For about a week now I have been working on a cardboard mock-up for a new prop case to carry all of my performing gear. I think it’s finally finished.

In these photos the mock-up is sitting on top of my current prop case so you can see the size difference. It may seem ridiculous to spend so much time on a mock-up, but this case will be a really important tool in my life, and I am going to spend a LOT of time hauling it around.

My current case is fine, but since I didn’t think to make a mock-up last time, I really just estimated all of the dimensions. The result is that I have a really nice case, but it is too big, and therefore heavier than it needs to be. Initially the weight didn’t matter that much, but then the airlines lowered the weight limits for checked luggage. Since my current case is 69 pounds when packed, I sometimes have to pay $25 (for luggage over 50 lbs) and sometimes have to pay $50 (over 70 lbs) depending on the scale and the mood of the person checking me in. That’s each way too, so it could be as much as $100 extra each time I fly. Also, I recently discovered that even when it is nearly empty, as it was on one trip, my current case looks like it’s heavy. The woman checking me in was ready to charge me and was really surprised that she didn’t have to.

I have three ultimate goals for my prop case (this one or future ones), in order of realism. I would like it to be:

  1. Small and light enough that I can carry it comfortably in one hand
  2. Able to be opened at the start of the show with no set-up, and then closed at the end of the show with no repacking, ready to go home. (at the moment I have to spend at least 10 minutes repacking my case at the end of every show)
  3. All of the above including the sound system. (this one is currently unrealistic, but I like to think big)

Part of what got me going on the design of this case now is that I found a company named Wilson Case in Hastings Nebraska that will make cases with a lightweight material called Corruplast that I haven’t seen before with other case companies. It’s kind of like if you made corrugated cardboard out of tough plastic.

I have been really taking my time with this design because I want to be as sure as possible that I haven’t forgotten anything. Once the case is made it will be too late, and it would be REALLY annoying (and probably expensive) if something was wrong.

I have even designed some aluminum folding legs that will fit snugly on the bottom edges of the case so that they add very little size and weight. I just have to find someone who can weld aluminum and with a little luck my design will work as well in the real world as it does in my mind.