Arisia 2012

Another year, another narrow technical perspective

Without any nibbles on my perennial offer to pass the Arisia lighting-design baton to someone else to run with, I shouldered the role once again. After a remarkably smooth first year in a new hotel in 2011, we could swing into planning for 2012 with a nice body of knowledge about the Westin and the minor quirks we had wrestled with. This must have led to a sense of complacency, because it seemed to me that the timeframes for everything were running awfully late -- not much had been accomplished by the time Thanksgiving rolled around. This sort of bothered me, but at the same time I was also thinking that without any profoundly changed input, we could use the same basic main-tent room design and I could pretty much do the same rig as last year in it.

The only thing that came with any sense of urgency before then was that hotel rooms were selling out rapidly, so I went ahead and reserved one and hoped I would later find someone needing accomodations that I could split some of the costs with. [I did, but had to spam my share of people in the process.] No improvements have been made to the Starwood web site despite last year's noble efforts to find and bitch out the appropriate webmonkeys; the reservation process is still a horror show in terms of browser compatibility. Sorry guys, all the world is *not* internet fucking explorer, and I'm not going to go use someone else's keylogger-trojaned box to bang in *my* financial particulars.

There *are* some pictures in this review farther down, but I didn't take nearly as many this year and most of this is just text about what happened. More of what we do here can be seen in last year's set anyway, so this rundown can be viewed as an add-on to that. As usual, click the small pix for larger versions.

Peter our TD started hosting some conference calls through December, which at least prodded most of the design-level people into thinking more about what we needed. The first of these was on some awful "free" conference system without an 800 number, and on my limited per-month cell minutes wound up costing me a bundle for relatively little accomplished -- partially my fault for not realizing the overtime and dropping off earlier, but I wanted to be sure about not having any radically unexpected needs to handle.
One wrinkle I introduced was the concept of flying truss in the main ballroom. PSAV, the hotel's in-house production group, has a bunch of truss and chain-motors in a back closet and it's clear that they frequently do *their* events that way, so I wanted to give them an honest chance to provide that part of the infrastructure if it was feasible. It took a while to find the right contact but I was eventually able to ask, and unfortunately the answer landed way out of our budget as I suspected it would. The bad news can be seen here and in the price sheet that their rep sent me -- the per-point rigging costs are non-negotiable and we would have had to pay at least two of their crew on four-hour-minimum calls on the front and back. What's ironic is how their "premium package" doesn't even hint at hang points and provides all of about eight lights, where we need about four times that much in the air for our show. So -- back to our rented ground-support solution, which would work perfectly well. Now we know. zomfg that's expensive
As it slowly became clear that the fellow who handled the dance area last year was out of the picture this year except for DJing one event, lighting that room was going to all fall to me as well. I had *no* input on that at the time except a tentative room diagram which needed some tweaks anyway, but it would still need a full rig... so I went ahead and just assumed that its final layout would be driven by what I came up with. I decided to use Arisia's lights in the dance-tent and stick with the more up-to-date rental gear in main tent, and a couple of visits to the storage facility were needed to sort things out and repack for the con. In addition, Paul had contributed a batch of crusty old par-cans which immediately seemed appropriate for the third space in our care, the "small tent" way across the hotel from everything else. These needed relamping with something other than the narrow-spots they inexplicably had in them -- who ever uses those on stage?? Anyway, I fortunately had some MFL and WFL bottles in spare stock so I could fit them up to be appropriate for the space. Then we got into this long back-n-forth about buying some fold-up lighting stands to sort of share between Arisia and Lunacon, with the upshot being that we did buy some stands but they aren't nearly the quality we really expected.

With all this in mind I made some best-guess gear-list changes and called ALPS, to at least reserve the big stuff based on last year's order. I fortunately managed to do that early enough that all the things we'd need were still available. I've developed a pretty good working relationship with the ALPS folks over the years, and to not waste their time with a bunch of different calls I also needed the basic concept of what the dance-space would entail as well. After another tech con-call and more or less finalizing the needs for both spaces, I sent ALPS the official gear orders with a couple of short "we might also need ..." notes. In the meantime, Carl G. confirmed that he could supply his Colorblaze units again, And Lucky kindly took on handling the scaffolding order from Lynn Ladder.

I almost reluctantly made my way back north after the usual parental visit over the holidays, but the con was approaching fast and I had to do another visit to Storage to pull even more lights as I'd realized that I would need more of the Arisia gear across both of the major rooms. At this point about a week out I felt better about the progress of things; I got my revised design docs done and the wiggle-lights were already in Storage so I didn't have to schlep lots of gear around. We seemed to agree to use the same room plan as last year, with the exception of putting sound up on a scaffold level on the other side of the house and gain back a few more seats.

But it seems like there's always some interesting last-minute hack that comes up a couple of days before all the on-site fun begins. Last year it was ponies; this year it was prompted by a conference-call discussion about intercom. It seemed like we weren't going to get a two-channel base station, but video needs its own separate channel for camera calls once things are up and running. I recalled a bunch of study I had done on the topic of Clearcom and related systems a while back and saw an opportunity to finally build a "new channel" splitter. I had the parts on hand and went to it; the result was a simple little widget that can plug inline anywhere and generate an entirely new comm channel while sharing the single power supply across all stations. It's the same as what a multi-channel base station does inside anyway; no rocket science here but it's something I've been meaning to construct for years now.

Unfortunately, I don't think we got a chance to actually test it as David piped up shortly afterward to say "y'all want my two-channel supply?" but I brought the splitter to the con anyways and offered it to the video corner where it sat all weekend. Next con, maybe..

Trucks almost blocking the road Finally, the time arrived to begin the logistical whirlwind -- Wednesday night, for the main truck load. Two trucks were used this year, to split the load across the two halves and two loading-dock areas of the hotel -- everything had been tagged for shipment accordingly, for the most part. I think this came out of something I suggested after last year. However, blocking most of the street outside the storage facility isn't exactly best-practice; I think someone eventually moved the idle truck so it wasn't *exactly* in front of the protruding nose of the one being loaded.

The other big difference from last year? There was no *snow*, either on the ground or in the forecast. Wow. Arisia without snow? Unheard-of. I should at least qualify that with the fact that parts of Connecticut were still cleaning up from the bizarre "Snowtober" storm earlier in the season that had destroyed so many trees across New England, but that was long in the past and wasn't going to affect Arisia.

Pile of crap on top of lightings corner I wandered up to the storage room and found the lighting corner completely buried under a new heap of sound gear that also had to ship -- good thing I'd gotten in here to rearrange inventory before this, huh...

Loading was pretty straightforward, and I wasn't even the guy out in the truck this time -- I wound up staying inside and pushing stuff toward the elevator, meanwhile sorting out the triangles-vs-circles destination labels.

Grand ABCDE completely open I hit the ground pretty early the next day, and found Grand Ballroom opened completely up and still being reset from some sort of "women in power" event that morning. Well, we weren't officially in the room until 1pm anyway, so this gave me the opportunity to tuck my gear into an out-of-the-way corner, mess with the house-lights presets a little, go put the car in hock for the weekend, and then check into my hotel room nice and early well before the ALPS truck showed up.

Playing with the ride-on carpet sweeper

The hotel was still rolling tables and picking up the last bits as we took the room and loaded in the lighting stuff, and the guy cleaning the floors disappeared and left his ride-on sweeper-vac right in the way of where we needed to put things. Here's probably the highest pictures-per-time density from the whole weekend because Leon grabbed my camera and started blazing away since remedying this was likely to be rather amusing. After a little fiddling with the knobs it was pretty obvious how to control the thing ...

Comin' atcha! ... and get it to drive!

Get this silly thing out of our way But the point was to just get it out of our space, along with several other items that were still kicking around which I flushed into the unused third of the room beyond the airwall. No, the sweeper isn't a particularly exciting vehicle, even if it has fully proprtional forward/back control.

Some assembly required We had better things to do, such as get all of this stuff put together and in the air.

Getting to work The crew got to work, getting one of the scaffold-towers up early in the game so we could use it for the over-door wiring runs and some other stuff around the room. This year we had a *lot* of scaffold work-planks, as opposed to last year with too few. Not only did we order the full complement of double levels for each tower, we got an extra set for a mid platform on one side where Joel could sit and call the Masquerade from.

Slightly bizarre PDU The hotel electrician was digging up the very last of his stock of his 60-amp PDUs for us, as they also need a bunch of them over in the Galleria side. We got one of the more bizarrely-wired ones -- double-gang breakers for each two-leg output box, even though the idea is to have a bunch of *individual* 20-amp circuits. This means that overloading one output would also take out some other one that wasn't necessarily related, and mapping sets of two legs across a three-phase panel meant that none of the outlets were actually mapped clearly to A/B/C. Tom sat down in front of the thing with a meter and snapped breakers on and off and doped it all out and stuck appropriate labels on the boxes before we plugged anything in, so we could then do things like put all of audio and video on phase A and pull everything else from other phases.

I had made a list of labels to apply to various power cables, both the ones I brought in and some of the rented ones, so that we'd know which power was which back at the PDU. Video was glad to have a UPS from me again this year, and I brought in the high-power version this time as they reported that they'd pretty much maxed out my APC 1400 last year just running some servers and switchers. The 1400 had also been through a rather interesting time on its own; UPS aficionados and EE geeks will enjoy this page which goes into excruciating detail about it. Output capability aside, it wasn't clear to me that the video folks were really thinking about what needs UPS power and what doesn't at first, as a little later in setup I heard some loud beeping from the video corner as it turned out that they were trying to run one of the *6K projectors* off the UPS too. No, projectors and monitors aren't the things you really need power protection for. They got that straightened out but still ran the 2200 close to its max all weekend.

Oddly, lighting produced photons quite a while before sound made any noise -- usually it's the other way round, with lighting having to shout over the PA to get the last bits plugged in and tested. This was partially because our sound-designer was 1> feeling like crap from being sick and 2> had gotten totally snarled up in traffic on the Pike coming in, and he had some of the essential gear in his car.

Cyc tied up We didn't get the cyc in the air until the next morning, but doing so was a good object lesson in just how many people it takes to wrangle the thing. Abby and I pulled it out, got the truss and uprights put together and lashed, and the cyc tied on ready for lift with pretty much just the two of us. The only thing you need a swirling mob of techs for is the final lift, and that amounts to six people. Maybe a few more to fold it afterward, but not an all-hands call with everybody yelling conflicting directions at once. We always seem to throw entirely too many people-points at this thing, where they're not really needed -- especially our usual charity-case nonessentials who shouldn't be on the builds to begin with and just slow the whole process down.

For the record/future, the big drape uprights for this have a 16' mark and *then* the "max height" mark shortly thereafter, the latter of which needs to be where they sit to have the cyc's bottom chain clear of the floor. After it was up and level I grabbed a couple of sandbags and tieline and binder clips and gave it a gentle stretch across the bottom, which helped flatten it and lock in a nice stable front/back position. This is important for how the cyc lights play on it, as the narrow LED fixtures are really fiddly in terms of throw angle. The rag had a few more wrinkles in it as opposed to its pristine new state last year, but frankly I don't mind that as the big ones hang out fairly soon and the remainder add some texture and depth.

View from backstage This year I knew to lay out the cyc units with the low-order end toward the left to make the split channeling work out -- that *is* the end toward the power connector, as I figured, and also the left end when the module numbers on the little boards inside are right side up. This time I laid them all down and aligned them myself during one of the quieter times in the room, and was able to take a fairly precise approach to it with good visual results. A tweak of an eighth of an inch, or maybe just which way the carpet squishes under the support, can make a real difference in what lands on the cyc.

Also visible here is one of Paul's amazing new high-lift speaker stands, which raise the throw pattern high enough to allow positioning the mains much farther upstage without fear of local feedback. This has the nice perk of being able to keep them completely out of the lighting shots.

The little bluish lights are the backstage safety-lights that I insisted get deployed, as they're one of the infrastructure-y thing we frequently forget and this time I'd prepared some clip-lights with tiny 9W CFLs and blue gel pre-taped over the reflectors.

Another change from last year was getting four SeaChangers per side instead of three, and doing upstage/downstage pairs in 26 and 36 degree like typical pipe-end shots instead of trying to fire a 50 over the top of the drape. This worked out much better and even saved me a couple of dimmers, at the expense of renting two more CMY dichro units, and I think that yielded enough well-directed sidelight that video was actually happier with the results this time. I still had 50s perched on top in the middle with a generic "foliage" gobo shot from each side, just to throw in more texture.

The downside of this was that the side-stage trees were a bit topheavy and scary, and might have been better done with truss uprights instead of pipe. I wasn't sure there would be room to do that but the way the stage platform legs sit at the wings, I think there would be space for the 3' bases. [What's the bending strength of threads in sched-40 iron pipe, anyway?] Attention would still have to be paid to balance with units spread out that far, regardless, and SeaChanger modules are heavier than one might think. Despite the somewhat rickety nature of the trees we even managed to move them outward *fully assembled* when it turned out they were too close to the stage. Yay, the resiliency of hotel carpeting.

Maybe someday we'll have enough money to get a bunch of these. They're well-named, aren't they...

Main tent stage After everything got focused and final-tweaked once the drape was in, albeit in a somewhat long painful multi-step process, it all came together fairly well for the expected stage look. Oh, and we actually used radios for house focus for a change instead of yelling across the room, especially as sound was up and doing stuff by then.

One of the source4s turned out to have bad wiring in its lamp socket, but Dale was able to fetch a replacement cap from work the next day and bring it up when he came to the con. His job has made things very convenient for Arisia on several occasions now...

Here's one of a few shots I took with the new slightly-less-dumb phone camera, which is only 2 Mp fixed-focus and even in this relatively clear [for it] shot the quality difference is readily apparent and that's even after a bit of post-fixup. I've used an obvious naming scheme for the cell-shots. Most of the phone's output is noisy and overprocessed in strange ways as far as edge sharpening and saturation, but as I was thinking while upgrading the phone, sometimes the best camera is the one you *have with you* when something seems picture-worthy and the phone seems the most likely candidate to be that. The Canon G9 [discussed at length in '08] has been rock-solid for me for several years now but sometimes it's too much to carry around with me while working. And this year I was busy enough that I didn't even think about taking pictures very often.

One thing we manged to eliminate this year was the ASL signer to relay event sound to a hearing-impaired seating section, so I didn't have to worry about lighting a special area. Instead, we got something called CART in which an operator types things really fast into a steno machine and it comes up on a video screen, sort of like the closed-caption stuff on commercial broadcasts. That's what the small screen in front of the big IMAG is; we decided to separate the video rather than try to merge it all together on the IMAG. The person doing this fielded several events thats way. Looks like an interesting setup, and she spent a while training the system with abbreviations for convention-specific vocabulary.

Board tape Another bad cellphoto; this needed a lot of fixup to get close to readable as far as what got set up in the board. I chose the Smartfade again this year, as it has the channels to handle all the connected devices and it's still the cheaper rental option. I preloaded my Funny Cyc Patch into it from a card first, and this time I constructed all the scene-construction basics into memory page 1 and took advantage of the MEMS double-tap feature to access that during cue building. I left the "super green" out of the Seachanger subs, as it's not really that useful. I used the same memory-pair approach for the Masquerade looks as last year, with top-row handles to preset the CMY and corresponding bottom-row to bring things up, and dropped all those on pages 2 and up. It boiled down to the two-digit page/sub "cue block" numbers for the stage-manager to call and all ran pretty smoothly; during run I minorly screwed up one entry by bringing up the wrong pair but was able to subtly crossfade into the correct one as the people went through their movements on stage. On page 1 I also had similar preset/go pairs for warm fred, cool fred, and icy frozen wikkid-cold b-r-r-r-r fred.

The base page-1 layout was simple enough this time that everything else just ran straight from it; I didn't bother making simplified pages for other events/users such as Teseracte because I couldn't have reduced it much more than this. Once a new user understood how to use the base-sidelight in conjunction with the independent CMY from either side, the rest just fell into place. I wound up adding a few "fancy" multicolor cyc washes later, and they got used quite a bit.

Really, if this board had 1> inhibit subs, 2> link cues and 3> a slightly larger stack memory, I'd go *buy* one for general TF / convention use. But it's got some annoying little firmware limitations that make it less versatile for the kinds of shows I'd want to do on it. And I already know from experience that getting anyone at ETC to actually listen to me isn't in the cards.

I'm not sure when I made the executive decision to simply not bother with the 918s at all in main tent, but I had added several extra gobo-shots to the conventional rig anyway so even though I included power and data wiring that would have made rolling a couple of wiggles across the hall and using them relatively easy, it would have still required setup time and we didn't seem to have our room-prep chops sufficiently in gear to handle it on the important days like for Masq rehearsal. Besides, we had an astounding *35* entrants plus the Kamikaze Kids to get through, leaving zero time to weenie about wiggle-light programming. I did bring in the same 6x22 cannon and the redneck dimmer and hung it on the scaff in the back for a more straight-on gobo shot, and it actually got used to put a galaxy on the cyc for the "OMG it's full of stars" at the end of a steampunk-version "2001" entry. No ponies this year, but I still have that gobo too.

Bellydance! Abby took over to light the bellydance show, and did a great job on it. A distinct and welcome dearth of that ugly front-light was had, and dancers were vividly carved off the cyc behind them. I was thus able to hang around in the back of the room and enjoy the show and grab a few more pictures, which I still have to really go back through and figure out what's worthwhile. More importantly, it was vindicating for me in that I'd designed the rig and control layout as a good *tool* that others could sit down and use relatively easily.

The bellydance show just keeps getting better and better, as the folks who put it together have done a lot to smooth the flow and bring in quality performances. And of course I brought back the usual "flamers" as appropriate stage-dressing for them.

Early dance tent setup I only got one shot of dance-tent, in very early build before they even laid the floor, because any time I was in there I was pretty busy. The house light in there is rather awful, too. At some point during a lull in main-tent build a detachment had come over here and bolted the truss and bases together [and we requested and got those *monster* heavy 4' bases from ALPS again like in '10 that needed no sandbagging at all] and started to hang a few of the lights. Here was my major screwup for the year: I had completely missed ordering the 8-foot pipes I was intending to be clamped crossways through the truss towers to carry the lights. We got a milk-crate full of all kinds of right-angle clamps, but no pipe. This turned out to be relatively minor as it was only six lights per tower and they could just gently side-hang on the truss itself. We just had to remember our yoke-forward-or-back tricks to make sure the gelframe slots were angled in a gravitationally favorable way.

The dance plot is the same old one that matches the Hog programming I've worked up over years of Arisias, with its "left side" split in half across the two front towers here. I keep this because in the near/far arrangement, the colors that land in a given area are reasonably complementary and the cueing works when one of those snap "turn the whole room blue" lists comes along if all the channeling is done right. The way things worked out here, the far center gobo shot from the back of the room made a beautiful half-sunburst over the stage which was about as much backdrop-decoration as we were going to get. And for overall simplicity and because I occasionally like doing it, the wiggles stayed on the floor up on their cases to play on the ceiling instead of the floor. That does allow seeing their shapes and movement better than when it's all slashing through a mass of people.

But all this meant that I essentially had to build and manage two rooms, a departure from the old days when we converted main-tent into the dance space in a massive frantic changeover after Masquerade. Since this space was all dance all the time with a few live bands the only changeover needed here was for DJ light, where I just used the six extra fresnels for the stage and dropped darker RGB into them for the clubby stuff. Simple, maybe, but the way events were scheduled had me spread a bit thin especially on Saturday, and there didn't seem to be a good delegation path when I was tied up the entire day on masq rehearsal and then run [which went *stupidly* long this year]. Nonetheless, it got dealt with somehow. Lighting wound up in back on the same table with sound control, so whoever was on duty in the room could deal with simple stage lights when needed -- and I had the foresight to drop a tiny conventional console back there and use my old A/B DMX switch rather than trying to teach people to run virtual Hog sliders up and down with a mouse.

There were also *two* nights of club-dance mode, and I hadn't really touched the programming for that in two years as dance-tent was independent last year, but fortunately I was able to throw it on autopilot and peek in every so often to adjust speed and swap "mood" pages. No, that probably doesn't mean anything to anybody else, but seriously, if you'd like to learn...

Saturday night was the usual late one for me, as Johnny Zed ran until *7AM* this time. He's got this little band of steadfast adherents who will stay on his floor until everyone drops, which is entertaining but doesn't make for getting much sleep. But I cheated this time: besides being randomly in and out of the dance room, around 4AM I went back in and rolled up in a tablecloth behind the sound table and *slept*, despite the din of music going on, coming awake on occasion to reach up and make some minor adjustment. Some time later I went to mostly static presets and fell asleep again pretty soundly, until I became aware that the music had finally stopped and Zed was out on the floor thanking everyone for coming and sticking around so long. I hauled myself up, joined the big group-hug at the end and shut stuff down, and stumbled back to the room to finish the night's sleep there.

Crusty cans The third space supposedly under my purview was small-tent over in the other side of the hotel, which I paid almost no attention to but others took initiative and the parts I handed them and went off to make that room happen. Here we see the results of hanging heavy ol' cans on cheezy offshore light stands: they lean. Actually if the one can on the right had been out at the end mounting point, it would have helped. If these stands go out again with other gear as a kit, the obvious answer is to use the much lighter *aluminum* pars we have instead and pay attention to balance.

With things generally under control all round and the major events dealt with I actually got a little downtime on Sunday afternoon to get out of the ballrooms and wander the con a bit and see people. Our last big event was one of the larger dances, which only needed some static wiggle-light stuff on the ceiling and house-to-half and meanwhile a bunch of us could troop off and start striking small tent. Later when the dance was over, we tore in and struck the bulk of dance tent. That was a good planning call by Peter et al, and got us a good jump on teardown which we needed because the loadout schedule was quite a bit tighter this year.

It turned out that both our major commercial vendors -- ALPS and Lynn -- could pick up on Monday, MLK day, as it wasn't a holiday for them. We were also going to lose the room at midnight or something. So we scheduled them for late Monday afternoon and made sure we had everything down, counted, and packed by then because I'll be effed if I was going to have a vendor's driver waiting in a truck on my watch. Because of all this, much better attention was paid to having a strike plan -- I guess we learned from last year after all, even though other people made light of that when I brought it up.

This year we had pushed most of the dead cases behind the curtain across the big window at the west end of the room, which left the backstage area *much* clearer for performers and made it easier to bring them out to the collection areas. It also made it easier and less disruptive to go find something while an event was going on. So that's clearly the right place for dead-case-land; the only downside is that it's cold back there.

Monday morning I got to the ballroom at the specified 9am start time and found that the hotel had *not* struck the chairs yet -- this needs to ALWAYS go on the room-turn resume to be done after the late-night Teseracte stuff is over, because we need the workspace. A call was put in and a couple of banquet-staffers showed up to start moving stuff, but we lost an hour-plus between that and the fact that most people's idea of an *announced 9AM* call seems to be to idly saunter in somewhere after 10 and see if there's anything going on. As I said at the time, if we were Japanese society over here our full crew would have been *there* at the crack of 9am, wrenches in hand and ready to work, but this is America, isn't it. Fortunately, there weren't any huge messes on stage to clean up this time around. Meanwhile I found a bunch of dead masquerade paperwork and reused the backsides to make up a bunch of quick signs for the many gear providers, and simply taped them to the floor to denote areas to bring things. Along the way I kept realizing that there were more and more suppliers than I'd thought of on the first pass, so later in the day I held up my notes and performed a dramatic reading of them all:

  • Lynn Ladder
  • ALPS
  • Arisia
  • Hobbit
  • ELC
  • Paul K.
  • Peter O
  • z!
  • Syd
  • Drclaw
  • Dan/Abby
  • Eclectic
  • Siggy
  • Housell
  • DHS
  • Patrick
  • Carl G.
  • ... and of course, the Westin itself
That's quite a few sources, even if some of them only brought one or two things! It all had to be sorted back out and sent to its rightful homes. As far as I know nothing went missing in the long run. We briefly thought we had lost a couple of scaffold braces, but it turned out that Lynn's driver had miscounted them onto the truck -- quickly solved. And we didn't lose any of their pins this time.

Once the flow got going pack and loadout became refreshingly brisk, likely because of the sense of time pressure when trucks would hit the dock, and that helped the Arisia load happen faster as well. Objects streamed down the hallway to the docks rather nicely when the times came. This felt more like it *should* every time, and it was a relief to know that I didn't have to get up and meet trucks the next morning.

Frosted cake pops The remainder of Monday became a fairly leisurely dead-dog hangout, as all the remaining staff food migrated down to Galleria and some rather odd things showed up along with such as these scary chocolate-cake-with-icing pops. I ate one, and while it didn't kill me, I didn't feel particularly stronger either. I got to catch up with some more people and get to bed relatively early, as I needed it...

Testing elevator power Returning Arisia stuff to storage had the added complication that as the lease for same was just renewing, we were moving to a different room in the same building. So most of the stuff that came back from the con was being stuffed into the new facility. Most of this happened out of my purview but I went to help with the final big truckload coming back the next evening -- except that then we discovered that the freight elevator was dead dead dead. The wheezy old thing *really* doesn't like cold weather. A frantic call to the landlord got him over to the building to try and diagnose it, and I got to follow him around through some of the nether regions to test bus bars, flip breakers, and otherwise fool with stuff which was fun as I've been sort of an elevator aficionado for years. We finally ended up in the rooftop "doghouse" with a meter to see if the fusebox had its expected 600 volts on tap [!!], but even his Fluke couldn't seem to read that high and kept just displaying "OL" when connected. Oddly, it didn't strike me as the type of power connection I wanted to stick my wet fingers into and see if it was live...

Freight elevator motor and controller This is what the controller and hoist motor look like -- a little smaller than I'd expect, really, but it's a double-purchase system with the cable also running through pulleys on the car. Then again, it's only rated for 1500 pounds or something. That drum brake is also the thing that kept getting slippery in cold weather and letting the car drift until they finally re-shoed it or whatever.

We figured that the system did still have power, but none of the relays on the controller would do anything at all when buttons were pushed. The landlord fella started poking some of the relays closed with a stick [seen here] to see if he could get the motor to jiggle at all, and even that didn't work. I still have no idea what was wrong, but it was another couple of days before the thing was working again. Meanwhile, we finished that night by unloading the truck in through the front door and using the normal passenger elevator -- because the new space has the happy bonus that it's accessible from same and no longer on a half-floor separated by sets of stairs.

Considering all the extra stuff we dealt with, and the sort of late timeframe that parts of it happened in, from my viewpoint the con went pretty well. For those interested in doing more in this area, this year merely adds to the details learned last year and can be seen as sort of a living, growing body of knowledge that's out here for anyone to read.

_H*   120123