The Stagehand Hydraulic is designed to be mounted horizontally in a standard 19” equipment rack. Use the included rack mount screws to fasten the controller into an equipment rack.

Making the Connections

  1. Input Power

  2. Ethernet

  3. Forward Safety Sensor Connections

  4. Reverse Safety Sensor Connections

  5. Auxiliary Limit Connections

  6. Sensor Input

  7. Valve Output

  8. Showstopper E-stop Input

Input Power

The Stagehand Hydraulic requires 110VAC, 1.4A input power. The power inlet is an IEC-320 C-14 inlet with a built-in 5mm x 20mm 5 amp fast acting fuse. Power up your Stagehand Hydraulic with the included locking IEC cable, or any other IEC cable you have.


To program motion and run cues, the Stagehand Hydraulic communicates to Spikemark through the Ethernet connection. In addition to a physical cable connection, you will need to set the IP Address to be compatible with your Spikemark computer (see Setting the IP Address later in this manual).

Choose your favorite CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable (EtherCON or standard RJ45 are both compatible) and plug one end into the Stagehand Hydraulic and the other end to a Network Switch or directly to a PC running Spikemark.

Safety Sensor Connections

The Stagehand Hydraulic includes safety relays that add support for any 4 wire safety sensors (e.g. bumper switches and pressure mats) in both the Forward and Reverse directions. The safety relay circuits function by interrupting the Forward and Reverse limit switch signals, thus aborting motion in the corresponding direction when a safety sensor is engaged.

A 4-wire safety circuit, when used in conjunction with the internal safety relay, allows monitoring for the following four conditions:

  1. Disconnected - the safety relay sends an electrical signal through the sensor and expects the signal to return. If that signal does not return the safety relay will go into a faulted state and disallow any further motion by interrupting either the Forward or Reverse limit switch circuit.

  2. Contacted - If a safety mat or bumper switch is pressed, the internal conductors of the safety sensor create a short-circuit. That short-circuit is detected and no further motion is allowed in the direction of the engaged sensor by interrupting either the Forward or Reverse limit switch circuit.

  3. Cross Circuit - if the wiring is crossed, and the electrical signal is sensed on the opposite channel the safety relay will go into a faulted state and interrupt either the Forward or Reverse limit switch circuit.

  4. Clear - if none of the above conditions occur the safety relay will allow movement.

Included with the Stagehand Hydraulic, there are two safety bypass jumpers. These jumpers are short 3 pin XLR cables, just like a conventional audio cable. These may be used to bypass the safety circuit either during initial setup, troubleshooting, or when using the controller without a safety sensor.

Caution: When the safety sensors are bypassed, pay close attention to any possible crush or shear hazards. Be vigilant to avoid damage, injury, or death.

Auxiliary Limits

The Stagehand Hydraulic will allow movement in either the Forward or Reverse direction provided the corresponding limit switch circuit is closed. The limit switch circuit is Fail Safe, and as such current must flow through every sensor in the circuit to allow motion. If the current is interrupted for any reason, either an open switch or disconnected wire, the motion in the corresponding direction will stop. As you read above, the Safety Sensors can interrupt the limit circuits to stop motion when a bumper switch or safety mat are contacted. Additionally, Auxiliary Limits can be used to add another limit switch to the limit circuit.

Why would you want an auxiliary limit? Typically, auxiliary limits are used to inhibit the motion of the machine based on the position of another object on stage. Concretely, consider a common pair of machines used on stage: a lift and trap door. In this typical scenario, the lift should be prevented from moving up (FWD) until the trap door is open. Conversely, the trap door should be prevented from closing (REV) until the lift is down. This scenario is referred to as an interlock, where the position of one machine affects the allowed motion of another. Each machine is controlled by its own Stagehand, but the interlock signal fed into each Stagehand is activated by the motion of the other machine. A diagram and schematic of such a scenario is shown below:

Note that the Door Open Interlock and Lift Down Interlock switches would be wired Normally Open (N.O.). This will maintain the desired Fail-Safe operation, since a failed cable or broken switch on the Door Open Interlock sensor would open the limit circuit and disallow forward motion on the lift.

The Auxiliary Limits use NEMA ML1P connectors.

The Auxiliary Limit circuits must be closed (shorted) to allow motion in the corresponding direction. If you do not need one or both Auxiliary Limit inputs for your effect, then insert the included limit jumpers (aka shorting plug) to bypass the Auxiliary Limits.

Sensor Input

Like most of our controllers in the Stagehand family, the sensor input is a Harting 24-pin IRC connector. This carries the signal for the Position Encoder, Forward, Reverse, and Ultimate limits. Included below is the pin out of the Sensor Input connector for you to use when wiring in your hydraulic effect.

Fwd, Rev, and Ult Limit Connections

  • The Stagehand Hydraulic motion controller monitors forward, reverse, and ultimate limit circuits. Ultimate Limit – a pair of switches can be wired in series to this pair of terminals to provide protection against Forward and Reverse Limit switch failures. These switches are wired Normally Closed (N.C.). Typically, an Ultimate Limit switch is positioned just beyond both the Forward and Reverse Limit switch. If either Ultimate Limit is activated, the Stagehand Hydraulic will disallow any further movement in any direction until the limit is physically cleared. An Ultimate Limit signal indicates an equipment problem with at least one of the primary limit switches. The faulty equipment must be addressed, and the Ultimate Limit must be mechanically reset before the Stagehand Hydraulic will allow motion.

  • Reverse Limit – If any Reverse Limit switch is activated, the Stagehand Hydraulic will not allow further motion in the reverse direction until the limit is cleared either by adjusting the switch mechanically or by moving in the forward direction far enough to clear the limit switch. These switches are wired Normally Closed (N.C.) to protect against switch or cable failure.

  • Forward Limit – If any Forward Limit switch is activated, the Stagehand Hydraulic will not allow further motion in the forward direction until the limit is cleared either by adjusting the switch mechanically or by moving in the reverse direction far enough to clear the limit switch. These switches are wired Normally Closed (N.C.) to protect against switch or cable failure.

Wiring the Limits

Since the Stagehand provides three (3) separate pins that all source 12VDC, one for each limit signal, you can reduce the wiring in your machine to four (4) wires by using just one of the 12VDC source pins and three (3) wires for the three limit return signals. Sometimes it is more convenient to wire a pair of conductors for each switch, other times it may be better to reduce the number of conductors by sharing a common voltage source. Both options are shown below:

Shared Limit Wiring

Discrete Limit Wiring

Pro Tip:

If you are not using the Ultimate Limit circuit, you will need to jump pins 1 & 2.

Position Encoder

The Stagehand Hydraulic requires encoder feedback for precise position accuracy. Any encoder connected to the Stagehand Hydraulic must be an Incremental, Quadrature, Differential Line Driver device, 5V tolerant. String encoders are a favorite for positioning a scissor lift - always ensure a solid, stable connection and go for the highest reasonable Counts Per Inch (CPI) or Pulses Per Revolution (PPR) you can.

Pro Tip: Persistent Position writes the encoder position to flash memory after the motor has stopped moving for 30 seconds, or when the e-stop is activated. This prevents spurious, frequent flash writes which can wear the memory prematurely. However, that also means that if you lose power mid-move, or before 30 seconds have elapsed at the end of a move, the recorded position will be wrong and you need to manually reset position within Spikemark.

Encoder Wiring

Below is a drawing that shows you how to wire your encoder signals into the Harting 24-pin IRC connector that carriers the control signal into the Stagehand Hydraulic.

Valve Output

The Stagehand Hydraulic isn’t spinning a motor, it is powering and controlling a Proportional Valve. It’s ready to control a valve amplifier or to a valve with OBE (On Board Electronics). The 24VDC valve power is turned on when the motion controller is preparing to move the machine (Enable). Speed and direction are supplied through a +/-10VDC bipolar speed signal. There is also a separate 24VDC output available to control a brake valve (if required).

If you didn't purchase a Proportional Valve and Cable from Creative Conners, you'll need to make your own Valve Output Cable. The mating plug parts are:

Male Insert: Harting #09120073001

Male Crimp Pins (18AWG): Harting #09150006102 (uses crimp tool #09990000021)

Hood (PG11): Harting #09200031440

Cord Grip (PG11): Bud Industries #NG-9513

All parts are available from multiple electrical supplies such as Mouser, Allied Electronics, Newark Electronics, and others.


The Emergency Stop signal from a Showstopper 3 Base or Showstopper 3 Hub is sent over a 5-pin XLR connector. Inside, the Stagehand Hydraulic uses a SIL3 rated safety relay to remove power from the valve and brake circuits when the Emergency Stop is activated.

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