Photographer builds automatic film developing robot out of Lego
posted Monday, January 20, 2014 at 1:10 PM EDT
If you've spent any time in a darkroom at all, you know the actual business of developing film can be extremely tedious. Swapping out chemicals, agitating, and rinsing, waiting for a timer to go off to let you know you've been doing it for the right amount of time. But Dutch photographer Jan van den Broek has managed to come up with an ingenious way around this: by building his own robot to do the work for him, using off the shelf Lego parts.
van den Broek used Lego Mindstorms, the programmable robotics branch of Lego, to automate the process. He created a small trolley that moved between various baths, dunking the reeled film into the appropriate liquid, and agitating it for the correct amount of time before moving on. Using Robolab, van den Broek was able to tweak the all of the robot's actions for better results, creating a semi-automated film development setup. Sure, he still had to thread the film to begin with, but much of the tedious side of developing could then be skipped.
Jan has since abandoned the project, saying "I finally realize that an automatic film development system for me really is not viable, because I make very occasional use of an analog camera", but seeing as Mindstorms are widely available and easy to use, it shouldn't be too hard for others to take this idea and run with it. So if you've ever wanted to build your own film developing robot, this could be your chance!