View Full Version : UV Light Source

03-16-2006, 10:17 PM
After doing a good bit of research I came across some 24" Black light flourescents at our Wal Mart. I put together a "box" to hold them and a contact printer and was on my way. I promised Tom (tpersin) I would post some pictures and a little explanation of how I did it and my findings.

How I did it was as simply, and cheaply, as possible. I used recycled wood and only had to buy the black light lamps. This is a beta version and I made it to be easily modified. I figured I would experiment with distances to the bulbs, number of bulbs etc. and simple was better K.I.S.S. if you know what I mean.

The first shot is of the unit set up as it would be when printing. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0333a_3641.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0333a_3641.jpg)

03-16-2006, 10:21 PM
For the second shot I have opened one side of the box to show how the contact printer sets inside. By putting two light on either side I was able to go from 6 to 10 lamps. They are F17/BLB lights 24 watt if I remember correctly.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0335b_5711.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0335b_5711.jpg)

03-16-2006, 10:23 PM
A coupleof power bars and and an outlet box let me hook up all of the lights and control them with a timer.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0336c_9615.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0336c_9615.jpg)

03-16-2006, 10:25 PM
At this point the contact printer is a pretty simple affair, simple is a theme here. Some clamps, a piece of 3/8 inch plate glass and a 3/8 inch piece of masonite. I have woked on a hinged backed printer but haven't quite got it right....yet.

Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0343h_8220.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0343h_8220.jpg)

03-16-2006, 10:29 PM
Finally, the carrier for the contact printer is adjustable to raise and lower it. Spring clamps suffice for now. Once again a simple solution.

The overall results have been positive. Times range between 10 and 25 minutes or so. I haven't actually made any negatives specifically for alt printing. I have used images that I have on file. Attached files http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0344i_1080.jpg (http://f295.f295.org/uploads/dsc_0344i_1080.jpg)

03-16-2006, 11:17 PM
you mad scientist, you! you freak show! i think i saw my long-lost "country joe and the fish at the fillmore" poster in there...and the star embryo from "2001: a space odyssey" hovering in the 4th.

tune in, turn on, drop down and give daryl twenty!

03-17-2006, 09:41 AM
Marv, this is fantastic! I've read about various ways to make these things, and it has never made much sense to me until now. Great job of explaining and "laying it all out".
In the summer there's no shortage of UV in my own back yard, but someday I hope to try this. A miniature tanning bed! Alt prints have got to be in my future. Meanwhile, I'm just going to make a print of that 4th photo and get high on that!

03-17-2006, 10:45 AM
thanks for showing us. that looks great! now get alt neg making. :):):)

03-17-2006, 12:07 PM
Its funny that you should call it a miniature tanning bed Gneisgirl, cos thats what I have been using.

last year I built a UV box on a much more modest scale for my sweetheart as a birthday present for her to do her Cyanotypes with but the exposure times were really long and the results were all a bit lame, took for ever etc etc,

But a few weeks ago I picked up an old solarium for pennies at a flea market to try it out and actually it works unbeleivably well, so well in fact, that its pretty scary to think what it does to people who actually sit under one for hours at a time! Most cyanotypes exposed to perfection in 2 or 3 min

Based on that experience, my advice is forget about the UV tubes and straight for an old solarium. apparently the bulbs lose power with age. I couldnt say how much use the one we have has had but its not exactly a deluxe model and is just a face sized model as opposed to one of those massive scale sandwich toaster type things.


03-17-2006, 06:15 PM
Your homemade UV light box is really ingenious. I especially like how you rigged the contact printer using the clamps and I like how you can set the height by raising or lowering via clamps. Very nice! I only wish I had seen your contact printer before I bought mine. I use a clamp on work reflector with a 13 W spiral black light BLB. It works but the times are longer. Also, I currently do 4x5 prints and I'm told that my setup could do 5x7 and maybe up to 8x10 (maybe, but I doubt 8x10), but with your light source you could print very large, probably 11x14 or larger.

Also, congrats on being picked up by MAKE blog.

12-12-2006, 11:03 PM
I just scored a UV light fixture with bulb from AS&S and hope to knock together a smaller version of this: our UV numbers this time of year approach zero, here in the damp Northwest. And I just discovered the joy of cyanotype at the end of summer.

12-18-2006, 03:34 PM
A trip to a melanoma clinic does wonders to alert one to the hazards of tanning beds...they should be used for photography only!

Tom Persinger
12-19-2006, 02:48 PM
don't forget cataracts!