That's it! I'm designing and building my own film processor.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by tonyjuliano, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    I recently almost lost the use of my JOBO CPE2 film processor.

    Luckily, I managed to revive it, but it's not getting any younger.

    The fear of living without it has made me resolve to come up with an alternative.

    I have the knowledge (I'm a mechanical engineer with a background in manufacturing), the resources (I still have access to high-end design tools, and friends with electrical expertise), the motivation (I live in fear of having to go back to processing by hand), and the time (well maybe the time, we'll see).

    Read all about my plan here (and if you wish to participate, pipe up!)
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Make certain you're indebted to noone (tool use included) if your intent is make your fortune with it. Hey, ya never know.
     
  3. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    I have no illusions of fortune, and will gladly put myself in debt for the right assistance in order to accomplish this.
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    What's so bad about hand processing? :D
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I wish I had something similar but Jobo models on the bay are fetching too much so it's ss tanks for me for the time being.
     
  6. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    I completely agree. This is one of my motivating factors.
     
  7. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    Nothing wrong with hand processing, but I process too much film for that not to become a chore.

    There's a huge difference between the "zen-like" appeal of wet printing compared to boring old development (with 35mm anyway).
     
  8. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I think it's a great idea and hope you can follow through on the project. I'm happy to help any way I can and would likely buy a unit. I strongly suggest you make the unit compatible with Jobo Expert drums to capture large format users.
     
  9. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    Good point, Barry, and well noted. I'd like to be compatible with the JOBO 1500 series tanks too. I think I can pull all this off.
     
  10. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I'm sure you can succeed if you keep things simple. I bought some darkroom equipment from a guy that built his own unit and it looked simple but effective--with the same basic elements--heater with themostatic control, circulating pump, motor+control circuit, stainless steel rods w/rubber rollers--all in a polyethylene tank.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The inflation calculator says the new Jobo I bought in 2000 cost $1500 in todays dollars with no drums or reels. It seems to me almost all the units I have seen on ebay go for less than that. I'd just look for another Jobo. If I were going to put together R&D resources, I'd work on making spare Jobo parts.
     
  12. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I agree with ic

    I just went through the process of resurrecting a Jobo CPE-2. Considering my electronics knowledge boarders on "Just enough to get me in trouble, hardly enough to fix anything", I would have to say that I would try and fix an keep a jobo going, even if it means gutting out all the electrics/mechanicals and starting with an empty bath.

    In the end, building a circuit that will turn and reverse the motor is not that difficult (& you can get kits that would suit off the shelf), the motor is nothing more then a 24v (running at 18v) motor and reduction gearbox (you build the circuit right and you could have it infinitely variable below the max RPM).

    Yes, the heating circuit would be harder, but certainly no harder then trying to build a new unit from scratch.

    Maybe I am looking at it too simplistic (the issue on mine was a simple fried power supply).
     
  13. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    In 1985 a CPE2 cost $450.00, in 1995 a CPE2 Plus cost $600.00.

    In today's dollars that works out to be $885.00 & $836.00 respectively. and that is for brand spankin' new.

    If the units on eBay were brand new, I could see your point, but they are far from it. Most of them are in horrid condition, and have seen a lot of use. Still, try to get one for much less than $600.

    Too difficult to make spares for the original JOBO's. Most of the failures are motors (and there is absolutely no substitute, or injection molded plastic, which would be cost prohibitive to produce in small quantities.

    My design criteria will eliminate most of the problems associated with the JOBO flaws, and will have a much longer service life, with easily replaceable parts.
     
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  15. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Tony, I suggest trying to design a machine that can be sold and shipped without the water basin. This would make the machine much smaller and lighter to ship anywhere in the world. When buying a Jobo, weight and shipping costs are an obstacle.

    Most anybody can find some kind of big water basin, plastic or metallic according to taste. The ideal solution would be something that you put inside this large basin. It will rotate the tank, warm the water, circulate it and maybe provide some kind of rapid change like the "lift".

    If you go for this solution (i.e. only selling the complicated parts, not the basin) I suggest considering two separate units: the "baths" unit and the "tank" unit. The first unit, the "baths" unit, serves to keep chemicals and water at the right temperature. You provide thermostat, heater, pump and the user provides the basin.

    The second unit has the motor for the tank rotation, and also keeps the tank at constant temperature. That means two heaters and two pumps, but the cost overall (for not having to buy a specific basin, and for saving on shipping) will probably be less. Much greater flexibility would be achieved.

    Separating the two units has several advantages:

    - No need to design a two-level basin (like the Jobo); users can use common plastic basins;
    - Much less problems in regulating the water level around the tank;
    - Anybody can adopt it better to the space he has in his darkroom. One could even keep the chemistry behind his back if need be;
    - People who need 7 or more baths (including rinsing water) will have a big basin for their "baths" unit. I use 7 chemical baths plus 6 litres of warm water in my E6 processing. People who only need 3 or 4 baths will use a smaller basin and will save space.
    - The same gear can be used when people shifts from B&W only to C41, and then from C41 to E6.
    - By the same token, if you use a powerful enough motor (don't save on that), people can use it in a little basin if they only use a 1-roll tank or 2-roll tank, and save space. When they decide that they want to try with 6-roll tanks, they will just move the unit in a larger basin.

    I also suggest the heating to be made with a digital and precise thermostat, like the Jobo CPP2.

    Personally I prefer plastic. It takes more time to go in temperature but, once there, it is easier to keep it at a stable temperature.

    Fabrizio
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I'm too far away from you to be of much help but I will keep looking to see how you are getting on. I regularly cut PVC sheet using our CNC drill/router which was intended for PCB manufacture (see my 6x12 camera link). Something like this would be easy to make parts for on the CNC machine we have.


    Steve.
     
  17. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Maybe these will help.

    Hello,

    This was done for less than $200. It does, however, use Jobo tanks and their magnets for driving. It does not have a lift. I built it so that I would not have to worry about replacing specialized parts. It uses a synchronous motor that runs at around 75rpm and uses cheap timer relays for reversing. I have a little .avi clip but I couldn't upload it.

    Good luck,

    Neal Wydra
     

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  18. yeknom02

    yeknom02 Member

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    Tony,

    Please keep me updated, because I've wanted to look into home E-6 for a while but without the soon-to-be-defunct Jobo equipment. And let me know if there's any way I can assist you. I work primarily in vibration and acoustics, but they did give me an M.S. in mechanical engineering. (Suckers...)

    -Dan
     
  19. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    Neal, thanks for sharing. I may be "picking your brain" about this sometime in the near future (if you don't mind...).
     
  20. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    Updates will be forthcoming...

    If you are interested in getting involved, leave a comment on my site. this is where I'm trying to keep everything together.
     
  21. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    There are some pretty inexpensive Chinese made temperature controller in evilBay. I just bought one, and it looks good so far, but I haven't given it a thorough workout yet. My gut feeling, however, is that it's going to be able to provide dead on accurate temperature control. Most items like this seem to be rock solid, and the technology is old enough that it's not hard to get right.

    If you aren't comfortable with the electronics PM me and I'll try to work out some details for you, so long as you promise to return the design for my part to the community. Kind of a Hardware Open Source design. I'll put this on your site, too.
     
  22. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    Bob Carnie was working on having a machine made in toronto. He started a similar thread last year.
     
  23. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    The initial design review has shown that this project is going to be viable.

    Mechanical design has started.

    Read here for an update on the whole project.
     
  24. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    The tank chuck subassembly shown in your linked update appears to be a magnet drive. If you’re going to accommodate Expert drums, that won’t work. Expert drums only couple with a lift’s cog drive. Also, they need to be filled while rotating; it’s not adivsable to pour chemistry into them upright and subsequently place them horizontally onto a processor.

    I hope you can come up with a viable way to make this device compatible with Expert drums!
     
  25. segedi

    segedi Member

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    Keep me in the loop! I'm interested in purchase/kickstarting this. My background is marketing, Web site design... which won't be helpful until you need to get the word out!
     
  26. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Member

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    There is a plan for the expert series, keep watching...