Good evening everybody. I finally decided it was time to sit down a discuss my new Mistral. I read all the posts here which I found very informative, Thank You. I thought that just maybe the regulator would prove itself more valuable over the long run.
I went into this with several issues I wanted to overcome. Bubbles and the Pain in my ears from the bubbles. Sure when diving hoods etc I cover up the second problem but who wants to do that all the time?
I feel a high quality easy breathing regulator is like having power steering in your car. No I'm not talking compared with failed PS, but compared to manual steering. Good old Manual Steering has its place, it's just not while parallel parking. When diving at altitude I think an easy breathing single hose is like having PS and breathes easier than when I'm sitting here at my computer sucking in 1500 foot air.
SO anyway, I went into the pool a week ago Sunday with my Mistral, an Aqualung OCTO, a full tank and all my dive store buddies. They were doing a newbie class.
Let's see, the negatives everybody talk about are its a freeflowing SOB. OK, Hard Breather, Hoses are a problem, gums hurting... Everybody hates the thing. Well one guy loved it (SCubed) after he lived with it for a week or so.
I read the manual... The manual says a few things. How to clear the regulator. Tip head left and breath out. OK... How to adjust the Comfobyte mouthpiece OK... How to clean it after using it. And why and how it breaths and how and why it might freeflow.
OK I'm ready to shake it out.
I set up my kit and noticed the regulator hoses ran into my BCD a bit. I flipped the BCD pick up strap over the tank and used it as a top bottle holder. The hoses just cleared the BCD and the tank is sitting maybe 1" higher than I would have rigged with the ATX200. Hum...
From what I read, this might help in the freeflow department by putting more height difference between the mouthpiece and the second stage, but may bring up a balance issue.
I hit the pool.
Splash, the first thing I noticed is it is a lot lighter in my mouth than the ATX. Also there was a lot less shock when I hit the water.
The first couple breaths had a wheazing noise. The Exhaust ports were out of the water. I did a vertical decent and submerged a few feet. Yes the hoses tugged a little on my gums.
Head turning left and right is restricted. OK yeah, my horse noticed this right off too after getting a bridal. I'm a big guy, maybe two inch longer hoses would be a nice touch?
I remembered from the manual, start with the hoses set with the tie straps even with the mouthpiece and twist accordingly to neutralize the tugging on your mouth. WOW, very nice. Since our pool is only an 8 footer this adjustment may have to be made at deeper depths. I played a little and got it very comfortable.
Hey and where are the bubbles? And those loud noises in my ears! I was almost instantly in love.
I thought ok lets pull the thing out of my mouth and clear the thing. I took a little breath because I hate eating pool... Tilted the head and gave a very slight outward breath, WOW. This is the easiest clearing thing I've ever tried. By tilting, gravity moves the water left toward the exhaust and the light breath opens the ex port woosh done.
Later testing in different positions I found that since gravity is being used you must think about what you are doing to let the gravity clear the thing. Head down right hand banked swimming turn with zero air in your lungs is not the time to pull the hoses out of your mouth.
OK so why does everybody hate it? I started swimming around.. OK yeah no power steering. Well I jog too, yeah little like running up hill. OK. Where's them bubbles?
I did nose down decents, up... I burned up that 3300# swimming laps in the pool. I surfaced maybe 50 times in a couple hours. It was about split between my OCTO and Mistral freeflowing. When the Mistral took off it was a lot more difficult to stop it. But who surfaces continually while diving? I don't. Grabbed that new OCTO just for rememberance, yup Power Steering.
OH yeah. Regulators dont freeflow normally when diving, just when screwing around on the surface. I think by raising my tank an inch neutralized a lot of the surface trouble. It made it a lot easier to put the mouthpiece below the second stage.
I could make it go if I swung the hoses up over my head. BAD MOVE. Plus the Mistral will freeflow zillions of CF more air than the OCTO, very noisy.
I really tested the thing and came to a couple realizations.
If you hike your gear in and swim out, like the manual says you will be swimming with the reg in your mouth to avoid freeflows. I tried this, and with a front swim and the reg in the water it was not a problem. However a lot of us back swim on the surface, well that doesnt work.
Next different swim positions make exhailing easier and some make inhailing easier. We've all heard that stuff so I won't go into all that.
I drag raced cars for years. Not one of my hot rods had Power Steering. The belt was not only in the way, but stole engine HP. I was going straight anyway.
This reg was bought so I could take movies and photos underwater. It does exactly what I was looking for, made the world quieter and lost those annoying bubbles.
I think once you get used to this thing in the pool and understanding its limitations you HAVE to head to open water with your camera gear to really work the thing.
While it is impossible to counteract the forces of nature, some things we just need to live with to get the most horsepower. (out of our Cameras)
I'm a dry land photographer. You guys if you read my intro in general know I'm new to this Underwasser Photg stuff. Personally I think a camera housing is a bigger pain in the tail than a quirky non-power steering regulator.
I took my wonderous ATX200 and handed it to my 15 YO son and said, here you go. Big Smiles. I think he's really looking forward to losing the Herpes infested rental Titan POS he's been diving with.
I'll be using this one until somebody can invent something with power steering that does the same thing..
OH yeah and you can sort of talk underwater too, hahahaha as SCubed says. The problem is everybody else can't understand you because their exhaust is making too much noise in their ears.
I think I invented a new hand signal I reached over my head and made a bubbling finger motion while extending my arm up while obviously laughing....
The only comment on the negative from the crew was when first looking at it was wow look at all that plumbing... My answer was, yeah a lot of that will be going away when my D9 gets here... B)
Sincerely, Bob Bonner