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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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Ten Forty, Good Buddy

Remington Ten Forty
“Ten Forty, Good Buddy”

Post-Script: I think this was a good choice for the young lad, even if he doesn't use it much. And I like the idea that, even though it's "his," I get to share it with folks in public typewriter events. Because sometimes you don't want to take your finest machines out in public and let just anyone fiddle with it, especially in a busy meeting where you can't easily keep an eye on what's going down. Neophytes often are well meaning but can, if not careful, mess up an otherwise fine machine.

Triumph Norm 6

This gets me to the subject of my Triumph Norm 6. It'd been in the closet for a few months, and this week I took it out to do a spell of writing, when I discovered to my dismay that about half the type bars were totally frozen stuck. I brought it out to the workbench in the garage and discovered the frozen type bars were actually rusted. Somehow, moisture had gotten into the segment, unbeknownst to me, and rusted the type bars. It took considerable effort to free them and remove most of the rust. Unfortunately, many of the linkages under the type bars show signs of rust, also. I wonder if some acidic soft drink didn't get spilled inside, as I wouldn't expect water to do this kind of damage, especially in our dry climate where liquids quickly evaporate.

My wife and I were trying to remember when it was last used, but am not certain. Another reason to keep the rare or fragile machines home, and bring more of a beater to public gatherings. Which implies ... you therefore have to assemble a small fleet of beater typers just for that purpose. Just a few weeks ago I acquired another Smith-Corona Silent-Super, just for that purpose - or perhaps to sell to a member of the Society. I haven't yet started on cleaning it up, but it looks like everything is functional, though the platen is rock hard. Which isn't a problem, really, since they're so easy to remove and ship off to JJ Short & Sons. The cool thing about this machine is it came with all the ephemera, including owners manual, typing guide, even the little printed display tag that hung from the return lever via a string. I'll have to scan this stuff and get it sent to the Rev. Munk.

My wife also reminded me that this issue with the Triumph is a lesson to periodically bring out all your machines from storage and give them a good round of testing, then document any issues that need addressing.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tuesday at the Press Club

Underwood S
“Tuesday at the Press Club”

Post-Script: I've spent most of the last few days working on the Underwood. It's working pretty good now. I ended up threading the ribbon directly onto the machine's spool hubs, instead of using a ribbon wound onto their own spools. This is the generation of Underwood that uses the Remington-style spools with the wide center hub and the auto-reverse lever that senses end of ribbon by ribbon slack and causes a little spring-loaded lever to rotate out a slot in the hub, dropping a linkage through the hollow ribbon spindle that engages the drive shaft to shift sideways to reverse the ribbon. It wouldn't work reliably with the ribbon spooled onto Remington-style spools, but works fine directly threaded onto the machine's hubs. But it does tend to wind the ribbon a bit wonky, causing the ribbon to creep up the pack as it's wound. Perhaps something to do with the angle of the ribbon drive shaft verses the vibrator's guides, but I haven't fully figured it out. But at least it works.

Now the final cleaning is in order. I'm using a spray degreaser and gentle application of a Scotch-brite pad on the textured paint, with care it seems to remove the years of nicotine stains pretty well without affecting the paint.

I still have to wind a bit more tension onto the spring motor, as the carriage gets a bit sluggish near the right margin.

I like the easy-to-remove platen feature, a bit easier than a Smith-Corona 5T series to operate.

A major issue will be cleaning and reattaching the ~3/8" thick sound proofing pads. Has anyone had luck washing these pads with water, or do they disintegrate when wetted? I'd like to remove as much grunge and mold as possible.

I think this is going to be a good typer for its owner.

Our ABQwerty Type Writer Society seems to be gaining traction, with several newcomers showing up on Sunday. It's going to be fun seeing where this goes.

Kevin and I had a deep discussion tonite about the future of the typewriter hobby. When we get old enough, I hope we find good homes for our collection. More importantly, I see the need to evangelize the younger folk into learning typewriter repair, to keep the torch burning. There are a finite number of machines out there, despite the fact that millions were manufactured over the years; million were also trashed after their useful life was over. And a number of machines end up getting ruined through improper packing and rough handling during shipping, so it seems that, ironically, our desire to collect and preserve these machines ends up ruining some. It's best to check out a machine in person and personally transport it ourselves; but that isn't always possible.

We've noted that us older guys end up doing most of the typewriter tinkering in our Society. It's important I feel that we get others involved in the hands-on repair and restoration work.

What do you think? How do you plan on passing the torch?

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ABQ Press Club Skyriting

Skyriters at the Albuquerque Press Club
“ABQ Press Club Skyriting”

Post-Script: The Press Club is located at 201 Highland Park Circle, situated atop a hill that overlooks downtown ABQ. It was built in 1903 by the architect Charles F. Whittlesey as his personal residence, who in the early 1900s was the chief architect in charge of hotels and stations for the Santa Fe Railroad, and who designed most of the grand stations and hotels for the railroad, such as the Fred Harvey hotels. The house was designed and built while he was designing El Tovar at Grand Canyon, in the same Norwegian Villa style.

Albuquerque Press Club Ceiling

The Whittlesey residence changed hands over the years, but in the 1970s was purchased by the Press Club, in whose hands it remains today.

I still had thoughts on my mind from the day's previous video production, where I mused on the adequacy of manual versus electronic typewriters as writing tools. When Kevin had invited me to the Club, he mentioned bringing his Skyriter. I was planning on bringing the Remington Ten Forty that I've been servicing, but instead decided a pair of Skyriters would be appropriate. My Skyriter still intermittently skips, whereas Kevin's hasn't had that problem. His is a Spanish keyboard version, and he speculates that, even though his machine is a few years older, perhaps it didn't have the wear and tear that mine had. Since I've done about all the cleaning, degreasing and lubricating that I can do, and have also referenced the service manual procedure, I suspect the skipping may be due to worn parts in the escapement. The machine works fine when I type pedantically, two-fingered, at a slow, even pace. So, in keeping with the video I'd just made, I've decided to work within the limitations of the machine, accepting it as imperfect yet "good enough," using it for "slow typing," such as when composing one's thoughts onto paper, rather than transcribing previously written material at a faster pace. A cogitating typer. Other than the skipping, it's a nice machine, and sports the longer carriage return lever than Kevin's version.

The video I posted is also the first one using my new Go Pro Hero 7 Black. It has excellent image stabilization for handheld shooting, and has a linear mode that straightens out the extreme fisheye distortion of these wide angle lenses. I've had to attach some sticky wind muffs to the mic holes in its carrying case, to dampen the effects of wind noise, and will soon be acquiring an adapter dongle for using an external mic.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Magic Mirror

Bristol Noughnut Co..
Digital Box Camera Image

The Magic Mirror

Post-Script: I remember recently writing about how my Olympia SG-3 worked flawlessly; now we see evidence of intermittent skipping. Further reinforcement of the notion that, no matter the reputation or build quality, a manual typewriter is always subject to the vagaries of the laws of physics. Hence the importance of the notion that writing with manual typewriters isn't about pristine, zero-error copy or printing press quality, but the enablement of creativity.

Back to the subject of the video, namely using a knock-off, low-budget action camera as a point-and-shoot stills device, I refuse to submit to the notion that I must somehow remain on the Technology Treadmill - that concept of marketing that assumes every consumer device is continuously being obsoleted by newer products. It's a form of rebellion. I'm interested in seeing what I can get from using these simple, obsolete tools.

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