Water temperature control

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Hello all,

I am upgrading my darkroom. I do most of my fiberbase BW printing in a Jobo which gives me great control, but I am expanding my darkroom to have tray capability as well. If I stay with the Jobo, then my main need for temp contol will be for the archival washer and occasional use of trays. If I start doing tray processing of prints then the water temp becomes more important.

Options thus far are:

To use a thermometer in whatever liquid I am using (cheap and easy).

A thermometer that sticks into the water line after the cold and hot lines so that readings can more easily be made. I have noticed that Delta makes one for about $50.

A fancier control panel for mixing, analog or digital. I understand that these can get pricey fast.

May I please elicit the forumís advice on this topic?


-- Scott Jones (scottsdesk@attbi.com), April 21, 2002


Rather than waste water on using a continuous flow, I have an electronic thermometer, and I place the sensor in the developer. I develop at 70 degrees. If the temperature drifts down a half degree or so, I raise the temperature of the water bath enough to bring it drifting back towards 70 degrees. I use a stainless steel tray for development and raise it up a bit so that there is good response to changes in water bath temperature. Since the response for these thermometers is so quick, it's easy to monitor both the temperature of the bath and the developer at the same time.

While this is more control than one really needs for black and white print development, I recommend having one of these thermometers in any darkroom. They are VERY CONVENIENT.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), April 21, 2002.


I recommend the Hass Water Temping unit. There are several models, and if you call them they can tell you the best one for your particular use. I have found them to be extremely easy to use - just set the temperature and when the water reaches the correct temperature it will flash a red indicator. It used microprocessor controlled solenoids to continuously control the precise mix of water.


-- Mike Rosenberg (mprosenberg@earthlink.net), April 21, 2002.

I know that Jobo makes a vertical four-tray insert for its rotary machines for $200. It's not difficult to swap the Jobo pieces around. Of course, it limits your print size to 8x10.

-- Brian C. Miller (brian.c.miller@gte.net), April 21, 2002.

You can find good used water temp controllers on eBay at very reasonable prices these day~~especially compared to new.

-- J. Wolfe (bigbad810@hotmail.com), April 21, 2002.

I don't think the temperature control is quite so critical when printing/washing with the exception of the developing step. I just use an inexpensive dial thermometer to get that right and set my room thermostat to 68 degrees to minimize drift. The other chemicals and wash water should be close to that, but I haven't found that its critical(unlike with film).

For film, I use the same thermometer, but would get the fancier plumbed version if I had the money. However, I would probably still use the hand thermo to double check everything (!)

-- Chris Jordan (Boston) (postmaster@jordanphoto.com), April 22, 2002.

Scott, a water panel is a luxury for basic b&w processing...for color it's a necessity...we use a few where I work, including an Intellifaucet. I think that's overkilll for b&w though, you can probably find a used mechanical water panel, but you'll probably have to rebuild it. New, low-tech ones, run around $350 or so. If you go this route, you must have hot & cold water filters prior to the panel. Personally, I feel an Intellifaucet is overkill for b&w. We use two Regal/Arkay panels for our b&w stuff, and the Intellifaucet on an E6 processor. Depending on what part of the country you live in, and what season it is, you'll have to keep an eye on the incoming water temps....for instance, we run a water chiller for much of the year, and mix the chilled cold water with untempered cold & hot as well....our incoming cold is often above 85 degrees....fwiw, I paid less than 50 bucks for a used Leedal panel in my own darkroom...I had to rebuild the entire thing practically though....I run my film & print washer off it, but I don't really need it....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), April 22, 2002.

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