Good Timer suitable for Film development in trays?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Tom Stanworth, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Hi,

    Can anyone recommend a decent timer that will be nice and visible in total darkness, which is suitable for tray processing of sheet film?

    I need something that won't fog film, but is easy to see in total darkness down to the second. The traditional timer I have for paper devlopment is no use in total darkness and is rather crude. Ideally I would get a timer able to manage 2 or more processes, but a single timer is fine.

    All the clocks I see on ebay are regular dial/smiths type. Any ideas for something I can feasibly hunt down at a reasonable price?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Gralab Model 300. You don't have to have the timer right on top of the developer tray - as long as it is a few feet away, the faint green glow won't affect film.

    I paid $5 for mine. Is that reasonable enough?
     
  3. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Subscriber

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    +1 for the Gralab 300. I had mine on a shelf about 2 feet above my trays. I also used to keep an old plastic liner bag from some 11x14 paper loosely over the top of my tray so that there wasn't direct line of sight from the timer to the tray. Never had any problems with fogging or keeping track of time. While I haven't tried it for tray developing as I'm not shooting LF anymore, if you have an iPhone, the Mass Dev Chart App seems like it would be worth checking out:

    http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?doc=mobile
     
  4. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    OK, I have just looked them up and it seems they are mains powered. I can find none in the UK, only the US, so assume they are 110V. This would presumably be a problem for use in the UK.

    I wonder if there are UK equivalents. That timer looks ideal...
     
  5. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Tom, if I wanted to go to Europe I could easily buy a converter here in the US that would enable me to plug my 120V items into your 220V mains. - David Lyga
     
  6. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    The easiest and simplest way (well I found it to be so when I used to do large format) is to make a cassette tape (you can buy one for peanuts these days or use a dictaphone or, if you have a smart phone, use that).

    You simply sit in the light with a timer and dictate the key development events with any key reminders - somewhat along the following lines:

    Prepare to put film in to presoak 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    At 1 minute 45 dictate pour out presoak and prepare to pour in developer 15, 14, 13 ,12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    Then dictate each minute as it elapses.

    Then 15 seconds before end of developing time dictate pour out developer and prepare to pour in stop 15, 14, 13 ,12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    Then after 45 seconds dictate pour out stop and prepare to pour in fixer 15, 14, 13 ,12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

    etc, etc, etc

    Always worked a treat for me and I also used similar for processing in a tank in daylight as I have a habit of my mind wandering!

    Best,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  7. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    How about a simple countdown battery powered timer. Most are illuminated but are small and can easily be shielded from the tray and they also have an audible signal when the time is up. I use a Gralab (+2) that has worked for 40 years but that may not be what is available to you.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  8. rjmeyer314

    rjmeyer314 Member

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    I use 3 Gralab timers that don't glow in the dark. They're mounted on the wall right over my darkroom sink. The lefthand most one is set to the developing time, the center to the stop bath time, and the right to the fix time. I set them in the light, then do everything else in the dark. When the first one buzzes I transfer film to the next tray or deep tank, turn off that buzzer and start the next timer, etc. It seems to work.
     
  9. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    David,

    I think your idea is perfect. At least this way when I zone out ('scuse the pun) and start talking to myself in the dark, I won't have to worry about forgetting to look at the clock. I could record it as an MP-3. It also avoids the need for more kit.

    Thanks everyone for your help!
     
  10. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    the best timer I have used is the zone VI...with the footpedal; they count up not down; do not use the probe anymore...it's not necessary....
    why don't people who make darkroom products get it?
    Best, Peter
     
  11. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    I second the Zone VI Compensating Development timer. Best damn gizmo ever invented for darkroom work.
     
  12. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Gralab timers have synchronous motors. They "lock" to the line frequency.

    You can not use a Gralab timer designed for use in the US in Europe or vice versa. In the US, the line frequency is 60 Hz. In Europe, it is 50 Hz. Even if you convert the voltage and current so that the motor will run, it will not give accurate time.

    You need to get a timer designed for the country you want to use it in unless you want to go through the expensive and often difficult process of frequency conversion.

    http://www.gralab.com/products/details.asp?ID=11
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Darkroom people do "get it"... Curt Palm has made a software only Zone VI compensating timer.

    No survey of tray film developing timers is complete without mentioning CompnTemp.

    Functionally the same as the hard-to-find Zone VI compensating timer. As developer temperature fluctuates the timer compensates by counting down faster or slower as needed.

    If you have an old laptop, and if you agree with Peter that the probe isn't necessary, well it can be quite reasonably priced. You can give it a try as soon as you finish reading this post - think free demo.

    I use it in the dark and listen for the chimes. I set the "print" timer to chime 5 times at the end of developing because I always zone out and forget how many minutes it's been.

    If you get hooked you can pick up the rest one piece at a time as budget permits. USB Probe, full version software, Probe Clamp, Foot Pedal...

    http://www.curtpalm.com

    p.s. I am not affiliated with Curt Palm Photography who is a current advertiser here on APUG.
     
  14. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I am surprised that the Gralab did not make an export model, however, while the frequency would change the time, it may not be off my much. If I could have only one timer in the darkroom, it would be the Gralab.
     
  15. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I use ordinary battery powered kitchen timers when tray developing film. There is no illuminated display, but that seems to be no problem. One could always use neon or LED lamps to illuminate the display if absolutely necessary.
     
  16. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I use a Gralab 900 process timer. It has eight memories, each independently programmable.

    You set the times for each process step in a separate memory. It sequences automatically from
    one step to the next as you work. It emits beeps and tone sequences to tell you when the end
    of each cycle is near, so you can pour out the old chemistry and pour in the new.

    Since this is a microprocessor-based system, it derives its timing from an internal oscillator
    rather than from the power line. Timing accuracy is 0.015% and repeatability is 0.010%.

    You can start it using a foot pedal, so the entire operation is hands-free.

    The display has red LEDs that can be turned off for use with film.

    It was available in a 220-volt 50-Hz version.

    - Leigh
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2012
  17. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Google "talking timer" great in the dark.
     
  18. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    There is an I-phone app from digital truth that is a count down timer with red and green options for paper, and film as well as a normal display timer. The app is customizable for most films shown on the massive development chart. Also works well on my I-Pad.
     
  19. jcoldslabs

    jcoldslabs Member

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    I bought a $10 Casio watch that has a repeating audio timer built in. I set it for one minute and it sounds each minute until I turn it off. If I set a separate kitchen timer for the full development time I'm ready to go. Or if I am paying attention I can just count the minutes audibly.

    Jonathan
     
  20. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Gralab does make an export model for 220v/50Hz.
    It is listed in the link I posted above.

    A 60Hz model used on 50Hz mains would be 10 seconds slow out of every minute.

    50÷60=.8333
    60 sec/min * .8333 = 49.998 (Round to 50)
     
  21. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    When I get back to the UK I think I will get an iPhone anyway and just add a MP-3 count-up recording. That way, however long I wish to develop for I will be fine. Stop and fix times are far less critical and I can just add five mins from wherever I am when the stop if done. This should be ideal and ensure that even if I have a 20 min development time, I will have reminders every 30 seconds etc. Most timers only seem to give a voice output on the countdown function and at pre-set intervals which are not ideal i.e. one only gives intervals every minute at below 10 minutes.

    The advantage to count up will be if I am running two processes i.e. N development and N+ I can put the N+ in first, the N batch X minutes later and then just know the number of minutes at which it all comes out into the stop.
     
  22. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    I use the massive dev chart app on my iphone. It tells me when to agitate, change trays and all that. But it lets you change the text to red when mixed with the lowest brightness setting on the iphone is excellent.
     
  23. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I have a couple of very cheap, battery powered, count down timers that beep when they reach zero. Display is lcd without lights.

    Someone else I know takes music (as mp3) and edits it to end at a specific time.
     
  24. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Quite a difference. Way to much math conversion would take all the fun out of using it. Thanks for the info.