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Thread: Planetarium Star Projectors

  1. #571
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    Quote Originally Posted by acheter View Post
    I really enjoy from your nice work. Thank you for this.
    Thank you for the kind words of support, I really appreciate it! This all started for me in about 1968-ish for me on a school field trip to Kirkpatrick Planetarium in OKC, on the state fairgrounds I believe, where I saw my first Spitz A3P projector, never to realize, years later these things find me, not the other way around.

  2. #572
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasermaster1977 View Post
    Yep, there was a definite crunch when one pivot arm lifted up the edge of the fiber glass cover, tearing it a good 6 inches or so, but fortunately the motor and gear drive came to a grinding halt with the pivot arm shoulder bulging up the cover. I can't recall exactly but I think the reason it stopped were due to circuit breakers in the control board rack tripping.

    This only happened once out of thousands of "lifts" out of the elevator pit. I loved the visual drama in darkness of the 512's cover door rolling back, star ball lite, as the starlit heavens, revealed as the cover rolled opened, swept across the blackness of nothing, followed by the vague, dark round globe of pin-pricked light projections rising out of the pit, dimly lit from the bottom from red lights in the base. But that action to the accompanied sound of Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange opening number mixed with another selection from side 2 and you get goose-pimply magic.
    YES... EXACTLY!! I love your choice of words and the way you assembled them to describe the magic that these old-school domes STILL have, albeit old technology, they are still magical despite newer technology that yes, will run circles around these analog instruments in terms of dynamic capability. But nothing will ever replace the dimly lit dome, cove lights fading to darkness, blue sky to obsidian, with the stars becoming brighter and brighter. It's magical indeed; these Spitz projectors in particular also give off a certain old-electronic instrument smell which I attribute to the multi- conductor cable insulation continuing to out-gas an interesting odor that I associate with the whole experience. Add some old school laser shows, not the cheap canned shows with sick figure graphics, but the really good stuff like AVI and others produced and newest material from artists such as those found here on this forum, and it all still seems relevant event in 2017. At least it does, to me and I should mention that Ash Enterprises will be coming out with a solid-state LED upgrade for older Spitz analog instruments which will make them a lot brighter, and for a reasonable price. I believe their contact info can be found online if anyone out there would like to amp up their old Spitz star projector. There are still many of these out there, but the numbers are dropping as these are replaced with digital, or otherwise retired. Ironically, the preservation of many an older instrument is insured by the institution's own lack of funding to replace it, so they continue on which really says something about the reliability that Spitz put into many of their products over the years.

  3. #573
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitzSTP View Post
    Thank you for the kind words of support, I really appreciate it! This all started for me in about 1968-ish for me on a school field trip to Kirkpatrick Planetarium in OKC, on the state fairgrounds I believe, where I saw my first Spitz A3P projector, never to realize, years later these things find me, not the other way around.
    You deserve it. How cool we both have Kirkpatrick Planetarium connections. One of my first Laserium shows was seen there (drove up from Dallas with Director of the Richland College Planetarium which had the 512). The Kirkpatrick and Richland both had 40 domes. I think my first Laserium was at the Gates Planetarium in Denver in '76, and tied to the Planetarium Consortium Meeting hosted at UC Boulder. There were two A3Ps in the Dallas/FW area. One at the 20' dome planetarium on the State Fair of Texas grounds, the other in the 30' dome Noble Planetarium at the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History.

    After they built a new 40' dome planetarium in OKC at a new location, the old Kirkpatrick science museum was turned over the the Oklahoma Arts Center. I did my Laser Fusion rock shows there during several of the OKC state fairs, with just folding chairs setup on the floor. They were so successful I moved my operations there. The Arts Center let me have the planetarium rent free as a resident "artist". The floors were still concrete so I painted the original dark orange wall wood treatment to flat-black and had high-wear dark blue, short pile carpet put down. I then added 100 blue bean bag chairs. I did weekly shows there for about a year before moving to Ft Worth to become a tech on the museums new 80' Omni Theatre and their Noble Planetarium.
    Last edited by lasermaster1977; 06-02-2017 at 19:30.
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  4. #574
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitzSTP View Post
    YES... EXACTLY!! I love your choice of words and the way you assembled them to describe the magic that these old-school domes STILL have, albeit old technology, they are still magical despite newer technology that yes, will run circles around these analog instruments in terms of dynamic capability. But nothing will ever replace the dimly lit dome, cove lights fading to darkness, blue sky to obsidian, with the stars becoming brighter and brighter. It's magical indeed; these Spitz projectors in particular also give off a certain old-electronic instrument smell which I attribute to the multi- conductor cable insulation continuing to out-gas an interesting odor that I associate with the whole experience. Add some old school laser shows, not the cheap canned shows with sick figure graphics, but the really good stuff like AVI and others produced and newest material from artists such as those found here on this forum, and it all still seems relevant event in 2017. At least it does, to me and I should mention that Ash Enterprises will be coming out with a solid-state LED upgrade for older Spitz analog instruments which will make them a lot brighter, and for a reasonable price. I believe their contact info can be found online if anyone out there would like to amp up their old Spitz star projector. There are still many of these out there, but the numbers are dropping as these are replaced with digital, or otherwise retired. Ironically, the preservation of many an older instrument is insured by the institution's own lack of funding to replace it, so they continue on which really says something about the reliability that Spitz put into many of their products over the years.
    It was in a new 40' dome Spitz 512 planetarium at Richland that I fell in love what I called "dark theater". Your point on there being a certain electronic instrument smell is right one as well. Having worked 7 years as a theater projectionist in Dallas with arc lamps and xeon lamps for light sources, I recognized the unique smell in the planetarium as primarily coming from the tiny xeon lamp in the star ball, and similar to the smell in a theatre projection booth. How cute were those little buggers?

    I greatly admire today's new laser artists and the many that are on this forum. I can't imagine this form of visual eye candy dying out anytime soon. And the integration with video and laser is mind blowing.

    How neat that Ash Enterprise is implementing LED for the star ball light source, and it has got to be far more economical compared to the xeon lamp. 'Twas amazing what analog projectors could do. Had a friend in Minnesota (I think) who made and sold sun+9 planet orreries and 10:1 zoom 35mm projectors with XY motorized mirrors, the later which we used the hell out of in my laser shows.

    During the planning of the Ft Worth Omni Theatre we lobbied hard to get the new Digistar for it, but the powers that be only wanted it to be an Omni Theatre.
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  5. #575
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitzSTP View Post
    Crunch! The motor and gearbox for the lift mechanism is powerful enough to lift three of these things through the fiberglass and I have wondered if that has ever happened; I do know that these sometimes get stuck in the pit. Speaking of which, if the A4 in PA is dead and in the UP position on the elevator, step #1 is to drill a 3/8" hole through all three steel guide pipes immediately UNDER where the elevator is parked and put a 3/8 steel bolt through those holes. This will keep the beast from dropping into the pit when you sever the elevator chains. I often use gantry cranes to lift the parts off one at a time, which is my only available approach when working solo. I made this crane from lumber and a chain hoist from Harbor Freight.
    I missed reading all of this earlier. That's quite a pulley crane support to haul around but looks like the right tool for the job!
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  6. #576
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    Thanks Lasermaster1977 your posts brought back a lot of memories about the old Kirkpatrick. If I remember correctly, the entrance to the old planetarium was situated inside the museum of history area, where they had a real egyption mummy under glass and I never forget what an impression that made on me and my 4th grade pals that there was a real life mummy in there. Also a projection-type hologram of this hand holding out a dollar bill and it looked very very real. The entrance to the planetarium was like this tunnel that was painted flat black and how cool that was as a kid to enter the tunnel and pop out under a dome with an A3P sitting in the middle, I thought it must surely have been a space craft of some sorts and did not even realize at the time that the A3P was making the stars and planets above. The mention of bean bag chairs and laser shows is also I fond memory, and the usual request forbidding the smoking of anything which might as well have been an invitation to do so (not talking about the Kpatrick-I never saw any of that there). Where did all those bean bags, water-cooled ion lasers, multi-track analog tape decks go? I recall a thread some time ago about the laser shows that I once waited all year to see at the annual Texas State Fair, on the fairway under a huge inflatable dome. I have wondered before, and asked others about here in this forum, who actually did those shows because they were really, really incredible for 1978-79 and I believe one possible vendor was Laser Fair / Larry Wisdom but they may have been others. I daydream how awesome it would be to locate any of those old show tapes from the Texas State Fair days and attempt to revive the material, and run the shows again. That would be a little like going back in the Delorean.
    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 06-03-2017 at 13:04.

  7. #577
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitzSTP View Post
    Thanks Lasermaster1977 your posts brought back a lot of memories about the old Kirkpatrick. If I remember correctly, the entrance to the old planetarium was situated inside the museum of history area, where they had a real egyption mummy under glass and I never forget what an impression that made on me and my 4th grade pals that there was a real life mummy in there. Also a projection-type hologram of this hand holding out a dollar bill and it looked very very real. The entrance to the planetarium was like this tunnel that was painted flat black and how cool that was as a kid to enter the tunnel and pop out under a dome with an A3P sitting in the middle, I thought it must surely have been a space craft of some sorts and did not even realize at the time that the A3P was making the stars and planets above. The mention of bean bag chairs and laser shows is also I fond memory, and the usual request forbidding the smoking of anything which might as well have been an invitation to do so (not talking about the Kpatrick-I never saw any of that there). Where did all those bean bags, water-cooled ion lasers, multi-track analog tape decks go? I recall a thread some time ago about the laser shows that I once waited all year to see at the annual Texas State Fair, on the fairway under a huge inflatable dome. I have wondered before, and asked others about here in this forum, who actually did those shows because they were really, really incredible for 1978-79 and I believe one possible vendor was Laser Fair / Larry Wisdom but they may have been others. I daydream how awesome it would be to locate any of those old show tapes from the Texas State Fair days and attempt to revive the material, and run the shows again. That would be a little like going back in the Delorean.
    Your Kpatrick memory is spot on. Interesting that you recall the inflatable dome laser shows at the Texas State Fair. Right! The guy that owned and ran that traveling laser show was Larry & Lois Wisdom from Sterling, CO. Their company name was "Laser Fair, Inc." quite an appropriate corporate name. I know Larry because in 1979 I was the fairly well known planetarium laser show guy in Dallas. Coincidentally at that time, my home/business/studio was located in the old Tiferet Synagogue on Grand Ave less than a mile from the Grand Ave entrance to the fair grounds. Larry called me in a panic just after the fair opened that year. His laser tube died. Turned out he had a Coherent Radiation 1W Krypton the same make and model as my CR 1+W Mixed Gas. Luckily mine was available so I rented it to Larry until CR could deliver and install a new tube in his. CR was absolutely fantastic about shipping replacement tubes and having their local field tech (Terry Stone I believe) on site almost the moment the tube crate arrived. I think I rented to Larry for three or four days. He and his wife were good, down-to-earth folk. I still have his business card, which was also a very creative prism-type of card with modulated circles with spokes from blanking. When you tilted the business card the red, green blue field of spoked modulated circles rocked back and forth.

    The guy that made and sold the oreries and traveling zoom slide projectors was Kenneth C. Mosley from Grand Rapids Michigan. His company was Conic Instrument Co.

    Did you know Michael J. Bruno of Spitz Space Systems, Inc.?
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  8. #578
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    This is an interesting conversation and I consider myself lucky to be talking to you. Where else would I find anyone with knowledge of this era circa 1978-79. In addition to the Kirkpatrick, these shows at Texas State Fair made such a lasting impression on me. If anyone has one of those Laser Fair business cards they would trade for a $100 bill, please send me a PM. I will look through my old notes again, and see where the trail went cold on the Texas State Fair show tapes. I recall there was another member of the forum that had a clue or two.. I like to search for things that are nearly impossible to find and/or may take a lifetime to find, and these tapes would be in that category. These really were some great fast-moving shows and I wonder.. are those reel-to-reel multi-track or ADAT tapes still sitting in a dusty cardboard box in the back of someone's closet.... right now, at this very minute.. and are about to be tossed in the rubbish by someone who may say next week, "what are these old tapes for, and who would want these old things?" I would be happy just to know they are preserved, I don't need to own them. The interesting detail about the Conic Orrery is that I had one of these incredible instruments that was once owned by the Gillette, WY planetarium that I donated to m2b's dome in Cave Creek, AZ and I believe he has spoke directly with this man that built these incredible instruments by hand, and within the past few years. It is AMAZING how some of these topics are common among us and one may never know it, unless it is put out there through the internet. I did not know Bruno personally but I have heard his name numerous times before as well as a handful of others, many of whom are no longer with the company. This question is broad in nature; Do you have any vintage show tapes that need to be archived? Does anyone need an archival / conversion service for vintage laser show material? I would not want those cardboard boxes to wind up underground or forever committed to ever-more vague memory, if all I had to to.. was ask. I did a search for "Laser Fair", and it looks like.. they are still in business out of Sterling, CO? https://www.facebook.com/Laserfair/
    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 06-04-2017 at 11:26.

  9. #579
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    Yes, I found them on Facebook last night as well. Lois is now President and their son has taken his father's place. Fancy new Starship dome, eh? Sterling is just due east of me about 45-60 minutes and am planning a visit with them.

    I still have 2 of Laser Fair, Inc. business cards from '79 and would be happy to trade you for $100. Larry gave me three or four of them with "VIP PASS Good for 2 persons" stamped on the back. It has a couple of thumbtack holes in the center top. Let me know what you think.

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    I still have my Tascam 4-track and Teac Model-5 mixer used for audio, and all my show tapes (had and used a Tascam 8-track w/Dolby but sold it years ago). I wasn't able to splurge on an 8-track ADAT back then. But I've digitized all of them already.

    I was digitally re-master some audio tapes for a close family friend several years ago. They had an 8 track DAT Master tape. I found a used Alesis ADAT on-line, had it professionally restored and used it to load their original tracks, digitally re-mastered and recorded them back on a new tape, plus gave them the digital file re-mastered results. I sold the ADAT on-line a few years ago after I used it, but I know someone who may still have one. I do not know what shape it is in but he used it with laser shows.

    I knew Ken quite well, first met him at the Richland Planetarium back in '75 or '76 and multiple times afterwards. His Orrery was legend. He was a very talented engineer/designer/machinist. If you have one your are very lucky. I stayed in touch with him up through about '83-'84.

    Send me a private message and I'll send you my email if you think you are really interested in the Laser Fair business card.
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  10. #580
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    Yes sir, I will be VERY grateful to display these card(s) with a small collection of paper items that I have from the period. Thanks very much this is very considerate of you and I cannot quite explain what this means to me, to have these particular things made of paper! If you do visit the Laser Fair folks at any point in the future, please do give them my regards and, can you ask if they still have any of the old Texas State Fair stuff, especially from the late 70's, and DO they have any plans to re-show it at ANY upcoming state fair venue? If they still have laser shows on the fairway, that will be a trip... and a road trip for sure, to anyone's state fair just to see that again!
    Last edited by SpitzSTP; 06-05-2017 at 00:41.

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