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drsteve

Aquatica port lock?

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When I first got my Aquatica system, one of the first things that jumped out at me was that the system has no port lock. Coupled to the fact that my extension rings turn REALLY smoothly with very little torque, it struck me as recipe for disaster. Especially since a lock could be as simple as a 2$ spring pin and a hole!

 

On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta our clueless dive operator forgot to bring along a rinse tank for my housing even though we EXPLICITLY told him to do so. I had nothing available other than some bottles of drinking water, so I carefully put the housing on my lap and with one hand poured the water over the buttons and pressed them several times with the other. In the middle of this awkward exercise, disaster struck, and the front port fell off!

 

Fortunately, I was able to stop pouring and catch it before it hit the desk or filled with water. I quickly put it back on and to my astonishment no water got inside! Whew. Having anticipated disaster from my first experience with the housing and now dodging the bullet, I am committed to rigging some sort of ad hoc locking system.

 

The funny thing is that a few months ago, I spoke to Norma from Aquatica at the Long Beach scuba show about this problem. I was more concerned about a helpful dive staff accidentally twisting it while putting it in a rinse tank. She said something about how they were prototyping a lock and that I could get my housing retrofitted when it was available. Although I have written to them a couple of times, I have not gotten any response.

 

So I am thinking of several possible locking systems. One possibility would be to glue a block with a spring pin to one side of the port, and another block with a hole to the housing. Repeat this for each extension ring. Perhaps a simpler system would be to glue some Velcro to the housing and add a mating strap to the extension ring.

 

Has anyone else jury-rigged a port lock? It seems to me a terrible oversight to skimp on something as simple as a locking pin on a $5k housing system. I know that any damage would be "my fault" but since the problem could be eliminated trivially, it strikes me as an easy way for them to make a better product and eliminate potentially catastrophic failures. Hell, even my $180 Olympus housing for my C5050 has a spring pin lock!

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My Aquatica CP5000 housing had a small pin welded to the port. Then on the housing the had an l bracket with a set screw. You raise the set screw and the pin on the port could not slide past it. You lower the set screw and the port can rotate past it. Simple and worked. I have wondered the same as you but have gotten pretty religious about checking my port before each dive. That said you never know and my system is not fool proof.

 

Cheers

 

Todd

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Steve and Todd,

 

I have written about a solution several times hear and on DDN concerning housings with thread in ports. I had a near disaster years ago with my Aquatica 80 housing for the Nikon N8008s film camera sitting in the skiff after a 100+ dive in British Columbia. I reached over to steady my camera housing and the port spun loose!

 

So I remembered what world famous UW photographer David Doubilet in 1990 showed us at a West Palm Beach UW photo seminar. He used simple duct or gaffer's tape to secure the port at say 12 and 6 o'clock, placing hte tape half on the housing body and half on the port barrel. This was after he made sure the o-ring is greased, so as to slide in and not twist while threading the port on. He actually applied an incredible amount of force using only his hands. But this simple tape applied would keep the port from coming unthreaded, or at the very least if the port was bumped as you say it would alert you.

 

This was when David Doubilet would travel with 14 housings and 28 strobes for a National Geographic assignment !!!!

 

I know it's not an elegant solution, but neither is a wet camera :P

 

dhaas

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It reminds me of the farside cartoon in which you see a pilot reaching for the landing gear button, and his hand is hovering over the button next to it labeled "wings fall off," The co-pilot says in horror, "Not that one Frank!" ;D

 

I'm not an MBA, but I seem to remember hearing somewhere that listening to your customers is key to a successful business. Clearly this has come up many times in the past. The set screw solution sounds like a decent first pass (although I think a spring pin would be simpler). The real question is whether anyone at Aquatica is listening?

Edited by drsteve

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Steve,

 

Go for the tape! I even see it available in colors at LOWES and Home Depot these days!!!! Maybe even Red to match Todd's Canadian special housing :P

 

Simple solutions to go make photos usually work best......

 

YMMV

 

dhaas

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Thanks Dave, I will do the tape thing. It is simple and cheap. Even though it may not sound like it, I like my housing and sincerely want Aquatica to succeed. It is just frustrating when I see simple things they could do to make a better product and they fall on deaf ears.

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Steve,

 

We all love our photo gear, but I always try and convince people it's just a hammer (as in a tool) to use to produce what we really want, the images! So set aside any fretting :P

 

Now via this internet discussion group you have ceremoniusly been given, and are hereby expected to pass the "tape tip torch" to other UW shooters you meet in your UW travels :D

 

LOL and all in fun!

 

dhaas

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Steve,

 

Go for the tape! I even see it available in colors at LOWES and Home Depot these days!!!! Maybe even Red to match Todd's Canadian special housing :D

 

Simple solutions to go make photos usually work best......

 

YMMV

 

dhaas

 

Red duck tape... cool! I'm on it. :P

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Now via this internet discussion group you have ceremoniusly been given, and are hereby expected to pass the "tape tip torch" to other UW shooters you meet in your UW travels :P

I accept your challenge Sir Dave, and will pass on the tape of knowledge, assuming of course that I can get it off of my fingers.

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Man oh man, has this thread taken a turn :P

 

What fun......

 

dhaas

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Asleep we are not, aside from various new products coming out on a regular basis, we try to find time to improve our products through our faithfull customers reccomendation and field testing, we have received some request and sugestion regarding a lock mechanism (including our fellow pixelian drsteve) altought we sometime appear slow, time is needed to design, prototype and machine the simpliest modification, the request indeed was paid attention to and a locking mechanism for the housing as been devised, production is underway and delivery will be early next year, it screws in the boss located on the front parts of the housing, some housing may need to be drilled and tap to accept this lock.

 

 

Here is a picture of the locking mechanism

post-1676-1166211127_thumb.jpg

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I am not sure if port locks are really necessary. There was one in my old Sea&Sea housing and I always left it unlocked. Why? I often change lenses between dives, and I would have to open the housing, unlock the port, replace the port, close the housing, lock the port. Without a lock (or with the port unlocked) I just remove the port and change the lens.

 

I used my Subal (that has no locks) on extreme conditions, in fast, bouncing boats, had it handled by divemasters all over the place, had it hanging by ropes on the side of boats and never had a problem with a port unscrewing. Just make sure you pay attention to it when you place it some place where the port can rotate (like your lap :P ) and you will be safe!

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I must agree with Luiz on this (sorry Jean :P )...there are too many times where I am only taking off the port to change a lens (especially with my usb modification) where having to open up the entire housing would be an inconvenience.

 

If there was to be a port lock, a design similar to the one pictured but mounted on the outside of the housing would be the way to go.

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That would be like the one they had on the cp5000 with the set screw. It was simple to operate but, having it not require a small "L" wrench like the version shown would be nice.

 

Thanks for clarifying Jean

 

Cheers

 

Todd

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The design is made such that if one so desire they can leave it in the open position or even actually remove it (two screws), anybody that can't do that deserve to be the butt end of a joke... How many diver does it take to remove a... :P:D.

 

I understand given the investment involved that some folk would want all the security they can get, in this field the words second chance don't really exist and we will try to provide the maximum quality per buck money can get for you.

 

As for me, I always have a dome shade attached, so far it as always given me a visual cue if anything was askew. Not to mention protecting my dome from careless fellow diver dropping a 30 something pounds weight belt on my shade, needless to say dome shade 0, weight belt 1 but the dome came out safe and the rest of the trip also.

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I have had a problem with the port rotating on my Aquatica's but only when I use an extension with the dome port. Recently, it did fall off during the skiff ride to a dive site - no harm done fortunately. For some reason this combination has a tendancy to want to rotate when it's resting on it's bottom. When I only have the dome on or the macro port with an extension...no problem. My big worry is that a member of a dive boat crew might put it in the rinse tank without the port being fully seated.

 

It seems like duct tape could work for those times (rare) when I use the dome port with an extension

Edited by Lionfish43

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The port lock prototype looks very interesting, but I am a little surprised that it is actuated from the inside. Does it also lock the extension rings? If not, it only solves part of the problem.

 

I was envisioning something on the outside that would simply prevent unintended rotation. To open you would draw a pin back and it would allow the port to rotate. This is simple enough that you could put it every bayonette port connection This is almost exactly analagous to the way lenses attach to the camera.

 

I also want to thank you Jean for showing us the prototype. It is great to get feedback directly from the designers!

Edited by drsteve

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Going from the inside allow us to use your existing port, going outside would mean your port and extension would be obsolete, i'm not shure a lot of you like the sound of that.

 

In the long run, we want to design a locking mechanism for the extension ring that wont blow your piggy bank. it will be a new generation of port and extension but the old and new will be able to co-exist.

 

Last thing we want to do is patching up a quick fix just to look smart, good solution take time, first step, and I think its a logical one, is the lock mechanism proposed, it uses your existing gear and your investment will be minimal.

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I too had the CP5000 (and still use the thing) and was quite happy with the port lock system. A little pin. What could be simpler?

 

I now have moved on to using small velcro strips -- one attached to the camera housing, the other mate to a some shade or the edge of a macro port. After seeing a port (someone else's thankfully, heh, heh) roll across a boat deck like a can of Campbell's soup, out came the gaffer's tape . . .

 

My vote is for the exterior pin solution. That worked wonderfully for hundreds of dives . . .

 

 

My Aquatica CP5000 housing had a small pin welded to the port. Then on the housing the had an l bracket with a set screw. You raise the set screw and the pin on the port could not slide past it. You lower the set screw and the port can rotate past it. Simple and worked. I have wondered the same as you but have gotten pretty religious about checking my port before each dive. That said you never know and my system is not fool proof.

 

Cheers

 

Todd

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Going from the inside allow us to use your existing port, going outside would mean your port and extension would be obsolete, i'm not shure a lot of you like the sound of that.

 

How about going from the outside with some kind of rubber pressure contact from two sides? Something that would prevent the port from rotating without having to penetrate on it. If duct tape can do it, not much pressure is necessary...

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Luis we are working and looking at different approach, what need to be understood is that we cannot shut down everything and just concentrate on this, we want and will have a long term solution, but we have to expand considerable energy and time also on the next generation of housings, accessories like optical viewfinder, new solutions to ergonomics controls etc... Heck i'm just happy where not making strobes, i'll leave thoses headaches to my friend Ike :P

 

Cheers

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Hi Jean, I didn't mean to suggest that you guys should be concentrating on it, as I said in an earlier post I don't even think it is necessary (my Subal doesn't have one and I don't miss it). I was just trying to present an option for an outside lock...

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Sorry buddy, I didn't meant for it to come out that way :D , the whole lock issue is a non issue for many and a life threatening for others. All I meant is we have some solutions we are looking at and in due time they will be implemented. I would like to say “right away sir!†to everybody but, will do ASAP is the best we can muster realistically speaking

 

What doesn't help in a way is, that so far Aquatica and Ikelite are the only two manufacturer to have made themselves available trough this forum, thus we draw some sometime unnecessary flak because you guys know we are listening and that we will respond, I for one (as Ike is I am sure) have no plan to stop making myself available. We have gain mucho respect from this community (it does flatter my ego somewhat :D ) for just being available, even if it mean getting bit once in a while.

 

BTW It would be nice for you guys if the European and Asian manufacturer would realize the significance of what you could call “real time support†made available in theses forums. In my opinion it is there losses. We have our hand on your pulse and even if sometime we do get the odd suggestion (such as access of the direct print button :P ) most of them do make a lot of senses and are listened to. After all they do come from field user, people who have bought the stuff and want the biggest bang for buck they can get.

 

Cheers

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Jean,

 

I want to encourage you to keep posting. I hope it didn't sound like I was giving you too much flack. I really appreciate knowing that you guys are listening. I also think that both you and the dive community as whole benefit from these discussions. I realize that this is a pretty specialized field and that although it is a business, anyone who gets into it does so mostly for the love of it and not because it is particularly lucrative.

 

I was just a little frustrated by the fact that when I first got my gear, I could see lack of the port lock as a potential serious problem, and then a few weeks back I was burned by it. Fortunately, I managed to dodge the bullet and avoided any damage, although it sounds like others were not so lucky. I apologize if my frustration came through in the original post. From my perspective, I am totally cool with using duct tape to secure the ports to prevent this from happening in the future.

 

Perhaps it is just that in some sence I am in similar position to you. I design optical instruments for a living (www.wyatt.com) and I know how much time and effort goes into testing and releasing even small design changes. Moreover, it has become almost second nature to me to look at the design of everything around me with a critical eye towards "improvements". Think of it as a bit of free engineering advice. For some companies, the last thing they want to hear is "free" engineering advice from their customers since it comes across as criticism of their efforts, and it is, but hopefully it is always constructive. You guys are free to use it or ignore it as you will. All I really want is to know that it has been considered. Also, I really want to see you guys flourish especially since I have now have a large personal stake in the company :-)

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BTW It would be nice for you guys if the European and Asian manufacturer would realize the significance of what you could call “real time support†made available in theses forums. In my opinion it is there losses. We have our hand on your pulse and even if sometime we do get the odd suggestion (such as access of the direct print button :wacko: ) most of them do make a lot of senses and are listened to. After all they do come from field user, people who have bought the stuff and want the biggest bang for buck they can get.

 

Cheers

 

Now I know what those 2 threaded holes in my D200 housing are for! I was wondering what exactly Aquatica is thinking of fitting here?

 

I (think several others too) do appreciate the on-line support, in fact this is basically the reason why I decided to stick with Aquatica and still considering buying from Ikelite again. Not many manufacturers bother to take the time to do it, unfortunately.

 

Talking about odd requests: DOF lever, close by Shutter...one of my fingers keeps complaining that he can not find DOF preview UW before index fires away.

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