View Full Version : Questions about building a UV Light Box

21-Jul-2017, 11:45
I am building a UV Light Box as specified in “The New Platinum Print” book by Sullivan and Weese (pp 86-88). I am almost done sourcing all the materials to begin my build but I have a few questions before I start.

The parts list calls for six (6) “120V-20 Watt preheat trigger start ballast.” I am getting the lamps (https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/2220/F-20T12BL.html) from 1000bulbs.com and they suggested I used “rapid start” ballasts (https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/111434/BF-WHCG5120T12RS.html). Is this okay or should I stick exactly with what the book calls for? If so, why? What’s the difference?

What is the “White Paint-High Gloss Water Base” is for? It’s listed in the parts list but I don’t see it in the instructions.

Similar question about “3 Large Wire Nuts.” What is this used for and what is the exact size that I need? I went to HomeDepot to get all the parts and they couldn’t help me because they didn’t know what “Large” meant for Sullivan-Weese. These wire nuts come in exact sizes. Do I need these, and, if so, what for and does anyone know what size do I need?

Those are all the questions I have so far, before I start. I’m sure all I have more during the build…


karl french
21-Jul-2017, 11:54
I have a lighthood I want to part with. You'll likely want to make a stand for it. Lets talk.

21-Jul-2017, 12:07
These are wire nuts (https://smile.amazon.com/Electrical-Connectors-Terminals-Connection-Assortment/dp/B01MPXUEPO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1500663829&sr=8-3&keywords=wire+nuts). Use the size that is appropriate (http://www.homedepot.com/c/wire_connectors_shop_for_cable_and_wire_connectors_HT_BG_EL) for the gauge and quantity of wires you will be connecting.

I don't see any advantage to using preheat. Rapid start will give longer lamp life according to the research I just now did. YMMV.

21-Jul-2017, 16:28
One more question. Which lamp sockets should I get? The parts list only says, "24 Snap-in Medium BI-PIN Lamp Sockets." Based on the lamps I'm getting (see link above), which sockets should I get?


21-Jul-2017, 16:53
You really should get someone local who is an electrical hobbyist, radio amateur, or helpful pro to look at the book and advise your project. If nothing else, it will provide some reassurance of the safety of your project.

If you don't know what size wire nuts to get, you shouldn't be doing this. Doing something wrong could cause a fire or shock... If you run your box for a minute or two to warm it up before making exposures, it won't much matter which ballasts to get.

There are threads archived on here of people, such as myself, building UV boxes which might provide construction clues.

22-Jul-2017, 19:31
Hi macandal,
It sounds like you are down the road toward a fluorescent lamp solution so was wondering if you had taken a look at the build I did HERE in the forum (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?107360-Another-UV-Light-Box-(16x20))? It is not the only one, though, so you might take a look and search for others since I 'stole' some ideas from them as well.

1) As far as the ballasts are concerned, I used the ones I did because each one controlled 4 bulbs instead of the ones that only controlled 2 like the project you are looking at. Saved me some money and they work fine. The difference is mainly the time it takes to get the bulb up to full output. Given the long exposures you are going to have with almost any Alt process, a second or 2 of additional time to come to full output would make any ballast type work acceptably well, IMHO. Just be aware that the type of 'tombstone' or bulb mount used must match the type of ballast. There are 2 types and I talk a little about the differences in my project post.

2) I'm guessing that the white paint is to coat the inside of the box to allow the light to bounce around inside rather than be absorbed by whatever material lines the box. The idea is that some of that bounced UV light will end up hitting the surface of the material, shortening the exposure some. In mine, I lined it with aluminum foil instead. Don't know which might be better but foil was easier for me so...

3) The wire nuts are to be used on the wires from the ballasts to the wires from the 'tombstones' and to the other various connections (again, see some of the pictures on my project). The size will depend on the gauge of the wire you use and the number of wires that come together in each connection. For most projects of this type (if you are using 120V and a few inch runs) 14 or 16 gauge will be fine. Solid core will be best since you will have to insert it into the 'tombstones'. You can see my use of wire nuts in the picture HERE (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=102495&d=1380288417). Some of them only tied a couple of wires together so they were not very large. Others were larger. In the picture, the yellow and red ones were medium size and the orange ones large. Once you get the wiring figured out, then talk to your hardware guy/girl and, when you tell them how many wires of what gauge you need to connect they will be able to give you the exact right ones.

Sorry for the long text but I didn't have time to make it shorter.

One final thing, there are some who have had some good success with using LED strip lights instead of bulbs, like my friend Eric Biggerstaff who documented it HERE in the forum (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?122508-LED-UV-Light-Box-Build-Your-Own-for-Under-150&highlight=biggerstaff). There have been some issues with LEDs that some have had, however. But the cost and complexity is less so you might take a look unless you are too far down the road with bulbs.

Hope this helps, Jim