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Thread: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

  1. #1

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    Jun 2019
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    DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    I have a DeVere wall mount 5108 I use for printing my 8x10 negatives, but I've always sort of wished it was a floor standing model. Recently I've been doing some research into converting it to a floor standing model, but I haven't come across someone getting rid of the base yet, and buying the base from DeVere costs more than I'm wanting to spend. For that reason, This past weekend I started toying around with the idea of building a floor standing 8x10 enlarger chassis myself.

    The basic design is similar to the DeVere in which all the focusing controls (lens stage, head, and table movements) can be controlled from the table. The table has 3 wheels mounted to the front, which turn pulleys mounted to the table's carriage which rides up and down the center column. Two of those pulleys have anchor points attached to the lens stage and head, so by turning the wheels those stages can be moved up and down relative to the table. The third wheel turns a spool with a cable anchored to it on one end, and the column on the other. Turning this wheel will move the table up and down, but since the pulleys for the lens and head are also anchored to the table, those stages will also move with the table, (hopefully) keeping the image in focus while all three stages are moved up and down. The three moving assemblies (table, lens, and head) are all counterbalanced with weights in the pulley system. Most enlargers use constant force springs, but finding the correct tension springs for sale in the right lengths is expensive since I only need one of each, so I opted for counter weights instead. The counter weights will run through the tubes you can see anchored to the back of the column

    Also, because I'm working towards building a trailer darkroom which won't be very large, I designed the table so that it can be folded up when not in use. I'm not certain that idea will work, it may make alignment difficult.

    One of my goals for this was to make building it less expensive than buying the drop table for my DeVere, which would cost me around $2000. So far the chassis construction will cost about $1500 I believe, which leaves $500 left over for constructing an LED light source, which I believe will be doable. I've sourced most of the parts from McMaster-Carr, with the one exception being the linear bearings for the carriages. I found someone on eBay who sells plastic bearings which work with aluminum extrusion. They probably aren't as strong as the metal ones, but the cost is far less (metal ones would cost $750 for the amount I need) and because this enlarger is designed for an LED head which weighs far less than normal ones, I don't think it will be an issue.

    I'm currently contemplating how I can build a mechanism for raising the head to allow for inserting a negative carrier. The two ideas I have are a cam mechanism like DeVere has, or a lever like omega and beseler use. Neither of those options seems great to me, so if you have any other ideas please share them!

    Below are images of the whole construction, and the cable layout (which it seems is sideways, sorry!). I also included a link to my google drive where you can download the fusion 360 CAD file for the design, if you want to take a look at it. Because it's all made of aluminum extrusion and somewhat modular, it should be possible to change the head out for larger sizes, and with a DIY LED head, making it an 11x14 enlarger or some other ULF size shouldn't be that difficult.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KCu16rHMdFX_nCyEx6VpA52a0O7EA8pg/view?usp=sharing

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    When it comes to 8x10 enlargers, not that I have that much experience with them, I'm a fan of keeping it simple . . .

    WOW! I can't imagine having a Durst 8x10 enlarger. Talk about Complicated! . . . And, Heavy! . . . And, Big! (My darkroom is about 6' x 8'.)

    I have a Zone VI Type II 8x10 enlarger, and I've always liked it for it's convenient size and simple operation. One might even call it a minimalist 8x10 enlarger. And, it has a minimum of circuitry. It's a VC enlarger, so it does have an internal feedback mechanism to maintain each color and an internal heater to help maintain consistency. But, that's it.

    It is helpful that I use a Zone VI compensating timer with both my 8x10 head and my Beseler 45s head that's adapted to the Zone VI enlarger. This timer sure simplified the electronics for the 45s head. The electronics in this customized head boils down to two wires that run the fan and another two wires that go directly from AC power to the two leads in the quartz halogen lamp, all be it with a rectifier spliced into one side. A 45s head does have a circuit board with lots of stuff on it, but using the compensating timer enabled me to by-pass all of that.

    I think that existing paradigms have equated 8x10 enlarging with big, heavy, and complicated. But, it need not be so.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Madisonville, LA
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    2,358

    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan View Post
    I have a DeVere wall mount 5108 I use for printing my 8x10 negatives, but I've always sort of wished it was a floor standing model. Recently I've been doing some research into converting it to a floor standing model, but I haven't come across someone getting rid of the base yet, and buying the base from DeVere costs more than I'm wanting to spend. For that reason, This past weekend I started toying around with the idea of building a floor standing 8x10 enlarger chassis myself.

    The basic design is similar to the DeVere in which all the focusing controls (lens stage, head, and table movements) can be controlled from the table. The table has 3 wheels mounted to the front, which turn pulleys mounted to the table's carriage which rides up and down the center column. Two of those pulleys have anchor points attached to the lens stage and head, so by turning the wheels those stages can be moved up and down relative to the table. The third wheel turns a spool with a cable anchored to it on one end, and the column on the other. Turning this wheel will move the table up and down, but since the pulleys for the lens and head are also anchored to the table, those stages will also move with the table, (hopefully) keeping the image in focus while all three stages are moved up and down. The three moving assemblies (table, lens, and head) are all counterbalanced with weights in the pulley system. Most enlargers use constant force springs, but finding the correct tension springs for sale in the right lengths is expensive since I only need one of each, so I opted for counter weights instead. The counter weights will run through the tubes you can see anchored to the back of the column

    Also, because I'm working towards building a trailer darkroom which won't be very large, I designed the table so that it can be folded up when not in use. I'm not certain that idea will work, it may make alignment difficult.

    One of my goals for this was to make building it less expensive than buying the drop table for my DeVere, which would cost me around $2000. So far the chassis construction will cost about $1500 I believe, which leaves $500 left over for constructing an LED light source, which I believe will be doable. I've sourced most of the parts from McMaster-Carr, with the one exception being the linear bearings for the carriages. I found someone on eBay who sells plastic bearings which work with aluminum extrusion. They probably aren't as strong as the metal ones, but the cost is far less (metal ones would cost $750 for the amount I need) and because this enlarger is designed for an LED head which weighs far less than normal ones, I don't think it will be an issue.

    I'm currently contemplating how I can build a mechanism for raising the head to allow for inserting a negative carrier. The two ideas I have are a cam mechanism like DeVere has, or a lever like omega and beseler use. Neither of those options seems great to me, so if you have any other ideas please share them!

    Below are images of the whole construction, and the cable layout (which it seems is sideways, sorry!). I also included a link to my google drive where you can download the fusion 360 CAD file for the design, if you want to take a look at it. Because it's all made of aluminum extrusion and somewhat modular, it should be possible to change the head out for larger sizes, and with a DIY LED head, making it an 11x14 enlarger or some other ULF size shouldn't be that difficult.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Enlarger screenshot 2.jpg 
Views:	94 
Size:	62.4 KB 
ID:	216950
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG-2639.jpg 
Views:	46 
Size:	25.2 KB 
ID:	216952

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KCu16rHMdFX_nCyEx6VpA52a0O7EA8pg/view?usp=sharing
    And I gave 3 chassis away two years ago, and one went to the landfill. L

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...ghlight=DeVere

  4. #4
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Define your goal, precisely

    Ok, 8x10 neg, but what is the biggest Print desired

    Next, what dimensions are the trailer, my DR trailer is 78" tall, 14 ft long x 78" wide plus V nose

    It get's too hot, I was just in it and bailed

    I have tested AC in it, needs a second shade over the roof, a common cure in desert, but here it is hot and humid, so no

    It has heat, I am mid USA

    I might instal a spare Beseler CB7 which can handle a Beseler 8X10 conversion head, but why?

    I am not a relic from the past of imaging, I am an old 70, who learned LF on this from 2011 and still learning

    I grabbed some of the 8X10 enlargers Chicago was throwing away last decade

    MANY MANY were scrapped after 2008

    and now 3 people want one
    image

  5. #5

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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    And I gave 3 chassis away two years ago, and one went to the landfill. L

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...ghlight=DeVere
    I saw that post when looking to see if anyone had a lower chassis. That was around the time I got my first 8x10 camera, and I only joined the forum a couple months later. Sometimes my timing isn't the best it seems

  6. #6

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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    Define your goal, precisely

    Ok, 8x10 neg, but what is the biggest Print desired

    Next, what dimensions are the trailer, my DR trailer is 78" tall, 14 ft long x 78" wide plus V nose

    It get's too hot, I was just in it and bailed

    I have tested AC in it, needs a second shade over the roof, a common cure in desert, but here it is hot and humid, so no

    It has heat, I am mid USA

    I might instal a spare Beseler CB7 which can handle a Beseler 8X10 conversion head, but why?

    I am not a relic from the past of imaging, I am an old 70, who learned LF on this from 2011 and still learning

    I grabbed some of the 8X10 enlargers Chicago was throwing away last decade

    MANY MANY were scrapped after 2008

    and now 3 people want one
    My goal for print size is 32x40. I don't imagine I'd print many that large, not too many people have the room for something like that in their house, but it'd be cool to have a few for myself in my opinion. My current concept for the trailer is to build a structure on a tiny house style trailer frame. I haven't started that yet, as it, like so many other projects, requires more funding than I currently have. Is your trailer based on a standard box trailer? I looked into that, but after insulating it and adding all the necessary modifications to it, building a tiny house style trailer is about the same cost. I live in the northeast, so for me insulating the trailer is more to conserve heat, rather than keep it out. The current plan is a 8x16 foot frame, which would leave me with about 7.25x15.25 feet of usable space, just enough for a full size 8x10 enlarger and a sink large enough for 32x40 prints.

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Yes, insulate the floor too

    How tall, is this thing going to get towed a lot or just a nice field. Trailers bounce a lot

    There are many forums, youtubes and full websites about tiny house on wheels

    I look at them daily

    We should move this part of your discussion to ongoing threads like this

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...stions-in-2021

    also visit http://www.tnttt.com/

    I have had many rigs, since 1977

    1TIN CAN COLLEGE BiZ card by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

    1MFA RIG Day of 911 by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

    1Current Rig by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

    1TIN CAN License by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr




    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan View Post
    My goal for print size is 32x40. I don't imagine I'd print many that large, not too many people have the room for something like that in their house, but it'd be cool to have a few for myself in my opinion. My current concept for the trailer is to build a structure on a tiny house style trailer frame. I haven't started that yet, as it, like so many other projects, requires more funding than I currently have. Is your trailer based on a standard box trailer? I looked into that, but after insulating it and adding all the necessary modifications to it, building a tiny house style trailer is about the same cost. I live in the northeast, so for me insulating the trailer is more to conserve heat, rather than keep it out. The current plan is a 8x16 foot frame, which would leave me with about 7.25x15.25 feet of usable space, just enough for a full size 8x10 enlarger and a sink large enough for 32x40 prints.
    image

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    image

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    Have you considered horizontal? No counterweight or baseboard; wheels and simple track.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: DIY 8x10 (or larger) Enlarger Chassis

    My home-made additive 8x10 color enlarger for sake of 30X40 prints is 14 feet tall, but that allows me to use a 360mm lens with a comfortable height easel position. It's built like a tank and certainly does not look homemade; it's a beautiful machine better built than most commercial units. This is earthquake country, so solid is the name of the game. But if I need to, I can also print 30X40 color CMY subtractively on my smaller Durst L184/CLS system. I've been down the horizontal enlarger road, and it simply took up too much floor space.

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