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  1. #1

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    Equipment [not chemistry] needed for c-41 darkroom

    Hi, I would like to set up a darkroom for c-41 developing at home in the near future, and was wondering what equipment I would need? I don't have much darkroom experience, just a little bit at school, and mostly printing.

    I am referring to this thread for chemistry:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum221/...g-dummies.html

    But I'd like to ask what I need in terms of tanks, reels, etc? A list maybe, and possibly links to where I could purchase, would be great.

    I am looking at the jobo line, will these do? What model, and will I need other equipment?
    Last edited by apconan; 12-16-2009 at 12:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    hrst's Avatar
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    Jobo is great at least in two ways:
    - You can use chemistry as one-shot and still have very reasonable chemistry costs (less chemistry needed)
    - You don't have to manually agitate or watch the temperature of the water bath.

    Autolab models can be great if you process much but they need much more maintenance. The basic models are great at home.

    BUT, Jobos and other luxuries are not needed in any way.

    Everything you need, besides the normal BW tanks and reels, can be found at home:

    - Thermometer for measuring fever, analog or digital (these are cheap and very accurate at 37.8C/100.0F)
    - Kitchen/bathroom sink
    - Any timer.
    - Plastic soda bottles for chemistry.

    You have just to keep your waterbath at constant temperature for the 3:15 developing time, which is quite easy. You may have to add a little hot water once or twice during this. Practice with water in tank. Temperature for bleach and fix is not critical.

  3. #3
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    A sink will work for a water bath, but I have found an old lunch sized cooler as a water holding vessel has many more merits. I driop a 300W fish tank heater with a manual bi-metallic temperature controller in daigonally on one wall to heat the water. The stop tang on the thermostat needs to be twisted off to allow you to set the temp to 38C/100F. I add a fish tank pump to equalize temperature distribution faster.

    With this set up I put 1L glass containers of developer, stop, bleach and fix in the cooler to heat up, loosen the tops a bit if they are very near to full for expansion, and put the lid on the cooler. The chems are up to temp in under an hour.

    I load the reels, put the stainless tank in dry for a pre warm to keep the initial developer temperature drop down, and leave the stainless tank in the water bath during the developer stage between developer agitations.
    my real name, imagine that.

  4. #4

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    Mike, great information. Do you get fish tank heaters and pumps online? I was unable to find a heater at the local giant pet store for some reason. Any recommended types or online resources (I see you're in Canada, but every little bit helps).

    Hrst: I found those digital fever thermometers to be incredibly INaccurate recently when I and my entire family had swine flu. (Pretty good flu, by the way, for us anyway.) I would test my temp and then try again almost immediately and I got variations as large as 1 to 1.5 degrees F!

    Can't a nice glass b&w processing thermometer work quite well or must it be more accurate to 0.5 degrees?

    thanks.

  5. #5
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I found my heater (s) - (bought 2 on sale, knowing that one would break some day, and it has) in a PetsMart, or whatever, big box store that had a big tropical fish section.

    There is a move to submerged 'brick' heaters that self regulated and are useless for 100F operation.

    Another option I have used is surplus industrial PID type temperature controllers that came out of an injection molding machine that was getting a brains upgrade. Changed a jumper to ley it sense 20-120F, rather than 200-1200F, and ran the right thermocouple to dangle in the water bath, or have it taped to the outside wall when I used a stainless food service tray as a shallower warming dish. That tray was heated by sitting it on heating blanket, with the blanket controller set to high, and a relay driven by the PID controller. Since then I have heard of pig heater pads used for rearing young pigs, that may work better, and would be happier if they got wet.

    I also have used old griddles, and food keep warm trays under stainless dishes or oven rasting pans borrowed until Thanksgivig comes around, and controlled them (not as precisely) with incandescant light dimmers.

    After a while the PID controllers went flaky, and would lock up. Changing the electrolytic caps in them helped for a while, but I guess living in hot machinery accelerated the aging of some other components. In the end the fish tank heater bi-metallic is precise enough for the 12L of water and 4 1L bottles that I warm with it, and the PID controllers and thier thermocouples got tossed.
    my real name, imagine that.

  6. #6
    hrst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jglass View Post
    Hrst: I found those digital fever thermometers to be incredibly INaccurate recently when I and my entire family had swine flu. (Pretty good flu, by the way, for us anyway.) I would test my temp and then try again almost immediately and I got variations as large as 1 to 1.5 degrees F!
    I bet it's the problem of measuring human temperature, not the problem within the thermometer itself. It's much easier to measure water. Try measuring a large amount of hot water many times. Of course it can be also a bad thermometer, but all I have tested have been quite good with variations less than 0.1 degrees Celsius.

    The ones that measure from ear quickly are not good.

    Can't a nice glass b&w processing thermometer work quite well or must it be more accurate to 0.5 degrees?
    0.5 deg F is enough. 0.5 deg C may not be, it depends how strict control you want.

  7. #7
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I have a number of thermometers. One never does anything but get stuck in a glass of water to calibrate the others by. I don't know if it is right, but it is my standard. For example, I find I get things looking good if I actually process my home brewed C-41 for 3:25 or so at 100F on my thermometers system.

    I got into this habit after having a really nice Kodak one, and breaking it, and then being SOL trying to synch to how it read when I got a reaplacement. Cheap ones live in places like the incoming water tap outlet, and the print washer. A better one is used for the water tempering bath. The next to best one is used to measure first developer and colur developer temperature, and then gets wiped and put back into its protective tube.
    my real name, imagine that.

  8. #8
    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    I generally process with steel tanks. They are more difficult to load (the reels do not rotate as the plastic ones, you have to bow the film to slip it into the tracks.) but the heat transfer is better. For tempering I just stick it in a plastic bucket. I find that this insulates better than using the sink alone. To keep the temperature at 100 I top it off with hot water whenever it gets too cold. I have a darkroom thermometer that I assume to be accurate. A fever thermometer may work just as well. I double boil chemistry over a gas stove to get it to temperature because I find that to be more efficient than heating in the bin itself and constantly adjusting temperature. If you have a darkroom microwave you might try that as well.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Tank_with.html

    You can try purchasing the tanks new but they're much cheaper on ebay.

  9. #9
    hrst's Avatar
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    Better heat transfer with steel tanks and reels is a double-edged sword. It enables shorter prewarm time, but on the other hand, it responds more quickly to temperature changes in water bath also during developing, which is not good anymore. Plastic tanks average the bath temperature a little, leading to longer prewarm but making developing stage safer if the temperature is right on average.

    Another difference is that steel tank has bigger heat capacity, which is not good; it cools the bath down more. Of course, it happens quite quickly and so you can react to it by adding hot water, but this leads again to longer prewarming, almost the same as with plastic tanks. So, in the end, there's not much difference, IMO. Use what you happen to own.

  10. #10

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    I am using the same tanks/reels that I use for black and white (Paterson). My thermometer is old, analog, sort of janky and I'm not sure it's accurate but I've liked my results thus far. I'm using my sink for water bath because I simply don't have anywhere to store something like a cooler or fish tank. The only extra thing I had to buy (other than multiple 1L containers for my chemicals) were a few graduates for dumping the used chems into quickly (to be funneled back into the bottles when there's more time).



 

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