Tuesday, December 03, 2019

One Atop the Other

Torpedo 18 Patio Typing
“One Atop the Other”

That "4" keycap on the Torpedo is the only remaining missing cap that's temporarily been replaced with one from a different machine. I intend on carving myself a replica keycap from poplar wood, sanded and finished to be as close as possible to the other original keycaps.

Sunday we had our December meeting of the ABQwerty Type Writer Society. I recently acquired a 12-pack of red/black nylon ribbons, in the DIN size without grommets, for $9.99 from Amazon. They've been nicely dark, well inked. I think a real value in ribbons, I highly recommend them. Here's my review of them:

Today, Andrea and I rode the recently opened ART bus (Albuquerque Rapid Transit) from Nob Hill, through downtown, to the west side and back. This has been a project that's been several years and tens of millions of dollars in the making, that runs on Central Avenue, the old Route 66, from Tramway Blvd on the east to Coors on the west, while also making a stop in the uptown area, the closest it comes to our suburb. Much controversy and economic upheaval has accompanied the project, including torn up streets and many small businesses along Central that have shut down or moved. Small businesses are a fragile economy, which the city didn't seem to appreciate during the construction phase.

From now until the end of the year the city is offering free rides. We boarded in Nob Hill near Kelly's Brewery and rode west to Coors, then hopped onboard a return bus and stopped downtown, where we walked around and I recorded video and still photos. Then we caught another eastbound bus and ended back in Nob Hill, where we ate lunch at a tacoria, where it was two dollar Tuesday. It was rather ironic having to drive our private vehicle across town so we could then ride the bus.

The busses were originally intended to be electric, battery-powered, but the city had issues with the electric busses not meeting contract requirements around battery range and recharging time; plus, they were very expensive. They also didn't want to spend even more money on electric light rail lines. So they finally reverted to propane-powered, two-section, 60-foot long busses. They are modern and new inside. I hope they stay that way. Once the city starts charging for rides, an all-day pass will be around $2. I'm thinking it might be fun to drive down to the rather close Uptown area and pick up the ART bus for a day of coffee shop typewriting and street photography downtown.

Here's the video of today's ride:

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Early Thanksgiving

Selfie, Kodak Ektar 127mm on Cameradactyl OG, reversal processed Arista RC grade 2 semi-matte paper
“Early Thanksgiving”

The Cameradactyl OG with Kodak Ektar 127mm F/4.7 lens:

Cameradactyl OG with Kodak Ektar 127mm F/4.7 lens

Rear view showing view screen, 1:1 finder and close-up focusing string:

Cameradactyl OG with Kodak Ektar 127mm F/4.7 lens
The shutter release cable feeds through a hole in the grip. There's also a slot in the grip for a camera strap.

There are three mounting slots for the 1:1 finder, I prefer the middle slot, to reduce parallax error.

The large blue lens mounting ring up front is also the helical focuser. I have lines marked on the focus ring to indicate infinity focus, along with three closer distances, equivalent to three knots tied in the yellow focusing string.

For the self-portrait at the top, I preset the focus ring for the closest position, then placed the first knot of the string against my temple, adjacent to my eye, then stretched the string taught. A 36" shutter release cable permitted me to trigger the shutter from that position. Exposure was metered at ISO 3 + 3 stops, which came to F/5.6 at 1/2 second in bright sun. The direct positive print was processed using the citric acid / hydrogen peroxide method, using the same chemicals I've been using for a few months.

Here's a close-up of the newly acquired Ektar 127mm lens, with the front ring removed to gain access for degreasing and cleaning. I was able to get the speeds back pretty close to normal, but the bulb position still doesn't work; but I can still use a dark slide over the lens while in the preview mode instead.

Kodak Ektar 127mm F/4.7 Shutter

Typecast via Torpedo 18:

Torpedo 18

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Torpedo Typing

Torpedo 18
“Torpedo Typing”

Here are the parts to each original foot, with the new foot mounted to the machine:

Torpedo 18 Before and After Feet

The rectangular brackets are mounted on the top and bottom of each foot, then mounted to the chassis with both shoulder screws. I was originally hoping to find a square furniture caster with a deep enough recess in the middle that I could use these brackets and screws; but none I could find were deep enough. I'm happy with these round rubber feet, however, and they prove very grippy on smooth surfaces, just like a rubber typing pad. I did have to add some spacer washers between the tops of the rubber feet and the frame of the machine, so the shoulder screws would remain recessed sufficiently so they won't scratch the tabletop.

I'm at the place where I'm more comfortable with typographical errors in my typecasts. I don't know why it's taken me this long. I was probably holding onto some affectation of the typewritten piece as a work of published perfection; whereas in actual fact I'm an imperfect typist (as well as an imperfect writer, thinker and speller) who's learning to embrace the "organic" look of human imperfection. Er, at least that's my excuse.

Actually, I think there's something valid here. In the heyday of the typewriter as a tool for the professional business world, perfect copy was an expectation, administered by professional typists who were compensated to do just that. But in this post-typewriter world, we can hold onto our imperfections as work-in-progress, somewhat akin to how a quick pencil sketch, in its brief roughness, doesn't compare to a finished painting. Typewritten pieces like this one are akin to jottings or doodles - they communicate an idea, but imperfectly so. Their value is in their immediacy. And I like that they reveal something of the process involved.

In fact, one of my favorite blogs is Vinnie McFeats' The Untimely Typewriter. I revel in each posting, as they exhibit the look of an experienced typist who knows his way around a manually typewritten page, replete with corrections in all their glory; no affectations present here. I don't think there's an ASCII character for a double-struck or X'd-out correction; these are markings unique to the manual typewriter. They're like the sound of gears mashing on a non-synchronized manual transmission - it's the way they're supposed to work.

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Monday, November 18, 2019

The Aero-Artiste and Pinholio of Flight

“The Aero-Artiste and Pinholio of Flight”

The Cameradactyl Pinholio:

Cameradactyl Pinholio Self-Developing Pinhole Camera

A sample image, exposed and processed in-Pinholio.

Brass Rat, Paper Negative Inversion, F/250 Pinholio Camera

I just finished replacing the worn feet of this Torpedo 18 with some hardware store rubber feet and decided it needed a test typing, as I’d recently installed a dark and inky adding machine ribbon. So I grabbed this grid paper, upon which was a bit of cyphering I’d done for the video, and proceeded to let the Muse have her way.

I love these late-night, impromptu typing surprises using such fine machines like the Torpedo. It looks like it’s been through the ringer, but can it type!

Torpedo Typewriter

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Direct Positive Color Prints? Yes!

Direct Positive RA4 Color Print by Ethan Moses, exposed using a Cameradactyl 4x5, processed in Dektol, stop bath, color developer and blix.

“Direct Positive Color Prints”

The nice thing about receiving the Cameradactyl Pinholio was that I had the opportunity during last week's visit to choose my color for the pinhole cap (gray), and also to watch his 3D printers begin their slave-like work of printing the parts for the camera.

Cameradactyl Pinholio Self-Developing Pinhole Camera

The Pinholio has an internal pull-shutter, and a removable threaded front pinhole cap. Once the exposure is made, the shutter is closed and the pinhole cap replaced with a 3D-printed, light-proof pour spout, the kind seen on film developing tanks, permitting the paper to be processed within the same camera, out in the field. Since all the parts are made of resilient plastic, exposure to chemicals is no problem.

I hope to soon begin testing the camera, both for exposing and process paper negatives, as well as the peroxide/citric acid reversal process. One caveat with that reversal process is the effective film speed of the paper drops to sub-ISO 1 values, meaning for this pinhole camera with an aperture of F/235 I'm looking at exposure times in bright sun of >10 minutes. Probably too long for seated portraits!

It is for this reason that I'd like to convert (or have Ethan 3D print) a lens cap adapted for a single-element meniscus lens. I've seen a plethora of such lenses available online at places like Surplus Shed. My idea is to build a spacer that fits between the rear flange of the inner box and the rear lip of the front part of the camera, to serve as a focal length extender that would preset the camera for a certain focal range, for use with seated portraits. A fast enough lens should permit exposure times in bright sun of a second or two. Then to be able to process the paper into a unique positive print would be a blast. The inner rear portion of the box slides in and out in a well-designed light trap slot that seems near ideally suited for focus adjustments. Since the intended design holds the paper tight against the rear of the camera by the two box halves completely closed, I'd use a loop of masking tape on the reverse side of the paper, since I'd be extending the box for focusing.

With a changing bag, a person could use this handheld "Afghan Box Camera" for making portraits in public. I'll keep this blog updated with progress.

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Fall 2019 ABQ Type-Out and Torpedo 18

Torpedo Typewriter

I'm past due for a blog update, so here's a combined posting including two separate pieces.

fall type out

Several weeks ago we had our fall Type-Out event hosted by Pennysmiths Paper. Here' my report, typed on Adobe Rose, the Royal QDL:

“Fall 2019 Type-Out”

Here's my video of the event:

Several weeks ago I received from JJ Short & Sons the re-covered platen for my Torpedo 18, that Kevin Kittle had given me a few months ago. This machine was in less than pristine condition. I spent the last few days working on installing the platen and getting the machine back to good working order. Here's my report:

“Dive, Dive”

And here's the video on servicing the Torpedo:

If I interpret the data correctly, the Typewriter Data Base indicates this machine was made in 1961. By appearance and comparing with photos on eBay I'm pretty sure it's a model 18. The machine came with no case or literature, though the rear plate indicates Remington Rand, made in Western Germany.

I like the feel of the keys and the action. Hopefully it'll remain a reliable machine to use, which implies I need to put it through its paces, as often with these extensive repairs, especially ones involving the escapement, it's best to reserve judgement until you've spent some time with the machine, as intermittent problems can arise. For example, since creating the video, I've noticed the carriage is a bit sluggish when tabbing, evidence that the tab brake needs more degreasing. And that newly opened brown nylon ribbon is a bit light of imprint; I'm thinking of swapping it for a black/red. I happen to have some adding machine ribbons that I want to try out. These are shorter than the standard 16 yard typewriter ribbon, and come in smaller sized plastic spools, so I'll have to do some respooling; but they're supposed to be heavier inked than typewriter ribbons. I'd like to see if the light imprint is the machine or the ribbon.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer

Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer
Sharp PA-1050 Thermal Typer

It's been fun digging into these devices, brings back lots of memories of my days, in the 1980s - about concurrent with this machine (circa 1986 according to the date stamp inside the top shell) - when I repaired consumer electronics for a living.

I'll be doing more videos about each of these machines, then eventually a comparison between all five in my collection.

There's a bit of wonkiness to the line spacing in the image of the typecast, that's not the fault of the typewriter but rather my "scanning" technique; I use an iPhone's panorama mode, and irregularities in the movement of the phone during the scan will cause these issues. I'm still thinking about building a slider rig for doing these scans. The typical thermal typewriter output is a long scroll, too big for a conventional scanner - even if I had one!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Manzano Musings

Hiking and Cogitating
“Typing With Disability”

I "scanned" this piece using the panorama mode on the iPhone, which can result in wonky borders unless you're careful to keep the phone exactly aligned, and move it at a smooth, constant pace. But for these long scroll-like writings, it's about the only way to get a seamless image of the piece, without chopping it into separate images. This particular image is not perfectly straight, if you examine the edges there's a bit of wonkiness. I need to build a more precise fixture for this purpose, something like a manual slider that moves the phone horizontally past the typewritten piece at a precise speed and alignment.

Even my flatbed scanner is limited to pieces about 12" long. And a single still camera image would require a sensor with many more pixels than mine, to resolve the individual characters properly. Also, many such camera lenses, especially wide-angle lenses, exhibit field curvature, that make the edges of the image curved, which would then require correction in post.

Now, regarding this idea for a cobbled-together mobile electronic typewriter-like system, the Canon Pixma IP110 printer seems to be about the only small printer with a battery-power option, the battery costing another $100 or so. I've seen the whole package - printer, ink cartridges and battery - for around $300. Which sounds expensive, but considering the idea for a mobile, paper-based writing/typing/printing solution (there aren't any other options that I know of with new equipment), it's an interesting concept worth entertaining. Keep in mind that this cost assumes you already have a mobile device (i.e. smartphone) with which to link up to the printer via Bluetooth. I would also opt to use just black ink cartridges in the printer, to keep the cost down.

Certainly a person could buy a handful of used, 1980-era thermal typewriters for that $300, but those are used machines with uncertain lifespans remaining. Case in point: my beloved Brother EP43 has recently bitten the dust, the plastic gear train that drives the print head back and forth is now slipping. Yes, I'll probably replace it at some point with another (or just keep using the Canon Typestar 4), but for a battery-powered portable typewriter-like system comprise of newly manufactured components, this is probably the only option.

I recall several years ago using my 60% mechanical keyboard with my iPad2 via a USB adapter. Combining a mechanical keyboard with an iOS device and the Canon IP110 printer could be an interesting project - especially if a custom case is built to house all the components into a typewriter-looking housing.

I'll keep you updated on any progress I make with this project.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the video I made today:

Post-Script: I need to mention that the fall 2019 ABQ Type-Out is happening at Pennysmiths Papers, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Albuquerque, on Sunday, November 3, 2019, from 1pm-4pm. I hope you can make it, I'd love to meet you in person.

fall type out

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Monday, October 07, 2019

Overdue Update

1962 Torpedo De Luxe
Recently acquired 1962 Torpedo De Luxe, featuring the wonky 5 & 6 keycaps, and decades of grime.

“Overdue Update”

I've been tinkering some more with the citric acid / hydrogen peroxide reversal process for direct-positive prints from silver gelatin photo paper exposed in-camera. Here's a recent still-life.

Owl, Citric Acid + H2O2 Reversal Process, Fujinon 135mm @ F/5.6, 45 second exposure, 4x5 format Arista RC grade 2 paper

I've found better results by processing the print face-down in the citric acid and peroxide bleaching solutions, and also do two passes, before the second exposure and development.

While up till today all of my reversal tests have been under shaded daylight, the multi-seconds-long exposure times were not compatible with the possibility of seated portraits. So today I made a series of test exposures in the bright morning sun of my front patio, with Your's Truly as subject. For focus I used a test card tied to the camera with a string. I use a yard stick to stretch the target out in front of the camera until the string is taught, then focus the camera on the target. Then I approximate the composition, based on my experience, and once the exposure is determined via light meter and set on the lens, I sit down in front of the camera, long shutter release cable in one hand and focus target in the other. I assume my pose, bring the target up to my temple and adjust my fore-aft seating position to tighten the string; then slowly lower my arm and trip the shutter.

I thought the results were rather fair, given the harsh light; and the 1/2 second exposure time at F/5.6 was quite adequate for seated portraits.

Self-Portrait, grade 2 RC paper, direct reversal using citric acid + H2O2 process, 1/2 second exposure at F/5.6

I have the 8x10 sliding box camera, currently fitted with a Fujinon Xerox machine lens, 240mm at a fixed F/4.5 aperture. Fast glass, but no possibility of a variable aperture. And the box camera is fixed at a landscape orientation, whereas I'd like to use it for portraits. Perhaps I can rebuild the camera so the cross-section is square instead of rectangular, and the sliding rear portion could therefore be inserted into the front half in either orientation - dark slide facing to the right for landscape orientation, or facing up for portraits. Of course, for accurate exposures with sub-1 second times I can't rely on the accuracy of a lens cap shutter, so perhaps an ND filter can lengthen the exposure times to around 1 second in bright sun - long enough to be timed accurately by hand, while short enough to reduce the chance of motion blur. Always another project!

I'm still using the same batch of citric acid and H2O2, so I don't know how long I can go before they expire. Thus far it's proven to be a very economical process, as long as I ensure consistency in everything I do.

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Sunday, September 08, 2019

September TW Society Meeting

1957 Silent-Super
“September TW Society Meeting”

Post-Script: Here are some close ups of the ephemera included with this machine - the owners manual, touch typing guide, Holiday Case key & tag and sales tag. There was also a 3M brand cleaning sheet included, in the original plastic bag.

Silent-Super Ephemera 1
Silent-Super Ephemera 2
Silent-Super Ephemera 3

There's still a bit more work to do on the machine. Several of the type bars hang up on the type guide (the "h" and "f"), and it needs more cleaning. But the card guide fingers are formed so that you can actually thread a sheet into the machine and it'll roll right under the paper bail rollers, which is neat. I'll have to see about adjusting my older elite machine the same way.

I was initially thinking I'd sell this to a local member, but now I'm having second thoughts; I really like the type face. But I do have a potential buyer for another machine in my collection, so perhaps I can make room for this one instead.

I'll post a video about the meeting tomorrow, and will include the link below when I do. We had fun tinkering with a Roxy Rooy escapement issue, so stay tuned.

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