No Power Source in Perfect Darkroom Space

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by robin_cruz, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Having waited over a year, an opportunity to rent a clean garage space has finally come up. There is no water supply or power source, but the rent and convenience to my home, are all pluses. Running water is not a problem as I can soak prints then take home. But my plan to acquire a small Honda generator, 2nd hand, has been thrown into doubt. An experienced colleague asked if i'de considered carbon monoxide fumes from the generator? I hadn't. Of course there's no ventilation, save when the door is lifted. The second problem he suggests, is the fluctuating current, which would render precise exposure times, also Printo developing times, inaccurate.
    This long running headache I am determined to resolve. My long awaiting equipment comprises of a Durst 5x4 Laborator enlarger, a table top Printo, safety light, and an additional light not yet purchased.
    My friend suggested having the generator in front of the garage door would attract the wrong kind of attention. The garage is part of a row serving two blocks of flats, in a well maintained housing association. There is a power source several yards away for gardening and maintenance. It's unrealistic to run a cable as the intervening space is a public garden, though I had considered befriending the janitor, to discuss a power source being run from... somewhere.
    Any advice would be gratefully received. I'm no electrician as is apparent.
  2. Use a couple or three big marine-grade 12V lead-acid batteries on cart/handtruck. Hook up an appropriate inverter to get you the power you need for the enlarger. When you've run the batteries down, cart them someplace you can hook them up to a charger. Just another strategy of many possible.
  3. If you own a trailer or in my case a Sailboat you know that 12 volt light bulbs are very good, and would work in a enlarger. You could even use a solar cell to charge the battery during the day. Something like this (see link) , would work in most enlargers that I have used. Might not work for color printing as well, but certainly for B&W should work fine.
  4. If you solve the generator location problem then a power conditioner would help with the power fluctuations
  5. I agree with Matt. Generator is an overkill. You only need electricity for a safelight and enlarger. For a safelight get a battery-operated flashlight or a lantern and put a red Roscoe filter on it. For enlarger, I would get a marine battery and one of those led light sources that periodically show up on bay of e. LED requires very little power, so a battery will last you a very long time.
    I bet that the LED light can be easily converted to 12V power source, in which case even inverter becomes optional.
  6. Really helpful - thanks guys.
  7. At one time I saw a self-contained battery/inverter combo at Wal Mart that was reasonbly portable. While it wouldn't have the capacity of the marine deep cycle batteries with inverter, it could probably power the enlarger and safelight for as long as you'd care to print in one session. One plus, though, with the higer capacity batteries and inverter, is that you could also run a small fan for ventillation.
  8. Just a passing thought but my enlarger, though mains-powered, needs a transformer because the lamp is a 12V 100 watt quartz-halogen type, hence the lead-acid accumulators would do the job striaght off. What type of lamp does the Durst use?
  9. How about a real long extension cord. You need a constant steady flow of AC to keep the enlarger light from fluctuating especially if you are going to be working with Color.
  10. Large batteries will certainly work with a 12V lamp. Make sure you choose a deep cycle battery, a standard car battery will be fine for a short time, but they don't like being discharged and will fail relatively quickly.
    Beware that as the battery discharges its voltage will drop so you may find that exposure times will start to extend during the session. For colour work this is critical as the colour of the halogen lamp will change.
    Get the highest capacity battery you can afford (or lift!) or even think about 2 smaller ones.
    A 150 W lamp will take about 12 Amps. The capacity of a battery is measured in Amp hours, so base your battery size on the amount of time you think you will be running the enlarger for, and allow double so your battery never drops below half charge. Example: 2 hours use = 24 Ah so battery needed is 48Ah. These are just ballpark figures, exact results will vary a little depending on how the battery manufacturer specs its products.
  11. Contact the janitor, ask what they would suggest. Things might be easier than you think. Wouldn't hurt to ask.
  12. I bought a 400 watt inverter at Target for $45. It was enough to run my 17" MacBook Pro or a couple of 150 watt halogen construction lights. Your car has a battery, right? Run an extension cord from it, and start the car every half hour (or after each session), so you don't run it flat. Make sure you have a jump-starter in your car, just in case you forget, and run the battery too low.
    Yes, you may have to get a new battery for your car sooner. Especially if you use your garage dark room often, but it's under warranty, right? (Good batteries have a 72 month warranty, so if you ruin your battery in 1 year, you're covered.) You can run an extension cord down to the ground from the inverter under your hood, so you don't have to keep your hood up. Make sure you don't start your car with the extension cord or inverter in place under the hood of your car! That could be bad.
  13. I thought about this most of the day. How about some LED lighting. Buy a small solar kit with batteries and put a few solar panels up that can charge on off days you aren't developing and you'll have a pretty much automatic charging light source anytime you need lights.
  14. I guess what it comes down to is you are going to have to spend $100 or more, no matter how you look at it, unless you already have an inverter or one of those jump start devices. Extension cords are cheap. In the overall scheme of things though, $100 really is not much, considering what you'll be paying for chemicals (make sure you have good ventilation!), paper, and film.
  15. Hi Robyn,
    Just a clarification. There is NO power in this space? Not even an overhead light? If there is a light, you could tap into in for power. You'd need an adaptor.
    How light-tight is this space?
  16. There are lots of ways to overcome the electrical issue but if there is no running water at this location you are just kidding yourself. It's one thing to use a room at home without water -- you mix your chemicals in the bathroom and carry the containers a few feet, or carry your wet prints in a tray a few feet to be washed. The idea of lugging chemicals and jugs of water someplace int he car and carrying wet prints home to be washed is entirely different. If I were you I would give up on this location and rethink what you need.
    I assume that you have a bathrroom in your home, whether you home is a house or an apartment. If you do, then you already have a darkroom. I have developed and printed in countless bathroom darkrooms, some semin-permanent, some set up on the run in hotel rooms for just a couple of hours. You can easily cover windows and lightproof doors. Use a changing bag if all you're doing is developing film (as opposed to printing). And most importantly of all you have running water and electriciity.
  17. Sorry, find someplace else...good luck
  18. Boy... those last two posts sound ominous.
    I'de got as far as speaking to a marine supplier in central London (UK!), who knew everything about the batteries recommended here. He directed me towards the caravan industry, saying it was less specialized, therefore cheaper.
    In response to Craig, the beauty of the garage is you can spread out. But I will think through the water problem again. I too converted my previous flat to an exposure room (bedroom) & dev room (kitchen). Having the basic necessities does overcome all problems, except the space to move about, leave your setup overnight, plus have a different place to go to. I'm not sure I want to do it again.
    In response to William, I hoped for a ceiling light for that very reason, but they're just a basic parking space. It is superbly light-tight, bar the sides of the push up door. But I can remedy that. Ventilation is poor.
    Studio spaces in UK are pretty expensive. In the central area of London there are converted offices, taken over by practicing artists. Studio sharing is another option.
    My technical data; CLS 500 Colour Head, with 250 Watt tungsten halogen lamp; mains via voltage stabilizer EST 500 output 24 V 275 VA.
    I'm going to think about this. I appreciate the helpful responses from everyone. Really fantastic stuff. Here's some of my work:
  19. Keep in mind that your enlarger bulb will not be lit for hours upon hours. A pair of deep-cycle batteries in series to give 24v will probably work very well.
    You'll need a wagon or cart to bring them along and back home for recharging. You can take some water jugs on the cart as well. Can you wheel the wagon straight into the room?
    Don't abandon hope.
  20. w/o AC, you are going to have to find a spring powered timer.
    All the timers that I have and know of are AC line powered.
  21. Thanks Bill and previous posts on battery requirements.
    Re. the water issue. After thinking it through and talking to a colleague, it's not a reason to adandon things. Schlepping water from home, is not complicated, the distance is about 400 meters - but there are several well kept green spaces serving several housing complexes, nearby. I know both gardeners to chat to, and have seen them hook up their hose pipe for gardening. There is a garden outside my garage, which must have a tap nearby. I'll ask.
    Re Bill's point on access, the darkroom space has clear access off road. My flat is a pleasant 5 mins walk. My home is on the 2nd floor however.
    Thanks Duane re rechargeable light sources.
    My next port of cal, is to buy a caravan magazine and research the batteries. Last I was not enable to do this.
  22. Robin, it sounds as if you are in the UK.
    Check out this site for RV information:
    You can ask them about caravan batteries.
    Good Luck.

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