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The new Mini Vivid 5 Vacuum Leak Detector. A housing leak detector is essential to prevent housing floods and for this I have relied on the standard Vivid V5 vacuum leak detector for two years; it has saved me from some embarrassing wet moments. After learning about Miso's new creation, the mini version of the Vivid 5, I have installed one in my Subal housing. Description: The Mini Vivid 5 unit is 24 mm long, almost half the length of the standard detector. It consists of: 1. An external unit with three parts: a connector which is screwed into a bulkhead port and contains the electronics; a cylindrical body with the vacuum valve; and a screw-on cap. 2. An internal unit for the battery holder, mounted inside the housing. Built-in wires with male to female plugs connect both units. Photo #1 shows the disassembled detectors, with the standard Leak Detector above, and the new mini unit below. Photos 2 and 3 show the installed mini and standard detectors, Photo 4 is of the coin battery holder for the mini detector, mounted inside a housing. Photo 5 shows the three types of pumps used to create a housing vacuum: top: a pistol grip pump with built-in vacuum manometer, middle: the Vivid syringe-type manual pump, and bottom: the Vivid electric pump with an internal 9V battery. I find this electric pump easiest to use. Installation: After lightly lubricating the O ring with silicon grease, I threaded the connecting wire through an M14 bulkhead port, screwed the detector's base firmly into the port, and screwed the detector's body into its base. The internal unit with the battery holder I mounted on the upper inside of the housing, and connected the two wires. Testing: I closed my housing and pumped a vacuum until the detector's LED light was blinking green. The next day the mini Leak Detector was still blinking green, telling me the housing remained sealed, nice and water proof. Allow me to add that I also keep my housing's built-in humidity detector with its alarm and LED flashing red light in fully working condition, with a fresh battery and frequent testing.
Several recent leaks in my dive buddy's and my housing are the reason writing this. I have been certified since 1975, my buddy since the 1980's. One of my recent minor leaks was from a slightly misaligned O-ring in the port housing, caused by insufficient lubrication. My second almost major leak was from sand in the back cover's main O ring, sheer carelessness on my part; fortunately the housing's moisture detector started beeping and flashing red, saved my camera. My buddy's leak was from an insufficiently screwed in bayonet port, the flooding was so fast nothing could be done. The cause: talking and wandering thoughts while preparing the housing. The result: about $3,000 in fine equipment go bye bye, plus it ruined his Raja Ampat dive trip. A few months ago I did not even know vacuum leak detectors existed. Now, looking back on these and several other leaks and floods, I realize a vacuum leak detector would have flashed red prior to jumping in, flood prevented. A leak damaged my water detector, so I replaced it with one from Bill Libecap (UWCameraStuff.com) wired with two red LEDs for high visibility flashing. Plus, now I was scared, so I added one of Miso's Leak Sentinel V5 detectors (VividHousings.com), for early leak warning before and after jumping in. But, you may well ask, do not these detectors bypass the diver's sense of responsibility to care for the equipment? No, not really. I have learned the hard way that as a diver one must take full responsibility for one's equipment. To prepare the UW equipment, one must mentally focus on the 'here and now' moment, no distractions, plus implement a check list of steps. Doing this while alone helps avoid distractions. Then one needs to double check all items at risk. A memorized check list, which all housing owners use consciously or not, includes: lens cover removed, camera with fresh batteries and card, the housing's back carefully cleaned, intact cleaned O rings, latches secured, viewfinder installed and secured, port securely mounted and locked, strobe battery covers securely closed, strobes connected and tested, etc. It really is important to write the check list, item by item; I use a spreadsheet for this. Then memorize and use it before each dive, while concentrating on the housing/rig and avoiding distractions. A friend says that if one is interrupted or talked to while prepping the rig, then one should for safety start all over from the beginning. To which I may add, if you have the slightest doubt about the water worthiness of the equipment, or if you are upset, distracted by a yammering buddy or in a hurry, then do yourself a big favor and leave your camera rig in a safe dry place, go dive, and wait until later when you have the opportunity for your usual complete double and triple check routine. But housings are so complicated that even after this is done, a leaky O ring for example, can still be there, waiting to flood. What else can one do? I added a vacuum leak detector to test for leaks before and during the dive. For me, a vacuum Leak Sentinel does the job by flashing green when the housing is sealed nice and tight, before getting wet, and during the dive. Now you can jump in and go Zen with the fish and your camera.