Darkroom Construction

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Troy Hamon, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    In the past year, I made the great move from renting a home and using the spare bathroom as a darkroom to buying a home. One of the primary reasons I was interested in buying a home was so I could build a darkroom that was more conveniently laid out and had a reasonable ventilation arrangement. It sounded so simple...

    We looked at a number of houses last year, and I always looked at where the darkroom would go. Seems simple enough, but of course it never really is. There is almost always a perfectly legitimate alternative use for the room, which is what it was used for by the previous owners. Unless you look at a truly huge house, you will always have a number of necessary uses for each room. Ever the optimist, I kept looking. While we looked for houses, I was looking for information on how to build a darkroom. When you look up darkroom construction on the web, it is interesting how few really helpful results you turn up. The darkroom portraits thread on this forum was one of the more helpful options, but at the same time rarely does any poster there address the problems you face from the construction point of view. It is more generally oriented toward space allocation (and we're not talking about NASA here...) and how they made use of the space they had.

    Eventually, we found a really nice house for sale. In our area, there aren't many houses in general, and finding a nice one was pretty noteworthy. The downside...no room for a darkroom. In fact, not enough rooms in general to me, but then I grew up in a monstrosity of a house and have never really adjusted to the less spacious options that have confronted me since I left home...but that's a long story even my wife probably doesn't want to sit still for...

    At this point, it came down to whether I would be carving another room out of the nice but not overly large house or building a separate building. Since my wife didn't want to see her (notice now, I wanted to buy a house because I wanted a permanent darkroom, but as soon as we settle on a real house, it becomes hers...) new house afflicted by the addition of a darkroom into any of the existing space, she lobbied for a separate building. So...I started looking into the options for putting up a shed outside. Being a construction novice, this was even more scary territory than the prospect of installing one in a room. My internet search intensified, but again without avail. At first this concerned me greatly, then less so as I realized that the bottom line was that nobody would be responsible for my errors but myself.

    However, it seems like I've found a new surprise every week or two in this project, and so wanted to start a thread specific to darkroom construction. This is in part because, lacking an obvious thread to post on, I was posting my progress under the darkroom portraits thread. I've now realized that until I have a portrait to show, I really ought not clutter that thread any more with my incessant rambling about the state of my own little nightmare (or dream...depending on the day's progress...).

    Hopefully, whether folks are trying to decide how to fit a new ventilation system into their existing darkroom, turn that under-stair closet into a darkroom facility, or build a commercial lab, they can share their pain by posting the process of deciding what they need, the progress on the construction, and when helpful perhaps even ask for input on a related question. Although, as we all probably already know...you get what you pay for, and that includes in the advice category... That's not a threat, just an observation (in case anyone was wondering...).

    Post # 61! Woohoo! Watch out laz, here I come...!
     
  2. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Do you have a basement to build in? If it is below sewer drainage level a pump is easy to install. A shed in Alaska sounds kind of harsh. I rebuilt my darkroom last year. The best up-grades were a 9 foot 1 1/2" stainless steel sink to replace my 8 foot homemade plywood sink. I had a 9"3" wall for a sink and I framed it out with 2x4's. I found a sheet metal shop that could work with a 12' brake. I ordered a 30"x108" sink with a 3/4" lip all around by 5" deep. The extra large sink is wonderful to work with. Cost $600. Lots of extras lights, safe lights and 4 gang outlets. To top it all off was a Bose CD radio. Now I sometimes hang out in the darkroom just to fool around and hear the CD player.
     
  3. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    As far as structure goes I think you should think along house construction lines rather than shed structures. My reasoning is that you will have to heat the building if it is to be of any use to you. Whilst here in chilly England 6 inches of insulation and a 1kw heater keeps mine snug 24/7, I imagine that you may require a greater level of insulation to achieve comfort levels. Hence my advice to look a house structure rather than cold shed structures. Good luck, and please keep us posted.
     
  4. Rlibersky

    Rlibersky Subscriber

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    You can never have to many 3 and 4 way switches. Okay maybe you could. I would put one in every spot that you will want to look at a print or tool or instruction or something. At least one that you can reach without crossing the room every time you need to see in room light.
     
  5. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Troy -

    I've built three darkrooms now - each limited in some way by constraints imposed on it by the shape of the house in which it was being built. Let me share some of my experiences.

    I think that an absolute first must be to think through the kind of work that you anticipate doing in the darkroom in order to decide how big it needs to be. Traditional printing requires four active trays (developer, stop, fix and rinse/holding bath). I bought the trays, and then laid them out on the floor to determine the size of the footprint required to hold the trays. That then became a design dimension for my darkroom.

    My only regret is that I have always underestimated the size prints that I might want to do in the future. So you may want to plan on trays at least one standard size larger than what you actually anticipate using.

    A key point is that you should think through everything about your darkroom before you start construction. Make lots of sketches. Once the building is built, it will be expensive and inconvenient to make changes, so you want to get it right the first time. But remember that you are likely to forget something - so leave some allowances for the future - space, plumbing tee's that you can tap into, wiring, etc.

    Dave Miller's suggestion about designing your shed around building construction practices rather than shed construction practices makes a lot of sense. I live in upstate New York where we have winter - perhaps not quite to the same degree as you guys in Alaska, but it still gets cold. You really want your darkroom to be able to be heated - both for comfort and also to prevent frozen water pipes. And don't forget that if your darkroom gets too cold, chemicals will crystalize out at temperatures well above the normal freezing point.

    Do you anticipate that your darkroom will be used only for chemical processes, or are you anticipating that you will do print finishing also. If the latter, you need to provide space for non-chemical activities like spotting, mounting, matting, framing, etc. And what about storage of materials and finished prints? If you plan to bring prints into the house for finishing or storage, can you do that in bad weather?

    Safety has got to be another major consideration. In planning your wiring, make sure that you use ground-fault interrupters on the circuits on the wet side of the darkroom. It doesn't hurt to have them everywhere.

    But in a separate building, you should also think about access and egress - having a back door or perhaps just a wall panel that you can easily break out in the event of a fire could save your life. I recall seeing a movie many years ago in which a character in England had converted a back yard bomb shelter into a darkroom - and someone murdered her by locking the door from the outside and then releasing a toxic gas in side.

    In my latest darkroom, I did the wiring for operational convenience. The light switch by the door controls a circuit that feeds both the white lights, the safelights and the exhaust fan, but there are additional switches on a panel in front of the enlarging station that provides individual control over white lights and safelights. This was easy to do during construction - and would be hard to add after the fact.

    Where do you anticipate the gray water from your darkroom going - can you drain from your shed into the domestic sanitary system? Or are you planning on a dry well to dispose of gray water? Are there code restrictions in your area that limit your options?

    I strongly recommend good ventillation. You can purchase commercial darkroom ventillators, or you can use residential bathroom ventillators available at home centers. In my experience, while these will effectively ventillate the darkroom, they are noisy and noise is a distraction when printing. I built a ventillation system around computer-style muffin fans that have the distinct advantage of being very quiet. And if they are mounted outside the darkroom, they are almost silent.

    The best design for darkroom ventillation is positive pressure - forcing air into the darkroom, and then allowing it to flow out through designated ducts. Where does the inlet air come from? This is especially important if you have a separate building - if you bring in outside air (a good thing because it's fresh), it will be cold (a bad thing).

    In planning the darkroom, don' forget to plan for things like negative and print drying. I designed and built a negative drying cabinet, and had to leave a space in the footprint for this unit. I also choose to dry prints on fiberglass screens, and needed to have a rack to hold those screens.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed building my darkrooms - but I don't want to do it again!
     
  6. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    I decided to build a stand-alone DR and after getting info on city codes, decided to make it conform to within the "shed" structure guidlines.

    However I'm building it as I would a live-in structure. The one thing I had to keep to was the sq. footage of the roof area had to be 120 sq. ft. or less.

    I will have insulation, solar water heater (outside) and a built in vacuum line (vac outside encased).

    I am almost done with the outside, have surpassed my budget by about half what i estimated but hey, I ain't no estimator anyway.

    Soon to start the inside.

    here's the link to my previous thread though it has come far from there.
    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=18131

    I will update this thread soon when I shingle the roof and get the door installed.

    Good luck and keep us posted on what you do..and don't do.
    Matt
     
  7. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I can't imagine building a 'shed' in Alaska that could remotely be habitable in what I can only imagine is the coldest state in the union. Consider that your water source, alone, would have to be below frost line and the cost of heating the 'shed' would be enormous considering that it would always have to be kept, at least, above freezing to keep your chemicals from turning to ice.

    When we bought our house, the selling point (which was utterly unique to us) was that the 'walk-out' basement was a perfect studio for my artist wife. We then also noticed a little, dark, back corner alcove that I knew would be a first-time-in-my-fricken-life-it's-about-fricken-time potential darkroom. And so it has become. (There are some pics on the darkroom thread.) You must do likewise! First, assert that you WILL NOT accede to the female imperative that the toilet seat MUST be returned to the horizontal position. Maintain that attitude and behavior for weeks if not months. Begin negotiations about the IN THE HOUSE DARKROOM. When your ship starts to take on water, play the TOILET SEAT CARD!!! You WILL! put it down at least 50 percent of the time IF your soul mate comes around to your darkroom dreams. I guarantee it will be effective...and...you were gonna do the toilet seat thing anyway because you're a gutless, candyass husband (as am I!!) and you've bought into the unalterable fact that 'she who must be obeyed' must be obeyed!
     
  8. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Ladies before any man in your life takes this seriously let me give you a hint how to circumvent this appaling idea. Make your way to the toilet first, after a time away when you made sure the other species had plenty of liquid and fiber. Run a small invisible to the eye bead of super glue around the seat. Leave with a smile on your face. Negotiations are easy from this point on.
     
  9. chiller

    chiller Member

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    You obiously have no idea how inventive a man can be :smile:

    You will loose that battle.

    Now on the other hand if the super glue is on the upper side make certain you remember who is next inline to use the facility and why.
     
  10. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    My wife just told me she thinks you're aces!!! RRRRAAAAAATTTTTSSSS!!!!!
     
  11. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Well, thanks for the input everybody. I appreciate the experience present on this forum, and the willingness to provide input. In the case of my particular darkroom project, I am past the point of being able to take some of your suggestions, but I hope this thread will prove helpful not just to me but to anybody with a dark(room) dream...

    My assorted dilemmas have been addressed at different times in the darkroom portraits thread, and I'd rather not waste Sean's bandwidth duplicating those posts here. Instead, I'll give a synopsis of what has happened and where I am at present.

    But first, quick replies to comments and questions...

    Photobum: I do have a basement, but it is finished and is an integral part of the house. In fact, our master suite is the downstairs, and while I did make a push at decreasing the size of our bedroom and bathroom, that wasn't even remotely acceptable to the better half.

    Dave Miller: You are certainly right that we will have to heat the structure, so though the outside is a 'shed,' the building is insulated and finished on the inside. I have also opted for a design that allows me to leave the darkroom fallow for extended periods without need for heat. The details will follow...

    Rlibersky: You are the third person in two days to tell me how much they love three-way switches, but it is too late for that in my case...hopefully I'll survive without.

    Monophoto: My goodness, this is an incredibly informative post! I think I'll have to respond to your points in numerical fashion.
    1. Size. My wife has actually pushed me toward an even larger size to allow me to set up for portraits and copy work in the shed rather than having some of that out here. But I agree about always wanting larger, so I'm setting up for the largest paper you can currently buy readily, and figuring if I ever go larger than 20x24" I'll go to rolls and thin developing tanks that require more manual manipulation. And yes, I did lots of pre-sketches and kept refining them.
    2. Cold. I am setting up so I can allow the darkroom to go cold. I mix all of my chemicals from powder, and if I do allow the darkroom to go cold I intend to dispose of all liquid chemicals at that point, except acetic acid, which will be stored elsewhere. The shed will be insulated and finished on the inside, so it will be similar to house construction but only 4" walls.
    3. I plan to have space for finishing work on prints and storage of final products.
    4. Wiring. All the wiring is to code, including GFCI sockets around the wet area.
    5. Safety. I hadn't thought about the possibility of a gas attack in the darkroom, hopefully that isn't going to be an issue. I have had a window installed, which I will cover for darkroom work but which will allow egress if necessary.
    6. Wiring for convenience. You're ahead of me on this one, I never thought to combine them circuits like that. But I expect to be in the building to take pictures as well, so maybe it wouldn't be the best thing for me.
    7. There are no code issues because I am plenty far from any well or surface runoff, and I don't have any controlled effluent (I do silver recovery and don't use toners). The water is going into a grey water sump that is as deep as we could dig it (6 feet plus).
    8. Ventilation. I got two Panasonic whisperline fans, one to pump air in and one to pump air out. That way I can have positive pressure, but can also make sure to keep fumes off my eyes when mixing chemicals. And yes, the air will be cold, but it will at least be coming in right above the heater...
    9. Drying. I actually have included that. Hopefully I don't have any truly egregious oversights, because as you will see when I post the description of the project...it is a little late for anything but minor alterations...

    blaze-on: Thanks for the link, I appreciate a chance to see somebody else's solutions to the common problems.

    jovo: I have solved the water line problem by not having any. I'm working off of a large cistern that can be drained dry, thus allowing the darkroom to go cold if there is a time period where that is helpful. I thought long and hard about how to install the water lines, and finally elected to avoid it altogether.

    I'll put together a post giving a picture of the project so at least in my case people can see where I am. I wish this thread had existed when I was first working this out in my head months ago.

    Post #62! Woohoo! Watch out laz...!
     
  12. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    In my case, I opted to buy a shed package from a building supplier in Anchorage, and have it barged out to King Salmon, which saved $$ on shipping since the other option here is air freight. The standard package they sell is 12x16' with a garage door and a window. I didn't see how I needed either of these, and was going to just axe them both, but the space question started to bounce around in my head (as do many other things, luckily for everybody most of those things never ricochet exactly right to exit my mouth or fingertips...but sometimes...) and so my wife and I started thinking about what all was this shed going to be used for, anyway... She was pushing for a building that would include studio space, so I could set up and take portraits as well. That to me seemed like it would need to be larger, but I was already a bit concerned about the costs we were looking at...but she pushed me toward making it a bit larger so I would not wish I had done so after all was complete. When I spoke with the sales rep, he said they could make it any size I wanted, so I got a quote for 12x20', adding 4' on from the standard package. I had them remove the garage door, which would normally be for lawn tractors or ATV's, but left in the window since it would give me the option of egress and of using available light for studio work. Of course, I already wish I had gone for 12x24', but that's inevitable I suspect...

    Most of the sheds they sell don't include insulation or interior finishing of any sort, so that was a topic of some discussion with the sales rep. We settled on R-11 unfaced batts since the shed was 2x4 construction, linoleum floor, and I asked for sheet rock quotes. He said that in his opinion the sheet rock was too expensive to ship, due to its weight, and encouraged me to consider some low-grade wood paneling. After some thought (which is probably more than I really should call it, since I know nothing about sheet rock or wood paneling...but at least it bounced around in my head for a day or two...) I decided that wood paneling would be fine. Then he asked about the ceiling. What a great question! Isn't that usually sheet rock as well? We decided that I could probably just use the same wood paneling. So...out it all came.

    Now during this time, I had not yet ordered the plumbing or the electrical equipment, figuring we ought to get the building up before we did too much. But while it was on the barge it occurred to me that I had to decide a couple of things before we started. One of those things was whether I was going to run water lines out from the house, and the other was whether to run power out from the house. In both cases, I eventually decided not to. Instead, I opted for a 200 gallon water tank that would be inside the shed, elevated in one corner, and operate via gravity feed to the sink. I opted for a drain that was directly down into the ground since we were 200 feet from our well casing and I use silver recovery (I only do B&W myself, any color goes to the lab...at least so far...though I have to confess I'm not likely to get into color that much myself). After the material came, but before we put it up, I dug a hole as deep as I possibly could without slowing the project down too much (which amounted to about 6 feet down) and put in a five gallon bucket filled with rocks with a bunch of holes drilled in the bottom. Since the last three feet of the hole were totally in sand layer, it should work well. A PVC pipe was fit into a hole in the top of the bucket, and the hole was filled with rocks with a plastic layer over the rocks to prevent downward migration of dirt into the drain rocks in the bucket. Dirt was placed on top of the plastic to seal it against the sides of the hole and to finish filling in the hole itself, and the PVC was capped off above ground. I had decided to bring the power out from the power pole because it was about equal in terms of distance traveled, and didn't require messing up the house. Now, we were ready to build.

    In the process of ordering, I had considered various foundation types. Our problem here, as you can imagine, is frost heave. Most of the options were not overly attractive due to expense and headache, but they all had proponents. In the end, I opted for the one that was recommended by the builders that had been out here the longest. It was also the simplest and most inexpensive (since when does that happen? it must be a mistake!). Rather than ground penetration, we put the building on treated 4x12" skids. The skids were placed on pressure-treated pads 3'x3', which were in turn placed on concrete paving blocks stacked and graded to level. For smaller buildings, this works well in our country, and avoids costly and often unsuccessful attempts to avoid frost heave. When the earth moves slightly, it doesn't jack up the pilings or crack the concrete. It obviously wouldn't be ideal for large structures, but this isn't a large structure...

    We framed the beast and put up the roof and walls, and I already was starting to think about the things I needed to do next, including get ventilation in order so we could insulate and seal the place up on the inside. After looking around, I opted for two Panasonic Whisperline fans, one to pump air in and one to pump it out. The air coming in is run through about 23' of ducting in the ceiling...which hopefully gives us a chance for a bit of warming in the winter when it gets really cold...and dumps fresh air directly above the heater. The heater is in one of the corners, and is a ventless infrared propane heater. Hopefully, the red flame will be a safelight color in wavelength, but if not I'll have to find a solution to that problem, won't I? In the meantime, it at least is warm when we're working in there. Another problem that I didn't consider until asked (by Dave Miller) in the darkroom portraits thread was the condensation resulting from the heater. At this point I can affirm that the heater does indeed produce some condensation, but beyond that I am unsure how great of a hassle that is going to be. I'll have more to say on that after the place is operational, I'm sure.

    With the fans in place and the electrical boxes roughed in with wires to them, I started to realize that I had been seriously remiss in digging a trench. Two hundred feet later, I barely beat the frozen ground. Good thing I didn't wait any longer. I used direct burial cable to go from the meter to the box, and just today we finally connected the final few feet. The problem was I didn't realize I need conduit, and after I realized I needed it, I still didn't know exactly what it was or how it was supposed to be arranged...

    So I went to the hardware store. Actually, there were a lot of trips to the hardware store, and many of them sound like this, but I'll spare you most of them and just give you this one... At the hardware store, I looked for conduit. Well, they have PVC conduit, they have flexible metal conduit, they have rigid metal conduit, they have sizes from 3/4" to 2" and even larger, they have sweep elbows, they have 90 degree elbows with removable backplates so you can make the turn with the wire (direct burial entry wire is some stiff stuff, not easy to work with...), you get the picture. I didn't know what I need, and neither did anybody at the store. So I went back and looked at the project, asked the guy who actually knows something about building what we needed, and went back to the hardware store. Bought a bunch of stuff, hoped it would work, and got close, but then realized that somehow I was supposed to connect this conduit to the breaker box, and went back looking for that fitting. Miracle of miracles, found that one first time, and so off I went to install the entry wire all the way into the breaker box with the competent help of the aforementioned guy.

    Incidentally, without the knowledgeable guy, this project would have been dead before it started. I'd have been lucky to even get the framing done before my pension ran out, having never done anything like this before...but I digress. Suffice it to say, if you're doing something major, get some professional help unless you really do know what you're doing, unlike me.

    So where are we now? Well, the wood paneling is in, the electrical fittings are in, we still need to install the grounding rods, build a skirting frame, insulate and sheet the skirting frame, install flooring, install counters and sink, connect to the power at the power pole, and blast off. It sounds so easy...

    Post # 63! Woohoo! Watch out laz...here I come.
     
  13. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Additional thoughts:

    ceiling - I used 2'x4' ceiling tiles in a metal grid. Makes it possible to get into the ceiling if necessary, cost is reasonable, and installation is painless. And because it's white, it's easy to control white and safe lighting.

    telephone - I've always had one so that I can answer if no one else is at home when someone calls.

    intercom - if your DR is 200' from the house, seems to me that an intercom to enable your spouse to communicate with you (dinner is ready, you've been out there too long and the kids would really like to see you, etc) would be convenient.
     
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  15. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    ICeiling - I have done the same as Monophoto and used a suspended ceiling with a 2x4 grid. My ceiling is only 7' in the darkroom so the use of the ceiling tile has allowed me to retrofit bigger enlargers when I got them (Durst L136S and AC800) in between ceiling joists to ensure I can reach the maximum head elevation. All it took was to refit the ceiling tile to allow access into the joists. You can also access the ceiling to add more wiring, cable, speaker or phone lines as required in the future.

    I put all of my water lines on the wall and not in behind the walls. This has allowed me to make adjustments to the supply lines as required without having to rip into the walls to change things.

    As for GFI circuits - I would put GI breakers on all the circuts in the darkroom at the breaker panel rather than just on the outlets on the wet side.

    Gord
     
  16. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    I've thought about the ceiling tile approach, and may opt to retrofit that way at some time in the future. The wood paneling is up at present, but isn't intended to be ceiling material and can't be installed without warping except on a solid backing. The ceiling is 8', so I don't have the issue with the enlarger space (at least not with present equipment). One issue that I am curious about...the ceiling is insulated, rather than the roof itself. If I ever were to go up into this ceiling it would be like crawling around on fiberglass, and any location that I entered the ceiling would need to have a specific insulation cutout. In this case, if I retrofit a different ceiling someday, it seems like it would be reasonable to put in a solid ceiling with a single access point rather than one that is more modular like the tiles. Am I missing something with this assumption?

    We are planning to buy an intercom, though we haven't discussed telephone yet...I'm not sure a cordless phone with a base in the house would work, and I don't know much about what it would take to get the phone company to extend our service over here. But I have thought about the need for a phone, so I'll follow up on that.

    All of our water lines will be visible. The water tank is inside the room, and will have water lines directly to the sink, which sits right next to the tank. The tank will have a wet bench beneath where for the rinse tray will be located when I am using large trays. Beneath that will be the silver recovery chamber.

    I already didn't put gfci outlets on the dry side, but the breakers for the entire darkroom are in a circuit box in the room, and are appropriate for gfci circuits as well as regular circuits.

    The counters I am using are discards from a kitchen remodel that another local guy was throwing away. I'm retrofitting the sink cutout to be an in-counter lightbox, which will be fairly close to the enlarger. Since that is where I usually mess around with my little portable lightbox, it seems like a pretty good opportunity to make my work surface less cluttered. Has anybody else tried an in-counter lightbox?

    Am I missing some other obvious huge issue?

    Post #64! Woohoo! Watch out laz...!
     
  17. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The in-counter light box is a great idea! I've thought about it but it's been pretty far down on the list of priorities.
     
  18. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    Great thread! I have been following... I have a basic plan for an area of my cellar. Maybe 8ftX11ft. I am thinking of the tiles too. Monophoto, do you find the tiles light tight? I am thinking when someone turns on the lights to the adjacent laundry room.

    I am also concerned about the dust they sometimes generate. The ones I have worked with leave a lot of crumbled pieces when you remove them. Just have to be careful, I guess.

    I will add lots of outlets (think of what you need and double). Ceiling mounted speakers for music too. Oh! to have a real darkroom....
     
  19. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I have darkroom that is half my garage. To save space I constructed a sink that is 13 feet long and 32 inches wide. It is made at right angles to fit into a corner so that it is really 8 feet by 5 feet x32 inches.

    Since I print mainly 20x24s I stack the trays on one end and have dev,stop, fix1,fix2 and permawash in an area of about 32x35 inches.

    That way I easily have room for a 20x24 syphon wash, and 20x24 archival washer. I built a plexi stand so the syphon tray is elevator over the drain hole and I built a plexi stand so that the archival washer sits up high enough to slide a 20x24 tray for selenium under it.

    If you get creative you can decrease the size of the sink area. Under the sink I have a 20x24 drymount press, bottle storage, and drying racks.


    Michael
     
  20. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Phone: Its obviously a personal decision. One person mentioned in an earlier thread that he was surprised to find that his cordless lit up in the dark. Talk about an unwanted guest. I find the call an interruption of the thought process or possibly it may catch you in the midst of a mechanical process that will ruin your work if interrupted or delayed. “Oh, I’ll just let the film go on developing while you talk for half an hour”.

    I’m retired, but my wife is still working. A lot of people call and want me to take an elaborate message for her. Ever try writing in the dark? I just leave the answering machine on and let her play it when she gets home. Side benefit. I’ve never given her the wrong information.

    gfci outlets: You just never know where that water is going to go. The best laid plans, etc. I bought a siphon that had a springy hose that shot fixer everywhere until I cleaned up and threw out the siphon. The electrician told me if you wire all the outlets in a series only the first and last have to be gfi to have them all work that way. I haven’t tested that, but it makes sense to me. Put in four times the outlets you think you need. I did double and was adding outlets a year later. In 65 years I have never worked on a project that evolved so much as I learned in the darkroom’s three year life.

    Good luck and enjoy.
    John Powers
     
  21. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    JHannon: the ceiling tiles I used are definitely light tight. Yes, they do generate a lot of grit (I chose that word intentionally - the residue from ceiling tiles is very abrasive), but that's only from being handled. I haven't seen any evidence of post-construction junk from them.

    Michael: would love to see pictures of your set up. I am lusting for the ability to make prints larger than the 11x14 size that I designed my sink for, and your setup may give me some ideas.

    John - ah, yes - the "kept man" syndrome. Actually, that's my situation also. GFCIs come in two forms. One design has the GFCI functionality built into a circuit breaker and is intended for installation in the circuit breaker panel. This design protects the entire circuit it is associated with. The other design is built into a receptacle. These can be installed to protect only the things plugged into themselves, or to protect everything from the GFCI to the end of the circuit on which it is installed. I have never seen one that required a second GFCI receptacle at the end of the circuit.
     
  22. rjs003

    rjs003 Subscriber

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    Just replaced a kitchen and every outlet in that room is protected by a GFCI outlet. Probably cost and extra $32.00 to do it that way.

    My next project is to build my darkroom in the unfinished cellar of the house; this project starts right after the holidays; just before the vacation in the south. This thread has been most helpful when looking for ideas to make my darkroom complete on the first try.
    Thanks everybody!
     
  23. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    In my ceiling - the suspended ceiling tile type - I used the type of flexible tiles rather than the stiffer ones to allow easier access to the joist. I initially had a problem with a light leak when the light in the adjoining room was tuned on - but only once. I just open up the ceiling and installed insulation in the ceiling joists on the near the wells. This stopped the light leaks. Over the sink and in another corner of the room I replaced the ceiling tile with 2x2 foot squares of the honeycomb type of florescent light covers. These have small 1/4 inch squares in them that allow me to hang film from them for drying. Since I process 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 in hangers it is a simple method of hanging films and since the humidity level in the darkroom is fairly high after processing film their is not a lot of dust in the air. There is nothing hanging from the ceiling to get in the way as these are recessed into the T-BAR frames. I also use these light covers for duckboards on the bottom of my darkroom sink.

    Gord
     
  24. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Light leaks from flourescent lights...now this is important news as I try to plan my in-counter lightbox. I had no idea. I'm not sure whether I'll go ahead and design it for flourescent lighting or not, but I will sure take some care about whether it is used at any time before I develop film... Of course, what I'd really like is for all my lights to be LED, but they just aren't real affordable yet on the front end. Maybe next year...
     
  25. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Troy -

    The concern that Gord was raising is that fluorescent light filters sometimes leak light into the space above the ceiling, and if you have a dropped ceiling arrangement, this stray light *could* find its way through the ceiling and into an adjacent area.

    My experience is that one of the first things you will do (after sweeping the darkrrom four or five times to get rid of construction dust) is close the door, turn off the lights, let your eyes become accustomed to darkness, and then search for light leaks from adjacent rooms. And you will find some - guaranteed. I found myself adding weather stripping around the door, jamming sheets of cardboard in the ceiling, and any other trick I could think of to eventually kill all those leaks. It's part of the process of commissioning a darkroom.

    You will want to have your in-counter light box turned off most of the time you are printing, turning it on only to examine negatives when your paper boxes are securely closed. But, you need to be aware that there is a tendency for fluoescent lights to glow faintly for a minute or so after they have been turned off. I have a fluorescent light box in my darkroom, and in my former darkroom I had a fluorescent light mounted under a shelf. I never had a problem with this residual glow affecting printing paper - it's actually pretty faint. But I have heard that it can fog film, so the prudent thing is to just make sure that the fluorescent light has been off for a couple of minutes before bringing out film.
     
  26. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    Just noticed an extremely helpful thread on installation of plasterboard and plumbing that I thought should be linked from here...