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The Future of Theatrical Automation
The Q-Drive Scenery Automation System provides inexpensive control of one or more motorized winches or other powered devices at the push of a button. Each device, or axis of motion being controlled travels towards a preset position at a preset speed with safety and precision. Q-Drive comes in two models, the Q4 and the Q16. The Q4 operates up to four axes of motion, while the Q16 handles up to 16 axes. Both systems are presently operating in theatres, running eight or more shows a week.
Simple to set up
Q-Drive is very simple to set up. The components plug together using plugs that cannot be misconnected. The process of initializing the settings in the system to accomodate the motors and distances being used is accomplished on the touchscreen using walk through menus. Q-Drive does not require any user-performed field wiring, ever.
Simple to operate
Q-Drive functions like a modern-day lighting system. You can record up to 199 cues, each containing both target position and speed of travel for each axis of motion being controlled. Recording cues is much like recording cues on a light board. Running a show is a matter of pushing the GO button on cue, and the moving scenic units travel to their desired locations. We can typically train an operator to record and play back cues in thirty to sixty minutes. Some automation systems are so complicated that you need a factory trained operator. We train your operators either at our shop or at your theatre.
Q-Drive is an extremely reliable system. The heart of the controller is a programmable logic controller (PLC) computer that is designed for rough service industrial applications. This makes Q-Drive very rugged and resistant to damage from life backstage and on the road. The PLC operating system is also very stable, much more so than available PC operating systems. In fact, we have never yet had a software crash for any reason in any of our systems, at home or on the road. The components and wiring are all chosen for long life and reliability.
Q-Drive controls have an accuracy of within two hundredths of an inch. This is far more accuracy than any system using cable drives can deliver. Every time a cue is played back, the scenery behaves exactly as it should. Cues with many units moving always look the same, no matter how complex.
Each axis of motion has a digital encoder that feeds position information to the PLC at all times. Since the PLC knows where each unit is and how fast it is moving, the PLC can initiate soft starts and stops, easing a moving unit gently into its desired position. The scenic unit therefore stops precisely on target regardless of direction or speed of travel.
Q-Drive makes writing cues very fast. Changing cues is also very fast. Cues can be written in advance without moving anything, and then quickly altered in rehearsal. To record a new position for a unit, jog the unit to its new location and record the cue. To change a speed, type in the new speed and record the cue.
Q-Drive is very fast to set up during load-in. The plug and play nature of the equipment and the small number of components makes for a fast and easy setup.
Shows using Q-Drive can be run with much smaller running crews in many cases. Q-Drive can control up to sixteen axes of motion simultaneously with the push of a button. The longer a show runs, or the higher the pay rate of the running crew, the faster Q-Drive will pay for itself and save you money.