To help identify all the Stagehand FX devices in your show, you can give each FX a unique name. Additionally, you can rename all of the Inputs and all of the Outputs for an FX to help remember the purpose of each switch in the Stagehand FX.
Stagehand FX status information is displayed in the Cue Grid column headers and the Properties Pane for the Stagehand FX. The status of the Stagehand FX device is indicated by various icons - several of which are shared with other Stagehand controllers. Each icon status is described below.
After you have made all the connections and have connected to your Stagehand FX by setting your IP Address, you are ready to manually test your Stagehand FX. To manually test your Stagehand FX, you will need to use the manual output buttons in the Stagehand FX Properties Panel in Spikemark. Press the button that corresponds to the output you wish to activate. The button behaves like a momentary switch; the FX Output will be active as long as the button is held down. When you release the button, the FX Output will deactivate.
Most of the time, you will want the Stagehand FX to load and run cues normally. However, there are occasions when an effect needs to be temporarily removed from the show. Perhaps there is a problem with the scenery on a winch track, or perhaps you need to run through movements using only the Stagehands downstage and don’t want anything upstage to move.
The Active state of a Stagehand FX can be controlled through any FX Input action. Using an input on a Stagehand FX, you can quickly deactivate one or many Stagehand Motors or FXs. See the “FX Input Action” section below for more information.
Input Actions introduce a way to trigger events in the show that are not directly related to a cue. FX Input Actions give you a way to tell Spikemark to do something whenever an input is activated, regardless of what cue is running. There are five input actions:
● Deactivate Stagehand
a. Deactivate the selected Stagehand when the input is triggered
● Soft Stop Stagehand
a. Execute a Soft Stop for the selected Stagehand
● Run Cue
a. Run a specific cue
● Run Next Cue
a. Run the next cue in the stack
● Activate FX Output
a. Activates the selected FX Output
● Disable FX Output
a. Disables the selected FX Output
Below each input action you will see a Debounce Seconds input box – the default value is 0 seconds. The Debounce field adds stability to the way Spikemark listens to input actions. For example, if you have a momentary push button connected to the input of a Stagehand FX, there is the possibility that the button contacts could engage and disengage multiple times within the action of you physically pushing the button. The debounce time is the amount of time between contacts closing before Spikemark will register another button pushed. This way when you push your button, it only registers once rather than multiple times in your one button push. If this time is too long, you could miss another button press. Usually 0-0.5 sec is a good choice for debounce time, but we leave it open for adjustment in case you have the need.
You can link a Child Cue to a Parent Cue so it runs as soon as an input switch is detected from a Stagehand FX. This can be handy if you have two cues that need to run in close proximity, but require a crew member to give a “Clear” signal for the second cue. In such a case, you could wire a pushbutton to the input of a Stagehand FX. When the Parent Cue runs, the crew member would push the button to start the Child Cue when appropriate.
You can define an Input Action that will toggle the Active state of one or more Stagehand Motors or FXs to temporarily keep them from running cues during the show. This may be handy if you have a scenic element that is involved in a number of cues, but requires tight synchronization with an actor’s movements. Some nights the computer sequencing works fine, but some nights you need to take manual control of the motor and jog it to match the actor. When that happens, you don’t want to mess up all the other cues in the sequence, so you wire an “Override” button into a Stagehand FX and configure it as illustrated in the steps below.
There are times when you may need to soft stop a device in a show based on actor timing. For example, maybe you have two concentric turntables, which both start moving at the same time, but one will need to stop when an actor says a particular line. In this example, you would not want to set up a cue in which the turntable reached a target position, but, instead, you could use an FX input and set it so that when manually activated after the actor spoke the line, the motor would slow down to its programmed deceleration rate and then stop.
In some environments, particularly interactive exhibits, you may want Spikemark to run through a series of cues in sequential order by repeatedly pressing a single button. For instance, a presenter giving an interactive lecture and may need to execute a motion sequence of motorized props in an exhibit. In such a case, Spikemark can be used with a Stagehand FX, a button wired into an input, and a Run Next Cue action. When the presenter needs to move to the next sequence, she simply presses the button connected to Stagehand FX and the exhibit advances. While this action is rarely useful in live theatre, it does find use in non-traditional applications.
To add a Run Next Cue FX action:
The two-line alphanumeric display on the Stagehand FX motion controller uses an LCD screen to give you feedback about the Stagehand FX. The Stagehand 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. The following list explains the information that you can glean from the Stagehand display.
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.
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 running a cue through Spikemark, that cue will need to be re-loaded and run again. At no time will the Stagehand immediately restart after an Emergency Stop fault is cleared, since such behavior could pose a serious safety risk.
In the top right of the LCD display, there are 4 values to indicate whether or not an Input Contact is open or closed. The value will either be a 1 or a 0. A value of 1 indicates that an Input Contact is closed while a value of 0 indicates that the Input Contact is open. For example, if “0101” is displayed on your LCD display, The contacts of Input 1 and 3 are open(or off) and the contacts of Input 2 and 4 are closed(or on).
We strive to provide all the details required to operate and troubleshoot issues here. But if you are stuck and getting frustrated, have no fear, we are here to help! The best and quickest way to reach us is via email: [email protected]. Someone is on call, weekdays/evenings/showcall/ weekends and will get back to you quickly. We are also here to talk - call us at 401-289-2942 x2. If we don't answer, leave a message, we'll call you back as quickly as we can.
The Stagehand FX is packaged in a standard 19” x 2U rackmount case. The overall dimensions are: 17”W x 8”D x 3-7/16”H.
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