And so we begin again

A project log for Tintype Develop-o-tron

Automated tintype (and film?) developing machine

Jorj BauerJorj Bauer 05/09/2016 at 00:090 Comments

Okay. I've got about a bajillion projects in the works. At all times. I've come to realize that the #1 reason that I don't post anything here is because I have so many things in progress that I never get back to posting the things that are done (or close enough). So I'm trying to break myself of that, and post the fun tidbits of my "I haz engineering" skills here.

Which brings me to this little bit.

I shoot some photography. I really enjoy the "old stuff" - not just film: I'm talking about 1850s printing. Building cameras out of cardboard and cheap glass. Making your own tintypes. Working with chemicals that can stand in for the "hey, we're having a fourth of July party and don't have any fireworks - can you make something explode?" (Answer: hoo boy, yes.)

So recently, when I was asked if I'd shoot tintypes for the 180th anniversary of a local historic cemetery, I of course said yes. For way too little money, I'll add. But while I may be stupid enough to not figure out what I should charge for things, I'm not so dumb that I don't realize that shooting tintypes outdoors, live, without hiring a second in order to keep the cost down *also* means that I have to *develop* the things. Which means time spent not talking with the interesting people. Not telling them about the cool stuff that happened over a hundred years ago. Not sparking their - and even better, their kids' - interest in the history of technology (chemical, photographic, mechanical... any of the above!).

So: in the middle of building all the other stuff that's still marked as incomplete here, I undertook a "quick" build of a film developing apparatus.

I wanted to be able to dump in the soup (what old-school photogs call the developer, fixer, what have you); load a tank; and walk away while the tedium was carried out by something resembling a computer.

And the current lead photo here is the first version of that! Three two-liter soda bottles, connected via 3/8" hose, garden hose adapters, a good deal of truck bed liner as waterproofing, 6 solenoid valves, two pumps, one Patterson-style developing tank, and some bits of electronics to drive it all.