Monday, December 27, 2010

The Development of Scenic Spectacle

Occasionally, I come across something, a site, technique or product that I know to be really great, and realize that I haven't passed it on yet, here on my blog. As I try to use this both to help others from reinventing wheels that have previously been invented and improved upon, and as a depository of ideas, I need to pass on Dr. Frank Mohler's site The Development of Scenic Spectacle. I have been referring to the site on and off for years after discovering it in grad school doing research. On the site there are animated models of how historic rigging / automation worked from the 16th, 17th, and 18th century. The site also has a great bibliography. Check it out - you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nuts and Bolt Resources

A few resources I came across looking for "the perfect fastener" for a recent product. None of these places are bolt suppliers - but one search lead to another on google, and here we are with some useful terminology and information.

Nuts & Bolts Pdf talks about how bolts work, forces, and specifications, as well as nuts and washers and locking compounds. Not geared towards theatre, or even construction, but towards racecar drivers, but still worth a read.

Glossary of Nut & Bolt Terms As titled - check here if you ever come across a fastener that you are unfamiliar with.

Nut & Bolt Identifier Tool is something I need for my shop at home (we have similar tools in my shop at work). I like how this encorporated both the bolt and nut identifiers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Zen & the Art of Prop Making

Deco Works has a short list of entries that involve some prop "how-to's". It's sort of a wierd mix between easy or obvious and more difficult, but worth a look.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PLC Online Training

In the fall 2010 Automation notebook from Automation Direct there was an article about online training courses for PLC programming offered through Interconnecting Automation. There are a few sample courses available, and the rest are available for $30 to $40 per month for unlimited access. I took a couple of the sample ones and they were a good introduction. The source is definately a good resource for starting or furthering your PLC programming knowledge.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Every now and then a discussion is started regarding what the essential tools are for any shop... Popular Mechanics weighs in on this topic. I have to admit that I don't own a center punch (though it's on my list to buy), a sledge hammer or machinest vise. I suppose that access to those at work is part of the reason, though I haven't needed them at home though all of the renovations I have comepleted. But that is why the topic is interesting - each person has their own idea of what their own essential tools are.

So my list (at least at the moment & in no particular order):
personal Protective equipment
cresent wrench
pipe wrench
socket wrench & socket set
allen key set
jig saw or roto zip
hand saw
needle nose pliers
Bits for above drill
Circular Saw
measuring tape
Phillips / Flat Head Screw Drivers
Extension Cord
Carpetners / framing square
Miter Saw
Staple Gun
end nips / side nips
Router & bits
hack saw
Gerber / Leatherman multi-tool
Set of open / box wrenches

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Extrusions & Stand-offs

I have recently found two additional companies that have been pretty useful.
For a desk I am building, I a mirror / glass trim has been specified as a trim made by Extrude-A-Trim. They have several unique shapes, and no minimum quantities. However they are located in Canada, so their shipping charges may be more expensive.

I also use a variety of stand-offs, which I usually purchase through Outwater. However, Metomic has a few cheaper alternatives. Of course if you need to go high end, Gyford is the way to go.

I think that one of the interesting things about these types of hardware is that I would have used them more in theatre if I had known they exsisted. Both in design and in technical direction, there is a pull between using "safe" hardware - its known, available, and economical & that "perfect" piece of hardware that may be commerically available, or may need to be custom built, or it may be available but expensive.