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.