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Release devices


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Hello all


I hope someone can help me. I'm doing a project at the moment and it requires a release device. The project is an aeroplane on a pulley system. once it arrives on the stage to the height of an average person . the plane needs to have a release from the pulley system. so that the plane can land in the actors hand.

  • does anyone have useful websites on release devices.
  • detail, constructed diagrams. or a useful rigging book they know of.
  • was also thinking of the way a hand held fire torch can release a snuff.



if anyone can think of any inventions. or ideas. I'll be most appreciated for you help.

many thanks

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Kabuki was my first thought but the OP wants the plane to come off the wire into the hand - two wires, one at the correct length which when it gets to full extension holds onto the pin which allows the plane to slide free from the carrier which is attached to the top full length line.


Wont work as the carrier will be visible after release and the line have to be taut across the stage.


Better to think thrown glider or one of the micro rc and someone with skill



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You would need an elaborate pulley system. (It is possible, I have designed similar stuff before.) You would need two wires and a track. One of the wires controls the travel and another wire controls height. After using lots of pulleys diverters etc you can easily control direction and height. The trick is making the travel wire not affect the height wire!!


The only thing is- This seems a heck of a lot of hassle to simply make a plane land in someones hand. AND I haven't even thought about the release mechanism yet! :stagecrew:


Sounds like a fun challenge- Let us know how you got on!


Good luck!




Edit for SPAG

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  • 2 weeks later...

On the topic of solenoid releases, I'm after a small-scale system.

Need 4, maybe 6 small simple releases, and to date have only come up with the system that Flints sell/hire, which is the same one that Stagepoint do.

That's a little out of our budget at the moment so anyone have any alternate suppliers?

(Google is of course getting a hammering, but any pointers in the right way may help)


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  • 1 year later...

Dragging up an old topic, does anyone have any recommendations for a similar device yet?


I've been asked to look at something for a production which would I think be a two-stage drop - a wire drops down, which something can be hooked onto (only an umbrella), which then drops to the floor. Thinking about looking at electromagnets, solenoids, or whether I could build something with a motor or RC servo - not really started work on it yet but just wondered if anyone had any advice.

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Gate catches (the kind that you lift up to open the gate, that mount on the gatepost) mounted at a 45 degree angle make relatively good quick releases. (Load goes where the pole attached to the gate goes, pull string to open catch to drop load.)
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  • 1 month later...

Just to follow this up (as it's always nice when someone does) - I finally got round to making a reasonably priced working DMX release mechanism. I tried servos with hooks on, servos withdrawing pins from shackles (all the servos required Servo Control boxes from Milford) , energise to release holding magnets (which worked but proved too expensive), energise to hold magnets (which worked and were cheap, but dropped the load if power was lost) and finally settled on this:




Which is a 24V 0.6A solenoid, withdrawing the pin from a snap shackle. We have a Milford DMX relay box and a 24V bench power supply, which should work to give us eight DMX channels of release.


The solenoids are Xerox (so I assume from photocopiers) and are just over £2 a piece in bulk, the release device is a '52mm fixed snap shackle' for marine use (quick release of ropes) and should be around £2.50 a piece in bulk. They were originally mounted on folded steel but this a piece of 6mm Perspex (or whatever it is) cut on a CNC machine (to avoid the work of measuring and machining them in bulk) and folded. The mounting for the shackle is exactly what it looks like.


Thing should run from a car battery, or two car batteries in series. It does operate on 12V if you use a smaller snap with a weaker spring.


Only thing I'm not sure about now is what to do with the power supply - whether to mount some kind of connector on it, or just use inline crimps or connector.



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He may have re-invented the wheel, but assuming the plastic bracket doesn't cost much, you're looking at about a tenner per release including hook clamp, plus a power supply. I'd say that's pretty good going!

A very simple solution - my kind of engineering!


One thought. You may find the solenoids behave better with some sort of capacitor discharge power supply. Model railways use this form of power supply for point motors. It gives a nice snap action and reduces surge on whatever's powering the system. Also, it means you don't need to overly worry about burning out the solenoids by leaving them energised. They get one high current zap and then the current drops off to very little.



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