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Everything posted by conger

  1. Being paranoid, I always hold the protective cap in the palm of one hand when I remove the cap for any reason. It is marginally awkward to pump but it ensures that I replace the cap as soon as I am finished pressurizing the housing.
  2. From your description I assume the hotspot is necessary -- you are doing more then trying to make a voice call. For my needs I need to have email access, download a few files, work on an update, and send my work back home on the satelite. Usually 2-3 connections a day when I am away. Over the years I have rented imersat bgan phones of various different models. You do get wifi, but it is slow -- think dial up speeds. The last one I rented was three years ago for a 14 day Galapagos trip. It was about 3 or 4 pounds, about the size and shape of a small notebook PC. You unfold the cover to the appropriate angle and twist the computer to face the approrpriate satelite. There is a geiger counter beep to help you zero in on the ideal angle. The speed is slow, think dial up at best, streamline what you load and consider getting an email account for this trip. There are also several programs designed to condense the email especially for satelite use, the rental companies can guide you to the appropriate software. I need to check in and download and upload files once a day when I travel, and the phones work pretty well for this, but as others have said they don't work particularly well for incoming calls. You need to be outside with the phone turned on, and line of sight to the satelite. The companies have always insisted that I can't use the imersat begans on a boat without an expensive mounted antenna. I have probably rented Sat phones and used them on boats more then 10 times and I have always been able to make them work except when I was in Greenland, and the Satelite was too low on the horizon for a reliable connection. The most difficult condition besides very rough seas, is if you are on anchor and swinging in a big arc--- although with a compass and steady hand you can slowly twist the unit and maintain connection. My connections are relatively short 3-10 minutes, and sometimes it has taken several tries. I don't know how much you are downloading, and I will admit that it is usually stressful trying to get and maintain the connection, but for my needs and use it has always worked. I have routinely ignore the advice from the companies that rent that I won't be able to get a connection on a boat, but your mileage may be differ. The size of your downloads and uploads may also rule this out as a possibility. Having given the long winded explanation, and even though I have direct experience making it work, if it were me I would take the advice of a prior post and investigate what the boats offer that have a Sat connection before risking a bgan rental.
  3. For my Seacam superdome I have two solutions, which I believe is similar in size. The expensive solution that I haven't tried is using the case made by Cinebags. The cheap solution that has worked on numerous trips, was a home depot five gallon bucket and some dense foam. Buy a five gallon bucket with a lid, cut the bucket down to the desired height of the lens leaving room for some foam padding. Make sure there is enough foam to hold the dome securely and to provide sufficient padding. When I travel I duct tape the lid to the top of the bucket with three or four pieces long pieces of tape. The goal is to close the lid securely but to make it fairly easy for TSA to open and reseal the case if they need to look inside. I leave a polite note on the outside of the lid in large letters explaining that it is a fragile glass dome. Not the most elegant solution, but it was a cheap do it yourself project, and it has worked for years for me.
  4. I returned from two weeks in the Galapagos in Mid-October 2013. Darwin and Wolf were running 74 to 76 F, but we had a number of dives at other locations where temperature was as low as 56F. I did use a 7mm, and on the cold dives a 5/7mm hooded vest over the top of the 7mm. On the other hand I used the work gloves with kevler dots like these: http://www.amazon.com/1670M-Resistant-100-Percent-Kevlar-Gloves/dp/B007SO12YO/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389635323&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=kevler+dot+gloves This was my second trip to the Galapagos, and both times I brought kevlar wetsuit gloves and the work gloves, on both trips I used the wetsuit gloves once and the work gloves the rest of the time. At least for me they were more then adequate for holding onto the rocks and barnacles. They are cheap enough and light enough that I brought a spare pair, by the end of the second week I switched to the second pair as I had started to shred the first pair, at $10 a pair I can't complain. These provide almost no warmth but it is simple to operate your camera with them on. At the risk of starting a debate on the merits of various fins, I will add that I made a last minute packing decision that for me really paid off photographically. I switched out my normal diving fins for my Cressi 2000 HF's. I did not bring a high end free diving fin as they are more fragile then the Cressis' and as others have said the Galapagos environment is really rough. I won't speak for anyone else but for me I find I can kick with much more force with the Cressis' as long as I am in shape then with any traditional Scuba fins. I used a pair that is large enough for me to wear a thin neoprene sock both for warmth and protection from blisters on a two week trip. The extra power from the fins allowed me to get a couple of key shots at Darwin and Wolf especially appreciated when pushing my large DSLR housing. I only offer this as a suggestion if you are comfortable with larger fins, the demands of diving in the Galapagos are enough that I wouldn't take a new pair of fins if you haven't used them before or at least tried them extensively in a pool. You are traveling far enough that it is better to have equipment you know works for you then take a chance. I'm not sure when "Whale Shark" season starts at Darwin and Wolf, but these fins especially shine with Ms. Big. Both my fin choice and glove choices worked O.K. even on the very cold dives with a 7mm suit.
  5. I just returned from Bonaire as well, we arrived home last night at midnight. We purchased two of the Backscatter systems, one for myself and one for my wife both worked great with no issues at all with any buttons, and we routinely pressurized to 10lbs. I am using a Seacam housing. I have the simple system without the lights, although our housings have audible and visible leak detection as a back up. I was away for 16 days and made 52 dives with the housing my wife made about 30 with hers. Changing lenses, downloading cards and restoring the vacuum was quick and easy. The only difference I noticed between my housing when it was under vacuum and prior trips was that I had to remember to release the vacuum to open the back or to change ports. I grew to appreciate that the Backscatter system requires you to insert the pressure gauge to release the vacuum, originally I though it would be nice to have a switch on the valve that is attached to the housing, but knowing that the default position has the valve sealed, and the valve is only open if the gauge is plugged in makes it almost impossible for me to make an error and depressurize the housing by accident. The system is easy to use and extremely light for travel. This system very quickly became second nature, and barely added any time to my camera rigging/derigging. I was originally disappointed that I purchased the system from Backscatter without the lights before the one with the electronics was available. Now I am happy with the current system and I am not sure I would upgrade for the additional cost if I could do it again. Although I have not used a vacuum system for years I did have one with indicator lights installed on an RS in the 90's, I am much happier with the Backscatter system then I ever was with the RS. I can see the obvious advantage in general of indicator lights but for me it is not a big deal if they are missing. The ancient system in the RS probably is not comparable to more modern systems, but it did drive me crazy on my last dive of the day when I changed film and re-rigged the RS, I would then apply vacuum, and check after 30 minutes and have the green light. The next morning the light was red and I knew it was the temperature change, but I could either ignore the red light or repeat the pressure test. With the RS the pump was not mechanical it ran off the pressure fitting on your B.C. as I recall so it was really kind of a pain to pressurize. I think the biggest factor to consider with any system is how easy is it to use, from my experience if there is a choice between a hand pump and one that requires air or a/c or even batteries to run I would choose the hand pump. A hand pump reduces the chance that you will skip the vacuum just this once because of lack of an outlet, batteries etc. This is not meant as a comparison to the other available pumps, this is a rare case where I did very little research before purchasing. It was an impulse buy based on an email Backscatter sent out before release of their product. It is also not meant to recommend going with a no light system over one with lights for anyone. For me I think this is the right choice, based on my prior experience but I think it depends upon the system, your rigging protocol, and your comfort level as well as any incremental cost. Finally I have no connection to Berkley White or Backscatter other then having made purchases from the Backscatter store in the past.
  6. My wife and I used RS's for a number of years -- from inception (I believe early 90's) until 2000. The orange O-rings were different from the Nikonos V orings and required a different grease, unfortunately I cannot remember the type. I do remember that if you used Nikonos V grease on the orange o-rings, the o-rings swelled and flooding was possible. I know that there was someone who made traditional black o-rings (Nikonos V) style for the RS. We did make the change, and then could use the Nikonos V grease. If my memory is correct I believe they came from Harold at Seacam in Germany and we may have used Stephen Frink to secure them. I don't know if they are still available, but these o-rings were easier to maintain, and they seemed to seal with less risk of slipping their channel then the orange o-rings. We had hundreds of dives with the RS and never a flood, but we fussed with the o-rings much more then we ever have with our housed cameras.
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