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#1 nathanm

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:52 PM

On a recent dive trip it occurred to me that there I was with a very expensive high tech camera, but I was communicating with the people on my dive with the most primitive of finger gestures - when I could get their attention. I often dive with the same set of people (family members) and it occurred to me that diver communication system might let us talk underwater. That's what commercial, military, search and rescue divers do.

There are several systems that would seem suitable. One is by Ocean Technology Systems - their Buddy Phone would appear to be very much what I want. You need to have a special "Mouth Mask" that goes over your chin and looks a bit like a feed bag for a horse. Your conventional regulator plugs into that. The idea is that the mouth mask lets you talk.

The same company also has an Aquacom product that is a bit more expensive, and much more powerful (5 watts rather than 0.5 watts), and more range.

Either product will work with full face masks. I have never dived a full face mask, so I am not sure whether this would be a good move or not. Some full face masks appear to have the regulator project so much that it may be hard to get a camera up to your eyes. One reason to use them is that they facilitate the diver communication system, but presumably there are other benefits. Commercial divers seem to use them, but I don't know why. One problem for me is that I need a vision prescription mask, but I presume that this could be arranged with a full face mask.

OTS has a range of full face masks: this one is similar in spirit to a conventional sport diving mask, while the others are much more commercial.

Ocean Reef appears to be a competitor to OTS that also has full face masks, and offers a very similar product to the OTS Buddy Phone, at about the same price.

So with that as the prelude, has anybody on Wetpixel used these systems? Do they work well?

How about the mouth mask versus full face mask?

#2 Bert S

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:49 PM

On a recent dive trip it occurred to me that there I was with a very expensive high tech camera, but I was communicating with the people on my dive with the most primitive of finger gestures - when I could get their attention. I often dive with the same set of people (family members) and it occurred to me that diver communication system might let us talk underwater. That's what commercial, military, search and rescue divers do.

There are several systems that would seem suitable. One is by Ocean Technology Systems - their Buddy Phone would appear to be very much what I want. You need to have a special "Mouth Mask" that goes over your chin and looks a bit like a feed bag for a horse. Your conventional regulator plugs into that. The idea is that the mouth mask lets you talk.

The same company also has an Aquacom product that is a bit more expensive, and much more powerful (5 watts rather than 0.5 watts), and more range.

Either product will work with full face masks. I have never dived a full face mask, so I am not sure whether this would be a good move or not. Some full face masks appear to have the regulator project so much that it may be hard to get a camera up to your eyes. One reason to use them is that they facilitate the diver communication system, but presumably there are other benefits. Commercial divers seem to use them, but I don't know why. One problem for me is that I need a vision prescription mask, but I presume that this could be arranged with a full face mask.

OTS has a range of full face masks: this one is similar in spirit to a conventional sport diving mask, while the others are much more commercial.

Ocean Reef appears to be a competitor to OTS that also has full face masks, and offers a very similar product to the OTS Buddy Phone, at about the same price.

So with that as the prelude, has anybody on Wetpixel used these systems? Do they work well?

How about the mouth mask versus full face mask?



#3 Bert S

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:05 PM

Guardian FFM can be hard to clear ears in. Some of my friends really like the Mantis. There are also alternatives, devices that make air spaces for one to talk into while still using a standard mask. Have you tried calling OTS?

#4 Timmoranuk

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:14 PM

I own a Scubapro FFM and a third party comms system is available. But for recreational diving and with camera the Ocean Reef systems seem to be the best of the bunch and have good peripheral vision unlike most FFMs. I'd probably get one, but I'd need a buddy to dive with first ;-)
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#5 Bert S

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:19 PM

I'm really curious about the mouth mask. I've seen someone use one, but didn't pay a whole lot of attention.

#6 gina

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:37 PM

I regularly use the OTS Guardian FFM for work (giving dive presentations at an Aquarium). FFMs take some getting used to and I probably had to do a dozen or more dives before I was comfortable using it. It can be difficult to get a seal on your nose to clear your ears so it may not be the best choice if you have difficulty clearing.

The regulator comes out the side and should not interfere with photography. I have seen other divers use prescription eyeglasses without the earpieces by using a suction cup to adhere them to the inside of the mask; I don't know if prescription mask lenses are available.

My rig includes a tether and my communications line runs to the surface, and from there is connected wirelessly to the Aquarium's communications. I don't know how this would work in a diver-to-diver situation. We also sometimes experience a degradation in communication quality when the diver descends too deep (below something like 15 feet), and again, I don't know what would happen in the wild.

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#7 DiveMasterDewey

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 03:00 PM

I've been using Guardian full face mask from OTS for a bit over two years now.

Regulator does stick out a bit further.

I often am completely upside down, feet straight up, gives me access to sights (and sites) others do not get. But with no water in the mask, no problem with water going up your nose.

No fogging !

OTS buddy phones work great for short range. Audio takes some getting used to if you have never used communications quality two-way radio. I don't 'talk' to other divers... no conversation (I don't want conversations in recreational diving and I am not a commercial diver). But I keep a receive-only unit either in the bcd pocket or tied on my flag reel. If I need to say something to another diver, I just hold the receiver up to their ear.

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#8 myhrvold

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:59 PM

Here's the Aquacom spec sheet: http://www.rjeint.co...verCom_revB.pdf

Here's another one http://www.divelink.net/product.htm .
The half face mask: http://www.divelink.net/halfface.htm
The specs: http://www.divelink.net/techspecs.htm
It claims up to 20 Watts but I am not sure if you'd ever encounter such ideal conditions in a real-life diving environment.

From what I've read, my understanding is that they are not yet effective at communicating in an ocean diving environment (waves and chop, 60-100 ft deep, several hundred feet apart etc).

Edited by myhrvold, 21 April 2012 - 10:36 PM.


#9 DiveMasterDewey

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:41 AM

Here's a video on youtube (made with a pocket video camera) with some audio from the OTS system. This is the worst example I could find.

This was done by hand-holding the receive-only unit next to the camera housing, so the pocket video camera picked up the comm audio and the ocean and the other divers bubbles all together. Also, to keep my hands free, I had the unit on continuous transmit. The result is that you hear all the noise from the regulator when inhaling. Normally, you only transmit when talking by pressing the "press to talk" switch, so that you don't hear that noise.

Their are videos on the manufacturers websites that give you a real sense of how they sound in normal use. The videos at Ocean Technology Systems are much more realistic. Be aware that some of the videos are for wired communications, some are for ultrasonic; and the camera operator is direct-wired into the camera so his audio is best (and sounds different).

The system I use transmit ultrasonic signals. If it is raining hard, that noise will overcome the communications signals and range of communication can drop to a foot or less.

There is at least one model of strobe that makes a bit of ultrasonic noise when recharging; you will hear it go "wooweep" in the receiver. This might annoy some people, not me. Depending where I am diving, I will hear noises from the receiver that are from the ultrasonic noises that creatures make underwater.

If divers would spend as much time learning American Sign Language as they do learning the P.A.D.I. underwater signs, we could communicate fairly well without 'technology'.

Edited by DiveMasterDewey, 22 April 2012 - 08:57 AM.

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#10 MK2

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:41 PM

I regularly use a FFM ( AGA) with OTS wireless communications. It is a great setup and total clarity. I have a cable running from my SSB communications unit to my housing that also allows my camera to record the divers audio. Full face masks do need some getting used to and some extra training but well worth it.

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#11 SwiftFF5

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:36 AM

I routinely use an Interspiro (aka AGA) FFM mask. In fact, the only times that I use a half mask are when I'm on vacation somewhere. I do have trouble clearing my ears, but strangely, I tend to have more trouble with the half mask than the FFM. You do need a little time to get used to a FFM. They tend to have more volume, so your bouyancy changes a bit, they are a bit harder to don and doff, and clearing the mask, as well as clearing your ears, is a bit different. However, because the air is drawn over the mask lens as you breathe, you tend not to have fogging conditions. They are also great for cold water dives, especially with a dry suit. I have gotten to the point that I generally prefer a FFM for routine diving. Most people also notice a slightly higher air consumption with a FFM. I'm not quite sure why that is, though.

I have also used both hard-wired and wireless systems from OTS. The hard-wired systems sound better and just generally work better, but of course, you are limited by the comm rope as to where you go. The wireless systems are more convenient, and you can talk diver to diver, as well as diver to dive tender. However, the signal doesn't cross thermoclines well, and the sound tends to be less clear and more "staticy" and "hissy" than on the hard wired system. They do work, though, and could be a reasonable choice for the recreational diver, if you want to get into a FFM. Regarding the question about prescription lenses - Interspiro sells a frame that mounts into the mask for prescription lenses. We recently bought one of them for a diver on our team, and he is really happy with it. It is fairly expensive (about $150, as I recall) for what it is, but it does allow our diver to see on the surface.

I hope that helps.
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