Markus Hofstaetter's blog » darkroom

Friday, January 5th, 2024

Darkroom ventilation and humidity control

This topic sounds very simple but is probably more complicated than you thought. In this case I will explain the solution for my darkroom, but it could also be a solution for other cases.
In this video I show you the construction (with a nice fail) process and the whole ventilation system including how I reduce humid air in my darkroom. Underneath I share some additional information to the video.

As said in the video, if you work with chemicals like ether and alcohol, a mask alone is sometimes not enough. Because when there ar enough fumes in the room, your skin will absorb them and that way it could damage your liver. Thats the reason I always ventilated my pouring room in-between bigger wet plate sessions. When you ventilate typically with an open window, you will cool down or heat up the room (depending on the season), beside that you get for sure some dust into your rooms. Luckily my friend Wolfgang has a company ( https://www.leit-wolf.at ) who is specialised in how ventilations system and opened my eyes. Thanks a lot for that! Let’s start with the preparation. To make this ventilation system work, I needed some holes and for that I commissioned a company to do some core drilling.

I marked the places for the ventilation pipes, so the company knows where to do the core drilling, so there are no electric wires in the way (sarcasm – see why in the video)
to make the drilling as precise as possible for the ventilation system, I ordered the “shell installation kit WS 75 RSAP” https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/shell-installation-kits-g61068/ws-75-rsap-p124746 this makes masking the holes very easy
this monster of a core drilling machine made it possible to get fresh air into my darkroom.
Because every hole needed to be drilled wet, they brought also vacuum machine that sucks all the dirt and water in. In any way you will get lots of dirt into your room, but they cleaned up very well.
after all holes were drilled, I mounted the shell installation kit and glued the ventilation pipes into the wall. For sure not my most beautiful job, but at the end everything worked as expected.
The next step was to mount the Ventilation unit on the wall. I chose the “Ventilation unit Maico WS 75 Powerbox H” because it has a heat recovery that reduces the cooldown of the rooms. There are also dust filters build in. Beside that it only consumes between 5,2 and 11,5 Watt. You can find lots of information about how to set it up (video and documentation) here: https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/ventilation-units-g61071/ws-75-powerbox-h-p124754 – just click on Downloads/Videos. You can also switch the website to different languages.
Here you can see the nearly finished ventilation system. The rectangular part near the floor is a silencer that makes the very silent ventilation system even more quiet.
one of the last steps was the initial configuration of the ventilation system. Like moste things today, thes is pretty high tech as well and you only can set it up with a computer.
The system comes with a control panel (https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/control-panel-g61464/rls-g1-ws-p125256) that shows the status and also lets you control the unit. I bought a voc sensor for my unit ( https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/details/p/sensors-g61463/ws-75-voc-p125253 ) This measures the volatile organic compounds in the air. It’s measured with ppm (parts per million). The higher the ppm, the more the air will circulate through the rooms. That means, if I pour some plates and the sensor “smells” the ether, the ventilation system turns up the power.
outside I mounted the Combi-wall connections Duo KWS E (https://www.maico-ventilatoren.com/en/products/p/combination-wall-connections-g66762/duo-kws-e-p119350) This avoids that animals would use my ventilation system for some sleepy time. But it also avoids an “air short”.

The finished ventilation system blows fresh air into my studio and sucks it through my darkroom and pouring room back outside. With that I have always fresh air in my workplace. My studio is a pretty new building, but the other parts are old and are more humid. While ventilating in the winter mostly “dry” air comes into the rooms and there is mostly no need for the dehumidifier to start. Only when the relative humidity is about 60% I start an automation that checks how much my photovoltaic power plant is genarating and if the sound generates enough energy, I start to dehumidify my darkroom

But when is it save to ventilate? I learned a lot and thought I just check the humidity outside and inside. And if the relative humidity is lower outside, I thought its save to ventilate. But I was totally wrong, you have to calculate the absolute humidity with a calculator like that. https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/absolute-humidity

The absolute humidity is measured in g/m3 and it changes with the air temperature. Here are two examples:

lets assume it’s winter and it has 8 degrees outside with 70% relative humidity for some funny reason. Even your relative humidity is lower than the outside, its save to ventilate if you want to get the humidity down.
Now the relative humidity outside is much lower than inside, but the absolute humidity is because of the temperature much higher. If you want to reduce humidity in your room, that it would be the wrong time to ventilate. I am working with a friend of mine on a script that compares the absolute humidity from inside and outside and when it’s save to ventilate you can start an automation or get a notification. I will upload it here.
It was lots of work (See also my other darkroom article https://blog.markus-hofstaetter.at/2023/12/my-new-easy-to-use-darkroom/ ) but now I am super happy with the solution. With the whole new darkroom finished I am like a little kit when I start to work there.

I hope this was helpful for you guys as well.
If you want to support me, you can do that on my Patreon page here: http://patreon.mhaustria.com

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  • Find all the tools I use here : http://list.mhaustria.com

  • Looking for wet plate gear? http://gear.mhaustria.com

  • Buy me a tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/mhaustria

  • Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mhaustria

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    Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

    My new easy to use Darkroom

    After moth of renovating my Darkroom, I am finally finished with it and can show you what I did to make my life easier.

    One of the main things in a darkroom is the sink. I looked for age to get a fitting one, but couldn’t find any. But my good friend Lois knows somebody who knows somebody and with that I got a custom made sink that was a lifesaver. Thanks a lot for that!

    Fitting everything in a small space is making everything more easy.
    Another thing that made my life easier is the Darkroom Winch that you can get here: https://www.borutpeterlin.com/shop/hardware/darkroom-winch/ This saves so much time, because otherwise I would be standing there for hours rocking trays.
    Beside rocking trays, washing prints and plates is another thing that has to be done, thats why I build this watering system out of plumber pipes from the diy marked. I am sure you can find yourself similar parts near you. I only had to drill holes into the pipe and find some kind of holder for it.
    I just had to get an old stop watch for my darkroom and this one from Junghans fits just perfectly in there.
    Dangerous chemicals need to be locked up, thats why I use an NFC lock with my stainless steel cabinet (links to the lock and 3d print files can be found at the end of my article)
    Red light, yellow light, bright light, dark light – all these scenarios are possible with my Philips hue system that I use in my darkroom. Just with the click of a button I change to whatever color I need and I also build a protection cover, so nobody accidentally changes from red to white. You will find all prints on my thingiverse: http://thingiverse.com/mhaustria
    Humidity and temperature can have an impact of your work and also can have an impact of the darkroom. With this sensor I can easily read the values and can create automation because of it. More about that in my second darkroom video that focuses mainly on ventilation and how to save money with that.

    Here are all the links to the tools I used, consider buying that stuff locally as well.
    For easier user I use my Amazon affiliate links.



    Darkroom automation video: https://youtu.be/odMC7_wjzPE
    Darkroom Timer video: https://youtu.be/o2XN9FEeuNk
    My Thingyverse: http://thingiverse.com/mhaustria
    Darkroom Winch https://www.borutpeterlin.com/shop/hardware/darkroom-winch/
    Stainless Steel cabinet: https://www.ggmgastro.com/de-de-eur/edelstahl-arbeitsschrank-eco-1200x600mm-mit-schiebetuer-asfk126
    Curly hose with spray gun: International: https://amzn.to/3NvAdOD German: https://amzn.to/3Twi9b0

    Door Sensor International: https://amzn.to/48sbbYL German: https://amzn.to/48ruYHQ
    Thermometer – Hygrometer International: https://amzn.to/4740Scp German: https://amzn.to/3GQSEJX

    NFC cabinet lock International: https://amzn.to/3NBZBCC German: https://amzn.to/4771E8v
    Squeege International: https://amzn.to/477krjW German: https://amzn.to/48qV4dY
    Hue bridge (needed for the lights): International: https://amzn.to/41CGQEP German: https://amzn.to/3v7Loqz
    Hue lightstrip International:https://amzn.to/47VXaTv German: https://amzn.to/41Lu9rz
    Hue Bulb International:https://amzn.to/3GRa49m German: https://amzn.to/3GTwKpD
    Hue dimmer switch International: https://amzn.to/4asbyV4 German: https://amzn.to/48p5PO9
    Silvos Silver nitrate stain remover https://www.carlroth.com/de/de/sonstige-reinigungsmittel-spezialreiniger/reinigungsmittel-fleckenentferner-silvosol/p/0047.1

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

  • Find all the tools I use here : http://list.mhaustria.com

  • Looking for wet plate gear? http://gear.mhaustria.com

  • Buy me a tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/mhaustria

  • Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mhaustria

  • Get cool analog shirts here http://shirts.mhaustria.com
  • Posted by Markus | Filed in analog, collodion, darkroom, diy, tutorial, wetplate, workshop | Comment now »

     

    Thursday, May 12th, 2022

    Growing Together – World Wet Plate Day 2022

    I decided to participate this year for the world wet plate day. I discussed it with my girlfriend and she was the one who came up with the idea. First we thought to make it in one shot, but I couldn’t wrap the outcome into my mind because of the limited depth of field. So I came up with the double exposure solution. I was pretty happy with the outcome, but thought I could improve it a bit -> that was not my best idea (happy I did a scan before that). As you can see in the video, I got also unlucky with the varnish. So I am working right now on that to fix it. I will write about my result here on ma Patron page, you can support me and join here: Become a Patron!

    Growing Together 18x24cm collodion wet plate – Zeiss Tessar 300mm
    this is how we positioned each other.

  • Get yourself a beautiful print here: http://prints.mhaustria.com

  • Find all the tools I use here : http://list.mhaustria.com

  • Looking for wet plate gear? http://gear.mhaustria.com

  • Buy me a tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/mhaustria

  • Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mhaustria

  • Get cool analog shirts here http://shirts.mhaustria.com
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