If you could automate your film processing, would you?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BHuij, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. Adrian Bacon

    Adrian Bacon Subscriber
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    Yep. Fish tank heater isn’t hot enough. I use a 48 quart picnic cooler to hold a water bath, then drop a 1000 watt bucket heater into it hooked up to a digital temperature controller with a large fish tank pump pumping water over/through the heater and a secondary smaller tank pump to generally circulate/mix up the water bath. The controller can monitor/control the temp to within 0.1 degree Celsius and can be used for heating or cooling (its programmable) over a massive temperature range. Set it to 20 for bw, and 37.8 for Flexicolor C-41.

    The bucket heater was about $50 if I remember correctly and the temp controller was about $30. The two pumps and various tubing odds/ends was less than $30 and the cooler was $15 or something. Super precise and has taken a lot of the variation out of my process.

    I use Paterson tanks, so for agitation I’ve thought about taking a skinny metal rod with a t-bar on the end, sticking it in a drill then sticking that into the tank where the twiddle stick goes. Set the drill to the slowest speed it’ll go, and at the agitation intervals, hit the trigger for 1-2 seconds, hit the reverse, then hit the trigger again for 1-2 seconds. This would allow for pretty consistent agitation and the tank could stay in the bath for even more consistent temperature. I’ve not done the drill part just yet, but it’s an idea. Rolls would probably not be a problem, but not sure how it’d go for sheets with a Mod54.
     
  2. btaylor

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    Adrian, I have a similar set up with the exception of the temp controller-- what is it and where did you get it? I have a Phototherm tempering tank with circulation but the heater has gone bad so I use the bucket heater manually.
     
  3. Adrian Bacon

    Adrian Bacon Subscriber
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    It’s the wilhi WH1436A. I got it on amazon. It switches up to 1100 watts and you can calibrate the probe. I used a secondary high precision food grade thermometer to calibrate it and keep an old school dial thermometer in the bath as a quick sanity check.

    The bucket heater is the allied precision one, also available on Amazon. My bottles that go in the tempering bath are 32 oz. amber glass growler bottles, also available on amazon. You can also get Astropaq wine bag in a box kits on amazon. They’re awesome. I make up a batch of chems put it in the bag and bleed all the air out. Keeps for a loooong time and I can just take the box and put it up high out in the garage so it’s reasonably out of reach from my kids.
     
  4. btaylor

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    Thanks Adrian. Such a simple automated temp control system. This will make my color processing even simpler than it is now. I use the heater to warm things up to about 105 degrees and let it drift down to 100, this controller will make it too easy!
     
  5. Adrian Bacon

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    Your welcome. Gotta love the simple things. A little google or amazon foo fixes a lot of problems.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
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    hi again BHuij
    an idea to think about for people who don't want to
    buy into buying film reels might be to
    have the ridges like the old unicolor drums had ( for sheets ) and
    have the tank wide enough ... that it can accomodate any
    pre-owned plastic or metal reel .. meaning have a sleeve you insert
    inside the tank that is like one of those bamboo mats used to make
    roll-sushi ( cheap and effective ) you slide it in, it picks up
    the space between the reel and the wall, and put that film reels in the tank.
    i have a unicolor drums and roller kit and for years i would put any film reel i had
    in there ... i didn't use any of the unicolor ones .. and it worked great.
    good luck with your project ! processing film is the biggest stumbling block
    amongst photographers ... if you could invent a robot to load film on reels
    that would be useful too ..
     
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