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  1. #1

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    Use of Blacklight Blue tubes for UV light source?

    Hi,

    I am looking at building a UV light box - for doing platinum/palladium prints. I have looked at various plans for these boxes, and most suggest a F20T12BL, which is a T12 Blacklight (BL) tube 600mm long. In the UK (probably elsewhere) getting ballasts for T12 tubes is diffucult to say the least. However, Blacklight Blue (BLB) tubes of the same length/power, but T8 for which there are plenty of ballasts. I have read Sandy Kings article on Unblinking eye comparing various light sources, and the BLB appears to be very simmiliar to the BL. For a 600mm tube, BLB appears to be the only option.

    So, has anybody any experience of using the BLBs?

    Steve

  2. #2
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I use BLB's in my home-cobbled-together UV unit. They are what was included with the GE blacklight fixtures I bought at Home Depot. Mine are I want to say 20" t8 bulbs. The nice thing about the fixtures is that everything (ballast, switch, wiring, case) was included in the unit, for very little money (less than $20 per fixture). I get good, even light, and my exposure times run 6-8 minutes with the tubes about 2-3" from the top of the contact printing frame.

  3. #3
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Steve -

    I use BLB spirals - ordinary lamp base and they don't require an external ballast. I arrayed them on 6 inch centers, with the tip about 6 inches from the top of the printing frame. I've been getting very even illumination, with printing times in the 4-8 minute range.

    The spirals are a bit harder to find. Local dealers and the big box home centers don't have them, but they are available from several e-stores.
    Louie

  4. #4
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    I have used both and they are similar enough not to worry about the difference. BL tends to have a little more blue light, so might be a tad faster than BLB for some processes. The other difference is that generally BLB tubes are more expensive than BL tubes because of the BLB's extra filtering of white light.

    Vaughn

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    I also played with the idea to do some alternative things like cyanotype and gum print but here in Belgium it's a bitch to get the Chemicals, if you ask in a drugstore about those chemicals they look at you like you are some wacky that wants to blow up buildings so I scrapped the idea unless I find a good source for chemicals.

    Either way, suntan lamps may work too, they mostly emit UV-A and can be scored easily. I think they emit more UV than Blacklights because BL must be within a certain safety region to may be used freely.

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    I use eight of these BLB tubes (http://www.lightbulbs-direct.com/var...l.asp?var=3345) with four fast ignition ballasts sourced from Farnell. The wiring is simple - the ballasts I used even have a wiring diagram printed on them. Of course as it's mains you should get someone to do it for you if you're not confident in that area...

  7. #7

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    UV exposure unit

    Home-building a box with store bought fixtures is pretty easy.
    Sandy King did a very good article on various sources for various processes. (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Light/light.html)
    From what I remember, and it was quite awhile since I read it all through, (and I've already built my box with BLs) the best all-around bulb if you're doing cyanotype, Gum, and Platinum is the plain BL bulb, not the BLB. Perhaps I misinterpreted, give it a read yourself, it's very comprehensive.

    As for chemicals, wasn't Lotus View Camera in Austria selling chemicals for alt. processes? Otherwise, I'm sure some other members that live closer to you can help you find what you need.
    Tracy Storer
    Polaroid 20x24 Studio West
    www.mammothcamera.com

  8. #8
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    There's also a Bostick & Sullivan store in the UK you can order from, if you want the range of alt process chemicals.

  9. #9
    Tony Egan's Avatar
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    I built a UV box early this year and my research also indicated BL were cheaper and "faster" than BLB so that is what I used. Like Scott I bought 6 standard double fluro fittings including ballast, starters etc. from a wholesale lighting warehouse (for discount excluding the standard tubes!) and then bought 12 BL tubes from an electrical supplies store and designed a box around them. Also installed two small computer fans in the unit for a bit of cooling. Parts cost was about $220 and it does a fine job.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyStorer View Post
    Home-building a box with store bought fixtures is pretty easy.
    Sandy King did a very good article on various sources for various processes. (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Light/light.html)
    From what I remember, and it was quite awhile since I read it all through, (and I've already built my box with BLs) the best all-around bulb if you're doing cyanotype, Gum, and Platinum is the plain BL bulb, not the BLB. Perhaps I misinterpreted, give it a read yourself, it's very comprehensive.

    As for chemicals, wasn't Lotus View Camera in Austria selling chemicals for alt. processes? Otherwise, I'm sure some other members that live closer to you can help you find what you need.

    Tracy,

    Yes, after a lot of testing I concluded that the BL tubes is the best all-around tube for alternative printing, though for certain processes you can make the case that other tubes are as good, or perhaps better.

    However, I also agree with Vaughn in that there is very little difference in performance between BL and BLB tubes. Yes, the BL tubes print a tad faster, and yes, in most cases BLB tubes cost more than BL tubes. However, and this is an important caveat, you can often find BLB tubes locally in 24" and 48" size, for the price (or less) than you can buy BL tubes from suppliers outside of your area. Local pick-up may be an important consideration because shipping large fluorescent tubes is a fairly risky activity. A couple of years ago I ordered twelve 48" tubes and six of them arrived broken.

    Sandy King

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