Aristo - New Replacement Lamps Available in Jan 2011

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Ken Nadvornick, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Some fresh good news here...

    This morning I received a new email from Louise Kessler at Voltarc (LCD Lighting). She asked that I post the following new information for users of the former Aristo Grid Lamp products:

    "The Aristo VCL4500 and VCL8100 Series replacement lamps have been progressing nicely in its re-engineering process. It’s been smooth enough that I believe that pricing and lead time information could be ready to send out by late January 2011. For those who have not contacted me previously….just send me a note so you are on my list. Please send the e-mail to: louise.kessler@voltarc.com

    On another issue- the html pages for the old Aristo website are disabled, but don’t worry- The Aristo information has been archived in a new site - when you type in www.aristogrid.com it will re-direct you to where the Aristo information is being held. If you find I have left something out- let me know and I’ll see if I can find it for you."

    For those users of the above Aristo VCL light sources, this is a new chance to order either replacement or backup grid lamps for these units. Personally I intend to do both for my VCL4500. Louise was understandably very excited to be able to offer these newly reengineered products to the analog market.

    She also expressed gratitude to those who have previously purchased new replacement grid lamps for the Aristo D2 units. Apparently the response to this initial reengineering project was very good.

    Louise has put in an enormous amount of effort to get this production restarted. I know for a fact that her superiors were not at all convinced that there existed any residual market for these products. If these products benefit you at all, a small word of thanks to her wouldn't hurt.

    Louise's final line in her email was:

    "Hopefully this will make someone’s holiday, I know it’s making mine nicer!"

    For those of you active on other forums and websites where this announcement may be of interest, please feel free to cross-post this information to those locations. The greater the market response, the better the chances that additional replacement lamp products will be offered in the future.

    Finally, don't forget to check out the new Aristo product line website referenced above. It's brand new. And as such is yet another commitment to an ongoing analog equipment market.

    Ken
     
  2. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Thanks for the update Ken. I am on her list for the VCL 8100. Curious about the cost though!
     
  3. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    As am I. But given that the price point of the re-engineered D2-HI lamp came in at only $165.00 - pretty close to the original replacement lamp price, IIRC - I'm hopeful and keeping my fingers crossed.

    Just having a chance to replace these lamp grids at all these days is pretty amazing. They would have to be grossly overpriced for me to pass on that opportunity.

    Ken
     
  4. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    Louise is a champion!
     
  5. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Agreed.
     
  6. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Visibility bump for those who might be interested in these replacement lamps...

    Ken
     
  7. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I guess this is a good post for the new Industrial News forum, Ken.
     
  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I hadn't thought of that. I just posted a message to Sean in that forum, so I guess we'll find out.

    Thanks.

    Ken
     
  9. Bob Eskridge

    Bob Eskridge Member

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    I purchased a Aristo D2 from Louise. Delivery was faster than her estimate of three weeks. It was extremely well packed also.:smile:
     
  10. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    A further note from Louise regarding possible pricing for the VCL4500 and VCL8100 replacement lamps:

    "I saw the note as to the price… on the forum… I don’t know yet… depends on final production process, time and labor… The lamps were not inexpensive to begin with... but should be in a similar pricing range as Aristo... I’ll know more towards the end of the engineering process."

    Ken
     
  11. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    This is good news. I will definitely be a customer for a spare pair of tubes, although my current ones seem fine. Has anyone had to replace tubes in their VCL4500?
     
  12. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    If a complete head could only be made; say a universal 8x10, or 5x7, that would be great. It seems that making the bulb is/was the bump in the road, transformers, switches, metal boxes plastic diffusers and wiring exist and can be spec'd.
     
  13. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I know I've mentioned this before, but I do need to replace mine. My unit came to me used with aged tubes. I was told that lamps normally lasted about five years in commercial lab environments - proportionately longer in home use. And as they age the lamps grow dimmer. My exposures are now very long. But the precision and repeatability of absolutely correct, evenly spaced contrast grades makes that more than worthwhile. New tubes will, for me, be a blessing.

    Everyone needs to run the numbers for themselves. But given the unpredictability of everything analog these days, I plan to replace my existing lamp grids, then purchase a second backup set as insurance against accident or premature failure. I may or may not get another chance. YMMV...

    Ken
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2010
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I've had the same thought. When asked about the possibility of a reintroduction of the complete cold light head assemblies, Louise has said that Voltarc is a specialist fluorescent lighting company that has no interest or expertise in manufacturing the physical housings or full electronic control units. Thus, their willingness to reengineer and reintroduce only replacement tubes for existing heads. It's what they do.

    But the thought has crossed my mind that if a different manufacturer - or individual - could be found who was willing to create the housings and spec/source the required electronic components, then use Voltarc merely as the lamp grid supplier...

    Ken
     
  16. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    With Voltarc as a supplier of lamps there would be a great opportunity for someone or some individuals to form a company and make a product. It is a product that's needed and given that it's fluorescent it's an energy saver. An electrical engineer could design the components for a small company to assemble. It would be fairly green and would create jobs and revenue, all are pluses and we the consumer could get back to our business of making prints.
     
  17. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    When I opened up the controller unit and head I found they contained a rather smallish number of old-school, discreet electrical components. You know... single resistors and capacitors, a pair of large iron-core transformers (where the 10-pound weight comes from), relay switches, wires, connectors. Stuff like that.

    I think there was a single early IC chip in mine mounted on a primitive circuit board. Looked almost like an old Heathkit contraption. My assumption was that the IC probably drove the simple digital display.

    These Aristo units were designed and manufactured a long time ago. And before the era of planned obsolescence. For someone who knows discreet components it probably would not be a difficult task at all to functionally replicate the specs. Unfortunately, I'm not that person or I'd try it myself.

    And who knows? Perhaps Louise would have access to a bit of residual documentation. After all, if Voltarc had no further interest in it...

    Ken
     
  18. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    The Aristo web site used to have a downloadable instruction manual for the VCL4500 and in that there was a circuit diagram for the controller. Not all voltages were specified, but it would not be difficult to reverse engineer. The only tricky part for me would be the section that produces the digital readout, but that could even be dispensed with, and just rely on the knob position for grades.

    I have checked and found that the doc is still at the aristo web site mentioned above. There are other docs, including the one for mounting a light sensor* for compensating timers. These exist because cold light heads change their output as they warm up. However the VCL4500 tubes are much better in this regard than the old graded paper single tube models of years ago.

    * This is still labeled erroneously as "temperature probe installation". This is the sensor used for Zone VI compensating timers and also the marvelous RH Designs Stop Clock Vario. For do it yourself types, the sensor is
    EG+G Vactec VTB8440BH photodiode with IR filtering.

    More info at
    http://uk.farnell.com/eg-g-vactec/vtb8440bh/photodiode-ir-filtered/dp/1182340?Ntt=118-2340

    Wire it so that the pin with the polarity dot goes to the outer pole of the jack plug (for RH Designs fitting).

    For the Zone VI fitting, I can look it up if anyone is interested.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2010
  19. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    This was the Dr. Horowitz/Zone VI design approach. Cleaner, simpler, more reliable, less things to go wrong. I've used a Zone VI Compensating Enlarging Timer with just click stops and loved it.

    This is a really good piece of information. I kept a spare one of these in a baggie for many years until installing it into my used VCL4500. I've always worried what would happen if it, or the one in my Zone VI single-lamp head, ever failed. I had no idea where to look for a replacement. Now I know. And so does the APUG Archives. Thanks so much, John.

    Ken
     
  20. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Interestingly enough I opened a 5x7, well actually the diffuser frame comes right off, now the bulb is dimmer than it should be but there is no heater circuit and it's a single cord plug-in box. It does have a toggle switch. It's old and really simple. My 2 1/4 head, 4X5 square head, round Beseler head all have heater circuits. I do have a 10X12 unit with a separate control box with a dimmer knob on it. It functions very well and was probably some kind of a light box. Aristo couldn't tell me what it was for even with supplied serial numbers. I never knew if it would work on an enlarger so it sits in a box. I should make a viewer out of it I suppose.

    I've blown more than my share of money on Aristo heads. I finally switched to a Beseler color head rewired for new 120 volt lamps in the same color temperature as the 82 volt ones. I wanted to get a duel bulb Aristo for my 5X7 Durst but now I'm going to have to make a diffusion head for variable contrast BW paper.

    The older I get the less I hope and the more I act.

    Curt
     
  21. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    John_s,if you do have the ref. or Id number for the zone x1 light probe I would like it . Thankyou

    Mike
     
  22. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    The Zone VI cold light head probe was supplied wired to a three-pin DIN socket, as used in old audio equipment. The socket was mounted on the surface of the head. The Zone VI compensating timer and the older stabilizer had captive cable with DIN plugs if I remember correctly. The wiring of the sensor is as follows, using two core (black and red) with shielding:

    Photodiode end: black wire to the cathode, which is identified by a small reference hole through the base- see the pdf spec sheet, and
    red wire to the other pin. The shield is not connected.

    DIN socket end: Black wire to pin 1, red wire to pin 2, shield to pin 3 and linked to the metal case of the socket.
     
  23. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    Thanks john-s.
    Mike
     
  24. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Additional Background Product Information

    A recent discussion with Louise at Voltarc/LCD has shed some additional light on the subject of the new replacement lamp grids for the Aristo VCL4500 and VCL8100 cold light heads. I thought I'd share some of her responses to a few of my questions for those who might find them useful.

    On the subject of how the original Aristo VCL lamp grids age with use:

    "As both [blue and green] lamps are used, the nanometer output of the given lamp will change over time. The more the lamp is used, the more it will age and the phosphor will degrade. The strongest output of any lamps will be in the 1st hundred hours of its use. After this time it goes into its "median age" - think of a bell curve and it will slowly go down in strength. Replacement of the lamps on the down side of the curve is dependent of the photographer and how much he’s willing to lengthen his timing to compensate for the lamps aging.

    "Usually at the end of a lamp’s life the nanometer output and its ability to make the chemical reaction is very low. The lamp has a harder time to recover from exposure to exposure. The lamp is basically telling you that it’s done and will shortly - electrically die.

    "Historically most customers have bought both the blue and green lamps as a set when they were replacing the lamps."

    On some of the design trade-offs in the original VCL units:

    "The VCL units were not built to have fast exposure rates. Exposure times of a few seconds to a minute or two is not uncommon depending on the hours on the lamps and what the photographer wanted to do. My understanding was they were built to allow photographers control of their environment as much as possible."

    On possible design improvements in the upcoming new replacement VCL lamps:

    "With everything equal and both [original Aristo] lamps on for the same time, the green phosphor will degrade faster than the blue. It’s the nature of the phosphor. I’ve requested engineering to see if they can optimize the phosphor output on these [new] lamps - in particular on achieving a better maintenance curve on both phosphors – if that is possible."

    On the history behind the green-dimmable VCL units originally offered by Aristo. In their standard configuration VCL heads modify the color of light by varying only the blue tube output. The green tube remains constant. The later green dimmable models also allowed the green tube ouput to be varied as well:

    "The dimmable green option came about from a request of photographers in Germany. It seemed to be a club who wanted to play with the variation of both blue and green lamps. Aristo was not given any information as to why they wanted this option, but decided to offer it to others who may also want to play with it."

    I thought these responses by Louise to my questions valuable enough to get them into the APUG archives for future reference.

    Ken
     
  25. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    Thats good ,at least this shows some interest and promise.

    Mike
     
  26. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Since today is the last day of January, 2011 I thought a progress update might be in order. Here's the latest information I have.

    From a January 25 email from Louise Kessler, in response to my question regarding progress on the new manufacturing run of Aristo VCL4500 and VCL8100 replacement lamps:

    "I JUST got the p/n’s [part numbers for the new VCL lamps] from engineering… so things are moving…"

    And from January 31 (this afternoon), this:

    "Very close to issuing [final price] quotes… need final review with the VP’s. I’m pushing for the end of the week."

    So things do appear to continue moving in a positive direction, albeit just a little bit slower than anticipated. If you have any specific questions regarding these new lamps, or anything else Aristo product-related, Louise asks that you contact her at:


    or alternatively, at:


    She may also be reached directly by telephone at:

    203-799-7877 ext 3163​

    Ken