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Everything posted by frogfish

  1. Gee, is refitting the handles on a housing really that difficult/stressful. On my Subal, it's just four hex socket screws - two per handle. Provided one has the right sized Allen key, this is pretty fast and easy, even for a mechanical klutz like me. Frogfish
  2. I usually use tray-mounted ULCS handles instead of the side-mounted handles on my Subal D2 housing, but always disassemble before travelling. Without handles, the housing, big dome port and the 105 MF port all fit into a Pelican case that is just legal to hand-carry on a plane. Cameras (two bodies), lenses, laptop etc. fill up a large Lowepro Trekker backpack. When I can get away with it (out here in Asia, most of the time), the backpack and the Pelican both ride on the plane with me. If I have to check one, I check the Pelican. Frogfish
  3. Sad news. I never met Jim Watt, but I was a fan who hoped that someday I would. My deepest condolences to his family. Robert Delfs
  4. Nice idea. This could be interesting in itself, seeing where most people are based. (I've always had the impression that the vast majority of wetpixellers are in the US, but I don't really know.) Maybe some kind of zoomable world map, with colored dots you could click on and get a list of the members/participants in that location? Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  5. Your best bet might be a foam ice chest (which can double as a rinse/keep damp tank) or a plastic box/carton, with the housing cushioned with a towel or spare wet suit. as far toward the back of the RIB is best, less risk of pounding/slaming on waves than in the bow. If there isn't room for something like that, then there may be too many people/divers on the RIB. Trust me, trying to hold your housing on your lap to protect it on a bouncing RIB can get very uncomfortable after an hour or so, and you may need one or both hands to hang on if/when the boat hits a funny wave. Frogfish
  6. This is true of many computers, including (if I'm not mistaken) all the Uwatec models. They are always "on" and will respond to a change in pressure or lowered resistance across their wet contacts at any time. In some of them, however, the display turns off (to save power) either completely or partially after complete desaturation of all compartments and/or after no change in ambient pressure for a specified period of time.
  7. Leander, I think it all depends on the situation and conditions. Visibility, whether it's a feeding or a cleaning-station situation, how close the mantas can be approached, etc. But as a starting point, I think you should consider going as wide as possible - such as the 10.5 mm fisheye or equivalent. Mantas are generally at shallow depths, so this is a good time to experiment with Magic Filters using ambient light, particularly if the visibility is bad. The first of the two attached images was shot last year with the 12-24 zoom (at 24) using a Magic Filter, no strobes. ISO 400, 1/80 at f/4.5. These mantas are part of the large school at Karang Makassar in Komodo National Park. These mantas do not like to approach snorkellers closely while feeding, so I felt the 12-24 was a better choice than the 10.5, though I could have opened a bit wider on this shot. The second image was taken at Manta Alley in South Komodo in early 2005. At this location, the mantas often can be approached much more closely, so I was using a 10.5. A minute later, I was swimming parallel to this manta when it suddenly turned and actually ran into me. The incident shook me up more than it did this manta, which continued to swim close by and inspect me and other divers/snorkellers. This was unusually good visibility for the south side of Komodo Island by the way. It never looks like this in August. If the mantas are coming into a shallow water cleaning station, it's often best to just wait near the cleaning station, staying low in the water column, and letting the mantas come to you if they're curious. Best if there are only one or two divers doing this - they're not likely to approach a cleaning station surrounded by divers all blowing bubbles, waving their arms, etc. With free-swimming curious mantas, I'd suggest that you avoid moving directly towards them. Swimming parallel on a slowly converging track works better. Use a smooth steady kick and avoid excessive or unnecessary movements Going for ambient light with no strobes or arms reduces drag and makes this easier. - - Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  8. Do give my regards to Alison, Alan, Sam, Dave and everybody else at Asian Divers in Puerto Galera. It's a great operation and a great bunch of people. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  9. Graham, I think it's all the more impressive that you're getting such good performance from your Apeks regulator and good service, since you keep suing them all the time. Think how great it would be if you stopped taking them to court! (I know that was a typo, couldn't resist.) Years ago I took the Scubapro regulator technician and repair course when it was offered once in Hong Kong. I'm glad I did, though now I have no intention of ever servicing my regulators myself unless it were absolutely necessary. You really want someone doing this who has all the right tools AND who works on regulators every week, or even every day AND still treats every regulator he/she opens up as if conducting brain surgery of a family member. One of the the instructors told me that, as an experiment, he had been diving with a Scubapro 1st stage (I think it might have been an Mk16 but I'm not sure) for 8 years, never serviced, and it was still going strong. He had, of course, replaced the valve seat in his second stage and adjusted it from time to time. With quality regs, nothing should ever go badly wrong. The cleaning, lubrication and replacement of o-rings and valve seats is just standard maintenance, not a repair. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  10. Congrats, John. I have to say that I was hearing about the new LED screens from enough people (including on this site) about a month ago to postpone my own plans to finally make the big move from Windows (ugh) to Apple. We do owe you thanks. If it weren't for people like you helping clear out that old inventory, vendors and manufacturers would have to charge the rest of us a lot more for our new toys. B)
  11. Steve's point about availability of service support near where you live (and where you dive, if different) is well taken. Everybody I know who has an Atomic regulator likes them a lot, but they also say they wouldn't have one if they lived in Asia like I do. Ultimately, the differences in quality (breathing, reliability, etc.) among the top regulators such as Atomic, Scubapro and Apeks are pretty subtle. I used Scubapro regs (MK20, Mk25s, G250s, S600s) for many years and really liked them. But last year I switched to Apeks. The bottom line was that the Scubapro agent in Jakarta badly messed up the servicing of my regs once two years ago. (No, they'll never get a second chance either.) After that, I was having the regs serviced in Singapore. The tech at Richmond Supplies and Service really knows what he is doing, but he's also busy. Despite numerous requests, Richmond refused to allow me to "reserve" a place in line in advance of my visits to Singapore - my gear entered the queue the day I took it to their shop. The wait was generally several weeks, so I almost always had at least one full regulator set at Richmond's either waiting to be serviced or waiting for me to get back to Singapore to pick it up. In the end, I switched to Apeks not because I necessarily like the reg better than Scubapro (these are both very good, very rugged pieces of equipment), but because the Apeks dealer and service supplier was willing to be flexible and try to finish the maintenance work on my regs during a single visit.
  12. I'm not 100% sure, but from the description on the "Rescue Tape" web site, this looks just like the "self-amalgamating tape" that yachties have been using on their boats for many years. It comes in black and white. You stretch it as you put it on, and it immediately amalgamates to itself to form a solid rubbery coating around whatever you put it on. It is good stuff, though a bit expensive, and certainly not new. (Somehow I think the "Rescue Tape" brand might cost even more.) I carry a roll in my dive tool box, but I must say I've found it more useful for the boat - at least I haven't found any great uses for dive or camera gear. I used to use self-amalgamating tape to cover exposed cotter pins and rings, especially on the life-lines, turnbuckles on shrouds and backstays. Saved a lot of torn sails and (more important) torn-up hands. I also to seal above-deck connections for running lights and solar panels, but that was just for waves, rain and spray. I don't think I'd want to rely on it to hold a seal under a lot of pressure. Frogfish
  13. Beautiful shot. I've never seen the red color variant before. One more reason to head back to Lembeh, I guess. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  14. Spinnaker repair tape works better on wetsuits than duct tape. And it comes in lots of colors that even your dive buddy might admire. Best if applied with urethane glue, which has a multitude of other uses. (I used it to glue cloth sections to hold a Halcyon Wing together for two weeks on a liveaboard. The seams were coming apart. (I used duct tape on the inside over the seams.) Duct tape, plastic ties, hose clamps, shock cord and synthetic braided line were all invented during our (speaking for my cohort, anyway) lifetimes. Where would be without them? Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  15. Espen, You know that Inon sells blue-tinted 0.5 and 1.5 stop diffusers as well as the white ones? I can't answer your question about the color temperature with the white diffusers, but I do use the 0.5 diffusers almost all the time. I'd say they are fairly neutral, and certainly within the range of color temperature correction that we all do as a standard procedure when converting raw files. I've experimented with Inon's blue filters to see if they could be used to yield the reciprocal of Alex's "magic filter" or an 85B on the lens in order to use fill flash with those filters. The experiments were not very successful - I had much better luck with discs cut out of sheets of blue gels used for studio lighting, inserted behind the white 0.5 diffusers. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  16. So, John, are you saying that we should be shorting digital camera futures? Now that I know how much your London flat is worth, I think you should buy the drinks the next time we meet. On the subject, I've now got two D2Xs. The second body is the land camera and also the back-up for the body in the housing. I do several longish liveaboard trips each year, so I like having that redundancy, though it didn't come cheap. Had I known that something like the D200 was going to come out as soon after the D2X as it did, I probably would have waited and gone with that. But I didn't know at the time. In any case, I've never had more fun and satisfaction shooting than I have since I've been shooting the D2X. Those bodies may not have been great investments, but in the course of an errant life I've managed to find worse things to waste money on that a wonderfully capable camera like this one. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  17. This is a seasonal thing. The water can be very clear at southern sites like Nusa Kode (Yellow Wall, Cannibal Rock) as well as the manta dives off south Komodo Island from February to April. (You said "last month" so I'm a bit surprised the visibility was so bad.) By late April or May, however, the Indian Ocean upwellings begin to bring the seawater temperatures down in the south part of the park, leading to algal/plankton blooms. At that point, viz in the south gets pretty marginal, but there will be a lot of life, and the wide angle viz should still be good at all the northern sites, esp. Crystal, Castle, Batu Balong and Tatawa Kecil.
  18. A stick isn't necessary to abuse wildlife, but there are uses I consider legitimate. Perhaps the most important is to help a diver position and move him/herself in difficult places with lots of live corals, sponges, etc. There are reefs so alive that it's difficult for a gloved hand to touch anything without the risk of damage, but there are usually at least a few small areas of rock or dead coral - big enough for the end of the stick to be be placed to stabilize the diver or assist with movements. I've also used mine to anchor myself in sand in a strong current. Turning over rocks and rubble (searching for boxer crabs and other crustaceans), etc. falls within the pale as far as I'm concerned. I don't wear gloves except in very cold water, so a stick is good for this. I've also used my stick to gently reposition a crinoid out of the way so I can shoot something behind it. (It goes back again), to softly stroke crinoids on their feet to induce them to open their arms for a quick glance or shot of a clingfish, squat lobster or commensal shrimp living inside. To attract octopus and stomatopods to come out of their holes, which sometimes works. On abyssal walls infested with crown-of-thorns, to stab cots and then carry them out over the deep and let them go. And once to encourage a stone fish to move to deeper water. (It had been resting in the sand in very shallow water near where local kids were swimming and wading barefoot.) Sturdy, decent-sized stainless steel rods are better than radio antennas for use in stabilizing or epositioning oneself, though a sturdy chopstick (which was always Larry Smith's favorite) will do. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  19. Drew's advice is well taken. As it happens, I was with him on the flight that from Maumere to Denpasar that diverted to Sumba last month which he mentioned. There wasn't a word about the unscheduled stopover before we took off. I remember thinking as we started the descent for the landing, firstly, "Gee, I'm surprised the flight from Maumere to Bali didn't take longer!" and secondly, "Gee, I don't remember ever seeing horses running loose on the runways at the airport in Bali before!" Then I figured it out. It's not that there are always delays in domestic flights in Indonesia, but they're often enough that I would never count on making an important connection with as slim a window as what you're talking about. Anyway, it sounds like you don't really want to get to work Monday anyway. Come through Bali, give yourself an evening and we'll have dinner and a glass of something. Frogfish (Robert Delfs)
  20. Absolutely, Drew. For that matter, I would go further and say different divers may require (or simply prefer) different set-ups even under the same conditions. I would be the last person to say everyone should comply with a unified one-size-fits-all gear configuration for any kind of diving. I might go along if I ever found a system that I agree with completely, but that seems unlikely. But if a perfect approach ever does into being, it won't be DIR, and it certainly won't come out of the wondrous practitioners of PADI-cide. As you know, I've experimented and put some thought into the gear I use and how it is rigged. I assume other divers in this forum have done so as well. That said, I confess that it bothers me a lot to see a computer console and/or an octopus dragged over the coral. One sees this all too often. It bothers me when divers omit what I consider essential safety equipment, such as their SMB, light, etc. In my own gear, I prefer simplicity, ruggedness, and where it seems necessary or appropriate, some degree of redundancy, and I appreciate it when the people I dive with take the same approach, regardless of differences in the way we approach those objectives. For me, that package means, among other things: - BP + wing; - analog SPG rather than relying on wireless transmitter electronics, with a spare SPG in my dive bag on any trip; - separate spare 2nd rather than an Air2 (or its Atomic equivalent, etc, though I have nothing against that configuration. - multi-gas, gas switching computer on my wrist, one which doesn't incorporate any unnecessary or (again, in my view) extraneous functions, and a back-up computer next to it. - SMB, spool, back-up light, flashing strobe, knife, and a spare mask carried on almost every dive. If I had not had dive computer failures on more than one occasion, I probably wouldn't worry so much about always diving with two computers. Similarly, if I hadn't experienced catastrophic mask failure at depth (an expensive Mares mask), I probably wouldn't bother carrying a spare mask on every dive, but I have, so I do. Finally, as I explained in my reply to Craig's post above, I like the long hose primary second because I believe it's safer if it becomes necessary to assist another diver in an OOA situation, particularly under difficult conditions. (Correctly configured, the long hose in a Hogarthian configuration makes a smaller loop than a PADI-style short-hose 2nd stage, speaking of getting snagged by sharks or snagging something.) I wouldn't want to impose to impose any of my gear choices on other divers. The only exception is that I do believe carrying a SMB (surface marker buoy) and a light should be mandatory on all open ocean dives, particularly where there are risks of divers becoming separated or carried away by currents. Not that my view on this (or anything else) matters much. Finally, my last word (I promise) on computers and SPGs. I can certainly see the advantage of being able to "keep your eye on your computer and air supply while shooting." That's why my SPG is clipped off on left chest d-ring. I can usually read it by just glancing downwards, no hands, just as I can read depth, no-stop time, elapsed time etc. on either or both my dive computers simply by rotating my left wrist and glancing at it. I don't know whether this would work for someone shooting video or not, but it works for me. Frogfish (Robert)
  21. Interesting. I've experienced three computer failures underwater, and seen many others fail. But only the first computer failure I ead resulted in aborted or missed dives. After that, I've always worn a second computer. The DiveRite Nitek Plus isn't much bigger than a dive watch, the minimal effort involved in wearing two computers seems a reasonable price to pay for not having to wait out 24 hours, considering how common computer failures are in my experience. I didn't (and don't) disparate the use of an Air2 at all, though I agree with whoever it was that said reducing drag by one hose won't accomplish much if you're already pushing a huge housing with long strobe arms through the water, as I often do. But I've seen lots of Air2s fail on liveaboard trips, but only a few conventional power inflators (and I carry a spare, with hose), and no backup 2nds. There is no need to persuade me (or anyone else here) that the gear needs of open water divers are different from cave diving, Craig. Every year I see more and more divers who are coming to the IndoPacific using backplate + wing rigs, what of it? We don't pretend to be DIR. I'm sure nobody here who dives with a jacket BC (fine) or uses a short hose (fine too) would want to be accused of embracing such PADI-cisms as a wearing snorkel attached to the mask on a high-current dive, or dragging the console and octopuses over the reef. But I am surprised, Craig, that you so lightly dismiss divers who use a long hose in open water as "amusing". It's not about penetrations or passing gear ahead through narrow openings or past obstructions - I'll leave that stuff to you guys who like to get in and through small spaces. I use a long hose primary simply because it makes sharing a regulator with an OOA diver much easier and safer. A PADI-style short-hose octopus may be fine for 60 seconds in a pool demonstration, but it's not quite the same thing if the OOA diver is showing signs of panic, or if the divers are dealing with strong currents, swimming back to an anchor rode while sharing air, mandatory deco stops, etc. It's probably only necessary to have had to deal with a OOA diver once under difficult conditions in order to appreciate the huge difference the long hose makes. Frogfish
  22. John, I had no idea that there was a new decompression algorithm out that could "take heart-rate/body function into consideration when calculating your deco". I didn't even know someone had come up with a theoretical formula (or any data) that could meaningfully relate changes in heart-rate to increased DCI risk. Or is the Galileo's heart-rate function something like the Uwatec SmartPro's "micro-bubble level warning feature" - "best guestimates" based on the very best science that some guy in the marketing department found on the internet? Sure, nobody needs redundant computers on a single 30 meter dive, but if you don't have redundant time and depth information then aborting the dive is probably the right course. More important, if you are on a dive trip, only carry one computer, and it fails, then it's back to tables and you'll need to clear for 24 hours or more before you resume diving. Same deal even if you have a spare computer that lives in your cabin. Notwithstanding that Scorpiofish was talking about integrated octo-inflators (and I agree with him), not SPGs, there is absolutely no reason for the SPG to drag on the bottom. As Drew knows very well, I don't claim to be DIR at all (and I also agree with Craig that "a DIR photographer" (like a photographer dive buddy) "is an oxymoron"). Anyway, I usually keep my analog SPG clipped to the left chest D-ring, not the one on my left hip where George insists it should go. I can read it at a glance, no hands, just as easily as the people who with transmitters on the 1st stages. I do use happily wear my my spare 2nd on a necklace instead of a scum-ball. And in fairness to "real" DIR divers (whoever they are), I've never seen even a wannabe neo-DIR diver drag their SPG over the bottom. Nor a necklaced spare 2nd. It always amazes me how many ostensibly experienced PADI-trained divers think its ok to swim over reefs dragging a huge console (depth gauge, SPG, computer, compass) and a nice bright yellow "Octopus" over the corals. They also seem to get very offended if you mention it to them, even if you do it very nicely. I agree with Drew 100% on this. Only a few weeks ago I heard a diver disparaging his new Suunto RGBM computer "because it doesn't give me as much bottom-time as the Uwatec Aladdin did, especially on a trip doing several dives a day." I had blithely assumed the reason people become Suunto owners is that they wanted their computer to use a better algorithm which takes into consideration repetitive multiple-day diving, reverse profiles, etc. I just wish Suunto would release a RGBM computer with a cleaner configuration - multiple gas mixes yes, but no wireless, no compass, no email, etc. With a big, easily readable display, and at a price that makes it possi ble for me to buy two of them without taking out a bank loan. The other factor that needs to to be taken into consideration, of course, is reliability. I know that it's not a question of whether a dive computer will fail, but when. That said, I haven't very good luck with Suunto computers in the past. If Suunto really does come up with a computer with a vibrating anal probe, I'll think I'd like to sign up to be their agent. It opens possible vistas of whole new markets for "recreational deep diving."
  23. Gee, John, why stop with heart rate readings. For another few thousand EURO on the price tag, I'm sure someone can figure out a way to throw in real-time Doppler arterial microbubble count, real-time blood pressure and EKG, and (while we're at it) why not run a catheter to pick up blood sugar and anything else we don't want to see in the urine. And why not mate the whole thing with an underwater blackberry, an underwater ipod, and an XBox, so we can surf the net, check stock prices and email, download YouTube videos and listen to crap music, and play great games too. What about GPS? Come to think of it, though, with all those great toys on my wrist, why would I want to bother diving? What's with the gadgetry? OK, I have an exercise watch and chest band that I use (not enough), but when I'm underwater, I really don't l want to let my heartrate get up into the optimum zone for cardio aerobic conditioning. I don't know about you, but when I've beenpushing my housing up-current for four or five minutes, I don't really need a computer read-out to tell me that my heart rate is starting to get up there. I have a wrist compass too, the kind with a magnetised needle floating in Karo syrup (glycerine? mineral oil?). It points north 24/7, and the batteries never run out. How much would the quality of my life improve if I junked it and bought a D9 with selectable electronic compass function? Do people really find it that difficult to read their breathing gas pressure on an (analog) gauge? On my last liveaboard trip, there were two or three people with wireless computers. Every dive it was the same thing as they went through the ritual of opening tank valves and synching their wrist computers to the tank transmitters, making sure they weren't locking on to the same channel or something. One of the two divers is a wetpixel guru (no names, of course), so naturally he had a hose analog backup gauge on his rig, so it was no problem when his tank transmitter/computer link tanked, as they always seem to do. The other guy (a Brand-X diver) didn't think he needed a backup analog gauge. Naturally, he ended up missing a dive when his transmitter wouldn't synch one morning, and had to borrow one of my spare SPGs to finish the trip. As Stephen Colbert might put it, today's word is (or should be) "simplify". That doesn't mean consolidating as many life support functions as possible into one overly complex, vulnerable piece of electronic equipment. Computers are very good at tracking depth, time and calculating nitrogen and O2 exposure. Compasses are good at pointing north, and SPGs are good at reading tank pressure. Compasses and SPGs tend to be more reliable than any computer I've ever owned. Me, I carry two computers on every dive. Neither is a D9.
  24. Nah, I like to use gear I know. I'd still be happily using my old Scubapro S600 with an upgraded Mk20 if only I'd been able to resolve the servicing issue with Richmond in Singapore. That will not be a problem with Apeks in Hong Kong or Singapore. I might even be able to get competent, professional servicing here. Incidentally, I've taken the Scubapro regulator repair technician's course, and I once serviced my Scubapro regs myself (having paid a Scubapro technician to allow me to use his special tools and gauges, and to watch over my shoulder and be there to bail me out if I screwed up. What I learned from all that is that I do not want to service my own regulator. It's fiddly work, requires special tools to do it right. The best person to service a regulator is someone who works on the same kinds of regulators every day, for whom it's a matter of responsibility and pride to know that he has done a perfect job before letting a reg out of the shop. Frogfish
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