Equipment not meant for, but used in the darkroom.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by MurrayMinchin, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    A while back, while googling around, I found this thermostat controlled waterproof baby pig heating pad that seems good for placing under trays to keep solutions from cooling off; http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/35600-sue-weeee.html

    Today I found this Water Timer; http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=1&p=10388&cat=2,2280,33160&ap=1

    They (Nelson) also make a model that runs for 5 minutes, then stops for 10 minutes for up to 3 hours; http://www.lrnelson.com/products/model.cfm?MODEL=226

    The first water timer would be great for those times you can't get back to the darkroom to shut the water off, and the second one would be like an automated dump and soak wash. Don't know which one I'll be getting just yet, but both would save in hot water bills.

    Have you discovered any equipment not meant for darkroom use that's now indispensable in your darkroom?

    Murray
     
  2. PatTrent

    PatTrent Subscriber

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    Definitely. I use kitty litter trays for print processing.

    Also, when I need gloves (as when I'm using a toner), I use regular kitchen gloves.

    I use large garbage/yard trash bags to protect my countertops near the sink, and I place old, but clean, newspaper beneath the processing trays to soak up any moisture (usually very little). When the darkroom session is over for the day, I wrap up the newspaper in the trashbags and toss it into the garbage can.

    When I'm hungry, I bring food into the darkroom. :D Hmmmmm. That's another sugject, though--the dangers of eating and drinking in the darkroom. :wink:

    Pat
     
  3. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    My desktop computer system sits in the same room with my darkroom equipment, so the light stays consistent and I can view my images better on the computer screen during the day.
     
  4. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Be careful not to use a Coke bottle to store developer in case you get really thirsty...
     
  5. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I found a seed tray heater that works great for keeping solutions warm. It is coated with hard rubber and so is impervious to darkroom chemicals, and the pad is enclosed with a metal cage that keeps the trays raised about 1". It is not thermostatically controlled so I have to watch the tray temps to keep them from getting too warm, but other than that it is a great asset in the winter.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Retractible clotheslines like they have in hotels are very handy. You can find them in a houseware and hardware stores.
     
  7. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Rubbermaid and Pyrex measuring cups up to 32 ounces are adequately precise for measuring darkroom chemicals.

    I took the advise of an APUGGER and bought a liquid medication measuring syringe from the local pharmacy to measure Rodinal.

    I use a West Bend digital kitchen timer for timing my film development.

    You can find packs of funnels at the bargain store that work for photography as well as they work for kitchen or garage use.

    I have a digital kitchen scale to weigh dry chemicals.

    Film is hung to dry on standard nylon cord from standard laundry clothes pins.

    I use an automotive squeege to clear excess water off washed prints, and...

    I put my finished prints on a standard cotton sheet on a spare bed to dry under a ceiling fan and then flatten them under a stack of photo and art books.

    There's probably a dozen or more other things I use in the darkroom that is not photography-specific.
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    DIY film dry cabinet from household items

    Dust raised from the kids playing in the family room adjacent the darkroom forced my hand to create as pristine a spot as I could to dry film. Scraps of 1/4" plywood, & bits of lumber cut to make door frame made the cabinet. An old screen door my neighbour was tossing provided the door latch and hinge. 2 scavenged fans from old PC power supples provide the air flow. Cut down furnace fliters make up the intake filter. An old outdoor lawn christmas tree floodlight socket holds the outdoor rated 300 flood lamp that provides the heat. An old furnace gave up the thermostat and power control relay for the lights. A discarded model train set gave the power pack to run the relay through the thermostats and the fans. A scavenged humidistat from an old drum humdifier controls the fans. Power cord was clipped from a discarded power washer - nice water resistant type. Films are clipped to a baking cooling rack that is screwed to the roof of the cabinet.

    Ut took about half a year to gather the stuff, and a few nights assembling it, and painting it with left over garage door paint. Cost was about $5 for the gasket foam that seals the door.
     
  9. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    I also use a seed propagator. It's not thermostatically controlled but seems to get the solution to 68 degs and then level off, so no problems with boiling the developer!

    I also use a vacuum cleaner to provide the suck for my home-made vacuum easel, although strictly speaking that's not in the darkroom but does its bit in the loft via a long tube to keep the noise and dust down!

    Steve
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    This is something I am planning to make as well. I am planning to use a 12 volt tyre inflator pump as the vacuum pump though. I need to put it in a sealed box with it's current output hose as an exhaust and a single hose to the box as the inlet in order to convert it from blow to suck. I may experiment with a fish tank pump in the same type of enclosure too.

    Steve.
     
  11. jss

    jss Member

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    i have a large omega d enlarger with a huge/heavy base board.. and i live in a small flat. i picked up a cheap furniture dolly from home depot and set the enlarger on it - presto, it has wheels. i wheel it into the bathroom to do printing when needed, and wheel it back into a 2nd bedroom when it's not. i treat it carefully, so far i havent had any ill effects.
     
  12. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Measuring cylinders from a university chemistry department store, and talking timerfs from an electronics shop.
     
  13. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    Oil/Transmission fluid funnel and tube from auto parts store to pour developer into my rotating Jobo film tube.

    Syringes from my diabetic father to measure out Pyrocat.

    Alligator clips from Radio Shack, strung on picture frame wire, over my sink to dry prints and negatives. The alligator clips actually have a hole in one of their 'arms' to thread the wire through.

    Microwave oven and Hair Dryer to dry prints, heat chemistry, dry coatings.

    Neal
     
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  15. PatTrent

    PatTrent Subscriber

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    You're right about that! :D
     
  16. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    All kinds of things.

    I use black poster board as a light blocking material. Black fabric is used in areas needing flexibility. I hung one of the poster boards behind the enlarge to prevent the light rays from bouncing all over the place. This stuff is hung with packaging tape, scotch tape, and even a bit of duct tape. Now that I have gaffers tape, I will use that in the future.

    I use clamp lamps for safe light bulbs. I also have a self contained unit that I hung using a spring clamp. (Spring clamps are very useful. Can never have too many spring clamps in the studio.)

    Developer is measured using syringes, and plastic measuring cups.

    Print developer and fixer are stored in root beer bottles.

    I wash my negatives and prints in a laundry detergent container with holes drilled in the side.

    Film is hung up to dry from the cloths line with cloths pins. Another cloths pin is attached to the bottom so that it dries straight.
     
  17. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    One gallon windshield washer fluid jugs have great sealing lids and fairly strong walls. I use these to cart off spent fixer to the silver reclaiming system at school.

    Stereo sound system with lights taped over.

    Large Rubber Maid garbage can, holds a 39 gallon cinch seal plastic bag, with lid to seal in those wondrous fumes.

    Two mounted paper towel roll holders. When I had one the roll always ran out just when I needed it most.

    Six foot washable rubber floor mat in front of the eight foot sink to ease those leg muscles that don’t like standing on concrete.

    John Powers
     
  18. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Empty brown "forties" for diluted chemicals, I'm raising quite a collection now, and they cost me only the refund price. My cabinet looks like a drunkard's wet dream, though.

    Pharmacies have brown plastic 500 mL bottles that I use for short-term storage of chems. They just give them away when you ask for them.

    Bricks. I use bricks in my tub atop the bath mat to elevate my washing tray. I hook up my Kodak siphon to the side of the tray, and I need the extra height for the siphon to hang properly.

    2" clear wrapping tape for making handwritten waterproof labels. Write the label on a small piece of paper (smaller than the tape) and just tape it to the bottle. You can rinse the spills on the bottle without wrecking your label.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    "metal storage cabinet" sold by office supply places.

    take the shelves out, run framer's wire ( or anything you may have )
    across the inside and you have the best negative drying cabinet you can
    buy. i am still upset that i had to get rid of mine when i moved :sad:

    -john
     
  20. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Hair dryer
     
  21. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Like David, I use a retractable clothes line and dollar store plastic clothes pins to dry 4x5 negs.

    To focus my LPL4550XL when the head is too high to look through the grain magnifier while simultaneously turning the fine focus knob, I use a road bike inner tube slung over the knob. It has enough inherent resistance to not slip off which makes it easy to give the knob a very gentle turn.
     
  22. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I stated before that I am recuperating form a total knee replacement but having received the baby pig mat I couldn't stand another day without printing. I made chemicals Wednesday and printed last night. I filled the four trays which were to be heated, turned on the mat and then prepped everything else I needed. By the time I turned on the enlarger, the trays were heated nicely to 70 deg. and the thing maintained very well for the next two hours. I purchased the optional thermostatic control which I placed in the developer...Evan Clarke
     
  23. Robert Kerwin

    Robert Kerwin Member

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    The weirdest non-darkroom thing I have is my "plumber's nightmare" film washing hose that I attach to my kitchen faucet, and to the funnel of my Paterson tank. I cobbled it together from three adapters, 18" of vinyl hose and bit of duct tape.
     

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  24. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    That's GOOD news!

    I use a glycin developer which is happiest when warm, and have to take my shirt off while printing because the darkroom has to be hotter than the developer to keep it at temperature.

    Evan, I'm going to be getting a new lightsource and enlarging meter...care to test those out for me too? (Of course you'll have to purchase them first yourself!)

    Murray
     
  25. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I use a number of things:

    • anti-fatigue mats from industrial supply catalog.
    • retractable clothes line (although I never retract it, the spring mechanism on the spool of cord makes it easy to set at any length)
    • Magnetic stirrer
    • Oilless compressor for blowing dust off negatives
    • Vinyl tubing with lab grade quick-disconnect fittings for attaching film/print washers to water supply, or adding a long length hose to fill/clean things.
    • Suede draftsman's weight filled with shot to help position prints when dry mounting
    • Laser level for lining up frames on the wall when hanging prints
    • Large, white polyethylene cutting boards as duck boards in my sink
    • 3000 ml and 5000 ml plastic lab beakers for holding/mixing chemistry (from US Plastics)
     
  26. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I'm liking all these ideas because I'm going to be building a new darkroom in a couple months, and need to squeeze as much quality gear out of the money available.

    That crossed my mind too, and found this frugal alternative;

    http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=1&p=10370&cat=2,2280,33160&ap=2

    Has anybody tried these? They aren't 'lab grade', so I'm not sure if they would drip from the fitting.

    Murray
     
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