Laser Plumb Bob and mirror as DIY Versalab Parallel?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Phillip P. Dimor, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    My Omega D2 is wall mounted and I would love to purchase a Versalab Parallel in order to align it. I've tried bubble levels, film etching, zip-a-tone and window screen. Unfortunately, I do not have the $150 to $190 for one..

    Has anyone tried using one of those laser plumb bobs and a mirror (possibly a front surface mirror) as a cheaper replacement? I just won the bid on one that looks amazingly similar to a Versalab Parallel for $13 shipped.

    Either way i'll let y'all know how it works out.
     
  2. KenM

    KenM Member

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    I initially used two mirrors, one with a hole scratched in the mirror coating. That worked pretty good, but it was awkward to use - when trying to check the alignment of the film stage, the mirror was too far away to be able to see the reflection of the other mirror through the hole. I ended up purchasing something similar to a Versalab alignment tool, which makes aligning the enlarger dead easy, and takes very little time, especially considering that my enlarger is wall mounted.

    Are you planning on mounting the laser plumb bob to the enlarger? If not (ie: you're going to hang it) you'll have to wait until it stops moving before making any evaluation about alignment. Either way, it should work.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I'm going to place the laser plumb bob on the baseboard/easel with the mirror placed on top of the negative carrier.

    This is the one I purchased, still waiting for it to be shipped;

    http://stores.yahoo.com/webtronics/lazlasplumbo.html

    It looks to function the same as the versalab parallel, aside from the liquid bubble level and 'adjustment knob' for the bubble level.

    For $13, if this does the trick I will be REAL happy! I know that you get what you pay for, and the Versalab Parallel is accurate to within .0006" or something
    but photography-anything is expensive compared to generic items that perform a similar function. OTOH, if I had the money i'd own a Versalab washer and parallel.

    I remember reading of another method quite similar to the hole in a mirror trick.
    It uses 4 LED's mounted on a mirror with a hole in the middle, of which a prism from an slr was placed on top. A plain mirror is placed on the baseboard and the prism on top allows you to see the 4 LED's and their reflection/drift from a more comfortable angle.
     
  4. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I had an old Besler baseboard that I took off a 4x5 enlarger. It was screwed at the corners to the frame. I bought some threaded screw inserts, pounded them in and got 4 thumb screws that were long enough to level the baseboard in any direction that I wanted. It might work for you.
     
  5. Sinarfar

    Sinarfar Member

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    I made my own for my D2V. Took a laser pointer, mounted it to three angle brackets with hose clamps and three adjustable acrews. This tripod is easy to level with the screws. simply spin it on a flat surface until the circles on the ceiling become a dot. Level baseboard. Next, put laser unit on the baseboard and put a mirror in the lens. Adjust until the laser reflects directly back into the laser. Do same with negative holder.

    All in line. I replaced my glassless with a glass carrier and immediately saw an improvement in sharpness with my D2V.

    Both ideas (laser level and glass carrier) came from text "Way beyond Monochrome".

    Success and time well spent. And very cheap.
     
  6. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Wayne and Sinarfar, thank you!! I've yet to read "Way Beyond Monochrome" but am glad that i'm not the first to think of this. I like cheap!

    I've a glassless carrier for my Omega D2 as well. It's shaped like the 'speed carrier', ie. a hinged paddle with glass in it. Unfortunately, both glasses are scratched and the non-beveled glass is cracked in the corner.. A 4x5" replacement piece (beveled, orig. NIB Omega) sold for $36, not including s&h on ebay. That's nuts! And I don't believe it's anti-newtonian either!
     
  7. Sinarfar

    Sinarfar Member

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    I was amazed how my 4x5 negs waved all over the place in a perfect D2 glassless carrier. Easy to see while looking at reflections of straight edges. Glass easily fixed this. My new glass carrier, brand new, perfect glass was $35 on Epay. Not a bad deal, I thought.
     
  8. Will S

    Will S Member

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    Could you post a pic of this? I'm not getting it from the description.

    I have a D2V and a glass carrier too, but it isn't wall mounted.

    Also, what are the adjustments to actually level the thing? Are there screws on the column somewhere? I must confess I've never looked closely at it, as I have never seen any focus problems. But, I do possess a laser pointer - a gift from my mother-in-law to our cats that can display a little mouse as well as a point of light. Needless to say, the cats could care less for it. It might come in useful after all.

    Thanks,

    Will
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    A little late but you got it, I have a Versalab and all you need is the mirrors, the gizmo you bought will do the rest......good for you.. :smile:
     
  10. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Will, it might be like this.. Smart idea, I didn't think of that.
    I apologize for the art, it was quick!
     
  11. Will S

    Will S Member

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    thanks! I think I'll try it tonight.

    Best,

    will
     
  12. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Are there any good ways of verifying the laser is truely plumb in such a setup?
     
  13. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Rotate the base and watch the beam/dot, once it stops spinning in circles on the ceiling and stays seemingly stationary it's balanced/plumb. I'd imagine, atleast. That's a real smart way of doing that too.

    I love apug.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2005
  14. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    And it is the way Versalab recommends on how to check for this.. :smile:
     
  15. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    plumb and parralell is not the same....

    Plumbing your enlarger is not going to make the surfaces parralell. If your enlarger is sitting on a bench that is not perfectly level, you will plumb the enlarger's surfaces but they won't be aligned properly with the base.

    If you perfectly level the baseboard, plumb method will work. So that laser pen has to be perfectly perpendicular, 90°, with the surface, not plumb.
     
  16. Sinarfar

    Sinarfar Member

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    No pictures of what I built, sorry. Excellent sketch Phillip. Very close to what I built. I used three angle brackets rather than 4, for a simple 'tripod'. No wood base. I put a screw in each bracket with the head facing down on the baseboard. Two nuts on each screw, one above and one below the angle bracket. Once the laser pointer is held firmly in the bracket tripod (with two hose clamps), it was easy to adjust the screws until the laser pointer was exactly perpendicular to the baseboard. Put the assembly on any table and tape the laser pointer's on button down. This puts a dot on the ceiling. Spin the assembly slowly and the dot will make circles, because it will certainly not be at 90 degrees initially. Adjust the screws slightly until the circles on the ceiling get smaller, and smaller, until the circles become a single dot. Perfectly perpendicular.

    Once perpendicular (took me about 5 minutes to get it exact), you simply have to place the assembly on your previously leveled baseboard and hold a mirror flat against the neg carrier (neg plane) and adjust your enlarger's leveling adjustments to perfectly align the baseboard with the neg plane. Do same for face of enlarger lens (lens plane).

    Assuming your enlarger has leveling adjustments like my Omega D2V, you can easily align the neg, lens and baseboard planes. Buying the laser alignment tool, about $150 I think, would have been easy. My way costs about $4 plus the cost of a cheap laser pointer. (I already had one laying around.)

    Works great. Hope this idea helps other people too. APUGers have helped me in so many areas.
     
  17. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    yes perpendicular...

    I see what you did, it was a miss understanding of terms, perpendicular is what you meant all along.

    Great project and a nice way to assure accuracy with the spinning method.

    I use the mirrors but on top I have an old prism I salvaged from a junker 35mm camera. I removed the focusing screen and now I can look from the top of my enlarger thru the hole in the mirror at 90° instead of climbing up top over the head to look down. I also made a 4x4 mirror I mount in the lensboard of my 23CII that also has a hole and an X scraped in the silver as well so I can see thru from the top of the enlarger to align all surfaces.

    Nice laser tool though. I'm going to try making one this afternoon. Thanks fro the ideas.
     
  18. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I'm not all thumbs and would make a laser tool like Sinarfar's if I had a laser pointer.

    The device I purchased isn't a real laser plumb bob, it's more of a 90degree laser pointer (i guess..) it's very similar to the Versalab box.

    I wall-mounted my DII using right angle brackets, wood and plumbers strap. There's no way it can be even remotely aligned. I tried a bubble level and a 8x10 sheet of glass.. My prints aren't unsharp but I still worry. Atleast with the laser I can have a visual guide.
     
  19. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I received my 'LaserSpot' perpendicular laser leveler device and tried a test run with a small mirror on top of my negative carrier. It works fine! Now i'm on the quest for some first surface mirrors. www.sciplus.com carries several, one mirror is 5"x8" and is fs on one side and bs on the opposite, $5. They also carry 8x10 optical sheet glass for $5 a piece which would work great for some homemade ground glass. I've no connection with American Science & Surplus, other than that of a happy customer..

    This laser tool is neat!
     
  20. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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  21. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    First surface mirrors

    There's no need to use a first surface mirror with laser levels. What Versalab uses (and I've tried) is a simple piece of glass. It reflects more than enough light to easily see the laser. It sounds like it would just transmit light but it actually works fine. If you neede more light reflected, just add a white label of some kind on the back surface of the glass. Try it once and you'll see there's no need for expensive delicate first surface mirrors.