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TOPIC: Redneck Interlock

Redneck Interlock 04 Jul 2006 18:02 #22421

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I do a weekly mass email to my customers. Every week I include a section of my ramblings and pontifications. Some of you might find this fun:

Other Stuff:
Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was a cartoonist who would draw up these comically complicated and contrived devices to do simple things. He would attached a flying kite to a valve on a helium bottle that would inflate a phallic shaped balloon that would fly over a church as the preacher was leaving and he would step back in horror onto a rake that would flip up that would pull a string that went to a lever that opened a gate so a ball to start running down a spiral trough that led to a switch that turned on a hot plate that boiled water in a tea pot and when the water boiled it would spin a gear that would raise an rainbow flag which would cause Ann Colter to scream like a little girl which would cause a wine glass on a balance to break which will cause it to tilt and lower a fuse into a candle flame... You get the picture. The guy was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for his stuff:

Rube Goldberg can eat my shorts.

When presented with the possibility of playing ***, I was asked if I had a way to play the movie to more than just 50 people at a time. No problem, I lied. I can show it to a 100 people at a time…sure I can. The 100+ degree heat kept me away form the Avalon so I found myself sitting in the air-conditioned booth of the Darkside looking at two projectors that had to play the same single print of a film at the same time. Now, no two projectors run at EXACTLY the same speed. So that means one will always be taking up more film than is being fed. This means the film will be stretched between the two projectors and snap, or it will be piling up on the floor between the projectors, depending. Since neither of these options is cool, I had some thinking to do.

If I ever get my own show on the Discovery Channel, it will be Twisted Redneck Engineering. I rigged up a kind of yoyo device between the projectors that allowed a certain amount of slack/take-up between the projectors.

However, since the movie is about one and half miles of film long, a variance of even 1% in projector speeds would result in 80 feet of film on the floor. Highly uncool. Well then, guess I better figure out a way to regulate the speed. After running a few junk previews I could afford to watch get broken between the two projectors, I determined which projector ran faster than the other. Okay, not too tough: rig up a switch to turn off the speedy projector to slow it down when it starts yanking the film too tightly.
Let’s hear it for Robnett’s Hardware and Searing Supply and all the cool stuff they have for people like me.

So, we threaded up a film and let her rip. When tension gets too tight, the switch cuts power to Sir Speedy and keeps the film from breaking. Works like a charm…until I watch the movie. The dialogue sounds like someone is getting intermittently hit with a cattle prod or injected with Qualudes. A little unsettling. So how do we slow this sucker down without the actors sounding like they are speaking their lines while getting a massage? Well they make this thing called a Variac that is like a giant dimmer switch for electric motors. Problem A) I ain’t got one. Problem 2) They don’t give them away. So, I needed to come up with a way to reduce the motor’s speed without a device specifically designed for that. Time to adjourn to the “thinking couch” to examine insides of my eyelids for clues.

Then a light bulb went on. Literarily.

I put a light bulb between the faster projector’s power and motor. The resistance slowed down the motor. And it cost less than anything in a cup from a coffee shop. But I needed more resistance, so I added more bulbs.

We kept adding bulbs… and more bulbs of varying wattages. It takes Sir Speedy projector about a half an hour for the speed to stabilize and by screwing in and unscrewing bulbs of different sizes, we can adjust the resistance in the power feed and sync up the projectors. You will not see it on the screen because the speed variances are so small it’s unnoticeable.

The damned thing worked! All weekend it ran and the only time the movie stopped was when a bad splice from the previous projectionist broke. Gerry and I had the movie back on the screens in less than five minutes. We so rule.

Rebecah of snack bar fame said our OSHA approved projector interlock looked like something that makes toast in a WALLACE AND GROMMET movie. Jeff found the bulbs, “strangely intriguing.” He was staring at them like one watches their dryer in the Laundromat. I think Flynn hit it right on the head when he said, “Somewhere a hamster in an exorcize wheel is turning Rube Goldberg over in his grave.”

Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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