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Photographers with pony tanks, question?


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#1 onewolf

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 09:50 AM

I've been experimenting recently with a 19cu ft pony tank (I recently got my SDI 'Solo Diver' certification) and I am looking for recommendations for a good mounting configuration for a diver using a housed SLR/dual strobe camera system.

My first attempt was to mount the pony on the left side of the primary tank (can't mount it to the right side of primary because of cam band buckle location) and route the 2nd stage reg around my right side. The Good: No interference with camera/photography. The Bad: Very very difficult to get to the pony tank valve, can't see the pony tank 'button' SPG, didn't really like the overall stability/trim. The inability to see the SPG is easy enough to solve with a SPG on a hose.

Attempt #2 was to sling the tank on my left side (DiveRite sling kit) from the BCD aft hip D ring and shoulder D ring. The Good: Can easily access tank valve, easy to see tank SPG, easy to 'hand off' pony tank if desired, trim/stability was excellent. The Bad: I absolutely KLONKED my camera housing and Nauticam viewfinder several times on the slung tank 1st stage, the slung tank prevented me from getting 'even lower' on some photos because it hangs ~6"-8" below me.

I'm curious how other UW photographers who use pony tanks have mounted them?

Any advice?

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#2 jcclink

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:00 AM

How about left side but upside down (valve on bottom). Should be easier to reach. SPG hose on left, 2nd on right.
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#3 eyu

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:11 AM

Why don't you take your tank strap off and reroute it so the buckle is on the left?
Put the pony on the right with the valve up, have both your primary and pony turned on as you enter the water.

Edited by eyu, 23 July 2011 - 03:38 AM.

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#4 Balrog

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 09:33 PM

Getting balance and access right is a very personal thing.
Tank inversion gives good valve access but needs longer hoses.

Have you thought about a slob knob http://www.divepursu...embly-slob-knob.

I've seen quick release clamps used to park the pony but allowing it to drop onto a side sling for the operating position.

My son has been busy making up some sort of elastic webbing and velcro arrangement for mixed gas diving but I haven't seen the result yet.

#5 PIG004

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:58 PM

I strap it on the left and upside down on the main tank. The valve is open and the guage checked prior to entering the water. The tank is for emergencies only so i do not need to see the guage in the water as I'll surface if there is a problem with my primary tank. I know my SAC and how much time I require to surface.

#6 Karl

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 12:14 AM

I have a Zeagle backplate & wing set up. I turned the tank straps around and mount the pony bottle on the right hand side. I have the Zeagle pony bottle cam bands to mount it to the tank straps (I sound like a Zeagle salesman :B): ). I have the second stage routed down the right hand side under my arm and clips to the waist buckle. This second stage is a Milflex hose (fluro yellow) and is approx 70cm in length so it can easily reach my mouth.

I don't worry about reaching the knob as I turn the pony on everytime I enter the water - along with my main tank. I have no problems with the trim and don't even know it is there.

With the backplate and wing set up it leaves the entire front of my body free and I find it comfortable and practicable.

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#7 tdpriest

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:02 AM

I gave up long ago, in favour of manifolded twins: all the problems disappear!

Here I am, courtesy of Justin Beevor:

http://www.flickr.co...vor/5561179509/

Tim

:B):

#8 onewolf

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 12:55 PM

Thanks for all the advice/opinions.

Since my new BCD (Hollis ATS) allows me to change the primary tank cam band buckle from the right side to the left side (the old Scubapro BC did not allow this) I have decided to try mounting the pony tank to the right side of the primary tank. The regulator I'm using for the pony tank (Hollis 212/DC1) provides a LP port on the end of the 1st stage which I'm using to run the 2nd stage hose straight down down and around my right side. I'll give this config a swimming pool test and if it seems ok, I'll try it on my next dive trip.

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#9 RWBrooks

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 05:03 PM

Had mine mounted on a quick release rack on the left of the primary, upside down with a button gauge and a long hose kept under a bungie like a stage tank. I can access the valve and reg and pressurize it before getting in but keep it turned off until I need it which would only be in emergencies. The main problem for me was the trim, I only need 6 lbs so balancing the tank with enough weight on the right was overweighting me drastically. I ended up ditching the pony on day to day dives and only using it when I shoot stock on my own and want to get away from the crowds.

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#10 allen

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:52 PM

If you want it on the right side, move the silly cam band. Flip it so it closes the other direction. Next, get a second cam band. I hate a single bands, more than once I have seen tanks slip out cause of improper assembly (with two less chance of both going). The second band will help with stability of the pony. When I need a deco bottle I sling it. Never had it be a problem while shooting but then again my rig is not as big as yours.

#11 PIG004

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 10:35 PM

I had the same issue initally Richard with being over weight so i swapped my SS back plate for an aluminum one and with the 4 lbs saved with the lighter plate I added a 3 lb weight to the right side to balance the tank on the left.

#12 tdpriest

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 11:56 AM

Get the pony cylinder right into the groove between your primary cylinder and wing, reducing the moment arm that twists the rig. A balance weight is a good idea, but not too much: an aluminium cylinder is going to become very bouyant if you breathe it down (Brits use steel ponies, exclusively and avoid this complication)!

Don't take it abroad: the TSA remove them from dive bags!

Tim

:B):

#13 Paul Kay

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:52 PM

I use a double cam band which is made from 2 x 'Buddy' (APValves) cam bands actually made for fitting a pony to a main cylinder. I had the two bands sewn together by a climbing harness building friend in the village where I live with strips of 2" webbing - to do this does require an industrial sewing machine as webbing is tough stuff. The whole system works well and it is very easy to fit and remove either cylinder. Both myself and my wife use this system and once you are used to it, it is well enough balanced and apart from additional dry weight is as simple as using a single cylinder. That said we are both mounting this system into Buddy Commando stabs which are built like the proverbial (although I've just managed to wear through the bottom mesh on mine after many years of use (10 to 15 at least I think) - Buddy will service it and repair it cheaply enough though).

I always mount the pony cylinder valve upwards and it is switched on and checked prior to diving - in an emergency the last thing that you want to do is to have to switch on a pony cylinder regardless of how easy/obvious this is to do when not in an emergency. This way air is immediately available if ever required. Lastly, I have both main and pony valves regularly and competently serviced - essential whether used or believed 'needed' or not - and ensure that they are looked after and washed well after use.
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#14 meister

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:51 AM

I've used a couple of different back mounts, which were quality mounts and functioned quite fine, however, I now sling it. I reserve the bottle, then bring my own reg, air gauge, and rigging. I'd be very hard-pressed to go back to hanging a bottle behind me...
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#15 bvanant

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 01:43 PM

I've used a couple of different back mounts, which were quality mounts and functioned quite fine, however, I now sling it. I reserve the bottle, then bring my own reg, air gauge, and rigging. I'd be very hard-pressed to go back to hanging a bottle behind me...

One way to save some space is to attach your pony to a safe second stage and use the pony for BC inflation as well as for emergency use. I use a 13 cu ft mounted upside down on the left side (to counterbalance my camera more or less) and plumb the pony to my Air-2.
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#16 OkiMike

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:14 PM

Can I ask for what reason you are using a pony bottle? If for longer bottom times, perhaps double tanks are the solution. If for emergencies, perhaps a better dive plan to account for not running out of air unexpectedly.

I do not mean to derail the thread, but am wondering if a pony is really the best solution to your situation.

#17 bvanant

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:49 AM

Can I ask for what reason you are using a pony bottle? If for longer bottom times, perhaps double tanks are the solution. If for emergencies, perhaps a better dive plan to account for not running out of air unexpectedly.

I do not mean to derail the thread, but am wondering if a pony is really the best solution to your situation.

It is for insurance and emergencies. It is not only the diver carrying the pony bottle that might have an emergency but rather someone else. If I am deep with a bit of air (enough to get me to the surface and boat) and someone runs out of air near by, I can simply unclip the pony, hand it to him and go up with him, or alternately we can go up together and even take care or any deco obligations he might have. Here in California I often am in the water pretty much alone and it is good to know that I have some extra air if there is a problem.

Bill

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#18 vetdiver

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:16 PM

I sling mine on the left, generally a 19 cu ft bottle. I keep my camera on the right, so I've not had much issue, though I do try to be aware of what is where. If I am getting low, I manually lift the slung bottle and lay it in front of me (sometimes unclipping it at the top). I am actually going back to small doubles for some dives, something I had given up years ago because of the weight. I've tried back-mounted ponies, but even a 13 cu ft one pulls me off-balance.

Oki - as Bill said, it is a precaution - redundancy is key. In our local water, the vis can be awful, and it is very easy to lose your dive buddy. In addition (and OT), sometimes the 19 cu ft buddy is the safest one I can choose!!! Finally, many of my favorite sites are just short of being extended range. I have never had to use my extra bottle, but it is there should I (or another diver) require it. Most avid divers here use redundancy in one form or another.

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#19 tdpriest

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 03:57 PM

Can I ask for what reason you are using a pony bottle?


Pony bottles are meant to be an independent "bail out": essentially a failsafe for a first-stage failure. Some divers use a similarly rigged bottle to carry oxygen-enriched gas mix for accelerated decompression.

I have to admit that, before the TSA stole it on the way back from Palau, I would use my pony bottle to potter around the reef after doing my safety stop...

Tim

:)

Edited by tdpriest, 18 August 2011 - 03:59 PM.


#20 chidiver

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 10:47 AM

Pony bottles are meant to be an independent "bail out": essentially a failsafe for a first-stage failure. Some divers use a similarly rigged bottle to carry oxygen-enriched gas mix for accelerated decompression.

I have to admit that, before the TSA stole it on the way back from Palau, I would use my pony bottle to potter around the reef after doing my safety stop...

Tim

:B):


Tim:

I'm not sure why TSA would take the pony, unless you kept the valve attached. In which case, they could have assumed it was pressurized and removed it from the luggage (no pressurized cylinders allowed). I've been travelling with my 6cuft "buddy" for years with the valve spun off and in a ziploc. This pretty much guarantees a manual inspection will be done (giant metal blob on the xray), but that's about it. Bummer for you, regardless.

As to the original configuration question, I just use my existing drysuit argon mount on the backplate (left side, upside down) for the 6 (purely a shallow, recreational bailout). Its just behind my hip, easily accessible, self-removeable (unlike most cam band mounts) and doesn't interfere with anything. I just found the cam band mounts too annoying when you're trying to move the rig to a fresh tank on a pitching boat.

If I'm diving with a larger 30-40cuft aluminum pony/deco bottle, its slung on the left hand side and is also not a problem for photography. In a horizontal position, the 1st stage is hanging out of the way, just under your left shoulder. A steel pony might be fine on your back (IDK, never done it), but it is so negatively buoyant, it would be a nightmare for trim if slung.

Stefan