Using the Stagehand

Now that all the connections are made, it’s time to Make It MoveTM! The first time you apply power to your machine it should be done without a load attached. It can be quite scary if a multi-ton piece of scenery is yanked around by a misbehaving machine, so make sure to do your first test run in the shop or on an empty stage without any scenery connected.

Manual Operation

Before you can write complex cues in Spikemark, let’s make sure the machine runs fine when jogging it manually using the buttons and knobs on the face of the Stagehand.

  • Release the Emergency Stop button on your Showstopper

  • Confirm the Stagehand display is not displaying “SET IP” or “SET SUBNET”.

  • If so, use the jog wheel to highlight CANCEL and click the wheel

  • Press the Forward Button.

  • While holding the Forward Button turn the Knob Clockwise slowly.

  • The brake should release, and the machine should begin to move.

  • The Position Encoder counts are displayed on the Status Display. The counts should be increasing in positive value, if not the motor and encoder are out of phase and you’ll need to rewire either the motor or encoder. See the troubleshooting section for more details.

  • Gradually rotate the Knob counterclockwise until the machine stops.

  • Release the Forward Button.

  • Press the Reverse Button.

  • While holding the Reverse Button turn the Knob Clockwise slowly.

  • The brake should release, and the machine should begin to move.

  • The Position Encoder counts are displayed on the Status Display. The counts should be decreasing, if not the motor and encoder are out of phase, and you’ll need to rewire either the motor or encoder. See the troubleshooting section for more details.

If you strike a limit while jogging in the direction of the limit, the Stagehand will immediately stop the motor. This is a necessary safety feature, though during machine prep and load in running into the limits can be frustrating – especially when you are certain no accident will occur. To address this frustration, the Stagehand Apprentice includes forward and reverse momentary limit override buttons to the left of the OLED display.

To bypass a limit, press and hold either the FWD or REV limit override and continue jogging the motor. Once the motor has been tested, and functions correctly you will need to set the physical hard limits before attaching scenery and running the motor in a cue.

If you are using the ultimate limit circuit and you strike it, you must physically clear the limit switch before restarting motion in either direction. Although the Stagehand Apprentice supports an ultimate limit circuit, it is jumped internally from the factory. If you would like to include the ultimate limit circuit in your system, please contact We will be happy to walk you through the process of removing the internal jumpers.

Computer Control with Spikemark

Once all the physical connections are made, IP Addresses are set and you have moved the motor manually, it’s time to open Spikemark, connect your Stagehand and write a cue. Adding the Stagehand to Spikemark is as easy as adding the motor (Ctrl-M) and setting the IP Address in Spikemark to match the one on the Stagehand. Finally, press the CONNECT button in the Stagehand Properties pane on the right.

Once Spikemark is connected to the Stagehand it will recognize the Stagehand Apprentice. You will see this information displayed in the Hardware pane on the right-hand side of Spikemark. The Stagehand Apprentice can reset a drive fault from within Spikemark. This feature only works with the Stagehand Apprentice.

From the properties pane, you can set many additional parameters. Refer to the Spikemark manual for details.

Drive Communication

The Stagehand Apprentice supports Drive Communication to Spikemark. This allows you to set drive parameters, auto-tune, reset the VFD and analyze cues! Check out all the details here:

pageDrive Communication


The Mitsubishi D700 Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), like many VFDs, has a built-in auto-tuning procedure which electrically probes the motor to give the VFD a better understanding of the motor it is tasked with controlling. This procedure should be run every time you connect the Stagehand to a different motor since different motors have different electrical properties. The operation typically takes less than a minute and does not move the motor shaft substantially but will release the motor brake, so the drive can sense the motor’s reaction to applied power. There are two methods to complete the Auto-Tuning procedure, from within Spikemark (v 4.0 and up) and from the

  1. Select the correct Stagehand in the Cue Grid

  2. Scroll down the Stagehand Properties on the right until the Drive Section

  3. Select “Auto-Tune”

  4. The Drive Auto-Tune window will open

  5. The current drive parameters are listed on the left under “Drive Value”

  6. Click the red Auto-Tune button

Auto-tuning procedure from the D700 keypad

If you prefer to press buttons on a keypad, have no fear you can still do it! The D700 keypad is installed on the VFD, inside the case. You'll need to open the case to access the keypad

Exercise caution when changing parameters from the keypad - line voltage is present!

Check out the full parameter list here.

  1. Confirm the E-Stop is released

  2. Set parameter 77 to ‘2’ (allow parameter writes regardless of status)

  3. Set parameter 9 to the motor rating (check the connected motor nameplate)

  4. Set parameter 71 to 3 (other mfg. standard motor)

  5. Set parameter 80 to the motor capacity (confirm correct value from the motor nameplate)

  6. Set parameter 83 to 230V

  7. Set parameter 96 to 11 (offline auto-tuning without moving)

  8. Press the Mode button until the display shows 11 without flashing

  9. Press and hold the FWD jog button on the face of the Stagehand to begin the tuning process

  10. During the tuning process the keypad displays “12”. If it completes successfully, the keypad will displays “13”.

  11. If there was an error, the keypad displays “9”. For more information see the Mitsubishi D700 series manual starting at page 105.

RESTORE PARAMETER C4 (Analog Speed Signal)

Your Stagehand uses an analog input signal to communicate with the VFD how fast and in which direction to turn. In order to ensure maximum system efficiency, the VFD should be calibrated to the Stagehand motion controller so that a 100% control signal results in a 60Hz output frequency to the motor.

Some models have been calibrated at the factory and have a label on the back showing the value that should be entered in Parameter C4. If your Stagehand does not have C4 parameter sticker on the back, please follow this procedure to Calibrate the analog speed signal. Note that your stagehand does not need to be connected to a motor to run the calibration sequence.

  • On the Mitsubishi keypad press mode until the display reads P.0

  • Rotate the dial until you get to C…

  • Press SET

  • Rotate the dial to C4

  • Press SET

  • Press the fwd button and rotate the dial on the top of you Stagehand seen in figure 24 to run the Stagehand forward to 100%

  • While continuing to hold the fwd button press SET to record the analog input gain. The display on the VFD will flash between your new number and P C4

  • Release the fwd button

  • Note the number which was recorded on the VFD screen

  • Make a label with this number and place it on the back of the cabinet

This number is unique to this drive and gets reentered in C4 if the drive ever gets reset.

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