Cold darkroom warm chemicals

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Eric Mac, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    My basement darkroom gets down to the 40's during the winter. I use a small electric heater to keep my toes warm, but I finally found a solution to keeping the chemistry warm. I use trays for sheet film and paper. I purchased 3 aquarium heaters that has a remote temperature sensor and a titanium tube ( no glass or little lights) for the heating element. The tube is rated for salt water. I am testing it now and it seems to be keeping the water at a constant 68 or so. +- 1 degree after an hour.

    The only drawback I see is the use of more chemistry to keep the tubes submerged.

    A couple of precautions are necessary to do this. I am going to connect the heaters to a GFI receptacle and also putting it on my timer in case I forget to turn it off after a late night session. The thermostat has a small light on it which I need to cover with tape.

    The cost was $65.00 including postage. This is a lot cheaper than that compensating timer i keep seeing. Besides, does chemistry work at 50 degrees F?

    Eric

    Eric
     
  2. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    That's my problem, my darkroom is cold. I wear sweaters but can't keep my chemicals at 68 degrees. Mine stays about 60 and I wonder how much of an effect that has on the developement. I know that too warm is quite a difference but how about too cool? I'll bet I sound really dumb but I have been doing my own darkroom work for about 5 years and so far it's getting a lot better mostly since I joined APUG and can get answers to questions. Sometimes I just wait for others to ask so I don't have to but hey it's a problem now. Thanks for all the help
     
  3. Dracotype

    Dracotype Member

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    Dear Eric,

    The plain and simple answer, after consulting the time/temperature chart at the Massive Developing Chart, is that yes, it does take longer as it cools down. If you remember in chemistry, a chemical reaction's rate is dependant on several things, temperature being one of them. As for 50 F, the chart doesn't even go that low (50 F is 10 C right?). I suspect that either the times are prohibitive, or the reaction is just too lax. Check out the chart yourself for a more quantitative answer.

    Drew
     
  4. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Sounds a lot like the heater I use for colour. I don't worry about the little light. Just turn it away from the paper if you're worried.
     
  5. esanford

    esanford Member

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    I am fortunate to have a Zone VI compensating timer (I don't believe they are manufactured any more but you could check Calumet who bought out the Zone VI business). It has a probe on it and you place it in the tray of developer. No matter what the temperature, it assumes that it is 68 deg for film and it assumes 70 deg for the paper setting. You just develop for your normal time because it slows down automatically for cool temperatures and speeds up for warm temperatures. You often see them on EBAY. It is absolutely the best hi tech item I have in my darkroom.
     
  6. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    I'm faced with the same question, since a room I plan on using for a darkroom in the near future is heated only by virtue of being contained in a house. There is no local heat source in the room. Now I like cold room, but I was thinking that I would use a shallow water bath around the trays and heat the entire thing from underneath using a waterbed heater, left over from the days when I had one of those soft, warm cacoons to climb into every night - and a floor that could support it.

    Comments? Anybody else ever use a warm water bath for all of their trays? Waterbed heaters?
     
  7. esanford

    esanford Member

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    I still use a warm water bath to keep my chemicals at a stable temperature even though I have the compensating timer. This time of year if I pre-mix my chemicals they drop to 55degrees.... So what I do, is to create a water bath at about 70 degrees and place my pre-mixed chemicals in it a few hours before going to work. It raises the temperatures sufficiently. I also use a little space heater in the room that keeps the ambient temperature in the high 60s to low 70s... I absolutely cannot stand being cold.
     
  8. ggriffi

    ggriffi Member

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    Eric,

    Can you tell me where you got the heater at? I need to do something very similar to what you are doing?

    g
     
  9. esanford

    esanford Member

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    I got my heater at Loews... I am sure that Home depot or the dreaded Walmart :smile: has the same thing. They have a bunch of little space heaters with automatic safety shutoff ranging in price from about $10-$30... They have thermostats as well. So, you can set it to cutoff once it hits a certain temperature. I paid 19.95 for mine at Loews. Mine is a Delonghi and it is designed for garages or workshops.

    My wife has an even smaller unit that she uses in her sewing room. On cold winter nights we even bring hers in the bed room and it gets the room nice and cozy and we don't have to run the central heating system.

    I am sure that you will find one to suit you at a real good price....
     
  10. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Hydroquinone becomes essentially inactive below 55F and produces fog above 80F.
     
  11. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    g

    I got my heaters from that auction site. Try "aquarium heater titanium". it was a Won brand.

    Please be cautious in their use as I suspect that they were not made for this.

    Eric

     
  12. ggriffi

    ggriffi Member

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    Eric, thanks a lot. My plan actually is to buy an aquarium as well as a heater, so that I can keep a more uniform temp for my chemicals. I currently have a plastic tub which only holds enough water to get about half way up the plastic bottles I use.

    g
     
  13. leeturner

    leeturner Subscriber

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    There are different wattage of aquarium heater around from 50W upwards. Each is made for a different maximum volume of water. The other thing to look for is shatterproof heaters, they don't break if you take them out of the liquid or put them into cold liquid when switched on.
     
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  15. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I've got the won 300 watt non-digital. You don't want the one with a digital display because that one isn't adjustable. At least IIRC. Plenty of fish shops selling them and to be honest considering what I paid for mine [about $25?] I doubt Ebay could be any cheaper.
     
  16. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Is everyone using these heaters still alive? I'm thinking about getting one for my developer tray anyway.
     
  17. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Can the heater be placed in the actual paper developer? I was thinking of installing one into an oversized rubbermaid tub and placing the developer tray into the tub. What about tempering the stop bath & fixer? How crucial?
     
  18. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    Still here

    I have used the 3 heaters (dev, stop and fixer) for two sessions and am still around. I would advise a GFIC receptacle for added protection. I am putting the heaters in the chemistry.

    Eric
     
  19. Wayne Frederick

    Wayne Frederick Subscriber

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    My darkroom stays at about 60F all winter. I put an electric heating pad (the kind used for sore muscles, etc.) underneath the developer tray to bring temp up to 68F. The pad is plugged into a GFCI and I try to keep it dry. It works really well but I have to keep checking the temperature since there is no thermostat.
     
  20. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I wonder if the titanium is necessary in a submersible. They also make stainless steel heaters, but I cant find out what kind of stainless it is. They only recommend them for fresh water though, so I dont think Dektol would qualify. I've also thought about putting an electric blanket on the underside of my plywood sink, but I'm way too paranoid (and sloppy/splashy) to put one IN it.
     
  21. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Someone in an above thread mentioned the Delongi heaters, they look like an old radiator, miniature. They use an oil to circulate and maintain output, fairly cheap to use). I use one all winter in my darkroom-black tape over the little red indicator light. I turn it on a couple of hours before I work, I know the setting to use to bring up the darkroom to 70 (the darkroom sits at 60 all winter). There is a large deep area at the end of my sink, which I fill to just over 1 inch with very hot water, placing the 1 gallon chemistry jugs into it. By the time the room is up, the chemistry is close, then everything stays the same for the printing session. You are comfortable, and so is the soup. (by the way, I am not coming close to the capacity of the heater, which maintains temp even with the exhaust on.)
     
  22. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I stumbled across this heated dog mat a couple of years ago and thought it might have potential under my developer tray.

    Dog Mat

    Waterproof and rugged but a bit pricey, perhaps.
     
  23. seadrive

    seadrive Member

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    If it wasn't for "your #1 hunting buddy", it would probably go for $29.99.

    My basement darkroom gets pretty cold in the winter, so this is a great thread for me. Thanks for all the ideas, people! :smile:
     
  24. Eric Mac

    Eric Mac Member

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    Wayne

    The aquarium heaters I used were rated for salt water. I'm not sure or able to debate stainless vs.titanium-I suspect alot has to do with marketing.

    Eric
     
  25. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I went and picked up a stainless steel, 75 watter today. I figured it would last a long time with intermittant use even if it wasnt intended for salt water, but when I got it home I saw that it said fresh OR salt. Made me happy since they were on sale for 12 bucks. Even the plastic submersibles look like they would work fine, though I dont know if they sink like the SS does. I just set it right down in the bottom of the tray. I've been experimenting with using it in an 11x14 tempering bath around my usual 8x10 developing tray. This helps ease my considerable paranoia about sticking my hands into liquids with electrical appliances in them (yes I have a GFI). So far it looks like it will work pretty good if I agitate the 11x14 tray regularly. I could use a circulating pump, I have one laying around somewhere if I need to. Using just enough water to cover the heater in the big tray I only need about 1.2-1.3 liters of solution to keep my 8x10 tray from free-floating in it. I'll give it its first field trial tomorrow
     
  26. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    My heater worked great last night, didnt need a pump. I started it up in the 11x14 tray about 1.5 hours early and it kept my 8x10 tray at 68-69 degrees all night. I had to set it a few degrees higher than that. I recommend one, I just have to remember to unplug the darn thing when I'm done, or get a timer.