Empire Magnetics keeps Cirque du Soleil splashing | Automation.com

Empire Magnetics keeps Cirque du Soleil splashing

Empire Magnetics keeps Cirque du Soleil splashing
May 1, 2007 - ROHNERT PARK, CA – Empire Magnetics is often called on to develop custom motion control solutions for unique applications and environments where standard motion control components are simply unsuitable. One of Empire’s custom motor gearbox assemblies has even made its way into show business as an unnoticed yet essential co-star in “O” by Cirque du Soleil at Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“In June of 1999, the technical team at Cirque du Soleil contacted us because they needed a robust, submersible motion control solution to provide precise, reliable operation of a motorized, battery powered piano that had to operate in and out of water, show after show, year after year,” says Richard Halstead, President, Empire Magnetics. “Additionally, because the piano must also operate in water with performers, safety precautions demanded that the motor operate at less than 24 volts, while still providing enough power to move the piano around the stage,” he says.

Empire had approximately three weeks in which to complete the job, from design and fabrication, to testing and operation. The solution provided by Empire’s team of engineers consists of a hall effect commutated three phase brushless motor integrated with a cycloidal gearbox.

“The entire assembly is housed in an oil filled, pressure compensated stainless steel housing, and has been providing robust, reliable operation for more than seven years,” says Mr. Halstead. “We’re just now having an opportunity to do some maintenance work on the original units, and I fully expect the rebuilt units to outlast the show” he says.

The gearbox assembly is integrated into the piano that is the focal point of the show’s finale, which features a tank style control system where the motors spin in opposite directions, allowing it to virtually turn on a dime. The performer controls the motors with a joystick attached to a foot pedal.

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