My advice to a beginner would be to keep it simple until you gain some skill with basic printing. I am a big fan of using f/stop timing, but I did not utilize it for almost 40 years. It doesn't necessarily make things any faster or easier, except that sometimes my test strips give me more accurate and/or useful information. Your outline of 4 steps for either straight or split grade printing is right on target. That's really all there is to it, the rest is secondary.
Perhaps you're just over-thinking this, or trying to use skills you already have mastered to learn a new skill set, where it may not be necessary.
Record keeping is a whole other discussion.
It would really be good if you could somehow combine your efforts with Darkroom Automation and Modern Enlarger Lamps to end up with a new source of Darkroom Automation's timer, and a better control for Modern Enlarger Lamps' LED replacement variable contrast heads.
Here are the respective websites:
Darkroom Automation: http://www.darkroomautomation.com/fst.htm
Darkroom Automation is an APUG advertiser and its principal, Nicholas Lindan is a regular contributor here.
Modern Enlarger Lamps: http://www.modernenlargerlamps.com/M...s/Model_3.html
I'd prefer to see something independent of existing manufacturers. This is a software application than can control a USB relay controller so potentially far more flexible than existing products.
Some think a computer shouldn't be in a darkroom but I can see there is great potential. Having said that I worked alongside one of the top industrial/advertising photographers in the West midlands (UK) and used to help out on his long print runs (typically hundreds of prints of a feww negatives) and was always amazed he didn't use an enlarger timer, and yet we'd get surprisingly consisten results.
There's a lot of potential in this project.
If you want to code in C# but in a longer-lasting environment (due to the constant churn in the Microsoft applications and o/s) then look at Mono on a linux distribution. For example, Ubuntu has ready-to-go Mono software, with IDE and interpreter, for exactly this purpose. The code is "extremely" similar to C# (it is intended to be able to run C# directly). For a database you have a wide selection of open-source products, scalable to any size, though perhaps avoid MySQL currently as Oracle is a little unclear about it's future status.
Increasing numbers of people do not use Microsoft products at home. Starting off building an application with their tools will cause you a lot of amusement when the software you wrote needs to be modified to keep up with annual/biannual version changes.
Personally, I'd think that spending the time and effort on more printing would get you better results on paper, and more quickly, but can understand the attraction of producing your own application and tools.
This is like finding 4 decent tires and deciding to build the "Perfect" car around them, don't you want to enjoy the fact that this craft never has to see the use of a computer?
Knock your self out, but as an owner of two RH Designs StopClocks and a couple other of those brand of items who recently took a hands on printing workshop with an absolute master, I can honestly say that all any good printer really needs is a decent timer, simple metronome and experience. The rest is just fidgeting around and amounts to numerical distractions from doing the real work of becoming a better printer and a better photographer.
Even though there is a ton of value in getting down methods that provide you with consistent results, you are using materials that are best to get a "feel" for rather than get lost in the science of it all. I am somewhat sad to say that a lot of the work I see from other enthusiasts reflects the latter rather than the former.
The choice is yours, you can build a robot to play a guitar via your thought inputs or you can pick it up your self and play it with your own two hands...
Seems like a very very over complicated system. What happened to put neg in enlarger, test strip, develop, pick suitable time, test strip,, develop, print. Yes i use a lap top in my dark room, for ONLY recording my notes and time sequences, (ie: dev time, filter # etc.) I have fun in my darkroom I make all my decisions and make my prints my way.
Dang, I left it on last night - the Beckman meter and Jobo minilux... wasted batteries.
jseidl, The software from Curt Palm was a boon to my darkroom productivity. One strength is its "one button" usability. When I use it, all I need is the number pad when the light is on (to enter times)... And during printing I only hit one key - the space bar...
So heed the call for simplification, if there is a way to make most necessary functions operate from the space bar. I know it would be hard to find a certain function key in the dark.