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  1. #1
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Safelights, and Storage Sheds...

    My film experience has quickly outgrown our studio bathroom, so I'm moving into our outdoor shed in the backyard. It is an older barn style shed with shingled roof, its insulated, and it once had electricity ran to it but has since been removed. I'm going to just run an extension cord with a power strip to power my space heater for those cold days, and of course my safelights and enlargers. I plan on adding a ventilation fan eventually, and an air purifier asap to cut down on the dust content. I have two questions...

    1. How many safelights can I have in operation at the same time? I currently have three 5x7 premier lights, but I've only ever used one. Since this space is larger than our studio bathroom I need to light more areas. Does the amount of light matter, if they all have amber glass plates?

    2. I do not have running water in the outdoor shed. My thought was to run a garden hose through a hole in the wall, but then I figured that its not safe to just let the water drain into the yard through a makeshift drain. So i'm thinking about rigging up a tray with a hose going in, and a drain house coming out, and cycling water from a 5 gallon bucket with a submersible fountain pump. Has anyone else ever done this before? I figured that I can rinse in this cycling water, and if need be I can carry a batch into the house from time to time to complete the wash in the bathtub. Anyone ever seen a DIY for something resembling this idea?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I use multiple safelights when I move out of my compact darkroom into the adjacent 'sometimes overflow darkroom' than most people would call a laundry room with covered over windows.

    I do this when I get a yen to print 16x20 or 20x24; there is not enough room in my regular darkroom sink for the large trays these print sizes involve.

    There is one 5x7 safelight in the hall outside the darkroom, and one down in font of the copy camera bench in the overflow darkroom where the mondo tray washer gets put.
    The major work area is lit with an 8x10 safelight hung about 12" below the ceiling and bounces off of a 24x36 peice of white foam core that is stapled to the exposed first floor joists
    The bounced light is very nice to work by.

    Test any safelight rig you have to see how long is safe with a piece of paper that has been exposed to give just the slightest grey. This gets the paper's response up off of the toe of its response curve, where it is more prone to show the effects of subtle fogging.

    As to water, I have heard of people piping water in by garden hose, and dumping it into a plastic garbage can set under a sink bench that is occasionally emptied by an automatic sump pump that can discharge wherever you want.

    I would recommend that you seal whatever floor you have in the shed (don't leave bare concrete) , and staple up plastic or paint the walls to have a hope at getting dust under control. It is bad enough in my basement; an outside shed would be another story to try to keep clean.

    I would also recommend that you plan on a fridge to store paper out there though the summer, and don't put off the ventilation if you want to avoid headaches after printing sessions.
    my real name, imagine that.

  3. #3
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilde View Post
    I would also recommend that you plan on a fridge to store paper out there though the summer, and don't put off the ventilation if you want to avoid headaches after printing sessions.
    Paper and chemicals will still be stored in the house. I will just carry them out when I need them. As the spring and summer near, I'll start looking for a window unit to keep things cool in there.


    It's a wooden frame shed, with plywood floors, but painting/sealing isn't a bad idea. I need to get some blackout curtains to put across the door just in case, but lining the walls with blackout plastic isn't a bad idea either! Thanks for that tip!

  4. #4
    greybeard's Avatar
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    I worked for several years in the converted tackroom of an old horse ranch, with a (heavy) extension cord to the nearest power, which was 50' away. So it can definitely be done.

    However---a plug strip is not a good idea, in general and particularly if you will be running a space heater which will be one for hours at a time. In fact, the NEC requires a dedicated outlet for loads like ovens, space heaters, and air conditioners which will be on for more than some number of hours at a time.

    Since I was going to eventually bury a power line, I went ahead and wired the building with its own subpanel, and made the cord-to-building connection outside where overheating couldn't do any damage. (The other end of the cord was in a dedicated, GFI-protected outlet.)

    An oil-filled convection heater held the temperature just fine, although where I am the outside air rarely drops below about 30 F. Since I use a Metrolux enlarging timer, the (noticeable) voltage drop when the space heater cut in was not a problem; without it, printing would have been a nightmare.

    The same power setup didn't work out quite as well in the summer; I put in the smallest air conditioner that I could find, and it struggled any time the temperature went above about 85 F (this is in a 6x12 room with 5-1/2 inches of insulation in the walls and ceiling!). When I eventually put in the permanent wiring (#10 wire in buried conduit) I discovered that the air conditioner compressor had been tripping off due to undervoltage, leaving the fan running to disguise the problem. (It works fine now).

    If you are going the power-cord route, I would strongly suggest using the largest cord you can manage. A 12-gauge cord is marginal beyond about 100 feet, but the cost of 10-gauge will probably exceed that of UF cable or wire buried in conduit. You should feed from a dedicated circuit with ground fault protection unless you are going to put in a subpanel in the building (in which case you will either need or already have more expertise than I have to share!). Finally, don't underestimate the starting-current requirement of an air conditioning compressor. I did, and to this day I'm still a bit surprised that the thing even survived.

    (I could share a lot of accumulated experience with water supply, etc. but I suspect that you will hear more of that than you have any use for )

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    If there is any possibility of using two heavy-duty extension cords, fed by different circuits, I would definitely suggest that.

    And you can certainly use more than one safelight, providing that the room is big enough to ensure that the portions illuminated by more than one don't receive too much light ("safe" is relative, because if you increase the light level too much, it will fog).

    The oil filled extension heaters are a good idea, because you can turn them off while printing, and they will still radiate heat for some time.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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    Rick A's Avatar
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    If you have enough room in the breaker panel for extra circuits, run either 8/2 with ground (pref) or 10/2 with ground Romex in plastic pipe to the shed. Connect each of the main wires(b and w) to a circuit of its own and use the ground as a neutral back to the panel, and you will have two seperate circuits in the shed. You will have to use a ground rod and wire the recepts to it to be safe. Of course, you can run 220 out to the shed and split it there for seperate 110v circuits.
    I wouldn't run any drains outside, keep a slop bucket under the sink and empty it safely elsewhere.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    1. How many safelights can I have in operation at the same time? I currently have three 5x7 premier lights, but I've only ever used one. Since this space is larger than our studio bathroom I need to light more areas. Does the amount of light matter, if they all have amber glass plates?
    Thanks!
    Since you'll be running extension power out to the shed, maybe consider red LED bulbs. They put out a lot of illumination for the power that they use (3W?) and they supposedly last eternally (?). A plus is that LED lights have a very tight wavelength, very appropriate to B&W paper. Just a thought, trying to help.

  8. #8
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barzune View Post
    Since you'll be running extension power out to the shed, maybe consider red LED bulbs. They put out a lot of illumination for the power that they use (3W?) and they supposedly last eternally (?). A plus is that LED lights have a very tight wavelength, very appropriate to B&W paper. Just a thought, trying to help.
    This is a good suggestion!

    The Rope Lights are worth trying too - I've seen them in US Walmart stores and you can find them on the internet as well:
    http://www.ledropelightsandmore.com/...ustom-cut.html
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  9. #9
    greybeard's Avatar
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    If you have enough room in the breaker panel for extra circuits, run either 8/2 with ground (pref) or 10/2 with ground Romex in plastic pipe to the shed. Connect each of the main wires(b and w) to a circuit of its own and use the ground as a neutral back to the panel, and you will have two seperate circuits in the shed. You will have to use a ground rod and wire the recepts to it to be safe. Of course, you can run 220 out to the shed and split it there for seperate 110v circuits.


    This is one of those things that, as stated, is true but not quite correct. As described, the shed wiring would be ungrounded; a fault between one of the hot wires and anything grounded would not trip the breaker unless the resistance in the dirt between the shed and service entrance (where the lines come down from the power poles) is less than about ten ohms, which is extremely unlikely. Doing this correctly requires a subpanel with a bonded neutral and ground rod, plus outlets grounded to the panel (black, white and green to each outlet); doing it wrong might get someone killed. (The alternative involves running hot, neutral and ground to an unbonded-neutral subpanel in the building.) Since practically everything in a darkroom is within reach of water or something grounded, it only makes sense to ground-fault protect the outlets,and the easiest way to do this is with a ground-fault breaker in the panel.

    Also, using the ground for a neutral is at least as inadvisable as using a white wire for one of the line voltages (not to mention a serious code violation...). Anyone for whom this is not obvious probably should not be doing his own wiring

    I'm not trying to be pedantic here. But the difference between something that works and something that is safe (i.e., it will always work, and without harm) is important.

  10. #10
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greybeard View Post
    Anyone for whom this is not obvious probably should not be doing his own wiring

    Agreed! Hence my comment on running an extension cord. I'll get heavy duty, extra heavy duty, extra extra ridiculous heavy duty if I have to..... but right now I'm not wiring anything or paying anyone to run anything.

    I live by my grandfathers teachings - "two wires... fix it up; three wires... **ck it up!"

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