Surge protector necessary?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by sly, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. sly

    sly Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,500
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Location:
    Nanaimo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some help and advice from the electronically minded please!

    I noticed today that my prints, exposed for the same length of time, were not consistent. I realized that it was due to the heater kicking in. My darkroom is in an outbuilding. No concerns in the summer - no heater. No concerns in the winter - heater going full blast constantly just to keep room warm enough to work in. Last fall we were off camping for along time - and once home spent much time developing negatives taken on trip. So now the weather is starting to warm up (sorry Eastern and Prairie Canadians - I know you're still getting dumps of snow while we are getting snowdrops) and I'm realizing I have a problem - some heat needed, but not constantly. Today I dealt with it by turning heater off while doing exposures and on while selecting neg, cropping, focusing, etc. It worked, but I know I can't count on myself to remember every time, and I will blow many exposures.

    When I got this darkroom setup last year it came with a surge protector. (At least I think that is what that big, heavy, rectangular thingy that the enlarger and timer can be plugged into is.) I used it at first but it made me distrust my test strips as each time the enlarger came on you could see it "power up" - the image would go from dark to bright in a fraction of a second each time. It seemed that each 2 second exposure on the test strip was actually just a bit less than 2 seconds at full intensity, so if, say 16 seconds looked good - the only way to match it would be to do 2 second increments, rather than 16 seconds. Am I making any sense? And then I'd have to take dry down into consideration too. So I unplugged it. Do I need to plug it back in, and what about the power up time - how would I compensate for that? Would the kind of surge protector power bar I have my computer plugged into do the job any better?

    Thanks to anyone who has words of wisdom for me.

    Sly
     
  2. richard ide

    richard ide Member

    Messages:
    1,227
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sly

    "that big, heavy, rectangular thingy" is probably a voltage regulator which is the device you need to maintain a consistent light level. If you notice a change of brightness, perhaps it is not working properly. Easiest way to check would be with a volt meter and watch for voltage change. A surge protector does not do the same job at all ( prevents voltage spikes from damaging electronic equipment). There should be a label on it somewhere. Sola is one manufacturer. PM me if you want.

    Regards
     
  3. KenS

    KenS Member

    Messages:
    379
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Surge protector

    Sly,
    Eight two seconds exposures is not the same "equivalent" as one sixteen second exposure. The 'short' exposure times provide you with an intermitency effect.. With your 2 second exposures, the lamp is having to heat, or 'ramp up" to full output of light each time it is switched 'on' while with the one sixteen second exposure it only has this "light loss" (of heat up) only the once. The end result is that your slightly shorter two-second test exposure is less than one-eighth of your single sixteen second exposure

    Eight two second exposures for multiple prints will likely give you final prints that are very similar to one another... but it can make for a rather slow process.

    Ken
     
  4. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Location:
    British Colu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Does the big rectangular thingy have a voltmeter on it? Usually voltage regulators do, and you can watch how well and how fast it's stabilizing the voltage. You can often hear them working as well. At least the ones I've been around.
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Your don't say if your enlarger employs a mains or low voltage lamp, which will have a bearing on the solution. However it does sound like your voltage stabilizer or transformer is not working properly, whichever it is. These are very expensive to repair or replace therefore consider a UPS unit (Uninterrupted Power Supply) that will be obtainable from a computer supplier. This is the next level up to your "power bar" These are also designed to smooth and maintain the power supply to computers, which are also a bit tetchy about having a constant voltage supply.
     
  6. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,626
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Wes
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dear Sly,

    If you only have one 15-20 amp circuit to the building, your stabilizer might not be able to keep up with the heater. If you can do it yourself, adding another circuit can be an inexpensive fix.

    Neal Wydra
     
  7. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You don't need a surge protector.

    You may need some form of voltage regulator. A "constant voltage transformer", aka "ferroresonant transformer" would probably solve your voltage dip problem. Someone mentioned Sola - that's one brand, bu there are others.

    But these gadgets aren't small and they are not cheap.
     
  8. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I have a Vivek voltage stabilizer (model 110; 750w max.) that maintains a constant 100v output (dims the light source). I only used it for doing color printing as voltage fluctuations cause color shifts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2008
  9. sly

    sly Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,500
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Location:
    Nanaimo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The "thingy" is a voltage regulator. Digging around in the boxes of stuff that have come with various aquisitions I see I have 2 of them. The Omega is the big heavy one that I unplugged last summer. The other is a Vivek - smaller and lighter. Neither has a voltmeter. I guess I'll try the Vivek and see how it works for me.

    KenS - If 8 2 second exposures are not equivalent to one 16 second exposure, what are test strips for? How do you figure out a final exposure? Especially if you are doing split grade, burning and dodging, to get as close as you can to those wonderful Master Prints some APUG members produce.
     
  10. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,076
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    My power is regulated by a voltage regulator I got at a musicians supply store. My "big rectangular boxes" are simply voltage transformers (although they may erroneously be called "regulators") that convert the 110 into 24v for the enlarger lamp. They are not fully immune to voltage fluctuation.

    If the circuit is browning because it is near its maximum, a regulator may not do the job, because there may not be enough power to go around. A UPS may be a better solution in such a case, but IDK for sure.

    Test strips get you very near the ballpark, but full time exposures must be made for final tweaking (one more test strip will exposures closely bracketing the time the previous one indicated), or you need to print intermittently exactly as you did to arrive at the strip you like. How much difference there is between a full time exposure and a test strip exposure is directly relative to how many times the enlarger is cycled, and the on/off characteristics of the particular enlarger lamp.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,218
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To my understanding there are two kinds of regulators for a rather high drain:

    -) a servo-controlled regulating transformator. I guess accurate but slow.

    -) a resonating loop transformer. This device lacks any mechanics, is fast but only reduces the variations on the incoming voltage.





    Why has your device a lower out- than input?
     
  12. sly

    sly Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,500
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Location:
    Nanaimo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A UPS may be a better solution in such a case, but IDK for sure.

    No idea what you are talking about here - I know what a plug is, and a light switch, and I know where to find the box to turn the electricity off if someone is going to fix something for me.

    Test strips get you very near the ballpark, but full time exposures must be made for final tweaking (one more test strip will exposures closely bracketing the time the previous one indicated), or you need to print intermittently exactly as you did to arrive at the strip you like. How much difference there is between a full time exposure and a test strip exposure is directly relative to how many times the enlarger is cycled, and the on/off characteristics of the particular enlarger lamp.[/QUOTE]
    I have often done a 10-11-12 type teststrip, after doing the 4,6,8,10,12,14 one, just to pin things down, so I guess my instincts were right, even if I didn't know all the reasons.


    Isn't APUG wonderful? I've learned more in the last 8 months that I've been a member here, than I did in years of mucking about in photography, repeating my mistakes and misunderstandings. Thank you everybody!:smile:
     
  13. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan

    Agx,

    Think of the sine wave associated with AC (alternating +110v to -110v) with the plus and minus peaks chopped off. If you chop off +10v and -10v you end up with 100v AC; the amplitude of the wave is reduced. Analogy: It's like shaking a rope back and forth through a window - the window confines, or reduces, the lateral movement of the rope - thus changing (reducing) the maximum limits of the ropes movement (the amplitude).

    The the regulator/stabilizer will not allow any current fluctuation greater than the 100v amplitude.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2008
  14. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,218
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    But your concepts means that there only will be protection against voltage peaks, not drops. Am I right?

    And with a transformer you can change an incoming voltage (110VAC) to a lower voltage (24VAC).
    But also transfer a high voltage (110VAC) to another high voltage (110AC) in the form of a separeting transformer.

    If in both cases the transformer can be regulated I don’t see why there should be any voltage drop (beyond any intended drop) at all. Or at least not when the incominng voltage is at standard level (as that 2nd [resonator]technique seems not to be able to cope fully with variations).
     
  15. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan


    I'm not sure but I think your confusing AC with DC current; AC has two peaks, it alternates between plus (positive) and minus (negative) very fast - 60 cycles/second - appearing to be continuous (a sine wave). With less cycles you would actually see the the light source blinking off and on. In the US we have AC.

    Also, my particular stabilizing unit has no adjustment - it's self regulating - it has only one function.

    My knowledge regarding electronics is weak, therefore, I can only communicate at my level of understanding. Maybe someone else with more knowledge and the ability to explain it in more detail can jump in here. For how DC current is stabilized I would only be guessing. Even though I have a background in engineering, mostly mechanical, I tend to avoid electro-mechanics. It doesn't interest me enough because electicity is something I can't see, unless it manifests as something like lightning.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2008
  16. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Just a couple of question before i try and address the problem,
    1) With enlarger already on for a little while, (~10 secs) is the enlarger lamp dimming at the exact moment that the heater comes on?
    2) If so, does it stay dim while the heater is on or does it just dim momentarily and then return to it's original brightness?
    3) With the enlarger AND HEATER already on for a little while, (~10 secs) What happens to the enlarger lamp brightness when the heater is switched off?
    4) What sort of heater is it? Radiant filament, oil-filled radiator etc?

    Let me know how the enlarger behaves under the above scenarios.
    The problem may be related to old or incorrect electrical wiring or it may be a little bit more complicated such as your heater's inrush current (electrical current that the heater draws just after it is switched on) which is introducing fluctuations on your power supply.
     
  17. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sorry: there are so many things going on here, lets get back to basics...

    My initial suggestion is to plug your stabilizer/regulator back in. It can't hurt (assuming it is compatible in voltage and power rating with the enlarger).

    Be aware that all lamps take time to ramp up to full brightness. Likewise, they take a significant fraction of a second to ramp down. Regardless, with or without the stabilizer, 10 lots of two-second exposures are not the same as a single 20 second exposure.

    A simple test would be to expose a piece of paper with no negative in the enlarger to a very feint grey with the heater off (stop the lens well down) to just above paper base white and then do it again for the same time and f-stop with the heater switched on and see if there is any difference. You could also try switching the heater on half-way through. If you have a transmission step-wedge you could get an idea of how much difference there is, but that is probably over-kill...

    This should tell you if there is a significant problem with voltage fluctuations, or not. By exposing the paper to just above base white you are in it's most sensitive area and it is easy to see any change.

    Have fun, Bob.
     
  18. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I thought the problem of voltage fluctuations was already established.
     
  19. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is a lot of theorizing about types of stabilizer and regulator but no clear indication of where the source of your problem may lie. You have seen differences in prints but it is not clear where these differences are coming from judging from what I have read - just one or two assumptions.

    Eliminating each potential source of a problem one at a time is the best way to approach a problem. Testing tells us what is actually happening, rather than what we think might be happening. If the test confirms one's suspicious, all well and good. If they show the assumption was wrong, even better - less wasted time! Either way, you know for sure one way or the other and can proceed with confidence.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  20. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

    Messages:
    653
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    NW Chicagola
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You could try an AC relay, big enough for your heater, controlled by the enlarger timer. When the enlarger is on the heater is off. Like the function that turns off the safelight when the enlarger is on. Since the enlarger is on for only short times the heat should still stay pretty constant.
     
  21. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    The OP seems to have narrowed it down to a heater kicking on and off, what does that indicate? He obviously found a direct correlation worth pursuing further before going back to square one and spending considerable time testing and such. He already did enough of that to convince himself that it's a line voltage issue. When the conditions are constant there isn't an issue, that's another clue.
     
  22. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No, as I implied, he thinks he has it narrowed down. He may be right, he may not be. Whether he wishes to investigate further is up to him. I simply suggested a method to do so, if he so wishes. I would test. You may not, he may not, the guy next door may not. I would. Personal choice. Such is life.

    Also, I should have mentioned that the test I suggested is more to test that the stabilizer/regulator is actually working effectively as you will note that I didn't suggest testing without the stabilizer.

    Bob.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2008
  23. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I realise this but I'm trying to understand if the enlarger/heater combination behaves differently without the voltage regulator included in the circuit.

    Its not clear from the OP that simply removing the regulator from the circuit produced consistent prints. I should have mentioned that the tests that I suggested were to be performed without the regulator.

    Bob F: I agree with you in principle but I am trying to understand how the OP's system behaves without the regulator in order to uncover or eliminate the possibility of any external electrical supply problem(s). As you say, without testing the OP will never know for certain where the problem lies.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2008
  24. sly

    sly Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,500
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Location:
    Nanaimo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The enlarger bulb does visibly brighten and darken as the heater cycles on and off. Next time I am in the darkroom I will use the regulator and check the light/heater relationship. If the problem is still there I will try the AC relay that has been suggested.
    Thank you all for your help, including those of you who talked WAAAYY out of my depth.
    Sly