still have three teenagers in the house and a job.
Me too. Actually 4 teenagers (girls). I'll be the first to tell you that other than the holidays when I may cram in a few batches, I get to make a run about every other month. Actually, my last batch (and first ortho) made in June is about 1/2 used. Checked it last week and it hasn't grown fur so it should still be good. Right now I don't have time to coat the rest of it and still two rolls to shoot up from the last coating. My batches are about 150ml each. I have made single jet and double jet runs and while I haven't actually achieved VAg control, I can accurately measure and track VAg and rudimentary control is within my grasp. That means it isn't hard. There is noting in my setup other than the silver wire that didn't come from a local hardware store. The silver wire I bought online.

Due to time, work and extra-curricular constraints I have never taken any classes. Out of about a dozen runs that I have made, one was a complete dud and one other, the first, wasn't great. Everything else has given something very usable.

Get a credit card that gives you cash reward points and use the points to buy Silver Nitrate. 50 grams will go a long way at small size batches, say 6 to 8 and maybe more. The other chemicals are relatively cheap. Depending on how well I can coat I get 8 to 10 120 size rolls out of a batch. The subbing problem has been solved for coating on PET (there are various ways) and glass I understand is not a problem at all.

VAg control is not necessary at all. Don't even think about it unless that curiosity level strikes you. Cyanine dyes for panchromatic film get expensive but erythrosine for ortho is not. (Search here and figure out why) Again, don't worry about panchromatic till that peaks your interest. You don't need T-Grains - although it is one of those holy grails.

Use your moments of down time to read some of the old literature or search out some of the landmark books from the used online bookstores. Yes, there are pristine copies of Glafkides listed for well over $400. You don't need pristine. Patience will find you a serviceable set in the $50 range. Baker's 2nd edition is often well over $100. I got mine for about $40 and it is like new except for a faded spine. I missed a copy on the big auction site for a whopping $2.48, no doubt to someone within our ranks here. (Congrats if it was you!)

You do not need EK, Ilford, etc. consistency and quality just like you don't need a Ferrari to go to the grocery store or the latest, greatest Nikon to take a picture of your kid. Fords work just fine. Keep that in mind.

Carbon printing is a mystery to me. And what in the world is gum printing? Gum is something for teenage girls that I can't possibly imagine printing anything with.

Tweak the knobs.

-- Jason