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Thread: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

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  1. #1

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    Unhappy Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    We just got a new Aristo cold light head (model 57-C-V54-110V) and we're trying to figure out how to make it work right and wondering if it might be defective.

    The unit is a single metal box with a switch on the side, and 2 power cords coming out - one thick 3-prong, and one thin 2-prong. The unit was shipped new but didn't come with instructions (grr!), but I found some instructions on the aristo web site. They aren't terribly clear, but I think I can puzzle out the following:

    1. The thick 3-prong cord ("thermo cord") and switch ("thermo switch") are for the heater/thermostat; the thick cord should always be plugged in and the switch should be left on all day while you're using the unit.

    2. The thin 2-prong cord plugs into your timer and is used to turn the light on and off.

    But our unit isn't behaving as expected from the above, instead what we are seeing is:

    1. If we plug in the 3-prong thermo cord and leave the 2-prong cord unplugged, we can turn the light on and off using the thermo switch. That doesn't seem to make sense since the lamp shouldn't go on unless it is getting power from the timer, right? So if the unit was working right, the lamp should never go on with the timer cord unplugged, right?

    2. If we then also plug the 2-prong timer cord into the timer, it doesn't make any difference whether the timer says the lamp should be on or off, the lamp still only goes on and off when the switch is used. (We know the timer is working because we use it for other stuff).

    So... If anyone is using this device or similar, please let us know if ours seems to be defective, or if we're just confused (and if so, please shed some light on the situation!).

    -- Alex Benenson

    P.S. I find it hard to believe that a $350 piece of darkroom equipment doesn't include instructions!

  2. #2
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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    Aristo Lighting Technologies
    400 Captain Neville Drive
    Waterbury, CT 06705
    Tel: 203-575-3425
    Fax: 203-575-3456

    They have answered all my detailed questions, on several occasions.

    See http://www.aristogrid.com/prod02C.htm

  3. #3
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    I don't know the Aristo unit, but the expected operation you describe matches my Zone VI, except that mine doesn't have a switch on the housing or anywhere else; the light is intended for external switching only. Some cold lights have an integrator output (connects a liqht level sensor for use with a compensating timer), but I wouldn't expect that to output via a mains-compatible cord, because 120 V would destroy the sensor instantly; my Zone VI has this fed out via a large DIN connector. Alternate is that the 2-prong may supply the heater (it's a low draw type, vaguely similar to an aquarium heater, just intended to keep the tube around 90-100 F to stabilize output) and the 3-prong is for the lamp (which needs a heavier cord due to startup draw); that's backward from my Zone VI, but easy to verify (i.e. if you plug both in and operate the lamp for 15 minutes, then unplug the 3-prong and check in half an hour, is the lamp housing still warm?).

    I agree, however, that it's a little strange that *any* substantial piece of new equipment doesn't include some kind of operating instructions -- especially electrical/electronic equipment with significant safety hazards if operated improperly, in addition to the likelihood of damage to the unit. I'd start by contacting the dealer who sold you the unit, followed by the distributor for Aristo or the manufacturer directly.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  4. #4

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    Donald, thank you for the tip regarding the possibility that the cords may be reversed. I'm trying what you recommend now - just have the 2-prong cord plugged in and the switch on to see if the unit gets warm. I'll let you know what happens. If you're right, then Aristo's online instructions need to be fixed!

  5. #5

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    Donald, you were right. Thanks very much. I'll send an email to Aristo letting them know that their online instructions need to be fixed (and that they need to include instructions WITH the unit too!).

  6. #6
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.



    Glad it was something simple...
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  7. #7

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    I would also open it up and trace the wiring. I have a T-12, and the heavy three-wire cord is the heater cord which runs through an on/off switch and a thermostat to small heaters, and the thinner two-wire cord is the timer cord which runs directly to the transformer. The operation of my T-12 matches the instructions you found on the Aristo website, and I think is pretty standard for cold lights.

  8. #8

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    Eric, I looked inside, see the pics below. I assume the little gold things are the heaters? The wiring is not easy to trace, everything seems to be interconnected. If you can see anything informative in the pictures, let me know.




  9. #9

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    OK, I've done further testing and now I am convinced the unit is defective. I took the cover off and plugged each cord in turn into AC power and then both cords (I was VERY careful!). Here's what I found:

    When the 2 prong (thin) cord alone is plugged in, the heaters get hot, whether the switch is on or off (I'm assuming the heaters are the small gold/brass colored things in the pics above).

    When the 3 prong (thick) cord alone is plugged in, the switch turns the lamp on and off.

    If both cords are plugged in, the above behavior doesn't change, which means the heaters are on and the switch controls the lamp.

  10. #10

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    Re: Aristo Cold Light Head - Help! Timer question.

    I've been looking at your pictures, and looking at my T-12. Except for the number of heaters (gold things), they are almost identical.

    The thick, 3-prong cord on my T-12 connects through the switch and a thermostat (that's the small device that the green ground wire connects to) to the heaters. When I plug in my thick 3-prong cord, the switch controls the heaters. It has to be this way, so that you could leave the unit plugged in, and switch the heaters off when not in use.

    The thin, 2-prong cord on my T-12 connects directly to the transformer/lamp grid. There is no switch because this thin cord connects to a timer, which is then the switch.

    I've looked carefully at your pictures, but I can't be certain. The wiring is just too hard to follow in the pics. But if your unit operates as you describe, then it is wired wrong. Don't even think about re-wiring it, because it would void any warranty. Call the vendor and raise hell, and demand a new unit and reimbursement of shipping!

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