Equipment Reviews
 
If you have recently purchased a new item of diving equipment, please send in a review. Is it what you expected? Does it perform as expected? Was it good value for money? We'd like to hear 
from you.
 

Demand Valve Hoses

Keith Waugh

I recently needed to replace one of my demand valve hoses, the regulator hose between the 1st stage and 2nd stage of my d/v. I thought that I might as well go "the whole hog" and buy the standard 74cms MiFlex hose, as it seems that everyone is buying them. The RRP is £27. Unfortunately the dive shop did not have that one in stock.

As I needed the hose urgently, prior to going on a diving holiday, I went to another Glasgow dive shop and bought the standard 74 cms Flexlite hose, distributed through www.beaversports.co.uk cost £19.75(image right)

The appearance of both hoses is very similar, only time will tell on the quality of each. However, you might be interested in looking at the Beaver website for the complete range of LP & HP Flexlite hoses. The only down side might be that most of the hoses are black, some are also yellow, whereas the MiFlex hoses are all multiple choice of colour. On the other hand, the Flexlite hoses come with a fitted hose protector!!! Worth thinking about!?

 

My latest Toys!

from Jim Sheran

Keith has added a few things to the club’s “Equipment Review” page so I though some of you may be interested in some of my latest additions to my ever growing dive gear.

I decided early in the year it was time to upgraded my camera kit, so I decided to go for the Olympus Stylus TG4

So what made me go for the TG4?Well at its wide end it offers an F2 aperture

Focal length 4.5mm ~18.0mm (that’s 25mm ~100mm in old 35mm format)

Waterproof (not water resistant) to 15m, so ideal for snorkelling without a housing.

 

The controls are simplistic and easy to navigate and it can take a 128GB SDHC card

I could go on about wifi, GPS, HD videoing and built in compass, but I thought I’d stick to what made me go for this camera.

 

 

As to what I paid for it, well I think I got a bargain getting it for £230 inc p&p.

 

 

As all of you are aware 15m is not that deep which means I will have to get a housing for it and also an external flashgun.  The one's I will be going for are the Olympus PT-056 (waterproof to 40m) and the UFL-3

 

 

 

 

With the fibre optic cable I will get full TTL flash sync.    The housing costs around £220, the flashgun coming in at £330 and the cable costs approximately £80.  I’ll have to start raiding the piggy bank!

I have been toying with the idea of doing some fluorescent photography, which means buying a few filters also.

 

I purchased an excitation filter (fits over flash), which is designed for the Sea & Sea YS 02/Olympus UFL-3 (£107 inc p&p)

Leaving me to purchase two barrier filters (one for camera and one for my mask)

 

Lastly I did purchase a blue/UV torch which is waterproof to 100m (cost £18).

So when I next set off for Mindoro I should be already for photographing Mindoro’s corals and marine life if their fluorescent beauty!

 

 
 
 
 

Follow this link to a useful article on many currently available Dive Computers:

http://www.sportdiver.com/scuba-diving-gear-guide-2016-best-dive-computers

 
 
A Dive Logbook software package
Keith Waugh

As diving computers appear to have become an absolute necessity in scuba diving, a useful spin off from this reliance on electronic computer technology has been the plethora of computer logbooks. Most of the dive computer manufacturers have produced a computer logbook to accompany their range of diving computers. Some of these, usually free, logbooks are extremely comprehensive and user friendly. There are others which are worse than useless and detract from the overall package of dive computer and logbook software. Unfortunately the logbook software from one manufacturer will generally not be able to be used with another manufacturer's product. For example, a Scubapro Uwatec computer cannot communicate with Suunto's logbook software package and vice versa.

However, a few enterprising software developers have come up with various solutions and have created logbook software packages which will communicate with several brands of diving computer. One such software developer is Sven Knoch with his Diving Log 6 package (www.divinglog.de ).

This is an extremely comprehensive diving logbook package. It can upload dive data directly from most brands of diving computer on the market. Or, having uploaded data from your diving computer to your associated proprietary logbook software, you can import the logbook file to Diving Log 6. For example, I use a Scubapro Uwatec Galileo Luna dive computer and upload data to the associated SmartTrak logbook software as *.slg files. I can then import my *.slg file to Diving Log 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The link between dive computer and your laptop/desktop can be a hardwire link, bluetooth or infra red. Diving Log 6 also has several export formats such as CSV, pdf, UDDF, DAN DL7 and Excel, to name a few. You also have various printing options to enable you to create a physical paper diving logbook.

The software also includes a "designer" option which enables you to create your own "on screen" logbook page showing the specific content that you wish to see.

There are pages for information about yourself, your equipment purchases, details and service dates. You can keep details about specific diving holidays, your diving buddies and you can store and associate photos with specific dives.

If you keep a comprehensive logbook with most of the data fields and notes field completed, with time you will build up a very complete data base which can be interrogated in many ways. For example, you can search for information by dive site, date, buddy, depth, activities, equipment used and so on and so on. You can generate statistics such as the number of dives at a given depth, site, in a month or year, photography dives, wreck dives, shark dives, cave dives etc etc. Again the prospects are considerable and only limited by ALL of YOUR past diving experiences.

Obviously this detailed dive data will become quite valuable, not least for the reason that it is proof of your diving qualifications, experience and achievements, so of course you can back it all up as well as store it in "the Cloud" or on "OneDrive", so that it can be accessed by you anywhere in the world where you might be enjoying an exotic diving holiday!!!!

A number of logbook software packages are free of charge, but I have certainly found that there is a reason for this, namely, that they are not very good or have limited upload capabilities. On the other hand, Diving Log 6 costs 39 Euros (around £30) with free updates for life. It is well worth the small investment, as it is truly an extremely comprehensive logbook software package with very comprehensive online support and regular blogs from the developer. You can also contact Sven Knoch, he is very quick to respond.

I have described several of the functions of Diving Log 6, but there are a number of other features, for example, concerning gas analysis and dive planning. You can try Diving Log 6 free of charge. It is fully functional, only limiting you by the number of dives you can upload until you purchase the product. Full details on Sven Knoch's website at www.divinglog.de

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Big Blue AL1100XWP Diving Light
by Keith Waugh

I recently bought a diving light to primarily use as a video light for my GoPro camera. I wanted something fairly small, had a wide beam, was powerful and did not cost a fortune. The Big Blue AL1100XWP seemed to fill the bill. 

The torch is 12.5cms long x 3.9cms across the widest part of the front end and is constructed from marine grade aluminium alloy. The LED light output is 1100 lumens with a beam angle of 120o. Colour temperature is 6500oK, which is more or less daylight.

Light output is altered by a push of the button. Level 1 is 110 lm, level 2 is 275 lm, level 3 is 550 Lm and level 4 is 1100 Lm plus an "SOS" mode. The battery is a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery 18650 and, of course comes with a charger. Battery duration is between 2 hours and 20 hours, depending on the light output setting and needs to be removed from the torch for charging.

Battery discharge is indicated by a colour code: blue is full charge, green is half charge and red indicates the torch battery is low and needs a recharge.

The torch unscrews at, more or less, the centre of the torch tube and is double "O" ring sealed.

Also included in the package are two clip on filters: red and yellow, a clip to attach the torch to other gear and a lanyard.

The whole package is £149 including postage from https://www.sdswatersports.co.uk/All-Products/Scuba-Diving-Torches-And-Lamps where you will also find further details and more photos.

So far I have found the AL1100XWP to be an excellent bright light and very good value.

They also sell a narrow beam version, the AL1100NP for £125.

 

A modern twin hose demand valve

By Keith Waugh

For quite some time I have toyed with the idea of obtaining a twin hose demand valve. Whilst browsing on the internet I came across a website "Vintage Double Hose". It turned out that the owner of this site has been interested in vintage diving equipment for a number of years, since around 2004. He had been trying to obtain bits and pieces to repair and service old diving gear without too much luck. So, he decided to try to do something about it. You can read more about "Vintage Double Hose" at: http://vintagedoublehose.com/  Amongst other things he has been developing a modern, state of the art, two stage, twin hose demand valve for several years. The outcome is the Argonaut Kraken Twin Hose Demand valve. Unlike the original twin hose d/v's of the '50's, '60's and early '70's, the Kraken has 3 low pressure ports for BCD's and dry suit inflators and one high pressure port for the air contents gauge. When the Siebe Gorman Mistral, Merlin Mk6 and La Spirotechique Royal Mistral twin hose demand valves, to name but three, were around, BCD and dry suit inflation had not been invented!!!

So why go back to a twin hose demand valve? Partly nostalgia for a time when diving was less intense and hidebound with regulation, partly, in practical terms, for the fact that there are rarely bubbles around your head. This can be a great advantage for underwater photography, in that it can be possible to approach fish life more closely than with a bubbly single hose d/v noisily gushing bubbles. And partly that the dynamics of using a twin hose demand valve is a constant reminder that you are in a world where "pressure" and its consequences are king!

Using a twin hose demand valve is straight forward enough, however, there are a couple of pointers to bear in mind. The d/v must be positioned as closely as possible to your back and positioned just below the top of your lungs. You also need to bear in mind that the diaphragm in the d/v is quite large compared to the 2nd stage diaphragm in a single hose demand valve. (Unfortunately the positioning of my BCD cylinder straps is causing a bit of a problem with regard to the correct height of the cylinder and therefore the exact position of the twin hose d/v, but I will work on it!!! Most modern BCD's will create this issue unless a modification can be undertaken.)

So how does the twin hose demand valve perform in practice? When you are swimming face down, with your lungs lower in the sea than the diaphragm, breathing may be slightly tight. When you are upright, with lungs and diaphragm level, breathing will be "normal" and if you are tilted backwards or on your back, you may get more air than you bargained for!! Having said that, you soon become used to the "different" breathing technique. It is important to point out that this operation of the valve is completely normal and is entirely a function of hydrostatic pressure differential. It is definitely NOT a fault. The effects of even small changes in hydrostatic pressure are quite significant. We would all do ourselves a favour to remember it!!!

When I first started diving everyone used twin hose demand valves because that was "the norm". There was nothing else! Believe it or not but the early single hose d/v was treated as a bit of a joke by the more experienced members of the club I attended at the time. In 1968 I was a "newbie" and so took the advice of more experienced members. I bought a La Spirotechnique Royal Mistral, single stage, twin hose demand valve, which was remarkably comfortable to use, but foolishly I eventually sold it and moved on to the single hose d/v when it was considered much more reliable than earlier models. Well, you do, don't you!

So, now, here I am, full circle, back with a modern, "state of the art", two stage, twin hose demand valve. At the time of writing I have had 7 dives and I'm enjoying every minute of it!!

Full details about how the Argonaut Kraken has been developed and information about Bryan Pennington, the developer of the Argonaut Kraken can be found at: http://vintagedoublehose.com/ 

When you consider the research, development and manufacturing costs of making the Argonaut Kraken a reality, especially as the number of units is relatively small, the price is extremely reasonable.

 

Review of the Exposure Marine SUBM3 Mk2 OLED 

by Keith Waugh (Published in Scottish Diver July 2016)

Our esteemed Scottish Diver Editor invited me to test a new diving torch which has recently come to light! (pun intended!!). It is the Exposure Marine SUBM3 Mk2 OLED (organic light emitting diode) torch and is manufactured in the UK by Ultimate Sports Engineering Ltd in Pulborough, West Sussex.

The torch comes complete with a USB charging cable which connects magnetically with the torch; a 110-240volt charger; a neoprene dive handle kit; a wrist lanyard; a neoprene storage bag; an allen key and a fabric covered zipped plastic storage case for the whole kit.

The manufacturer states that the SUBM3 Mk2 torch is constructed in marine grade hard anodised aluminium. The torch tube measures 11.3cms long by 4.7cms diameter and weighs 240grams. In the front of the torch there are the 3 powerful OLED's. On the rear surface there is the touch sensitive Capacitive pressure pad, a display to tell you how much power is left for each of the power modes, the gold plated charging terminals and the sealed magnet for the charging cable attachment. The torch utilises a sealed Lithium Ion battery which can be part charged and is not user accessible

The SUBM3 Mk2 has a 20 degree soft spot beam with a stated colour temperature of  6000oK and 3 power levels of 1800 lumens, 150 lumens and 50 lumens plus a strobe position, Off and a Travel Loch position.

One of the manufacturers main selling features of this torch is that it uses: "advanced motion sensing technology". In other words, the torch does not have any mechanical switches penetrating the torch case and so water cannot enter, nor can switches become clogged with sand, as there aren't any!

So, how does the SUBM3 Mk2 work? Above water there is a touch sensitive Capacitive switch on the rear face of the torch. Underwater you "firmly" tap the torch.

On the surface, a single press of the Capacitive switch turns the light On to low power mode. Each single press will scroll through the modes from Low to High. Press and Hold will turn the light Off. When the light is On, press and hold for 2 seconds will enter the strobe mode.

Underwater, firmly tapping any part of the torch twice will turn the torch On to low power. Tapping the torch once will scroll up to the medium power mode and tapping once again to the highest power mode. Tapping the torch twice within 2 seconds will turn the torch Off. From any lit position, tapping the torch 7 times will take it to Strobe condition.

There is also a "Tap sensitivity" menu where you can adjust how gently or firmly you need to tap the torch.

So, how did the torch perform? Right away I should say that I have mixed feelings about extremely powerful torches being used underwater. The Instruction brochure for the SUBM3 Mk2 torch carries a warning that you should not look directly in to the torch or shine it at other people when it is On, as it may cause serious eye injury!!! I believe the same message should be applied when shining the torch at our marine friends under the sea. Their eyes are meant to function in conditions considerably less favourable than human eyes and so they could be blinded by indiscriminate use of these powerful torches. At the very least, fish and other creatures will probably flee from us!

I practiced the operation of this torch in a bucket of water at home. Initially it seemed a bit of a trial to get the torch to function correctly. However, with a little perseverance AND setting the "tap sensitivity" to "high", meaning "very sensitive", it seemed to work fine. With the torch set to its default "medium" position, I had to be a little more firm with the tapping!! Hands covered with spongy neoprene gloves should prove interesting! Of course you could tap the torch on a lead weight, or your tank, or a rock or a piece of wreckage, but the torch may soon become chipped, dented or marked.

For the open water test of the SUBM3 Mk2 I used the wrist lanyard and attached it to a karabiner on my BCD. The torch fitted easily in to a BCD pocket. Once down to a gloomy 25metres on my test dive, out came the torch and with a double tap with the side of my hand, on it came at low power. Another single tap and up to medium power. A final firm single tap and it was up to high power and the full 1800 lumens. The SUBM3 Mk2 was indeed very bright with a tightly focused beam which indeed seemed to be around 20 degrees and burning with a very white light, tending ever so slightly towards the blue end of the spectrum at 6000oK. The sun really was shining at the bottom of Loch Fyne! A double tap with the side of my hand again, and the torch went off.

In use, the SUBM3 Mk2 seemed to me to be too powerful. I know this sounds ridiculous and this is not a criticism of this particular torch but more a general comment on all diving torches with this kind of power. As I've already suggested, I would be very wary about pointing such a bright light at any submarine creature, never mind my diving buddy.

With the torch on, the rear face of the torch displays the amount of battery power time remaining. So, with a full charge at low power(50 lumens), the battery will last around 24 hours, at medium power (150 lumens) it will last around 10 hours and at high power (1800 lumens) it will last around 2 hours, all manufacturers figures.

When the torch is stored in your kit bag there is a "lock" condition to prevent accidental turning on if your kit bag is dropped, knocked or whatever!!

The manufacturer supplies a neoprene hand mount kit included with the torch, if you like that sort of thing. A small bolt in the construction of the hand mount engages with a location point in the front of the torch and is tightened with the supplied allen key.

Charging the torch takes around 9 hours from a full discharge and you can either charge from the mains electricity or a USB point, however a USB charge takes considerably longer.

In conclusion I must say that the SUBM3 Mk2 is well constructed, neat in size and certainly appears robust. It is also very powerful for its size. The colour temperature of 6000oK (almost midday sun) is excellent. During my test dive the torch worked well. I appreciate why the manufacturer has designed a torch with no holes in it, meaning that leakage should be near impossible. It also means that the owner should not be able to tinker with it!! Perhaps many readers will like the idea of a "motion sensing" tapping technology to operate it, however, I found myself wondering if this technology is absolutely reliable?? It could become quite frustrating if your tapping sequence is not quite right!!

Innovative technology does, of course, come at a price. The SUBM3 Mk2 complete with accessories as described retails at £349.95p.

Please note that all the technical details of the SUBM3 Mk2 are as specified by the manufacturer, as I had no means of confirming them. This review has been written as a purely "end user" of the product.

Full details are on their website:

http://www.ultimatesportsengineering.com/exposure-marine/dive-lights/subm3-mk2

 

 

 


Information on this Website is as accurate as possible, but does not necessarily represent the views of Clydebank SSAC Committee.

All Text & Photographs on this website owned & copyright of Keith Waugh unless otherwise stated.

Copyright of Text & Photographs of other authors retained by them.

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