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  1. #1

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    One more time: UV Light boxes

    I've looked at the archives for this and ran into a lot of questions and some dead links. The free plans on www.eepjon.com that were so popular seem to have gone away and I could no longer find similar info on Photographer's Formulary.

    So, since this is a popular topic, anyone up for writing an article on making UV light boxes? The one on unblinkingeye is an excellent resource, but frankly I'm looking for something that will tell me more or less exactly how to make a generic 11x14 box as I don't have time for the design phase. Having said that, I will be glad to jot down a quick article about whatever I wind up doing and post it to serve as a boiler plate for others to add to.

    I guess truthfully, it's neither the box itself, nor the wiring that put me off, but the cost & time required for what seems an otherwise simple project.

    TheFlyingCamera had an idea that seems very attractive - buying existing 2-bulb fixtures and putting 6 of them together. Since the largest neg I'm likely to deal with is 8x10, this sounds good - any drawbacks?

    Thanks,
    Nathan

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Art- if you want to try the really cheap method, and aren't going to initially print bigger than 11x14, Home Depot sells BLB fluorescent fixtures for about $17-20 each. They're made by GE - ballast, BLB bulb, housing all included. I bought six of them, and I screwed them to the bottom of an IKEA shelf that supports my regular 4x5 enlarger. If you put the housings tight together, you get about 1 1/2" to 1 3/4" spacing between bulb centers. I get very consistent results from it, with base exposure times in the 7 1/2 minute range. I don't have model numbers for the GE unit, but they had them in the store where they keep the under-cabinet fluorescent fixtures.

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Edwards Engineered Products

    I am surprised the plans disappeared -- they use to be on the old Bostick & Sullivan site also. I suppose too many people were making their own.

    I bought one of the Edwards Engineered Products UV light box kits -- waste of money, actually. Fortunately it was the university's money, not my own. The boards were not cut to the right size, venting slits and the hole for the fan were not pre-cut like they were suppose to be, and instructions were written by an engineer not familar with the effective use of language (which is still better than instructions written by an English major with no knowledge of engineering!LOL!)

    I also made the false assumption that I was buying one of their pre-made lightboxes, but in kit form. Instead it was a lesser unit, based on the do-it-yourself plans they use to have on the site.

    EEP did offer to replace the boards that they failed to pre-cut the holes in, but I was under a deadline to get it together for an Alt photo class, so I winged that part and managed to put it together with the mis-sized boards anyway. I have to take it apart to find a bad connection -- one of the tubes does not fully light...perhaps it is not grounded properly.

    The advantage of the design is that it uses seperate balences, instead of fixtures. The tubes are closer together than if one uses fixtures...but it does require a lot more wiring. Having the tubes closer together can give you more UV, and a more even exposure with the printing frame closer to the tubes.

    But the pre-wired fixtures work fine, too. If you think you'd ever want to expose more than one 8x10 at a time, you might consider buildine a longer box using longer fixtures. When I use pyro developed negs, my exposure times are rather long (30 min+) -- and being able to expose two negs at the same time helps to keep the work-flow moving along quickly.

    Vaughn

  3. #3
    bruce terry's Avatar
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    Nathan -.

    I've got an 18x20 (exposure area) Edwards Engineered Products UV light box that I'm planning to sell due to a physical issue in working 8x10 format - don't want to give it up but I must.

    I constructed this 27.5” x 24” x 8” box to Edward's exact factory standards per the light box construction article in Sullivan and Weese’s New Platinum Print > > > Hinges, handles and screws are marine stainless and all wood is premium marine ply, no glue used. The "spec" equipment is: 12 x 1.5” 20 watt standard heavy duty fluorescent black lights, heavy-duty ballasts and heavy duty ventilating fan. This rock-of-a-box is 7 years old and has run flawlessly without any startup or cooling problems whatsoever. Exposure times with my zias and p/p’s take 12-25 minutes, though some of the more dense zias have run 1-1.5 hours. This bulky tank weighs 80 pounds and will be expensive to ship so my first hope is for a buyer within six car-hours of Wilmington NC (Atlanta up to DC) whom I could meet halfway and save the buyer substantial shipping costs. The alternative for commercial shipping - say to Texas - is to simply unscrew it (no problem) and ship the components in three separate cartons. The Freestyle and Bostick & Sullivan price on the equivalent factory box is $875 and I'm selling this one for $345/buyer pays freight. Included will be my remaining inventory of plat/pall printing chemicals and the Sullivan Weese book at no charge.

    Email me at btry@bellsouth.net for further details and lots of detail images if you're interested.

    Bruce
    Last edited by bruce terry; 12-28-2006 at 05:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    Shinnya's Avatar
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    Hi there,

    I bought those fixtures from Homedepot too. I think it is called shoplight in fact, and only costed $9 or so for 4' unit. Then I took them apart, and used ballasts and sockets only. It is not difficult to take them apart and not that difficult to re-wire them either. The finish is nicer since you do not have to work with the housing. I have a lot of housing sitting in my studio by the way.

    I made the box with plywood, but this time the unit is a stand alone type with rollers at the bottom. We use the bottom space for storage space. We can roll this around wherever in the space, and we do not need another flat surface to place it, and it creates a table level flat surface for us.

    We needed a larger one since we use it for workshop and class setting. the lit area measures 48"x30". We just made 48"x38" one for a photographer in NY. That was pretty big. We used all the same method.

    By the way, I do have a several of spare 24" BL bulbs if anyone is interested.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shinnya View Post
    Hi there,

    I bought those fixtures from Homedepot too. I think it is called shoplight in fact, and only costed $9 or so for 4' unit. Then I took them apart, and used ballasts and sockets only. It is not difficult to take them apart and not that difficult to re-wire them either. The finish is nicer since you do not have to work with the housing. I have a lot of housing sitting in my studio by the way.

    I made the box with plywood, but this time the unit is a stand alone type with rollers at the bottom. We use the bottom space for storage space. We can roll this around wherever in the space, and we do not need another flat surface to place it, and it creates a table level flat surface for us.

    We needed a larger one since we use it for workshop and class setting. the lit area measures 48"x30". We just made 48"x38" one for a photographer in NY. That was pretty big. We used all the same method.

    By the way, I do have a several of spare 24" BL bulbs if anyone is interested.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
    For my large bank of UV tubes (twelve 48" tubes) I bought the two-tube fixtures and just used them as is by bolting the fixtures to a piece of 5/8" plywood, around which I placed sides 3/4" X 8" on the sides and back, and 3/4" X 4" on the front. All you have to do is wire the units together, including ground, and connect to an outlet plug. You will also need a small muffin type fan, 4" diameter or so, in one side of the unit to dissipate heat. Paint the inside white, and the outside to taste, and there you are.

    This really is remarkably simple to do for anyone with modest construction skills. As I recall, it took about 2.5 hours for me to assemble this big UV box, not counting painting. Took more time than that tryng to figure out how to get it upstairs, and even more time figuring out how to use it with my 38"X27" vacuum frame.

    Sandy King

  6. #6

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    Aargh! A professional quality unit AND the Platinum-Palladium materials ... I REALLY wish I could do this Bruce, but I just can't right now. Post this in the classifieds section and I'll bet you have a taker pronto.
    Thanks,
    Nathan

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce terry View Post
    Nathan -.

    I've got an 18x20 (exposure area) Edwards Engineered Products UV light box that I'm planning to sell due to a physical issue in working 8x10 format - don't want to give it up but I must.

    I constructed this 27.5” x 24” x 8” box to Edward's exact factory standards per the light box construction article in Sullivan and Weese’s New Platinum Print > > > Hinges, handles and screws are marine stainless and all wood is premium marine ply, no glue used. The "spec" equipment is: 12 x 1.5” 20 watt standard heavy duty fluorescent black lights, heavy-duty ballasts and heavy duty ventilating fan. This rock-of-a-box is 7 years old and has run flawlessly without any startup or cooling problems whatsoever. Exposure times with my zias and p/p’s take 12-25 minutes, though some of the more dense zias have run 1-1.5 hours. This bulky tank weighs 80 pounds and will be expensive to ship so my first hope is for a buyer within six car-hours of Wilmington NC (Atlanta up to DC) whom I could meet halfway and save the buyer substantial shipping costs. The alternative for commercial shipping - say to Texas - is to simply unscrew it (no problem) and ship the components in three separate cartons. The Freestyle and Bostick & Sullivan price on the equivalent factory box is $875 and I'm selling this one for $345/buyer pays freight. Included will be my remaining inventory of plat/pall printing chemicals and the Sullivan Weese book at no charge.

    Email me at btry@bellsouth.net for further details and lots of detail images if you're interested.

    Bruce

  7. #7

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    Here is the plans I used for my lightbox. LINK & directions LINK.

    Although, there are a few things you should note. This box holds 16 BLB (4x4), not the 8x4 that was stated (I need to change the design posted). You could fit more if they were placed closer together. In addition, you may have to modify the design some depending on the height of your contact or vacuum frame. Because I recently moved on to a vacuum frame I'll have to add some sort of extenders to raise the height of my lightbox.

    Since I built the box I have decided to add the remaining lights, as I had only started with 6, but the company I was buying the bulbs from no longer keeps an inventory of the bulb, so I had to wait about 6 weeks to recieve them.

    Regards,
    Martin

  8. #8

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    Shinnya / Sandy - thanks for this input, I'm definitely leaning in this direction, it's hard to beat the price. I'm inclined to make a shorter version (than 4') as I don't have a lot of darkroom space - I guess I can get away with using the same ballast for shorter tubes(?)

    ... also, Sandy - when you say that you used the fixtures as-is, do you mean that you used the bulbs that came with it too?
    I'm not in a big hurry, so if standard bulbs work a bit slower than BL, BLB, AQA, etc., I'm ok with that - now if it's a LOT slower that may be different.

    I need to email him, but on re-reading I think that TheFlyingCamera must have been speaking of 1-bulb black light fixtures ... the kind I had mounted under a poster in the '70's ... that would work too, and already has the bulbs, but I'm not so sure about having an individual ballast for each bulb like that. I've replaced enough ballasts in ceiling fixtures to know that they go out after a while.

    Thanks,
    Nathan

  9. #9

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    As a side note, you may be able to get by with one 27w BLB in a reflector for doing 8x10. Might set you back $40-50.

    Regards,
    Martin

  10. #10

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    There is also a 100w BLB, that may be useful in a reflector, but a bit expensive ($50). LINK

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