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  1. #1

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    New Darkroom Setup

    So, after years and years of being out of the darkroom, I'm moving. (My job moves me every 2-3 years, usually to a different country...) And after getting back into developing my own film in the basement and scanning it (badly), I've been really missing the ability to make a physical print and unwilling to invest in what I know will be a disappointing digital printing setup.

    I know digital can be done right and done damned well, but not by me...I don't have the background, knowledge, or willingness to invest in the gear and learning it will require to get a truly quality product.

    So we're heading to India next, and when I saw this advance photo of the spare bathroom in the house we'll be moving to, all I could imagine was the window blacked out, an enlarger in the far left corner, and a freestanding shallow sink underneath the wall shower head. And thankfully, I got no arguments from the wife, so long as she gets a sewing room in the spare bedroom.



    So I just scored an Omega D2V (about 4x as big as the enlargers I was planning on getting) with all the carriers and lenses and assorted stuff I could want. Wanted a dichro instead of a condenser, but I'm watching Ebay for a head. Super, super excited! Can't say how rewarding (and possibly frustrating, as it's been a long time) it's going to be watching that first print blossom on the paper.

    Just need to figure out how to lay it all out. Don't have measurements yet but will try to get them from the current resident.

    Considerations:
    -Power will be an issue; don't think there are many or any outlets in the room. Might just place a 110/220 step-down converter off an outlet outside, and run extension cords into the room for the enlarger, safelight, etc. The cycle change in the electricity will throw off the Time-o-Lite, but I can't see that mattering too much, as exposure is based off increments of the test strip rather than actual time...

    -Any ideas for a cheap, solid enlarger stand? I was thinking school desk, steel-and-masonite workbench, or large shelving unit.

    -And the sink...was thinking the open layout of the shower faucet and drain might let me just put up a shelf for my dev trays and use the floor to catch spillage, but that'd be a real mess. I might use my nonexistent carpentry skills to make a shallow plywood box with legs, polyurethane or otherwise seal the hell out of the interior, cut a hole in it, and run a hose to the floor drain. Unless I can find a used cheap darkroom sink and stand when I'm in the States for the next few months and manage to have it packed into our stuff before we go.

    -For darkroom doors I was just going to hang copious amounts of blackout cloth on either side of the normal door.

    -Any ideas on how I could black the window out and still have the little exhaust fan working? IIRC Freestyle sells some kind of darkroom vent louver--combine that with some plywood fastened over the window, maybe?

    Keeping in mind that this is a relatively temporary, rough-and-ready arrangement I'm trying for, I welcome any suggestions on how I could make this all work. Thanks in advance for the advice.

    -Mike

  2. #2
    DLM
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    As for the solution to keep the exhaust fan working while blacking it out, remember that light only travels in a straight line, as long as the surfaces are not reflective. I would use foamcore to build a cover for the window. They sell black foamcore that has a matte finish to it that would work well. You could build some sort of box with a baffle in it that fits over the fan area so that air can move through but the light won't.

    Here's a very quick MS Paint drawing of the idea. This would be a plan view, from the top looking down at the insides of it.
    Last edited by DLM; 06-14-2010 at 05:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3

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    Thanks--looks like that could work!

  4. #4
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    You don't say where you will be living but I would be very careful to ensure any outlet you use is properly grounded. Your average Indian house electrician leaves a lot to be desired and 220V is no joke.
    Richard

    Why are there no speaker jacks on a stereo camera?

  5. #5

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    Also, consider some method of maintaining consistent electrical power to the enlarger. I'm not an electrician, so I can't go into detail about this, but I know from previous experience that if the enlarger is on a circuit used by others, it can drive you mad trying to print consistently. Maybe the solution to convert the voltage can also maintain its level.

  6. #6

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    I can see where you might not want electrical outlets in there with the shower & floor drain. All I can visualize is POW, ZAP!
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  7. #7

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    Yeah, I was thinking I'd run extension cords in from the converter outside then along the wall, or see if I could get outlets run from the light fixtures to a position likewise high up on the wall, then plug the voltage converter and stabilizer in to them and keep them on the dry-side surface.

    Thanks for the advice so far, everyone.

  8. #8

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    I am not an electrician. But I wouldn't mind being "called down on" on my opinion if I am wrong... though I'm highly doubtful that I am wrong on this but... I believe that 110AC voltage will kill you just as fast as 220AC will.

    So first and foremost... I would recommend ditching the idea of extension cords entirely as I feel that any break in an electrical line adds an unnecessary risk. But you gotta do what you gotta do. So whatever you do... I would advise keeping everything electrical "entirely off the floor at all times." So you're wife doesn't kill herself while taking a shower. If she's behind your madness as you indicate above... you've got yourself a good one there, maybe you oughta keep her around awhile.

    As for voltage issue on your gear... I would suggest picking up a "220 Battery Backup" (like for a computer) to power your timer and enlarger. It doesn't have to be huge, as the battery will be in place to act as a buffer to keep the voltage consistent at 220 Volts. Then put your 110 voltage converter inline, between your timer and your 220 Battery Backup... The voltage converter being in line before the Battery Backup might be problematic with the up and down of the voltage. As if it is in line after the Battery Backup, it will have clean steady power and will likely perform better and last longer.

    As for the darkroom doubling as a bathroom... (certainly not the other way around... LOL!) The shower will add a lot of moisture to the air and carry contaminates in that moisture (soap scum) that will pick up and hold dust and other gunk to your gear. I would suggest using plastic, maybe a shower curtain to "completely cover your enlarger, timer and all of your electrical gear."

    I'd also advise "religiously using your spiffy exhaust fan" (looks like a workable plan) build it solid and use it until the bathroom is completely dry (before ever uncovering your darkroom gear.)

    Anyway, there's gonna be lots of photo and print-worthy subjects to photograph there and I am sure you'll enjoy printing again. Best of luck to you in your relocate.
    Last edited by Adams; 06-20-2010 at 12:45 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Bad explanation
    Like Digital? Scan Film!

  9. #9
    DLM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adams View Post
    I am not an electrician. But I wouldn't mind being "called down on" on my opinion if I am wrong... though I'm highly doubtful that I am wrong on this but... I believe that 110AC voltage will kill you just as fast as 220AC will.
    I don't know about that. I know that my mom got shocked pretty good with 110 when I was younger and nothing happened. I also have an electrician friend that has had his fair share of shocks and is still here. A former coworker of mine was from Iraq and lost his dad to a 220 shock when he was younger. He was telling me that the 220 is worse than the 110 here. I guess it all depends on where and how you get shocked, though.

  10. #10

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    No, no, this will not be used as a bathroom! Only a darkroom, period. Sorry I wasn't clear on that!

    NO way I'd want anyone taking a shower in there!!!! I will use the wall spigot to provide water for whatever sink setup I can put underneath it, and route the sink drain to the floor, and the sink drain should keep the floor easy to clean with a squeegee or whatever, but that's it!

    (I got a pretty nasty 220 shock the other day and someone remarked it was due to the voltage, but it didn't feel all that different than a 110...I'll try equally to avoid shocks from either!)

    Adams, my wife has stood by many of my crazy things--months away on mountain biking trips (before we were married, even--that's when I decided to propose!), deployments to Iraq, moving to central Africa and now India...she's a good one, and she knows without my various outlets (obsessions?) I will disturb her wa incessantly.

    And she's carrying our first child right now.


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