the individual motor and the Stagehand Properties will be displayed.

Groups: Network Pane

The buttons at the top allow you Connect To All or Disconnect From All the Stagehands within the group.

Groups: Motors & Status

The Motors pane of the group will show every motor in the group, its position, speed, and status icon.

The Allow Children To Be Run Independently check box refers to the motors inside of the selected group. If the box is unchecked, you will only be able to move this group as a group. If this box is checked you will be able to run each motor independently and as a group.

Groups: Speed Properties

The Speed Pane allows you to set:

  • Max Speed - will prevent the group from exceeding this speed

  • Default Speed - this will be the default speed for each cue that uses this group

  • Default Accel - this will be the default Acceleration and Deceleration for each cue that uses this group

  • Max Jogging Speed - The max percentage of speed when jogging

  • Min Jogging Speed - the min percentage of speed when jogging, this is best set to 3% to reduce any brake fluttering that happens at super low speeds.

The Motor Group will limit the max speed to the motor with the lowest value in the group. For instance, if you have a Spotline grouped with a Smart Chain Hoist, the max group speed will be 20"/sec.

Groups: Timeout Options

Group Timeout values are important to confirm the group is connected and ready to move.

Group Timeout values often don't need to be adjusted from their defaults. If you are getting a group fault or have cue links with groups that do not always trigger, you may need to adjust these Timeout values or assess if you have other network issues.

The first two timeouts control how fast a group reacts to a network issue. When a cue is loaded, a watchdog (a fancy networking term) is created that monitors the group through the end of cued motion.

The watchdog uses the following timeout times to determine how much time can elapse without receiving feedback before faulting:

The slow timeout time while the cue is loaded.

The fast timeout time when a cue is running

If the motors don’t respond saying that everything is good within the specified time, motion is aborted and you’ll see a Group Fault icon

The scheduled timeout is the amount of time the group stays active after a cue completes. Keeping this at 1500ms allows for cue links to behave properly. If there are other network issues, this may need to be adjusted.

When the scheduled timeout is reached, the group is disbanded. You will see a long list of what appear to be faults in the log when this happens. Have no fear, the "disposed object" is the group - or more correctly the lack of the group.

Groups: Position & Weight Delta

Position Delta

The Position Delta Pane will show details on:

  • Min Position - shows which motor in the group has the smallest position, and what its current position is.

  • Max Position - shows which motor in the group has the greatest position, and what its current position is.

  • Delta - shows the difference in position between the motor with the Max Position and the motor with the Min Position.

Weight Delta

The Weight Delta Pane will show details on:

  • Min Weight - shows which motor in the group has the smallest weight, and what its current weight is.

  • Max Weight - shows which motor in the group has the greatest weight, and what its current weight is.

  • Delta - shows the difference in weight between the motor with the Max Weight and the motor with the Min Weight.

Groups: Writing Cues

Write Cues with groups just like you do with single motors.

Individual motors within group movements can have different speeds and targets. If this is the case for your cue, edit each movement individually and you’re ready to go.

If you are sending all the motors in a group movement to the same target at the same rate, you can set the values on one motor and use the “Copy to Group” button.

Load and Run your cues, and the groups will be monitors and stop all the motors of a group if one motor in the group faults.

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