Posted in materials on June 12, 2015 5:36 pm EDT

Review: Vortek Satellite Rigging System

A project manager and former technical director for large churches weighs in on Electronic Theatre Controls' heavy-duty hoist.

The Vortek Satellite Rigging System is highlighted here in blue. Images courtesy of ETC.











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TAGS: review, rigging, safety, satellite, sustainability,


By Shaun Miller

When designing a worship center, so many things play a factor in the decisions. The main one usually being money, but also land availability, height restrictions, and so on. Not every space can be built like a Vegas auditorium with the ability to fly set pieces in and out. But what if the church wants to hang a large banner or back drop upstage or a changeable display in its lobby? It could be put in via permanent rigging, but when they want to change it that can become expensive. And that is where Electronic Theater Controls (ETC) caught this reviewer’s eye.

"The Vortek Satellite is controlled via wireless remote, which is handy. What I especially like ... is it reduces the cost of having to run control wires down the wall into a switch."

—Shaun Miller, Project Manager, CTS, Brentwood, TN

As a former technical director for a large church and now as an installer/consultant, ETC was really just a lighting company for me. Its Source Four ellipsoidal is a staple in so many areas. Walking the streets of Disney world you can see them hanging in trees and on lampposts. Well, I can, because I annoy my wife looking for those kinds of things. They are literally almost everywhere. But I never gave much thought to the ETC rigging line.

I had the opportunity to speak with Nils Becker, the rigging product manager for ETC, recently, and he brought me up to speed on all I had been missing from their product line. Turns out, and this is hard to admit that I’m not as observant as I thought I was, but I have been using an ETC Prodigy hoist for years at my previous church. I always loved it because it utilized a flat lay cable management system that keeps the power and control cables cleanly together as the unit raises and lowers without the need to “lower” them separately via ropes. This is a great timesaving feature, and great for churches that need movable electric battens over their stages.

Becker explained to me how ETC had acquired the Vortek line from Daktronics and have encompassed it into the company’s pre-existing rigging lineup. This takes me back to the need for a small, budget-conscious lift solution….

Close-up Look

Weighing only 90 pounds, the Vortek Satellite hoist is capable of lifting 150 pounds. Loaded with 60 feet of cable, the housing can nicely hide out of sight. While this hoist isn’t designed to lift technical equipment, per say, such as a lighting system or speakers—the need for a compact lift are almost unending at a church. Especially as branding has become a huge factor for churches.

Right or wrong, for a lot of modern churches, Sunday has become an experience. From the moment a congregation member drives onto the grounds they are being engaged. The ways in which that happens take on many forms. Lobbies are becoming hip hang out areas where people come even during the week to gather. This need to expand outside of the auditorium makes the Vortek Satellite appealing to me. The hoist connects to the ceiling joists via standard wire rope or can be attached to an existing pipe or batten. You know, the one they currently hang things on and have to rent a lift or hire a 1930’s era skywalker to change out the material on … well, not any more. The power requirements are relatively easy to accommodate, as well. Capable of running in either single-phase 120V/240V or three phase 208V, powering the hoist should be a simple and flexible process.  continued >>