sidekick - PhotoTherm

sidekick - PhotoTherm
Film Processor
Owner’s Manual
Please record the Serial No. ____________ and date of Purchase __________
Please mail in your warranty card.
2 Description
2 Setting up
4 Processing
5 Drying
6 Reel loading
7 Special functions
7 Maintenance
8 Alarms and messages
8 Hints
9 Chemicals
9 Processes other
10 Push processing
10 Disc processing
11 4x5 processing
12 Service
15 Parts list
17 Phone #’s & Log
Each Photo-Therm product is produced under rigid quality control standards. This
unit is fully warranted for a period of one year from date of purchase. Photo-Therm
110 Sewell Ave Trenton NJ 08610 USA Tel 609 396-1456 Fax 609 396-9395.
The SK-4G automatic processor accurately tempers each solution, one at a time. This
design breakthrough allows B/W processing at 75 oF and then immediately afterwards
slide processing 100 oF. Tempered water is not needed. Long warm-ups are not
All the solution bottles for processing color slides, color negatives and Black and White
negatives are constantly connected. The operator just selects the process. The unit
pumps the proper chemical from any of the 18 reservoir containers, quickly heats the
small volume needed to the correct temperature and starts processing. As it processes
one solution it prepares the next solution. At the end of the process cycle it automatically
flushes itself clean, preparing itself for the next process.
The SK-4G is compact (22” wide by 14” high by 16” deep). The process drum is
removable for loading in a dark box or bag. The SK-4G can process 4 rolls of 35, 2 rolls
of 120/220, 4 sheets of 4x5 or 18 disc films at one time. One chemical, the bleach, blix or
fix can be automatically saved from each process for silver recovery or reuse. Fresh
developer is used for quality. The standard processes are pre-programmed, but the
developer time can be easily changed when desired.
The SK-4G protects the film from possible operator errors. It has an interactive
computerized display that prompts and informs the operator what it is doing. Possible
operator errors are also minimized because, chemical lines do not have to be switched
nor must volumes of solutions be measured.
The unit comes packed in 2 boxes. Make sure you received the following:
... Main processor SK-4G
... 2-reel and a 4-reel black processing drum with lids
... 2-reel and a 4-reel spindle
... 6 plastic film reels
... Turbo dryer tube. (White plastic 4” diameter 11” long)
... Coil of ¼” flexible tubing
... Power cord
... 12 x ½ gal. (2 liter) solution bottles with fittings
... Water bottle (5 gal) with float valve
... “Ice Maker” kit to connect water bottle to water pipe
... Dump bottle (5 gal) with level sensor and cap with
3” gray plastic fitting to hold two dump tubes
... 4 Film Clamps for 120/220 film.(white curved plastic pieces)
... Plug to seal COUPLING when FLUSHING
... Syringe of silicone grease
... Allen wrench (1/16”) for bushings
... Magnetic stirrer. A white “pill” (3/8” x 1”)
... Permanent marker
... Piece of Scotch Britetm
... Set-up video
... This instruction book
Place the unit on a flat level surface. Lift up the side and cut away and discard the two
visible nylon straps from the bottom of the unit. These straps hold the pumps secure for
shipping and must be removed for the pumps to work.
Prepare the solution bottles. a) Loosen
NUT. b) push in notched end of the ¼ OD
black tubing through fitting to bottom of
bottle. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm)
exposed. c) Hand tighten nut. d) Rinse out
Use the marker pen to label each bottle and
lid with the chemical it contains. Cut a
piece of clear flexible tubing long enough
to run from the bottle to the back of the
DOWN from the back of the machine. After
about a foot, the tubing can run in any
direction. Allow about 2 feet (60 cm.) extra for slack. Label both ends of the tubing with
the chemical name. Slip one end over the proper tube and the other end over the
exposed black tubing of the solution bottle. The 5 gal. water bottle connects to the
WATER (#5) tube.
IMPORTANT. The solution source bottles must be located below the processor.
The 5 gal. water bottle, which
has a float valve near its lid,
holds the water that will be used
for processing and internal
cleaning (FLUSHING) of the unit.
You can manually fill the bottle.
Use regular tap water, not
de-ionized or distilled water.
You can connect the bottle to a
cold water pipe for automatic
filling with the “ice maker” kit.
The DUMP bottle comes with a
level sensor that should be
plugged into the DUMP SENSOR
jack on the back of the unit. If a plumbed-in drain is available, use it.
There are four drain outlets in the back of the unit:
DUMP - For spent chemistry. Connect to DUMP bottle or plumbed-in drain.
FLUSH - Disposes of spent FLUSH water. Connect to DUMP bottle or drain.
SAVE - Recovers the solution to be saved. Active only when SAVE switch is on
(red is showing). Connect to separate bottle.
OVERFLOW - DO NOT CONNECT. If solution comes out of this outlet, check your
FLUSH tubing for proper installation.
Push the flexible tubing onto the stainless tubes of these outlets (no more than 3/4”).
Position DUMP bottle close to unit. (Fig. 1)
Run tubing directly to DUMP bottle. (Fig. 1)
Cut off unneeded length of dump tubing. (Fig. 1)
Run the DUMP and the FLUSH tubing separately into the 3” gray
fitting on the DUMP bottle. Do not put a third tubing into the same
Do NOT run tubing inside DUMP bottle. (Fig. 2)
Allow at least 12” drop between unit and DUMP bottle.
Open the DOOR by lifting up from the bottom and pulling out. Place the magnetic stirrer
(white pill) in the exposed heat tank. Carefully push the stirrer with a pencil until it is
magnetically caught near the back right corner of the tank. Turn SIDEKICK on and
check if the stirrer is turning. Put in six Alkaline “C” Cells in the battery holder. This will
allow the unit to continue after a power failure and protect it against power surges. Plug
the power cord into a 120 Volt AC 15 Amp. (regular domestic) outlet.
In a dark box, load the film on the reel (see REEL LOADING). Slide the reel on the spindle.
Cover the spindle with the lid (one side is shaped to go over the spindle). Clip the tank
together. You are now light tight.
Push the PROCESS TANK to the left in the TROUGH till the SNOUT seats itself inside the
COUPLING. The two stainless pins of the spindle should go on opposite sides of the
STAPLE on the rotate motor.
Look to make sure you have enough solution in the chemical bottles. Empty the DUMP
bottle. Turn the unit ON. Use PLUS to select the type of film you are processing. Push
START to begin the process.
Sidekick magnetically detects the size of the film DRUM you are using and will pump up
the proper amount of solution needed for the processing.
The unit uses about 3 ½ oz (105 ml) of each solution per 35mm roll.
If you want to change the developing times see PUSH PROCESSING.
The unit will load the first solution into the internal heating tank, heat it to the proper
temperature, warm the processing drum with warm air and then start the process
automatically. As the unit is processing one solution it prepares the next solution.
When one solution is finished it is drained out and the prepared solution in the heating
tank is pumped into the DRUM. The same procedure is repeated for all the necessary
solutions. The unit will signal at the end of the wet processing. Remove the PROCESS
DRUM. Insert the PLUG in the COUPLING and wipe out the TROUGH with a paper towel.
Up to 4 rolls of 35 mm film can be dried in the included TURBO DRYER on reels. The film
can also be dried any other way. The base of 120 film is too thin for drying on a reel, and
must be dried by other means. Disc drying requires an accessory dryer (Part AF-DD).
Place the TURBO DRYER vertically in the TROUGH so that the cut away portion of the
TURBO DRYER covers the air vent in the side of the TROUGH. Shake out each reel 4
times over a sink with a vigorous snap of the wrist to remove excess solution. Replace
the reels on the spindle and put the spindle in the TURBO DRYER
Push START to begin drying. The unit will FLUSH itself as it is drying. The unit MUST BE
ALLOWED TO FLUSH itself after every processing run. The required drying time will vary
with the amount of film and the relative humidity of the room. If the film is not fully dry
when the dryer stops (15 min.), dry again. Rinse all reels, spindle and drum with COLD
water. Room air dry - hot air may distort the parts.
If you get drying marks, try the following: a) use distilled water for the last step. b) dilute
the wetting agent or stabilizer. c) use softened water. d) external rinse in distilled water.
e) squeegee and hang up to dry.
Film with drying marks can be re-rinsed in wetting agent and dried again.
The plastic ratcheting reels can be adjusted to hold different sizes of film. Simply hold
the reel in both hands, making sure that the outer spiral groove (near the ball bearings) is
on top and facing you.
Twist the right half of the reel clockwise until you hear a click. The two halves can then
be pulled apart. There are 3 “keyed” positions on the reel hub. The narrowest position is
for 35mm or 126, the second for 127, and the widest for 120/220.
Insert the leading end of the film, emulsion down, into the outer spiral groove of the reel
and a few inches past the ball bearings. With both hands on the reel twist the right half
and the left half in opposite directions. You may have to assist the film feeding by placing
the thumb, of your forward moving hand, on the outside of the film.
Keep feeding the film until the end clears the ball bearings.
Any Paterson tm reels will work. They are available at most photo stores. Contact PhotoTherm if you prefer to use different style reels.
35 MM FILM Cut off the film leader. Clip the corners of the leading end to make feeding
easier. Cut a “V” into the leading end as shown in sketch. 35 mm film can be started in
the light, but must be fed into the reel in the dark. When you reach the end of the film use
scissors to cut it away from the film cassette. Do not tear the film. An uneven tear may
cause the film to come off the reel.
120/220 FILM. Separate the tape from the backing paper and fold it back over the film.
This will stiffen the end of the film. Load the taped end into the reel. Feed until the back
end is passes the ball bearings.
Bend the 120 Film Clamp and place it over the end of the film into the grooves of the reel,
close to the ball bearings, as shown above. Add a second film clamp on top of the first
one. For extra assurance use a 1 in. piece of leader tape to bond the end of the film to
the film clamp.
Mount the 120 reels in the center of the spindle.
Selected with PLUS when machine is turned ON.
DRY will turn on drier for 15 minutes.
DRAIN will empty the internal HEAT TANK and the PROCESS DRUM.
FLUSH cleans out the system.
CLEAN LINES is a major cleaning. It draws solution through each of the chemical tubes,
one at a time, starting with tube #18 through #1 and then does a FLUSH using #5 as a
water source.
All solution tubing should be removed and the water tubing moved manually from
position to position, as the unit draws water through each tube to clean itself.
TEMP CALIBRATE will load water into the heat tank, heat it and hold the temperature at
37.8 C (100 F). The unit will emit a beep every time it reaches the proper temperature.
Allow 15 minutes after the first beep before reading temperatures. Check the temperature
with a digital thermometer (an electronic fever thermometer works great) with the probe
near the stir rod but not touching the bottom of the heat tank. A glass or dial
thermometer will not work.
The temperature can be adjusted with a small screwdriver through a hole on the left side
of the unit. Clockwise to decrease temperature. All units are calibrated at the factory and
should not need adjustment in the field.
Wipe off all spills when they occur.
Use silicone grease to lubricate the “O” ring on the SNOUT of the processing DRUM as
Inspect the plastic sleeve on the STAPLE that turns the spindle - replace if worn.
Clean the reels as needed by soaking in a 50% solution of household bleach for 5
minutes. Rinse well with hot water.
ONCE A YEAR, open the unit (see SERVICE), unplug it first, and:
1. Protect the PC board from getting wet. Cover it with paper towels and a plastic
2. Examine for any signs of wetness.
3. Clean the heat tank and the area above the heat tank with a cloth dampened with
a toilet bowl cleaner.
4. Replace the air filter on the dryer with a 3” square of air conditioner filter.
5. Remove the protection for the PC board and push down on all the connectors.
6. Close up the unit.
DO NOT TURN UNIT OFF until you check why.
A continuous series of short buzzes signals that the unit requires attention. Read the
message in the display to find out what needs to be done.
“Check Dev, etc.” means that there is not enough solution for the processing to
continue. Push START to turn off the alarm. Fill the solution bottle and then push
START. The process will continue.
“Flush” means that the unit was not flushed after the last processing run. Push START to
allow unit to flush itself.
“No AC” means the unit is not plugged in. Plug the unit into a live wall outlet.
“Dump tank full”. Empty the DUMP bottle.
“Please turn off”. Turn unit off when not in use. There is nothing that needs warming up.
“Machine failure”. Self-diagnostic. See CORRECTING PROBLEMS.
Test a new batch of chemistry on your own film or run a test strip.
Use: 1. Kodak T-Maxtm developer (B/W DEV) 2. Rapid B/W FIX 3. Hypo clearing agent
(B/W P WASH) such as Heico Perma-Washtm 4. B/W RINSE Photo-Flo (Kodak) or
Rexton’s Hyperwettm. Mix T-Max developer 1 part concentrate to 5 parts water. It works
better in a Sidekick than Kodak’s recommendation of 1:4.
Use working strength solutions of any C-41 chemistry. Overflow solutions work well. If
you use replenishers remember to add starter to the developer to get a working strength
RA C-41 chemistry works well with the standard set-up. If you would like to shorten the
bleach and fix times, please let us know.
Blue shift can be corrected by adding sodium hydroxide (see chem. manufacturers
instructions) to the color developer or by diluting the reversal step. When reversal is too
dilute, the slides will have a green cast.
Bleach should be aerated (have air pumped through it). Use a fish tank type air pump and
run the tubing to the bottom of the bleach bottle. Do not use an airstone. Run for at least
2 hours a day. The bleach is SAVED in this process because of its cost. If you wish to
save a different chemical let us know. Check reversal for scum growth - discard, clean
bottle, remix. Check color developer for separation - restir with mixing rod.
Unicolor, Photo-Technology, Tetanol or Beseler chemistry will work. (Some
manufacturers call their chemistry 3 step - they don’t include a wetting/stabilizing step.
Use C-41 stabilizer or a wetting agent (Hyper-wet or Photo-Flo) for this step.
MOTION PICTURE FILM (black layer on base). Process ECN-2. Process like normal C-41
film. Since SIDEKICK can use fresh solutions for each step, the black residue does not
gum up the unit. Turn SAVE switch OFF. After the last step, rinse under warm water and
gently rub the remaining residue from the film base. Do not touch the emulsion. Hang
film to dry. Wash reels with a soft brush in dish detergent.
We have program modules to do B/W SLIDES, LITHO and C-22 (old color negative film).
Call us if you need these or any other special process. Remember the only process
Sidekick can not do is Kodak’s Kodachrome.
Mix color chemistries in water that is at least 85 oF (29 oC). Stir well. Wait one hour before
If you want to change the developer time, hold MINUS as you push START. The display
will show the developer time. Change to desired time using the PLUS and MINUS. When
the proper time is displayed push START to begin. The next time you process the unit
will return to the normal time.
As a rough guide, 1 stop is about:
+ 2 min. for Slides E-6.
+ 30 sec for color negs C-41.
+ 20% of normal dev time for B/W
Call film manufacturer for more complete
Process disc with the normal COLOR NEG
cycle. Use the Short Processing Drum.
Load the disc spindle with up to 18 discs.
Push the retainer (round black plate with
stainless steel clip) on the end of the
spindle to hold the discs together.
When the processor says INSERT PLUG
push the disc dryer assembly into the
coupling as if it was a normal processing
DRUM. Insert the cord from the dryer into
the fitting on the right side of the
Place the spindle in the dryer. The spindle
end with a groove in it pushes into the
dryer motor coupling. Put the lid on the
dryer. Push START and the discs will dry
as the unit flushes itself.
TMAX Developer at 75oF (23.9oC).
Select “Tri X / Plus X” and PUSH.
Time Push 1 Stop
Agfa 201 440-2500
APX 25
4:15 5:15
APX 100
4:15 5:15
AP 400
4:50 5:45
Fuji 800 788-3854
Neopan SS
4:15 5:30
Neopan 400
4:40 5:50
Neopan 1600 3:30 4:40
Ilford 201 265-6000
4:30 5:30
4:30 5:30
5:00 6:00
3:30 4:10
Not recommended
Kodak 800 242-2424
4:40 5:40
4:40 5:40
4:40 5:40
TMAX 100
5:30 6:35
TMAX 400
5:30 6:35
Select TMAX 3200 @85oF
TMAX 3200
4 X 5 INSTRUCTIONS (optional)
Practice loading the 4x5 HOLDER with the lights on. The HOLDER will process 4 sheets
at a time.
The 2 stainless clips are on the TOP of HOLDER. Rotate both clips toward the center
Insert the sheets with the emulsion towards the center. 4x5 sheet film has notches in one
corner. Hold the sheet facing you with the longer side vertical. When the notches are at
the top right corner, the emulsion is facing you.
Load the 2 inside sheets first. Load from the TOP of the HOLDER. Squeeze the film so
that it can fit inside the ring of the HOLDER. Push the sheet into the groove. Use your
other hand to help guide the sheets.
After all the sheets have been loaded, rotate the stainless clips toward the outside ring to
hold in the sheets.
The spindle should then be inserted from the bottom of the HOLDER. Place the spindle
with the HOLDER(S) in the Processing DRUM and process normally.
After processing:
1. Remove the HOLDER(S) from the spindle.
2. Rotate the stainless clips toward the center core of the HOLDER
3. Push the sheet up slightly from the bottom.
4. Pull the sheet from the TOP. Use your other hand to help guide the sheet.
5. Use your own method to dry the sheets.
6. Rinse the HOLDER(S), spindle and DRUM. AIR DRY. DO NOT USE HOT AIR.
Very thin base 4x5 film like Kodalith will not mount in the holder.
Will not start up or gets Selector Valve jammed. Record display messages. Remove DRUM,
stuck in process step. drain solution and put DRUM in bucket of water to protect the film.
Alarm does not sound Unplug & open unit and check ribbon connector and tubing to
Selector (Rotary) Valve.
Excessive leakage from 1.Improper draining. Reread how to run DUMP lines. Do a dummy
run with the lid off the DRUM. Make sure solutions drain
front of DRUM, where
spindle passes through completely before the next solution is pumped up.
2.The STAPLE is touching the spindle bushing while the spindle is
being pulled in. Adjust by mounting the STAPLE closer to the
”Machine failure”
Temperature sensor problem. Check ribbon connector from heat
tank. Make sure it is pushed down, properly aligned and pins are
straight. Handle carefully. Lift up squarely. Do not just pull ribbon.
If program module was just replaced check it for bent pins.
Film too dark or light
1.Temperature off. Run TEMP CALIBRATE. see Special functions.
2.Chemical quality, mixing or age.
Film color off
Chemical quality, mixing or age.
DRUM not recognized
magnetic sensor problem. Replace magnetic sensor board.
Leak from snout.
Grease “O” ring on DRUM snout.
Use a telephone near Sidekick when calling in for service.
OPENING the UNIT. Qualified Personnel only
The unit must be opened in order to reach the internal components.
Remove the power cord from the unit and pull at least one battery from the battery
holder. Remove all the solution tubing from the tubes on the back of the unit.
Unscrew the 4 screws holding the BODY to the base (2 on the right side and 2 on
the left side). Lift up on the right side of the BODY so that it hinges on the left side.
Rest the BODY on its left side.
Open the unit see OPENING. Locate the circuit board. The PROGRAM MODULE has a
tape handle on it. Pull straight up with the tape handle - not one side at a time. The
writing on the label should read from top to bottom. Illuminate the circuit board well to
make sure the pins are lined up. Push in the new PROGRAM MODULE. Close up the unit.
Open the unit (see OPENING). Cover the PC Board with paper towels and a plastic sheet
to protect it from getting wet. The SELECTOR VALVE (SV) is now exposed. The tubing
from the SV is held against the side of the case by a clamp. Open the clamp. With a
paper towel in hand, remove the SV tubing from the pump fitting.
Remove the ribbon connector of the SV from the PC board. Carefully lift the connector
straight up. Do not bend the pins. The SV is held with 4 screws. Unscrew and remove
Install the new SV. Fasten with the 4 screws. Clamp the tubing to the case. The black
mark on the tubing should line up with the bottom of the clamp block. Push the end of
the tubing onto the pump.
Remove the protective socket from the connector of the new SV and place it on the old
SV connector. Replace the electrical connector in the socket marked FLUTE on the PC
board. The mark on the connector should be on the lower left corner.
Close up the unit. Do a test processing run.
Open the unit (see OPENING). Locate the circuit board. Carefully note how each
connector is mounted before you pull it from the board. Pull away squarely from the
board, be careful not to bend the pins. Do not just yank the ribbon cables. Rotate the 2
clamps holding the PC board and remove it.
Push the new PC against the stop on the right side of the track and then twist the
clamps.. Carefully replace all the connectors. Use the wiring diagram (p.16) as a guide for
positioning. Close the unit and do TEMP CALIBRATE (see SPECIAL FUNCTIONS).
Open the unit (see OPENING). Locate the heating tank. The temperature sensor screws
into the side of the heating tank. There are 2 wires connecting the sensor. One goes to a
solder lug, and the other is soldered to a black wire. Cut away both wires (the wires are
interchangeable). Use a coin (quarter) to unscrew the old sensor (DO NOT USE a
screwdriver. it may slip into and break the sensor).
Wrap the new sensor with 4 wraps of teflon tape and screw into the heat tank with a coin
(quarter). Solder the 2 wires where you cut the old wires. Close the unit and do TEMP
CALIBRATE (see SPECIAL FUNCTIONS) to match the sensor to the PC board.
Open the unit (see OPENING). Locate the 3 level sensors on the heat tank. The sensor
closest to the left corner is low level (3 oz -90 ml) followed by: 7 oz and 14 oz. Pour the
proper amount of water (start with 3 oz then add 4 oz etc.) into the heat tank. Hold the
sensor where it passes over the tank wall with one hand and bend the end of the sensor
with the other hand so that the sensor just touches the water. Empty the heat tank by
closing the unit and running DRAIN (see SPECIAL FUNCTIONS).
Prepare the unit by running CLEAN LINES (see SPECIAL FUNCTIONS). Open the unit (see
OPENING) and wipe up any loose solutions. Tie down the 2 pumps (through the holes in
the base) with strong twine. Remove the magnetic stirrer (white pill) from inside the heat
chamber. Close the unit. Remove and keep stir bar, plug and power cord.
Place the unit in a plastic bag. Use as much packing (balled newspapers, bubble wrap
etc. <please do not use small styrofoam chunks>) as possible to cushion the unit from
the walls of the box.
PARTS LIST SK-4G Always specify model and serial number.
Selector Valve Rotary
Heat tank
Temperature sensor
Printed circuit brd
Program module
Dryer internal
Wall dryer 8 roll
Valve dual dump/save
Valve coil 120V
Valve seat
Rotate motor
Staple bushing
Staple sleeve (2)
4x5 holder
Process drum 2-roll
Process drum 4-roll
Spindle 2-roll
Spindle 4-roll
Disc dryer
Disc spindle
Retainer for discs
Bottle 5 Gal
Sensor for dump btl
Float valve
Water connect kit
Bottle 2 liter
Film reels Paterson
Power cord
Switch power. 2 pole
Push switch
Switch save
Bottle 1 gal (4 l)
120 film clamps (4)
”O” ring (3)
blank sheet for page count. insert wiring diagram
609 396-1456
800 221 1555
800 243-2776
800 788-3854
201 265-6000
800 242-2424
800 999-4042
800 525-2821
800 621-5488
800 553-2001
708 833-0300
800 537-9724
800 537-9724
202 223-6906
800 255-1522
612 936-9500
716 377-6375
Our help line. First check CORRECTING PROBLEMS
Russell. 7-step Slide Chemistry. Very helpful
PSI. Makes Unicolor 4-step slide chemistry
Jobo. Imports Tetanol (Germany) 4-step slide chemistry
Brandess Kalt. Sell Heico Perma Wash fix (hypo) remover
Porters. Get catalog. Has Rexton Hyperwet #35-0597, a B/W rinse
McMasters. Ask for catalog. Has silicone grease #1418K4
United Plastics. Ask for catalog. Good source for bottles, tubing etc.
Good stand for unit. Rubbermaid 4505. United Plastics #06998
Interclone. Profit-making slide copier
Pic-Mount. Slide Mounters, mounts and boxes
Pakon. Slide mounters and mounts.
Gepe. Snappy slide mounter. Slide mounts for Snappy mounter
Copyright © Photo-Therm May 95
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