View Full Version : Timer Problems and issues!!

4-Aug-2009, 09:29
Hello all.
Little help plz.
I have been tray proccesing 4x5 and am using a cheap kitchen timer for countdown.
I can not find a audible (every minute, or second) countdown timer on the net or thru regular channels.
Too scared to use a simple gralab for fear of fogging. I want it totally black.
Mine just goes off after 5 min and at the end.
Can someone recommend something plz

W K Longcor
4-Aug-2009, 09:43
I used Gralab timers with luminous dials in my darkrooms for well over 40 years. I NEVER had a problem with fogging of any sort. If you are still worried --- set the timer to one side and make a simple cardboard shield between the timer dial and the work area -- you can still just move slightly to one side to see the time and not have any worries of the film seeing the dial.;)

4-Aug-2009, 09:49
Ok, was kinda thinking that.
I have been out of the darkroom game for 10 years, and getting my hands wet again.

William McEwen
4-Aug-2009, 09:50
Gralab should be fine -- I just have mine off to the side, as W.K. mentioned.

If you're looking for a quick and cheap method, here are a couple:

1. Have spouse in darkroom with you, watching a wristwatch cupped in her hands and calling out info to you. I've done that before... it's nice!

2. Tape a small Agfa loupe to the face of a wristwatch, and cover the clear area of the loupe with electrical tape. You can monitor the time by peering through the loupe's "peephole."

And finally -- Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee, friends to all on this forum, will tell you not to bother with all that fancy "timing" jazz, and just develop by inspection! :)

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2009, 09:56
No risk of fogging film with the GraLab 300 unless you actually touch the film to the luminescent face of the timer.

I cover my GraLab 300 timer with a towel. Then, once the film is in the tray of developer, I remove the towel and start the timing sequence. Been using that technique for more than thirty years.

Have never fogged a sheet of film from the glow of the luminescent face of the GraLab.

4-Aug-2009, 10:05
Thanks guys.
How about the distance --- no less than how many feet?

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2009, 10:15
Just be sure not to touch un-developed film directly to the face off the timer. The glow from the luminescent face of the timer will not fog film unless you hold the film directly against the glowing surface. I have tested it with 400 speed film.

4-Aug-2009, 11:22
I used to put my Gralab at about eye level, somewhere around the middle of the line of trays. That's about 2ft. or more from the developer tray. No problems at all with fogging. You can also face it away from the dev. tray, or at the end of the line as long as you can see it clearly.

You can set the time just for the developer step and then reset for Fixer or just set a longer time and watch the timer.

Eric Woodbury
4-Aug-2009, 11:27
Is there a timer that counts up and resets with a footswitch that doesn't cost $400? I don't mind Gralabs, but don't really like handling them with wet hands and on rare occasions I wonder how long the timer has been at zero. Counting up makes more sense to me.

I have an old LED alarm clock that I rewired that does all this, but the newer clocks don't allow this as far as I know.


W K Longcor
4-Aug-2009, 12:34
[QUOTE=Eric Woodbury;493626] I don't mind Gralabs, but don't really like handling them with wet hands and on rare occasions I wonder how long the timer has been at zero. QUOTE]

While I'm not going to go on record as suggesting that anybody touch any electrical item with wet hands -- I've gotta admit that my old Gralabs are encrusted with chemical deposits from my wet hands and I never, ever felt so much as a tingle. Also, as far as wondering how long the timer has been on zero --- mine had a buzzer that when it went off in the dark -- an unsuspecting person could loose control of certain bodily functions!!!:D

Greg Lockrey
4-Aug-2009, 12:41
I hate watching a clock, it makes the time go slow. I use a metronome. It's easier to count seconds.

Gem Singer
4-Aug-2009, 13:08
Difficult to count and keep track of the time when counting each second over a twelve minute developing time. That's a total of 720 seconds.

My GraLab is plugged onto the same outlet as the radio. The radio gives off an audible click when the time has expired and the timer shuts off.

The timer's buzzer can be turned down to a low volume, but I seldom need to use that annoying sound to signal when the time has expired.

4-Aug-2009, 13:47
I like my kitchen timer. I dark the whole 5th wheel for development in my bathroom, always at night. I only have ever timed the development so I can set the timer for the minimum time for my 'least' tube and guess the rest, my second count is pretty good. I rarely do more than two times anyway. BTZS tube ... the cylindrical tray. ;)

Eric Woodbury
4-Aug-2009, 15:17
I hate the Gralab buzzer so they are disabled. Except in the kitchen timer, which is, by the way, a Gralab with buzzer because it is the only thing I can hear through the house. It is a long house and those crummy kitchen timers go 'beep' and they are over and the cookies burn. In the dark, the buzz is bad. I'm not worried about the shock, I just don't like all the chems dripping everywhere.

So I'm guessing the answer is 'no', there are no cheap LED count up timers. All I wanted to know.

I understand that AA had some analog clock where the hands would reset to zero with the pull of a string. I've never seen such a thing, but it sounds interesting.

Bruce Barlow
4-Aug-2009, 16:07
Before I had my beloved Zone VI Compensating Developing Timer, I had a cheap dictaphone onto which I recorded spoken time cues every, uh, I think ten seconds. I played it when I developed film in compleat dark. Worked great, except the part about getting tired of my own voice.

Greg Lockrey
4-Aug-2009, 16:15
Difficult to count and keep track of the time when counting each second over a twelve minute developing time. That's a total of 720 seconds.

You can set these to count every 10 seconds.... that's 72 beats which is pretty easy to count to. ;) ;)

4-Aug-2009, 17:55
Well guys,
You have given some good ideas and thanks a bunch.

4-Aug-2009, 18:25
I use the Time-O-Lite version of the Gralab. It makes a noticeable whirring sound when it is running - and shuts off with a noticeable clack - so you know when the time is up. Much better than a jump-out-of-your-skin buzzer.

An alternative is to make a mix-CD of your favorite music: songs that vary in length by 15 second intervals.

2:00 The Lord is in this place - Fairport Convention
2:15 Flying - Beatles
2:30 Mr. Tambourine man - Byrds
2:45 Mother Nature's Son - Beatles
3:00 By This River - Eno
3:15 Book Song - Fairport Convention
3:30 Bird on a Wire - Leonhard Cohen

W K Longcor
4-Aug-2009, 19:29
I've gotta tell you -- that awful Gralab buzzer saved me more than once when at 2 or 3 AM while finishing up a rush commercial - I would start to zone out. The buzz really wakes you up and gets you back on track!:D

Ross Chambers
5-Aug-2009, 00:43
The dream timer: RH Designs Process Master II. I won't list its virtues, do Google it.

Not really cheap, but perhaps somewhat less than USD 400.

Regards - Ross

5-Aug-2009, 04:25
Your kitchen store sells digital timers that have countdown functions for around $19.00. Also Seiko and other stop watches also have timer functions for $30.00 The kitchen timer I found sets 3 separate times in separate displays

5-Aug-2009, 17:06
I would image you can get the same thing in America as I have in my darkroom. I have put quite a few BTZS users onto a talking timer I got from Dick Smith Electronics. The same timer is also available here from Tandy. The other alternative is to record a sound track based on your work flow.

Some excellent suggestions so far.

Henry Ambrose
5-Aug-2009, 18:02
Gralabs work great. Its so easy to see that sweep hand go.

You can find a timer program for a Palm for sure, maybe Iphones and Blackberries too.

5-Aug-2009, 21:07
I use a digital gralab (model 505, I think) that has a luminous red led display. I place a piece of black foamboard between the tank & timer (I develop with film hangers). So far I've not fogged my film (AFAIK, but then maybe I am preflashing my shadows :) , just kidding).

It is easier to use than kitchen timers, which I used when I started developing 4x5 in trays. The problem I run into was double hitting the start button (which stops the timer) and missing an agitation cycle.

My technique may not be within the best practices, but given the reciprocity failure of film I am not worried about fogging, but if I ever see it, I'll adapt.

Jim Rice
6-Aug-2009, 09:14
I don't know if Radio Shack still has them (they seem to have gotten, uh.....shackier of late) but a WWV radio reciever sounds just like what you are looking for. Clicks every second, a skipped beat at :30, and a voice telling you the minute at the top. They were pretty cheap, too.

Chris Strobel
6-Aug-2009, 17:34
I use a talking timer and a golf metronome.Talking timer for overall time, and the golf metronome for agitation intervals since the talking timer only talks every minute and I usually agitate every 30 sec.Total investment $20.00 off the bay.

12-Aug-2009, 07:35
Go for the ProcesMaster.

Brian Ellis
12-Aug-2009, 12:25
One of the many reasons why I preferred BTZS tubes to trays but I did use trays with 8x10 for a short period. I had a Gralab on a shelf about two feet above and a foot or two to the right of the developer tray and I never had any fogging problems. When I attended a John Sexton workshop at Anderson Ranch their darkroom was loaded with those little florescent strips some people put on different objects and at different places in the darkroom so they can find things in the dark. That darkroom virtually glowed and it freaked me out the first time I loaded film in it but no harm was done.