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Compact, Cost-Effective Samba PLC+HMI Opens Creative Avenues for Local Theater!
“Motion Control with Unitronics PLCs has allowed us the freedom to reach for new heights of visceral creativity while expanding our technical innovation in a fast and cost-effective manner”.
The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey partnered with Unitronics’ distributor, Bayview Bearing and Supply, to introduce innovations to a regional theater. Using a Samba PLC with 3.5” color-touch HMI and onboard I/O, the theater implemented a simple motion control application for their set pieces. Since the initial installation, the Eagle Theatre has expanded the application, creating more complex moving sets that greatly enhance the mood and themes of their productions.
The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey is South Jersey’s only year-round professional Equity theatre. They are dedicated not only to bringing great theater to the region, but also to bringing innovation to their productions.
To achieve those goals, the theater decided to add moving elements to their sets for one of their productions. Three screens needed to descend at a consistent speed, but at different times. The team at the Eagle Theatre initially tried to use electric winch packages, but these were slow and too noisy to use during a performance. With only one week until the show opened, the theater reached out to Bayview Bearing and Supply, a Unitronics distributor, for help.
Bayview Bearing was able to solve these issues by implementing a Samba all-in-one PLC with 3.5-inch color-touch HMI.
They worked with Jared Smith, a contractor with Deerfield Electric, who built the panel and installed the unit. The Samba controlled Vacon 20 VFD’s (Variable Frequency Devices) and World Wide Electric Gear Motors in order to move the set pieces. Each of the moving pieces was assigned a virtual button on the Samba; these buttons raised and lowered the screens, while also displaying their current position. Not only did the new system work beautifully, Bayview Bearing was able to get it up and running with enough time for rehearsals with the new system before the show opened.
Not only was this particular performance a success due to the Samba, working with PLC control has created new options for the Eagle Theatre moving forward. Ted Wioncek III, Co-Artistic Director at the theater, explains “motion control with Unitronics PLC’s has allowed us the freedom to reach for new heights of visceral creativity while expanding our technical innovation in a fast and cost effective manner.”
In fact, the Eagle Theatre has already expanded the motion control application to other shows. For one production, the entire set shifted constantly, with the walls moving in and out independently of each other. A major theme of the show was misdirection, so the moving set was used to reinforce that theme within the physical space the characters interact with. As Ryan Mayer of Bayview Bearing explains, this isn’t a typical motion control application, “this is automation technology meeting the art community and producing fantastic results.”
To learn more about Bayview Bearing and Supply, visit them online.
To learn more about the Eagle Theatre, visit them online.
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