foot warmer for heating trays in darkroom

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by kmallick, May 23, 2012.

  1. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

    Messages:
    140
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Last night I got frustrated with my wet printing because the trays got cold and kept making muddy prints. This is almost summer here but the AC makes all the cold air come down to the basement where my darkroom is. I have decided to invest in something to keep my trays warm. Besides a small space heater, I am considering a heated, waterproof blanket of some sort to put under the 11x14 trays.

    Now, I am very aware of this great suggestion of the pig heater blanket in a APUG post:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/35600-sue-weeee-4.html

    This blanket seems nice but is pricey.

    106122a.jpg

    As an alternative I came across these waterproof foot warmers on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Indus-Tool-FWB-16-by-36-Inch-Foot-Warmer-Mat/dp/B0013V1PYA/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1337792212&sr=8-16

    31VnoMGUdAL.jpg

    These are waterproof, sealed and the right size for me. Additionally these are much more reasonably priced than the pig warmers. I was wondering if any one else is using these for keeping their trays warm in darkroom. Do you think I can use these with dimmer switches to adjust the temperature? I don't want to add complexity of a submersible heater or even a thermostat. But I do have a waterproof digital kitchen thermometer that I can use to check the tray temp. once in a while. Any other thoughts?
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,132
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe turn off the ac or close a door.
     
  3. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,463
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You might also want to consider insulating the darkroom to prevent the cold air (and keep it upstairs where it belongs). The easiest product would be reflectix or the stuff from http://www.insulation4less.com/. I've used both. These are not messy like most insulation.

    Your electric heaters might be allright, but I'd not trust my life to them underwater, even if you do have a GFCI outlet to plug it into. If a footwarmer gets compromised on the floor, the path to ground will be the floor not your body. One product I have used outdoors in wet conditions (melting groundfrost) is the powerblanket. It doesn't get super warm. It'd be great for keeping trays warm, but it's kinda expensive.
     
  4. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

    Messages:
    140
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Sorry for not mentioning it before. My darkroom is in a bathroom which is already insulated.

    Turning off the AC would be fine with me, but that might not go too well with the wifey especially because its hot upstairs where we sleep and I do my wet printing when everyone goes to sleep! :cool:
     
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,132
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If your in the bathroom you can periodically change in warm or hot water into a double tray system, chemicals in a smaller tray, warm water in larger tray and stack the trays. Cheap, fast, and you will not electrocute yourself.
     
  6. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,132
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Also covering the trays when not immediately in use with an insulator may help.
     
  7. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Are you sure cold trays are the problem? Could it be something else that is causing muddy prints? Fogged paper, exhausted dev, thin negs for starters?
     
  8. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,061
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    There is a link on your Amazon site to Cozy Foot Warmers, 13"X20, rubber, 135f on the surface. For $46. That solves my problems right there.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Messages:
    9,066
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I was going to suggest that.


    Steve.
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,465
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've never experienced muddy prints from cold developer, only exhausted developer. Had fogged prints from bad safelight and old paper.
     
  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,052
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At work, we ordered a bunch of those foot warmers. They give off a burnt rubber smell. Maybe seedling warming mats will work?
     
  12. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

    Messages:
    140
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Developer (Ilford Multigrade) was mixed fresh just before printing. I opened a fresh pack of Ilford warmtone glossy 11x14s.

    I got some nice keepers with excellent contrast after I warmed up the developer back to 70 F. But then it tapered off to producing the muddy ones. All 3 of the solutions, dev, stop and fix were quite cold to the touch.

    I am going to give the 16 in. x 36 in. foot warmer a try. For $50 its worth a try. I will put it below all the 3 trays to keep the temp. around 70 F. I will report back on how it works.
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,386
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a regular wet/dry heating pad under the developer tray in the winter, when I keep the house at 53F. I bought the pad at the drugstore for $12 or some such. It was the smallest lowest wattage pad I could find.

    I put a towel under the heating pad to keep from warming the darkroom bench and another over the pad to limit the amount of heat getting to the tray.

    The result works very well - the temperature stays constant even though there is no thermostat [which it should if the ambient temperature is constant].
     
  14. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    I have two of these Kane pig warmers and you won't beat them with anything else. Set temp one time and they have kept it cosistently for several years.. They are almost indestructable.
     
  15. kmallick

    kmallick Subscriber

    Messages:
    140
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I am tempted to get those Kane pig warmers as I have seen good feedback on APUG. However, I cannot see any difference between that and the foot warmer which is half the price!
     
  16. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

    Messages:
    655
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    NW Chicagola
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How about a waterbed heater? I believe that they have some water protection built in.
     
  17. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,943
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If you do not wish to bother with more warmth try adding a bit of sodium carbonate to the developer (Try 5g per liter of working solution.) - David Lyga
     
  18. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,072
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    This makes sense. Some come with adjustable levels of heat, you can find the setting that does the trick.

    I have one of the long black footwarmers. But I use it for my feet. It does give off a rubber smell, but not noxious. I think if you used the long rubber heating pad you would need a way to switch it on and off regularly because it would probably get too hot. I wouldn't submerge it but it sounds like your trays are on a counter. You might want to cover it with a shower curtain or something to keep the chemical spills from staining the ribbed surface.
     
  19. sewarion

    sewarion Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am using a terrarium warming mat that is actually designed to keep reptilias cosy. Comes in different sizes, mine is about 30x100cm so I can fit the three trays (24x30cm) on it. Works quite nicely - in fact, I have to monitor the temp because it may rise close to 25°C (or to 30°C if the trays are covered with a lid), and switch it off/on when needed. Gives no smell, doesn't take loads of electricity, and is not afraid of liquids - makes it easy to clean, too. Solved all my temperature problems.