Control Winch for attached Device.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by djsfantasi, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. djsfantasi

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    I have built the attached device and want to control the winch other than manually. The prototype used a boat winch. But there's AC power available, as an extension cord is run to the device for a floodlight at the base of the crucifix.

    The crucifix is carrying an actor on the cross, which is raised from a horizontal position to a standing position. The base is on casters and the entire device and actor is pushed down the stage by two black-clad stagehands.

    They can operate the winch manually, but operating it, pushing the base and feeding the power cable is a lot to do. I'd like to simplify the operation by one or two tasks.

    Powering the base wheels is an option too, but I'm afraid that cost would get high at that point. So I want the stagehands to concentrate on moving the platform.

    The device looks like this. Any ideas?

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
  2. MaxHeadRoom


    Jul 18, 2013
    You could add a counter weight at the bottom of the cross similar to the trebuchet idea, the effort to move it upright would then be minimal, even by movement of the actor himself?
    (don't make the weight too heavy or you may fire him into the audience, true trebuchet style!!).
  3. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    I would suggest a handheld up/down switch like are used on commercial door openers and winches:

    The connecting cord can be as long as you want. You might consider a limit switch at the bottom to keep it from over rotating. Considering that someone is actually attached to the cross, I would not use remote controls without an arming switch and safety /limit switches.

  4. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    What about setting up a few limit switches for a 2-button setup .. Also be careful of the pinch points so it doesn't cause anyone harm..
  5. djsfantasi

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    Funny. The first time we used this design, the stagehands joked about firing JC into the audience and he had to remain in character while being goaded to laugh. The construction on the cross and the location of the pivot point created an almost balanced load.

    BTW, this is for a new production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar". We are re-using a design I made for an earlier production and looking to improve the effects, including stunt Judas, stunt Jesus, floating stage...

    Limit switches are a great idea. I really only need them in the winch retracted position. The construction has good clearance around any pinch points. Between the cross and the pivot point tower is 6" of clearance.

    I see it operating with one pushbutton, mounted near the pushbar for the stagehand. Once pressed, it moves from a horizontal to a vertical position, and stops when the limit switch is engaged.

    I believe that a winch such as this one, will do the job.
    I am assuming that I'd need a toggle circuit to start/stop the switch. Reversing can be done manually with a DPDT switch appropriately rated, and a PWM circuit to control the speed. (Perhaps a microprocessor to vary the speed along it's arc of motion).
  6. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    I disagree wit the "push-once" scheme. Anything involving a winch, and particularly a winch with a human attached needs an easy way to stop and/or reverse it. Unplugging it is not the answer. There are just too many things that can go wrong with a go full cycle approach.

  7. Reloadron

    Active Member

    Jan 15, 2015
    You may get some ideas from this thread. I also agree with John that a single push once scheme is not a good idea. Since your load is fairly balanced the winch won't be doing much work. Maybe the addition of a torsion spring on the shaft to add tension for getting the cross vertical and for the return? Wow, Jesus Christ Superstar, I saw the play in Cleveland around '72 or '73 sure has been awhile. Anyway a 12 VDC motor winch (inexpensive from Harbor Freight) and an H-Bridge to control the motor. You likely depending on the winch speed will only need to control Up / Down. Even that would only be for automation, the cross could be raised and lowered just using the remote pendant that most winches come with. Limit switches could be added as a safety feature if we distrust the stage guy pushing the buttons. :)