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  1. #1

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    BTZS Tubes DIY Homemade Build Your Own

    Ok, so I am new to all this 4x5 stuff. I purchased a camera, and am also in the process of building one or more. So after readign through a bunch of posts I decided that I will give the BTZS Tubes a try even before trying trays. Seems that in some version of BTZS there is a description of how to make these, however, I am yet to see that and the book I have must be a version before that description was given. So I peeked through the forums and collected suggestions and got the following:

    1. http://tinyurl.com/2lqks6
    2. http://tinyurl.com/2q7h8b
    3. http://tinyurl.com/3b4czn
    4. http://tinyurl.com/2q3stf

    I do welcome any others, these were definitely intersting and well done.

    I now have something that looks like it would get me arrested if I tried to send it through the mail. But with a dry fit, it seems like it will do the trick. For my first try I went with the design labeled #1 above. I may try others as I go forward, but this seemed the cheapest and easiest to get started with.

    For others following my lead, here are a few things I have come up with.

    1. The main tube was cut to 5-7/8" (149 mm)
    It could have been cut to 6" (152 mm) but I ran into some straightness issues, so by the time I was done, it was 5-7/8

    2. The secondary tube was cut to 3-1/2" (89 mm)

    3. When you dry fit these things together they certainly don't come apart very easily, but putting on a pair of rubber gloves makes quick work of it.

    4. The smaller tube, capped, and attached to a coupler will hold 1/2 cup (4 oz or 120 cc) when filled to the to the line on the coupler.

    Initially I bought one of those tubing cutters that ratchets and basically drives a blade through the pipe. I will probably take this back to HD one of these days. The problem is that with this style cutter, no matter what I did, I could not get a nice square cut on the tubing (especially on short cuts). Well I will be getting a twist style cutter for the future. I have used them successfully in the past for other PCV style projects, and they seem to make a nice clean square cut.

    So not to be outdone by an equipment failure, I took the tube out to the electric miter saw and pulled that blade through it a couple few times. Make a fairly square cut, stinks like hell and leaves a lot of mess. When it was done, I ran a razor knife over the rough edges then finished with some 400 and then 600 grit paper.

    I had to drive to a place over an hour away to get the ABS stuff, since it doesn't seem to be sold near me. Unfortunately, they only had 5 couplers and 2 caps. As it is, these caps are not flat exactly, and thusly will not stand up straight on their own. I will consider touching them with a beltsander or something to remove the little thing that sticks out and maybe that will help, otherwise I am not concerned that it needs to standup even though it may be nice. I got a 10 foot length of the ABS so I will be able to play with other designs. What I can actually get locally is SCHED 80 PVC. This is the grey stuff they use for electrical conduit. The endcaps they have available for it are very round so those will not like to stand up either. If I want these things to stand I may merely have to cut off a short piece of tubing and fix it to the botton like an egg stand. I assume the connectors and caps don't matter if they are actually PVC (sched 80) or ABS, since they are both lightproof, but the ABS pipe itself feels (at least to my untrained fingers) smoother and cleaner.

    I also have an idea (different from all the ones I have seen so far, for a light baffle to allow daylight pouring, which I think will take up much less space than the ones I have seen so far.

  2. #2
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting with the summary of your results. I think a lot of times we ask questions, learn a lot in the process, but never post back so thanks for the info.

    I think you are learning two things from your DIY work:
    1) If you do it yourself you can get a product specific to your needs
    2) If you just buy the commercial product you save lots of time and the final price is about the same.
    Last edited by jeroldharter; 03-02-2008 at 08:46 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: error in original
    Jerold Harter MD

  3. #3
    rwyoung's Avatar
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    I had the same initial problem with tubes not standing upright due to "shaped" caps. I just found a few more pieces of caps and adapters that were large enough to glue together in a sort of cloverleaf pattern such that they formed a base and the tubes could drop down in and be held upright (nearly vertical). Since these can be made from white PVC, maybe easier for you to find. I didn't have access to any power tools at the time so I hand cut everything with a miter box and back saw.
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things! http://rwyoung.wordpress.com

  4. #4

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    Well, the abs was $0.50 per foot. I used 9-1/2" so that is $0.30 per tube. The coupler was $0.79 and the endcap was 1.29 * 2 for a grand total of

    $2.38

    if I made 6 of them that will be

    $14.28


    Just the cups come to 2.22 so 6 more of those is
    $13.32

    Grand total with 2 cups like the ones that are sold commercially =
    $27.60

    differnce =
    119-27.60 = 91.40

    I can buy a hell of a wter basin for the waterbath for $91.40.

    Now sure where you are coming up with the final price being about the same...

  5. #5

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    Well, I am not certain why they necessarily need to stand up. But I am sure I will figure that out at some point.

  6. #6
    eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe View Post
    differnce =
    119-27.60 = 91.40
    Hours spent alone in the basement making these things while the family is having fun doing stuff without you......priceless

  7. #7
    rwyoung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe View Post
    Well, I am not certain why they necessarily need to stand up. But I am sure I will figure that out at some point.
    I used the stand I made to hold them vertical when they were "dry". Start with empty tubes in the stand and second stand to hold the caps with their chemicals added. Turn out lights, add film. Upend tube and slip on cap. Into the water bath. Also used the stand at the end to hold the tubes again cap end down to drain a little bit before I removed the caps.

    YMMV.

    I've since switched to a Jobo. But because mine is the single speed kind, I'm beginning to re-think the switch because I want to play with Pyrocat-HD and so far while it works, I'm thinking perhaps the agitation is a bit to aggressive and I'm oxidizing the developer too quickly. Back to the tubes for 8x10 perhaps.
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things! http://rwyoung.wordpress.com

  8. #8
    John Bartley's Avatar
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    Hey !!!!!!!!! That's me there - #2 on the list of ABS tube sites !!

    Mine work just dandy, and yes ... it's nice to be able to have them stand up on their own. It's also nice to have extra fluid caps, so that you can just switch your film tube from one chemical to the next without having to drain and pour between each step.

    cheers and good luck.

    John

  9. #9
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe View Post
    Well, the abs was $0.50 per foot. I used 9-1/2" so that is $0.30 per tube. The coupler was $0.79 and the endcap was 1.29 * 2 for a grand total of

    $2.38

    if I made 6 of them that will be

    $14.28


    Just the cups come to 2.22 so 6 more of those is
    $13.32

    Grand total with 2 cups like the ones that are sold commercially =
    $27.60

    differnce =
    119-27.60 = 91.40

    I can buy a hell of a wter basin for the waterbath for $91.40.

    Now sure where you are coming up with the final price being about the same...
    I guess it depends on how valuable your time is. That is what I was getting at. Driving one hour each way to buy material, the time spent researching and planning, the time spent re-working the design so the caps stand up, etc. Easily a half day if not longer. (It is fun though.)

    I sometimes get the bug to build an LED enlarger light source. However, electronics is not my strong suit. The amount of time it would take me to do this would be prohibitive. Not to mention that I already have limited time for photography. In the end, I use my dichroic light source and wish that RH Designs will make a universal 4x5 LED light source that works well with their timers.
    Jerold Harter MD

  10. #10

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    Jerold, of course the hour away happens to coincide with where my daughter lives, so i popped into the HW store on the way home from visiting her. If i were to have used the Sched 80 (grey stuff) that would be on my way home frmo work. The researching and planning, are part of the hobby, and since they don't cost me anything, I won't count them. If it were not fun to do, and were outside my areas of skill, I would not do it. Certainly, I will build other stuff too. I made my first bellows this past weekend. and next to my calumet it looks pretty nice. How long before I finish making a whole 4x5 camera? who knows I think I am up to 2 years now and sitll counting, but it is a hobby and not a business, I ruined this hobby once by turnign it into a business I will not make that mistake again.

    I assume that one day, I will make a photograph with a camera completely built by myself. Perhaps even exposed on a plate using an emulsion I make and place there myself, developed in chemicals I mix myself, and enlarged through an enlarger I build myself onto paper I create myself as well. Probably be the most time consuming and expensive picture ever made by me, and it may be 20 years before it all happens, but I will enjoy the whole journey there and the end results... well that is like algebra, it is not important that you get the right answer.. it is how you answer the question.

    And if it were all about the cost aspect, i would have just stuck to my Digital camera. or at least 35 mm film...

    Speaking of cost, I just picked up a box of stuff from a FreeCycle user. I got 3 1/2 gallen data bottles one accordian data bottle. 4 8x10 trays, 2 8x10 grey cards anda 4x5 grey card, tongs graduated cylinders a patterson 135/120 tank and reels pretty near new bottle of stop bath, hypo check, brand new box of 100 sheets 8x10 ilford MGIV and an opened box too as well as a 25 envelope of agfa, some funnels a grain focusera set of Ilford mg filters and a safe light bulb, 3 tongs, one mixing rod, a celcius thermometer and a big ass squeegie, and some balck thing that I dont' know what it is Cost me a 15 minute car ride... Sometimes things are free... gotta appreciate that when you get it.

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