NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

By Molly Kate

Say hello to the Dunkbot! Reveni Labs has launched an exciting Kickstarter aimed at film photographers who want an easier and faster way to develop at home. Designed by Matt Bechberger, founder of Reveni Labs, the Dunkbot is a circular automated processing system for 35mm, 120, and even 4×5 sheet film. It regulates temperature, timing, and agitation while also being able to perform multiple cycles in a row.

The Kickstarter campaign is running until Sunday, April 16, 2023, at 8:16 PM BST.

Initially, the design for the Dunkbot did not include 4×5 capabilities but after post-launch feedback from the community, Matt altered the design so that the Dunkbot could process 4×5 film. Users will need to purchase a special 4×5 sheet holder as none are included but these are commonly available from third parties. With this upgrade, capacity was increased to either 3x 35mm films, 2x 120 rolls, or 6 sheets of 4×5 negatives.

DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - design for 4x5
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs
DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - capacity illustration
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs

Matt wanted to create something for film photographers that offered an at-home solution but took on the labour-intensive demands of home developing.

Home developing gets you fast results and saves you money, but it requires manual labour and careful attention to detail. Mail-order developing is convenient, but the results can take weeks, and shipping to and from the lab increases costs significantly. – Matt Bechberger, Reveni Labs

The Dunkbot uses a dip-and-dunk design to move the film through different liquids while automating temperature control, timing, and agitation. Having a six-liquid capacity, it allows photographers to use a range of chemical processes such as black and white, C-41, E-6, and ECN-2.

Matt says, “Dip and dunk is a classic method for mass-processing, and was widely used before the mini-lab was invented. The original dip and dunk machines were massive machines and handled many rolls hung in strips. It turns out a small dip and dunk machine is how analogue photo-booths work as well. I did not know this before designing my machine, someone mentioned it to me after I revealed it.”

DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - robotic arm
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs
DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - robotic arm
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs

He mentions the idea of using a circular arm came up after failing to find a good solution with pumps and tubes.

I tried to make a system that used multiple pumps, valves and bottles, but it was a failure. I didn’t touch the project for over 3 years, then came back to it when I had the idea of making it a dip-and-dunk style machine (moving the film to the chemicals, instead of vice versa). I design everything in 3D and can make quick iterative improvements because of my reliance on 3D printers. – Matt Bechberger, Reveni Labs

The reliance on 3D printers and parts makes the Dunkbot easy to maintain and produces minimal waste in the manufacturing process.

DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - parts labeled
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs

Film is loaded into a light-proof film tank which attaches to a 2-axis crane-like robotic arm. The robot arm then moves the film tank through the various chemical baths based on the times, temperatures, and steps input into a controller. Cleverly designed, the film tank lets air flow in through the top and liquids through the bottom with light traps on both ends.

DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - controller
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs

The controller is an “off-the-shelf Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller” which is easily replaced using a socket installation. Additionally, it can be updated through a micro USB connection to a computer without needing any specific software. Reveni Labs promises all software or feature updates will always be free.

DUNKBOT by Reveni Labs - sample bw image
Image courtesy of Reveni Labs – Sample image processed through the Dunkbot

Regarding timing, the Kickstarter aims to be in the final stages of kit preparation and shipping by September 2023. Options to back the project include self-assembly with a kit or having the Dunkbot come pre-assembled.

To back the Kickstarter or find out more information, head over to the official campaign site here!

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About The Author

By Molly Kate
Photographer, writer, and CPA currently running a Youtube channel called Eclectachrome. I'm a huge fan of shiny new objects which makes writing news a perfect fit. Favorite cameras are often mechanical rangefinders, folders, and compacts and I love most film stocks. I enjoy developing and scanning my own film as well as printing in the darkroom when there's extra time!
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Comments

Matthias on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 14/03/2023

Wirklich neu ist dieses Prinzip nicht. Eine interessante Idee, ein typisches Männer Spiezueg. Etwas ähnlich gab es in den 1980 Jahren. Es hat sich nicht durchgesetzt. Abgehoben hat das Jobo Atl System. Kein Fachlabor und kaum eine Agentur verzichteten damals auf die Jobo Maschinen. Robuste Maschinen die selbst im schlechten Zustand noch lange funktionsfähig blieben. Ganz ehrlich: Ich würde mir eher eine gebrauchte ATL,einen neuen Jobo Rotations Proßezor oder einem Heiland Kipp Proßezor kaufen.
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Scott Gitlin on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 10/03/2023

This seems similar to film processing photo-booths back in the day. A video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/q377Stfri-0
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Martin JONES on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 07/03/2023

I'm afraid that I have to agree with the other posts - this a solution looking for a problem. Hand processing film is easy - our backlogs are at the scanning stage. Think again before sinking lots of money Reveni - I don't think that you have a market for your product.
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Castelli Daniel on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 07/03/2023

I learned to develop film in 1970 (!) Our teacher used s/steel tanks. He had a machine shop slice off the bases of his tanks. He then had s/steel covers welded to the base of the tank. They were light tight. His processing chemistry was placed in large sheet film developing tanks. The film was loaded, capped with the small fill covers removed. He had a homemade dip & dunk system. He dropped the loaded tank into the chemistry, and processed the film. I remember this because it was my Dad who modified the tanks, and my uncle who brazed the bottom lids on the tanks. The price? The local photographer agreed to teach me darkroom skills!
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Markus Larjomaa replied:

Comment posted: 07/03/2023

Brilliant! That would actually be a super useful product for me - a double end, light-tight stainless steel tank, for dip and dunk processing at home with the lights on. I'm not longing for any kind of automation, but as I'm rather using steel tanks and reels versus plastic ones but the one major flaw with steel tanks - or rather their lids, whether steel or plastic (I have plastic Kindermann lids) - is that it's slow to pour chemistry in and out. I've tried having separate tanks for each solution and dipping the stack of film reels from tank to tank, but obviously you have to do this in pitch black darkness. This light-tight dip and dunk steel tank concept seems wonderful. Hey, Reveni Labs, are you listening? Make a version with a steel reels/tank and the chemistry pots, without any automation, and I'm in! :)

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Michael J on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 07/03/2023

I think it's rather brilliant, especially the Heath Robinson bit, and a triumph of prototyping. No, I'm probably not going to dive in to this one, as pottering about with a Paterson tank, listening to the radio and trying not to confuse my beverage and my chems is my happy place, but I still think it's brilliant.
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Ibraar Hussain on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 06/03/2023

That’s expensive and for next to no saving on time nor money.
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Graham Orbell on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 06/03/2023

This machine could be straight out of the drawings of Heath Robinson. A cartoonist famous around 1912 for drawing complicated machines for carrying out simple processes. It appears to use vast quantities of chemicals and doesn’t seem to address replenishment and substitutes machine maintenance for simply manually attending to the process. I’ve personally processed thousands of films black and white, colour negative, colour reversal, 35 mm 120, 4 X 5 and 16mm cine film. It’s not very difficult This system is an answer looking for a problem
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Jim Hofman on NEWS: The Dunkbot from Reveni Labs Automates Processing Film At Home

Comment posted: 06/03/2023

As both an analog photographer that develops my own film AND an industrial designer, I look at some of these devices that semi-automate the film-developing process and scratch my head. Is this a problem that needs to be solved? Yes - if I had 30 rolls of film that need to be processed I would like to automate that, but this only does a couple of rolls at one time. The cost vs time savings benefit isn't clear. I use a cheap (US$50) rotary base for my tanks and I consider that a time saver because I no longer need to invert the tanks. I can walk away and monitor the time on my phone (Massive Dev app). I guess this type of device fully automates the process - but at a significant cost. Who is the target market for this?
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