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Storage Units


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I am Doing my A-Level DT project this year, and am basing it around a Stage management storage unit, although as I have no real professional experience of what stage managers need on a daily basis I would appreciate it if you would share your thoughts on what would make an ideal storage unit -

what it would incorporate - tools, laptop, files etc. and what you have problems with, weight, size, transportation.


some of the ideas I have come up with would be to have space for;


Power sockets & extension lead

Various tool


mobile phone

and possibly a place to put a leatherman/gerber so it's not on your belt whilst travelling (offensive weapon)


I was thinking of constructing it in a similar way to flight cases, with wheels (like wheelie suitcases) so it is easy to transport, yet durable.


I would really appreciate your input and feedback on this.




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What you have chosen to do your project on is a great idea. Some things to take into consideration are size and weight.


Most SM's I know (myself included) travel to and from the theatre in a sedan or hatch back car (ie not a van, ute or other industrial vehicle). Now whilst I can fit a hell of a lot into my car, the space for removing objects is limited (ie the size of the boot/'trunk' opening, the size of the doorways (NOT the same as the width of the doors, as most doors do not open flush to the side of the car) etc)


I think the key to a 'stage management' solution would be to make it modular - ie a base 'trolley and case' unit with wheels and tellescopic handle, which can have the laptop etc stacked onto it (and secured safely) - with speed of assembly and disassembly being key factors.


One thing I would love is for a power board to be inbuilt into the top of the box with a retractable extension lead (like those seen on vacuum cleaners - when pulled out the cord stays out until a retract mechanism is pressed) - so that I could shove my kit under my desk, plug my laptop etc into it, and pull the lead straight out and plug it in (and if my phone was in a draw and had the charger plugged in there, even better).


I may have mentioned it before but I used to have an 8U flight case with draws which I used to lug to venues (when I had a van) and the front pannel clipped onto the side of the case creating a table. In theory it was a great case, but in practice quite impractical as it was a pain to move, the draws were large requiring smaller containers inside of that and it weighed a tonne.


I would not trust my laptop in a combination case/other unless it was a hard case, foam lined - and even then I would be weary. It also would need to be able to be separated from the rest quickly - so that my laptop could be carted arround without taking the rest of the kit with me (and so that I could put it in the front passenger 'foot space' when driving because I am slightly pedantic after having my laptop screen cark it twice)


A small, modular system is (I believe) the way to go.

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Great idea - I'm only an amateur technician turned SM, so don't have masses to add, but my 2 cents:


Agree that the power idea's great - perhaps one or two dimmable sockets (presumably you could just use household dimmer switches?), to put workers in - I know it's probably not a huge consideration for pro theatres, but in amateur venues I always find it one of the most annoying things! A dimmable Littlite or two on the unit itself as well, perhaps?


Also agree with the modular-ness - perhaps consider a rehearsals option/configuration, as well as shows? Not sure how much you have to think about marketing for your project, but you could make a lot of the modular approach, so people buy the bits they want, and can get more modules as and when - I guess that way you could price each module higher, because people are only getting the bits they want.


Finally, something that might be worth thinking about, but maybe quite tricky: SMs are pretty handy, and might well want to be able to modify the unit, (for example, perhaps I have a docking station for my laptop, that I'd like to be able to screw into the top of the unit, or I want to be able to add a fold-out extra bit of workspace) - so maybe don't over-engineer it - the simpler it is, the better - maybe???


Ooh - and personalisation - perhaps you could come up with something a bit like the clip-on covers for phones, so people can make their units look groovy! All more £££ for you.


What about a lockable draw/cupboard, so I can leave my wallet and keys in there (or real prized possessions like my LX tape and favourite screwdriver...) without worrying?


Also - any compartments, draws, cupboards, etc. could have a gap so you can pass cables into them - phone chargers, etc.


Actually finally now :P - you should try and keep the top surface completely clear, so you can put stuff that's bigger than the unit itself on it, rather than having it balancing over one edge - maybe!


*Gets a bit over-excited about all the possibilities and goes away to design own unit :)*

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Tape. Tape is the SM's friend. In my Sm belt pack I can hold three colours of LX (A bare minimum) and via a lanyard a roll of gaffa. Always make room for tape...... and maybe a beer cooler too? :** laughs out loud **:
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  • 5 months later...
I've Finally Finished Making this product - What do you think - would you buy it? - And if anyone can upload a photo for me it would help ( I don't know how to!)
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I'm thinking of doing something very similar to this for my A-level project.


However I shall be aiming it more at the touring technician/engineer/stage manager. This means I shall be making it in the same sort of style as a flight case and it will be larger as it will mostly be used in trucks etc.

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On behalf of Jacko, here're his pix.










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Sorry to be a complete pain in the arse but does that connection block have any strain relief in it? Perhaps a way of avoiding riping the cables out if they were to get caught might be to use some self adhesive trunking fixed to the rear of the box to enclose them?
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Is the top drawer for the laptop?

In which case is there enough room for the prompt book - usually in a quite hefty lever-arch file + all the other stuff a SM needs - what size is your box?


Sorry, I missed this post when you first posted it - but anyway here is my list of stuff that a SM needs in rehearsals - (even though it is a bit late....)

Some of these things are now more than often on a laptop - schedules/contacts etc. but some SM's either don't have a laptop or are working with director's who like to have schedules printed out on a bit of paper in front of them.

• Script / prompt copy

• Spare scripts

• Notebook

• Cast list / contacts sheet / rehearsal call sheet

• A small supply of office equipment :

o Paper

o Pens / Pencils / Highlighters

o Erasers

o Ruler

o Notebook

o Sellotape

o Stapler & staples

o Drawing pins

o Paper clips

o Blu-tak

o Calculator

o Hole punch

• LX & gaffa tape – several different colours of LX tape

• First Aid Kit – as per standard H&S regulations + eye wash

• Tissues

• Mobile phone & charger

• 13amp extension lead

• A small tool kit : (or a decent multi-tool)

o Knife

o Hammer

o Screwdrivers

o Tape measure

o Pliers

• Stop watch

• Set ground-plan

• Scale ruler

• Scissors

• Chalk / Chalk-line

• Maglite / Torch

• Corkscrew & bottle opener


or are you talking about a touring technical SM?


My only other thought is that it doesn't appear to be lockable or have handles for lifting (manual handling issues?)

Will it fit into the boot of car?


But well done anyway - glad to see that you have produced a fine looking box - I like the fire extinguisher - good thinking!

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Looks pretty good, except for the electrics which are awful.


All the cable needs to be completely inside protective trunking or conduit, and the 4-bars screwed down - looks like two of them are already, which is good!

- Note that metal trunking or conduit would need to be earthed.


The inlet cable going out to the plug should be TRS and needs a proper strain relief grommet - there are many kinds available, be careful to pick one the right size!


The junction box you've chosen isn't really suitable for this - it's a fragile domestic install one.

In an SM's case, it would get shattered within days.


I would probably have gone for the steel cased wall-mount backboxed double sockets instead of 4-bars and pulled singles inside conduit - although that's partly because I've got more single-core cable about than TRS.

Using install backboxes means that I don't need a junction box - just wire touch-and-go to connect the double sockets together, then a length of TRS through a grommet to a 13A plug.

The steel casing makes it more durable when bashed by heavy stuff.


I'd expect a production version to use the heavy-duty clasps usually put onto flightcases, but those are fairly expensive and difficult to fit so I fully understand why your prototype didn't.


That said - the rest of the case looks pretty good.

I do like the tool organiser on the door, and the fire extinguisher is a good idea - dry powder I presume?

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The only thing I don't like (and might just be me) is if you have a laptop in there (which is what I see the smaller draw for) I would rather have it at the top, with the power to just that.


How big are the wheels they look like the flimsy ones we have at college on a couple of things.


Is there a place for a saw? With mods I would consider one for work.

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:( ;) :angry: - lost a complete reply to almost all the suggestions/comments given,


thanks for all the replies - they really help in evaluating the product.


answers to a few questions/comments


1. - there is no strain relief - however the cable is not a pull out type - it is just there as a connector to put power into (power goes from wall into male, from female to male on back of product) - however it probably needs some kind of strain relief - any ideas of easy to install and in-obtrusive ones (it's got about 2mm each side (13mm draw slider, 7mm cable = not very much room)


2. the wheels are about 50mm - rated to 45KG each - so should hold unless you are carrying serious weights.


3. saw - what type - long wood cutting one - no, smaller ones probably (definitely a jig saw or small circular saw)


4. the 4-way gang on the shelf is not meant to be attached - so that it can be pulled a little way out for things to be plugged in or put on the top. the two at the back are screwed on


5. Ideally I would have gone for rack mounted plugs but they cost around £40 as opposed to maplins sale of 1.49 per 4-way.


6. the junction box - although flimsy shouldn't be knocked too much as it is placed behind the rack mount (the rack mount is going up the base either side (I think it's 8U high) so obviously a more industrial one would be the preferred option - for this type of prototype/project its an added expense.


7. I looked into using butterfly catches but they were about 5 times more expensive than the catches I bought.


8. the fire extinguisher is dry power - safe up to 1000v (although I bought if from lidl for £5.00 so I might run than try and put a fire out with it.


9. Suzette - the product should have space for a lever arch file (I designed the middle draw to hold a lever arch file + a bit extra, and almost everything you have listed has a space - call lists etc. in the briefcase insert (on the door) some stationary could also be kept in there with it, as well as in the space by the side of the lever arch ( the draw has a bit of space at the sides and back - this draw also has a cheapish alarm fitted - magnetic switch type thing from maplins - when opened alarm goes of - if armed - so valuables can be stored safely - also the unit as a whole is lockable with two small padlocks fitted on the catches. It doesn't have handles as they would probably get ripped off (9mm MDF) unless they were bolted through - it is one of the components I would like to add and might do - I still have 2 weeks until I have to finally hand it in. - it's also meant as more of a rehearsal room type aid and then tech week aid as well as possibly those who are touring - I designed it for myself really and as I'm a sound guy I wanted to be able to carry CD player etc. easily with laptop and everything else that I might need - and then leave it in the rehearsal room (a big black box is less attractive than an easy to cart away CD player) - I find that if you can introduce sound in the rehearsals it is a lot easier to work out what works and what doesn't - also it should be able to fit in the back of most cars (I hope)


Hope that all makes sense -



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