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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricks & Effects » » Spider Pen Review - By Jaxon (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jaxon
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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
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I know other discussions have been made on the board about the Spider pen. I get MEails and private messages every once in a while asking for my opinion of it. So I figured I'd just post one here for all to see.

The first thing I'll say about the Spider Pen reel is I absolutely love it. It's very well made and thought out. Cleverly made is a better way to put it. I'll be making good use of mine but I'll also keep working with my original ITR.

Tension
I love the tension on this reel. It's just right for for making small objects float and also works well for tricks such as the haunted deck (and the variation called spooked). Another great thing about it is the tension never increases. No matter how much thread is pulled out the tension will stay the same. It won't bounce much either as you pull away like other electronic reels.

The tension does have a down side.
The only downside I found is that if you walk away from say a floating bill. When you walk back toward the bill the reel doesn't have enough tension to lift the bill back up. So when it goes down toward the floor when you step toward it. It's pretty much gonna stay down there. The motor isn't strong enough to pull it back up.

The Thread
Great thread in this thing. Very invisible and strong. Not one problem with the thread in my opinion.

Working with it
You can work with this just like any other ITR. Wear it in your breast pocket or innerjacket pocket. Even clip it out in the open on the collar of your shirt if you don't mind the geek look.. lol
It'll be a little different then working with an original ITR but most of the hooks ups and uses will be the same. I've used it for floating bills, cards, napkins and cigarettes. And made things like lighters and spoons move on the table. It works great for the haunted deck (You can stand 10 feet away from the deck and make the trick happen and you have total control from that distance too).

A discovery
Steve Fearsons video caled "The thread head" showed how to make a poor mans thread reel. The effects he used it for couldn't be done very well with an original ITR because of the tension. The effects in this video can be done with the Spider pen.

The Prop
This reel is very well made. A great design and engenious way to hide the design. I love how you can take the cap off and write with it. This would normally be impossible because with the entire pen there would be no room for the motor and power supply. They have a very clearver way around this problem.
The reel works very smoothly. Never feel and jumping of the thread as it's reels in and out. I also love how ti carrys a spare spool right in the pen. This makes reset a snap. IF you're thread breaks you'll be able to fix it in seconds. No more sucking.. lol

Down falls
One part to the prop keeps accidently coming off on my. I can't tell exactly what it is in public but it's the on/off button. I can easily fix this problem. I'll tell you taht it doesn't just fall off on you. Actually, it's your finger that can make it come off. When you push the button it could stick to your finger. All you gotta do is make sure that doesn't happen when you turn it on and off. No big deal really but I just wanted to point that little annouance out.

That's about the only down side so far. I'm still testing the battery life. It's been a couple weeks and still going. The battteries aren't expensive anyway. Carry and extra couple in yo wallet and you'll always be ready.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Jaxon
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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
2537 Posts

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I'd just like to post a correction in my above post. I mentioned taht the motor isn't strong enough to lift the bill as you move toward it. That isn't completely true.

I just put a new battery in mine and it is now strong enough to bring it back up. It can also float in place as you walk toward it if you do so very slowly.

Just wanted to share that. It might be a good indicator taht the battery is going low when the motor looses a little strength. Took quite a while for it to go down though.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Wards Back
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Baker's Acres, Ca
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Excellent Info Jaxon

Just a couple extra questions:

1) How does the Spider Pen compare in 'useability' & function compared to the UFC (if you're familiar with the UFC). I realize the UFC is a larger unit requiring concealment, but is the Spider Pen just as silent/smooth/reliable?

2) You mentioned that while you will be using the Spider Pen, you will keep working with your existing ITR. What does your existing ITR give you that the Spider Pen does not?

Thanx
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Smile

Chris.
Jaxon
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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
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1)The spider pen is much smoother then the UFC. No bouncing action at all when the thread reels out. The only bouncing movement it'll cause when it reels in is what you put on it by body movement. It's very, very smooth.
Funny that I'm answering this question because I'm deaf, but I know that it's completely silent. I probably know this better then anyone because I had to ask. Smile Seriously, because I did aska few people and the fact that it runs so smoothly tells me it makes no noise.

I can't honestly say it's more reliable then the UFC. I can say that it's just as reliable though. The Spider Pen is much better in close up work in my opinion. The UFC is turned on and off by body movement. The Pen just stays on while you use it so it always has the same amount of tension. The UFC goes from no tension (Off) to high tension (ON). I just feel the body movement required to use the UFC is more sutable for stage or parlor. So I wouldn't say more realiable, just different.

2) you can use the Spider Pen just like you do the original elastic powered ITR's, but I find some tricks that I do work better with the original ITR.

For example. When I do the haunted deck (Or spooked) I turn the pen off for a moment while I step away from the deck. You can step away 10 feet if you want. Then you turn the pen on and by body and hand movement you cause the deck to move. When the pen is off it has absolutely no tension. When it's turned on you have just the right amount of tension that the deck won't move until you lean your body away from the deck a little. In other words you have control.

The Pen is also great for the boomarang card (Or hover card). You can do the standard floating bill, cigarette or napkin with the pen but I prefer to use the original ITR for these things. Mostly because I've been using them for years and I have a feel for them.

Another thing I think about is the fact that there are no bateries on the original to worry about. There are other things to deal with but the battery wont die.

I think James Goerge deserve much credit for producing his first ITR. Introducing the concept of it to everyone and allowing us magicians to utalize the concept of IT like never before. His was and is still the best ITR's on the market. Especially as far as non-electric powered ones. Just about everything is being changed by modern technology and ITR's are no exception. So I'd gove some credit to John Kennedy for his electrick reels, Stefan Schutzer for the UFC. Each are great gimmicks and have there uses. I do feel this Spider pen is the best electric reel to date though.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Wards Back
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Baker's Acres, Ca
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Thanks a ton Ron.

btw, I just learned about your recent loss, and you have my deepest, most heart-felt condolences.

But, after reading through some of the other forums it looks like you're a real trooper, and I'm sure you'll pull through this.

God Bless.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Smile

Chris.
paisa23
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Inner circle
7294 Posts

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I also posted this elsewhere if you get this one first.and I liked your review on the spider pen.. quick question.. I use the le claire animator . you said you used your other ITR besides the spider pen , I know wrong topic , but since I'm here.. what is your original ITR ? 2000?
Jaxon
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Kalamazoo, Mi.
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Thanks so much for your kind words Wards Back. That really means a lot to me.

paisa23:
I've owned just about every ITR on the market. I usually use the Micro size or super micro (Boss) though. That's right, I'm the real THREAD HEAD. Smile

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
weepinwil
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USA
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Ron,

Thanks for your post. I am thinking about buying the spider pen but my audience usually is not in low light conditions. Your post is helping me decide.

hal
"Til Death us do part!" - Weepin Willie
Jaxon
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Kalamazoo, Mi.
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One thing to keep in mind is that lighting doesn't have to be low to do thread work. it just has to be right. There are many places where the room is brightly lit and they still can't see the thread. Some of the best lightings are nright actually. It jus has to be the right lighting.

It's best to test before a performance though. here's one possible way to test.

Put your ITR on a jacket and place the jacket on the back of a chair. Then anchor the thread to a table from the jacket. Walk around and see if you can see it or not. This isn't always the best method for testing but it's one you can try when you can't test the location before a show.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Nikos
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Great review Ron.
If Ron likes it then I'm buying one.
knmagic
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Thanks Ron, at least I know for sure I don't get another junk in my draw. Ron, since you are the thread head guy, I PM you a question about Dynamic Levitator. Please check.
garcia00
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Thanks for the info. Gotta change the battery in mine to see if it can lift a bill. That was my only disappointment
troller
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276 Posts

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I just wanted to add, that I wish my Spider Pen was made of better material. I have had problems with the pen cracking along the battery holder screw area. It is a tension crack. It also screws in crooked. I use tape and I tried epoxying the area, but the glue did not hold. But, at least the tape did hold and is a quick fix for now. I also do notice that the thread is not as strong as other thread I have used. It keeps breaking on me due to two things.... one, if I move at an angle and move away from object, the part that you describe, that holds the spool in, well, it has a sharp enough edge to it that it sometimes cuts my thread when moving at an angle. I have the 'Wonderful Bar' thread I have already spooled in as a replacement that seems to be stronger.

The batteries also do not last long. Yep, new ones do give more tension, but they are short to last. Can't seem to get any info on replacement batteries that would last longer.

One more problem, if you do break the thread, and it goes scurying back into the reel, you could get problems of tangling that is almost impossible to untangle without breaking some more. This then results in wasted thread since you would have to cut away the existing thread, and re-spool in some more fresh thread. Not a problem, just an annoyance. The problem with the tangling seems to happen when you get around 15" or more thread spooled out, then when the pen is on with tension, if it were to get a break, the thread reels in so fast that is tangles upon itself, and thus, you got a problem untangling it. Sometimes you might get lucky, sometimes you get total tanglation that is unfixable. Must cut it away and re-spool.

I would love it if the Spider Pen was made of steel. I would also love to have a little more tension added to the motor, or is this due to weak batteries. If I were to add my own batteries, will I blow the motor? Hmmm? Caution on that one eh, the Spider Pen is not cheap. $75 dollar after taxes in Canada.

I loved it and I hate the shortfall. Trying to work around it but failing at best. Need some sort of solution to make it more robust. The plastic seems to be the most annoying part since it is a little too weak for my taste. The best part is that you don't have to use the bottom pen part. It's like a mini real when seperated from the pen. Still works fine. Like I said, great for very light object only. Looking forward to the next generation of reels if anyone is making one out there!!!
troller
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Oh, that part on great for lifting light objects only, well, from my experience, I tried lifting a piece of paper from a small pad, 2-1/2" x 4" and it does not lift at all. Not much strength the Spider Pen. I guess this is due to the thread they use - preventing it from breaking too easily if the motor was stronger. But, I hear that there is some Kevlar thread spools coming out soon for the Spider Pen. Just how the heck are you going to use it effectively lifting heavier objects is beyond me. I guess the advantage to the Kevlar thread is that it will be less prone to breaking in normal situation. Can't wait to try Kevlar.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of the Spider Pen, with it's unique design and all, just I found it being too cheaply made for the amount of money I paid for it. I feel like taking it apart and redoing it in steel and with a better motor and stronger batteries, and stronger thread. Hmmm that sounds like a total replacement of all parts!! Anyone figure out how to replace the pen ink part yet? I tried seeing how to do it, the instructions are vaige, and I am afraid to pull too hard on the pen part to take it apart due to it's weak nature!
Joe Mauro
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I use John Kennedy's Z-webs. It's not motorized, but it is simple to use. It can't do what the Spider Pen does. However, it is reliable.
~Joe
respho
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Hong Kong
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I came across John Kennedy's Z-Webs by accident. I must say it is a very clever idea. Any magician should take a look at it. I wouldn't compare it with the Spider Pen though because it is not motorized.
TonyKo
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Hong Kong
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I have no problem working with the spider pen. Tension is prefect and it easily lifts half of a napkin or a bill from the floor in a very smooth action. I think it is first grade all the way. The body of the pen can be made of metal though. Kennedy's z webs is cool too. But as it is not a reel the thread must either be hanging from the gimmick or rolled around the gimmick manually. I find that when the spider pen motor is off, you can, with some care, do a normal floating bill routine (non reel type, that is the thread is locked) although the spider pen does not have a locking mechanism. As to battery life, I think the best way is to switch on only befroe the float and immediately switch off after the float. That way it will last a lot longer. This can be easily achieved (the pen is easily reachable in natural action) if you clip the pen on your waist band slightly behind your back rather than have it clipped on chestheight. With the pen at chestheight it is awkard to switch it on or off during performance.

Hope this helps!

Tony
Review King
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Eternal Order
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Now that I HAVE THE PEN WORKING AGAIN......I'm of the mind that battery management is paramount. You have to be aware and conserve.
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

..........John Greenleaf Whittier
MichaelB
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I just ordered mine. Upon receiving, I'll post if I feel strongly one way or the other.........
Wolfgang1us
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I went to a magic shop because of the pen and had a chance to check it out there. It might be a great item but I did not spend the money because it looked too cheap to me... Plastic, burrs all around it and in addition to it, it was bent all over the place. Finally I am glad that I bought the stealth retractor...

Wolf
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