This year for Christmas my sister asked me to make my niece Sophie a toy oven. So I did!
It’s a simple wooden box made from 25mm pine framing covered in MDF and painted.
The door is simply hinged to the front and has a piece of clear acrylic for a window. I wanted a much wider handle but the short one was all I could find (without getting into stupidly expensive designer kitchen stuff). The door is held shut with a magnetic cupboard catch. The top elements are made from a scrap piece of red perspex I had. I photographed an element on my own real oven then printed that out onto paper that I cut to fit under the plastic. It’s a bit tricky to photograph as the red cuts out too much light. In real life you can see the ‘elements’ under the plastic easily.
The control panel is some scrap aluminium that was part of the horrible original body on my Austin 7. I got some little black knobs from Surplustronics and glued short lengths of aluminium into them to fit through the panel. The knobs are then held on from behind with a spring which is held in place by a washer and a split pin passing through a cross hole in the shaft. This allows the knobs to turn but not fall off. I use a disc of felt under the knob so it doesn’t scrape on the front panel itself.
The big, red knob is actually a clockwork kitchen timer I got cheaply from a kitchen shop. That is simple bolted to the front panel. You dial in a time and it ticks down and rings a bell when it’s ready.
The labelling is the equivalent of Letraset dry transfers. This oven is of course the famous New Zealand Fusher and Pookal brand. I added the lettering and symbols then sprayed the panel with several coats of clear varnish to protect them.
The inside of the oven has two removable racks (removed from my own kitchen actually) and a bottom element. That element is made from clear vinyl tube filled with red acrylic paint. The ends of the tube were blocked off with ball bearings (from inside old spray paint cans) and then sealed with hot glue. It is held in tool clips screwed to the oven floor.
The inside of the oven is painted matt black. The outside was painted with white enamel paint. To finish off the oven I made a cardboard box from scraps I had left over from covering the car (you temporarily cover the frame with cardboard to check the shape).
I stencilled the Fusher and Pookal brand on the box by cutting out the lettering on a sheet of paper then laying that over the box and spraying over it. Tomorrow is Christmas so I will see if I can fit a large toy oven into a small MGB! I’ll try to get some pictures of Sophie playing with it.
Update: She likes it!
OK, it’s been a while since I updated this. Not because I haven’t been doing anything, I have been doing lots, but because my internet went on a go slow for a week. Vodafone couldn’t find anything wrong and in the end it turned out to be my modem/router which had decided to go bung. New modem now and things are working much better.
So, where was I? The photography stuff continues. The darkroom is all working now. There was the tiniest leak around the pipe at the back of the toilet which was enough to see in black put mode. Some sealant took care of that. I made a temporary contact printing light consisting of a 15 watt bulb on a wooden stand and I also made a red LED safelight using an LED bulb from Surplustronics.
The bulb is one of these and I am powering it from a 12 volt supply though a simple LM317 regulator so I can turn the voltage down to dim the bulb. This works really well. I did a test with the bulb in the darkroom and at full brightness the paper I used remained unaffected for over 15 minutes. I sit the light on the floor and let the glow reflect off the walls.
The printing stand I only used once but it did work. The bulb was too bright (or too close) so the exposure time was only a couple of seconds. Too fast to have real control over exposures. I did get some contact prints though.
The developing of the prints if very cool. The trays and tongs work well and it’s really exciting seeing the images fade in when you put the paper in the developer.
The printing stand only got used once since a bargain came up on TradeMe which I grabbed. An enlarger! There are lots of these about and they are cheap these days. The problem is getting one that doesn’t need shipping as they are bloody heavy! This one was nearby so I got it. It’s made in Poland apparently and will do 35mm and 120 roll film. It only has one lens though so to do 120 properly I think I need a new (longer) lens for it. It should be fine for contact printing until I do though.
This is a colour enlarger so it actually has three coloured filters you can dial in and out. I am only doing black and white of course but they could be useful.
I also picked up a 120 roll camera, a Braun Norca IV Super, circa 1955. This cleaned up really well. I did have to remove the shutter and give it a good cleaning as the longer shutter speeds would jam up. I had to make a tool to unscrew the lens assembly and then used lighter fluid to clean the shutter. After that it works great. One of the lenses had a spot of fungus on it but a little dilute white vinegar on a cotton bud took car of that.
I’ve been using it to take pictures and it works great. All totally manual of course but it does the trick. I also bought a cheap ($1!) CDS light meter and that has helped a lot too. I still need to finish building my own light meter using the Arduino and the light sensor I got from Mindkits.
I also bought something I have long lusted for. A Minox camera. These are the classic spy camera (they were actually used by spies) and even James Bond had one although for some reason he used his upside down!
Mine is the same model, a IIIs. These things really are sex on a stick and despite the odd film size they can still be used and take surprisingly good pictures. Well, so I hear. I am dying to try it out for myself but it is a bit tricky. The negatives are only 8 x 11mm and the film is a strip about 9.5mm wide and up to 50 exposures long. The film lives in tiny cartridges that pop into the bottom of the camera.
These cartridges are tricky to get of course, especially in New Zealand. But you can still get them new! I ordered some from MSHobbies in the UK. The good thing is once you have the cartridges you can reload them yourself by cutting up normal 35mm or 120 roll film into strips. There are various gadgets and ways to do that and I think I can make something easily using razor blades and 35mm film. Of course that all has to be done in complete darkness but with the darkroom I can now do that. MSHobbies were very good to deal with and most helpful. The prices aren’t too bad given this is an obscure format on the other side of the world.
No developing the film is also a problem. I was thinking of all kinds of ways to get around this. Developing in trays in the dark, modifying an existing reel to make it smaller (I even bought a cheap second one to look at doing this) or taping the negatives to a carrier of some sort.
The correct way is to use the proper Minox daylight developing tank, a thing apparently as beautifully designed as the camera itself. No chance of getting one in NZ I thought and they seem to go for high prices on eBay and in the UK. Then I found one on Aussie eBay. I won that today, being the only bidder (for Aus$75 plus shipping). I am quite pleased since that and the camera make a complete unit now. Once a make a film splitter I am Minox self sufficient!
I cleaned the camera up using citrus based cleaner (used for removing sticky labels) on a cotton bud and it came up really well. Not mint but nice.
The chain on the camera has beads on it to show distance. The camera will focus down to 8 inches which is why spies liked it for photographing documents. The chain has beads marking 8, 10 12 and 16 inches and the chain itself is exactly 24 inches long.
So now I am waiting for my Minox film, my developing tank and for a excuse to go and try printing some pictures with the new enlarger.
I have also done more on the bus sign (remember that?). I started building the limit switch mechanism. This is just a steel base with two vertical ends to which I have attached bearings using the same method I used on the main rollers.
I simply plug welded the end plates to the base then filed down the welds. The bearings are held in machined plastic caps made from chopping board. I use the same skateboard bearings which take an 8mm shaft and am using 8mm threaded rod through them. Between the end plates I shall attach a Teflon plate. A captive nut on the threaded rod will slide back and forth along the Teflon as the threaded rod turns. The nut will then hit micro-switches at the end of the travel of the blind turning off the motor in that direction.
I also strung up Steed finally!
More work now needed on his electronics and on staining his wooden stand.
I have also done a lot on the Austin but that’s in that other blog.
This week I have been busy playing with the borrowed sewing machine and I made up some black curtains to turn the bathroom into a dark room. Unfortunately it turned out one layer of the black fabric I bought wasn’t enough and in direct afternoon sunlight there was a definite red glow coming through it. So I bought more fabric today and redid the curtain double thickness.
A wooden dowel slides through the top and hooks over two 3M sticky hooks. I sewed Velcro tabs to the sides and bottom so I can firmly attach the curtain to the bathroom wall. The walls are white so I used white Vercro on them and black Velcro on the curtain itself. The curtain can be easily put up then taken down to be stored. I did the same for covering the door but a single layer is fine there as it only has to block light leaking through the cracks around the sides, not direct sunlight.
I did a test where I waited 5 minutes in total darkness and I still couldn’t see my hand right in front of my face. Am quite interested to see if having a bath in total darkness is like being in some kind of isolation tank but that’s an experiment for another day.
I also today bought some better trays for developing prints in. At the Warehouse I found these plastic containers that actually came with clip on lids. They were cheap, only $6 each and they have ribbed bottoms rather than simply flat. Internal dimension are about 8 inches by 12 inches. I was able to get three different colours too.
I bought off TradeMe some Tupperware mini plastic tongs for $2 each which will be very handy. Also from TradeMe I bought a cheap second hand book, The Darkroom Handbook by Michael Langford, which should tell me what I need to know to get started.
After finishing the curtains I did another project I have been wanting to do for absolutely ages. It’s my tribute to the Godfather films – The Godfather chopped off horse head hot water bottle cosy. This is of course from the scene where Mr Woltz wakes up to find his favourite horses severed head in the bed with him.
Now this is only the second thing I have sewn so it’s a bit rough but it works well and is actually usable! I used some fleecy type material (no idea what it’s called) and some felt. I just printed a paper pattern, cut around it leaving enough extra for a seam the sewed it furry side out then turned it inside out. Was a bit hard to sew as it didn’t feed well but it worked in the end.
None of my female friends would help me with it since they said it was icky (*) so I had to wait till I was able to do it myself.
* Actual quote!
My weekends are definitely not long enough. All that time wasted spent sleeping and eating and shopping and so on.
This weekend I finished Steed, well the puppety parts. I still need to string him up and work on his electronics.
His hair is furry material and since his hat can’t come off (his strings pass through it) I didn’t actually need to glue it in place. It’s just held in place by the hat and strings. His eyebrows are a lighter fur (Steed seemed to have light eye brows).
To string him up and to display him I needed a stand so I made one from bits of left over wood I found in my garage. It needs to be quite tall since Steed is operated standing up. Hanging from the stand is his controller. I will varnish the stand and paint the controller matt black.
I also started working on his electronics again. I found the old sketches and upgraded them to Arduino 1.0.1. I need to get the Waveshield I bought working again first to provide the voice then I can work on the rest.
I also did more photography things. This was one of the pictures I took last week that came out interestingly. There are kind of streamers in it. I am not sure why at all. Just a trick of the light I guess. I think I am still under-developing my negatives though so next time I shall try a 4 minute dev time.
These are a few more pictures. I had to tweak them after scanning though since my exposure/developing was all messed up. One was an accidental double exposure. I also seem to have a light leak causing the lighter horizontal bar in the shots.
Apparently people pay for mobile phone apps to make photographs look crappy. I seem to have a natural talent for it!
I also did more towards making my bathroom light tight so I can use it as a darkroom and do contact prints. Last week I bought some dark, black fabric to make temporary curtains for the window and door. Penny let me borrow her sewing machine so I can try to sew them up. I haven’t used a machine since, errr form 1, when I was 11. I did one seam fine then ran out of thread. Bugger.
I also made a wooden top to fit over the bath as somewhere I can put my trays and chemicals. I am painting it now. The light grey is a sealer coat but I shall paint it a flat, dark colour eventually.
I am having trouble getting suitable developing trays. None of the camera places here actually carry them. Or much else darkroom equipment these days in fact. I did get some small paint roller trays though for $5.50 each (with rollers!) that might do. Bunnings to the rescue again! They are just fractionally smaller than 10 by 12 inches though which is a standard photo paper size.
I also started work on the limit switch mechanism for the bus blind sign. This is simply a metal frame with a bearing at each end. I will attach them in the same way I did the bearings on the main sign rollers. An 8mm threaded rod will run within the bearings. On the base of the frame will be a Teflon plate over which a captive nut can slide, driven by the threaded rod. The rod will be driven via the nut holding the motor sprocket in place. Or I might try making a smaller sprocket driven off the chain itself. The captive nut will drive a bell crank lever to increase the movement. My sign needs 16 turns from end to end which is less than an inch of movement of the nut. I want to increase that so setting the limit switches isn’t so fiddly. It will all make sense once I make it.
I also worked on the car but that’s in the other blog.
During the week I played a little more with the camera. I am now using Fuji Acros 100 film. It is MUCH better than the crappy Shanghai stuff. I also know the right way to develop it which helps no end. I also got a small tripod to attach the camera to and a little bag to keep it all in.
This weekend there was an air show on at Ardmore (first flight of a restored Mosquito aircraft) so I went along and tried taking some pictures there. It was a very bright day and I over estimated a lot of my shutter times but I got a few shots. I also muffed a couple by forgetting to remove the dark slide again. I need a ‘Remove before flight’ label on it!
The film developed fine and I tried scanning in a couple of shots using my flat bed scanner. Having decent film that was properly developed shows this doesn’t work very well.
You can see the scanner makes everything slightly fuzzy, especially if you look at the frame numbers which are actually printed on the film. The negatives are much sharper. I need to start doing contact printing I think. Also the camera is bloody hard to aim! I’ll get better with practice I am sure but maybe some kind of viewfinder would be a good idea.
I also started work on the Arduino based light meter.