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Everything posted by pointy

  1. Here is a link to a custom made vacuum valve by Miso at Vivid housing. It cost 65 Euros. I have been using it with a small aneroid barometer to monitor vacuum inside the housing. I had to shave some material from the back of the barometer, to make it fit loosely against the housing wall. I made an inexpensive pump that works very well to apply vacuum. I have used this on system on two trips with good results. I had no problems rolling off the side of a Zodiac with my rig in hand. Albert Kok was going to test the use of a very small electronic mini altimeter. Maybe he will let us know how that worked out. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/8723696695/in/album-72157633459277984/
  2. I had a similar problem - no control of the strobes, which flashed full power in both TTL and manual modes. Fortunately, this began to happen during a local dive rather than while on an expensive vacation. After a lot of wrong turns, I discovered that the problem was with the contacts on my camera's hot shoe, which was resolved by simply rubbing them with an eraser and a q-tip. It's good to know the remedies outlined by Jean at Ikelite for more serious problems.
  3. The owner of that Stix factory is Dr. Evil, and it is only the first of many that he plans to build around the world. His ultimate goal is to make us completely dependant on him to keep our cameras from dragging us into the deep. My source for that is the same as yours for saying that the paints we are using will dissolve in the water, creating problems for the environment; Or that only those with good cutting tools and a lathe could make a decent camera float. Why would you care whether someone else's DYI is done properly? Are you Dr. Evil? I'm kidding!
  4. "Rustoleum Leak Seal" is waterproof and the finish has remained intact during multiple dives. If you are worried about the environment, think about that vast Stix factory in southeast Asia: belching out clouds of toxins into the very air we breath; child labourers stooping over dangerous machinery - all of that just so you can float your camera in style. Compare that to a couple of guys shaping organic Divinycell using hand tools and traditional methods - making the world a better place in a small way. Your blog article on manufactured floats is very thorough, but I don't get why you have such a problem with DIY solutions. DIYers like what they are doing. They would rather make it than buy it. John
  5. I didn't know Rustoleum came in a paint bucket - that may be a better option. The version that is applied with a spray can dries very quickly, and can leave you with a lumpy finish if you are in too big a hurry. If it gets lumpy, it helps to press out the lumps between coats (while it is still soft but not tacky). In the first picture from the link below you can see that I did it better with the float on the right than with the ones on a string. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/albums/72157634002354975 Is it possible that you could get a sealing finish with Fusion by applying more coats?
  6. You really have to lay the Rustoleum on thick to seal up the foam's surface, but it is paintable. Maybe a coating of Fusion would make it look nicer. I'll get a can and see how it goes.
  7. I'm interested in the paint you used. That first link suggested a paint called "Fusion". Is this the stuff: http://www.krylon.ca/products/fusion-for-plastic/ Is it durable?
  8. Divinycell (high density PVC foam) is easy to shape with basic tools - no need for a lathe. You can also glue pieces together, so there is no need for cable ties. I agree that it has a soft surface that needs to be protected. Rather than using epoxy, I sprayed my floats with a heavy coating of "Rustoleum Leak Seal" which gave a tough flexible finish. After 60 dives, often below 40 meters, the surface looks the same. With floats that were formed by glueing together pieces of foam, I never noticed a loss of buoyancy at depth. I hope my floats on a string will work as well. I would like to encourage DIY types to forge ahead. John McCracken
  9. Hello CamelToad, I can see why arm floats work better for you than they do for me. You have longer strobe arms, with an extra section, compared to my set-up. That allows you to keep the floats above the housing, even when you bring the strobes in towards the camera. If you take a look at the first picture in my Flickr link, you will see why that doesn't apply to my set-up. Sometimes I have to pull the clamp up or down to direct the strobes as I like. Even if arm floats didn't bump into each other, I could never pack enough floatation on them to make my rig as buoyant as I want it to be. https://www.flickr.c...157634002354975 Should I convert to longer strobe arms, or should I be glad to have floatation that lets me get by with short strobe arms? What are the advantages of using long strobe arms versus short ones? My Ikelite strobes, with NiCad batteries, are really heavy, and my plastic dome is very light. Without floatation, my rig has a tendency to turn upside down, so any floatation on the port would be counter-productive for me. Floatation on your port though, might be a good thing. Good floatation options are different depending on the equipment you are using. I looked at your Flickr link - very nice pictures you got in Socorro. You did much better than I did when was there. However, I don't think longer strobe arms are the thing that would have improved my results. John Mccracken
  10. Hello Darragh, My problem with floatation for macro set-up was that floats on the strobe arms interfered with strobe positioning. That led me to make floats that suspended the rig from above. I spent a lot of time, and used a lot of Divinycell foam, to get the buoyancy just right for different set-ups. Now I have a better version of above-the-housing floatation that allows me to vary buoyancy much more efficiently. By adding or subtracting floats on a string, I can easily get close to neutral buoyancy. If I want to make it perfect, I stick a few quarter ounce (7 gm) tire weights to the bottom plate. The Flickr link below describes this solution. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/sets/72157634002354975 John
  11. Hello Albert, I think people who are into rocketry use that device to record maximum altitude. Does it have a mode that allows you to continuously observe pressure changes within the housing. How long does it remain on? Something like that would certainly be an improvement over the usual red/green light indicators. I see that there is also an "altimetertwo" and an "altimeter3." Do you know how they differ from yours. I think the altimeter3 can de controlled by an iPhone. Right now, I'm using a rather large aneroid barometer the same way. However, once installed, it shifted some housing controls out of alignment - to fix that problem, I had to I shave quite a bite of material off the bezel and off the back of the thing.
  12. Hello David, In 1985 I bought a 15 mm lens that was used a lot until 1992. Then it was put away until 2011, when my son used it on an old Nikonos V during a trip to the Red Sea. That lens had never been serviced. The knobs worked smoothly, the pictures were in focus, and there were no leaks during the 40 dives he did. The 15 mm lens is very complex. If it seems to be working OK, then I think there is less risk in taking it on a dive than there would be in having it serviced by someone who may not have worked with one for many years. Do you know anyone who could be trusted with the job? John McCracken
  13. Hello, Wonderful images. I'll have an opportunity to do a bit of diving in Ireland in May 2015. Does anyone know if there are Irish dive spots where you could witness this kind of cuttlefish action in May? How long do these spawning aggregations last? John McCracken
  14. Hello Henry, I think you could get a good second hand Nikonos (or two) for less money than it would cost to have yours serviced. You might even want to take a crack at servicing it yourself. I had a similar problem in the mid 80s, so I very carefully took it apart, cleaned and lubed the o rings and reassembled the thing. It worked just fine. Unfortunately, I was less careful the second time I tried to do that and was unable to get it back together - I still have a bag full of Nikonos parts. You can check for air tightness after servicing by heating the camera with a hair dryer before closing the back. Then, after it has cooled for a while, try to remove the lens . If you can feel some suction on the lens then your seals are good. Below is a link to a Nikonos 5 service manual to help guide you if you want to give it a go. http://www.aberdeenwatersports.com/FileLibrary/Knowledge/Regulators/nikonosVservicemanual.pdf John McCracken
  15. How would the coverage compare if the test photos were taken underwater? Would it change much from a surface test? John MCracken
  16. Hello Anyone, After buying a ticket from a discount travel agent, onetravel.com (AKA cheapoair.com), I discovered that my ticket did not entitle me to any checked baggage allowance at all - and only 7 K carry-on. When I later tried to purchase a baggage allowance, neither the travel agent nor the airline (Flydubai) would sell it to me. Flydubai told me that, since I have no allowance, I would have to pay $10/K during check-in for any checked bags, but there was no guarantee that any of my luggage would be allowed aboard at that time. The guy at Flydubai seemed to enjoy giving me this bad news when I talked to him on the phone. Has anyone out there had recent experience flying between Dubai and Port Sudan? I'm trying to guess how much trouble I'll actually have getting my stuff to and from PS. Are the people at check-in likely to be as unaccommodating as their agents? Is it likely that my carry-on will be weighed? Any advice to sort this out? John McCracken
  17. Here is Kinishka response after he was sent a link to this discussion: "Hi John, Thanks for the message. The snake on the photograph is the Common File snake (Acrochordus granulatus) (check this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrochordus_granulatus). This is not a true sea snake. It belongs to the family Acrochordidae. They are mainly brackish water species, but they are well known to enter the sea as well. cheers, Kanishka"
  18. Hello Wahrmut, I've never even seen a sea snake, but I stumbled onto a site that describes an uncommon species with spiny scales. I thought it looked a lot like your snake. What do you think? Did it have spiny scales? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120302-new-sea-snake-species-animals-science-australia/ John McCracken
  19. Hello Oceanshutter, If you go to Rocio Del Mar's website, there is a picture of the camera table on the dive deck in the ship's "virtual tour". That's what I saw when I was there in November. http://www.rociodelmarliveaboard.com/ship-virtual-tour.html It seemed good to me. We were also told that it was to be used only for cameras. Also on the website, under ship photos, there is an old picture of the previous camera table which is much smaller. I think that may be the one some people were unhappy with. John McCracken
  20. Hello Christine, I have two Ikelite i60 strobes with Nimh batteries. In order to achieve neutral buoyancy with these attached I have added floats that displace over 1.5 liters of water. However, Ikelite's newer 160/161 strobes have lithium batteries that each weigh 800 grams less than the bateriies on my strobes - you might need any kind of floatation if that's what you're using. John McCracken
  21. Hello Anyone, The Flickr link to initial photoset no longer works. I notice that previously working Flickr sets by tdpriest have also gone blank. Does anyone know why? Anyway, if anyone is still interested in seeing a way to make and attach such floats, then you can click on this general link to my Flickr photo sets and select the set titled "floatation above the housing" http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/sets/ John McCracken
  22. A leak check system is a good thing, but people are paying a lot for flashing lights to indicate either enough, or not enough vacuum. Such basic two point monitoring could fail to detect a slow leak, so we should hope to improve on that over the next decade. An altimeter within the housing gives constant assurance that the housing is tight. Some Swiss Army knives come equipped with tiny altimeters, so maybe housing manufacturers will design better and cheaper vacuum monitoring. John McCracken
  23. Hello Pete, Miso sent me a version of the simpler unit that only protrudes about 2 cm above the insertion point. You can see it on my Flickr set titled "Simple vacuum leak check system" http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/sets John McCracken
  24. Hello Eric. Here are some photos from my first trip to the Red Sea since my old Nikonos days, 20 - 30 years ago. When artificial light was used, they were all shot with a single DS161 strobe in TTL mode. None of them are prize winners but they impressed me, my friends, and family. The DS161, or DS160, has more power, warmer light, and wider coverage than the DS51. Those are all god things, but I don't know if that trumps the versatility of having two strobes. From my recent experience with two strobes, I can't say I saw a whole lot of improvement. Maybe someone with more experience will post something to inform your decision. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointymccracken/sets/72157634200011752/ John McCracken
  25. Hello Emfish, I have the same housing and camera, and I have been happy with them. I have also been happy with the Ikelite 160 strobes. I now have 2 strobes (one of them is a 161), but I started out with a single strobe. Having only one works well. It gives broad even coverage and I was usually I able to avoid harsh shadows - sometimes shadow is a good thing. Two strobes gives you more options, but I think having only one gives better bang for the buck. If you do get a 160 strobe, get one of the newer ones with lithium batteries. They weigh 800 grams less than mine which are equipped with NiMH batteries. That will spare you the expense and bother of using floatation to make it comfortable to use underwater. Another good bang-for-the-buck purchase you might consider is Martin Edge's book on underwater photography. I only recently purchased a good focus light because my camera had trouble locking onto the subject. Most of my macro shots are not at all crisp. I hope the new centre mounted light will fix that. Sometimes I wished wished I had a fancier camera, with a more reliable focus, but even if I had a lot more money to devote to this, I would stick with an Ikelite housing. There are advantages to a transparent housing that help you avoid some issues that have baffled and even ruined trips for owners of aluminum housings. John McCracken
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