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peterbkk

First Dives with Uwatec's Galileo Sol

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I don't often openly endorse a dive product but, mainly because I am very impressed and partly because I have to justify the price of my new diving toy, ;) I thought that I would post a brief review of my recent experience on my first two dives using a brand new Galileo Sol dive computer from Uwatec.

 

Apparently, for the time being, these new dive computers have been released only in Asia Pacific. I had read about the Galileo Sol and was interested because my old dive computer was looking a bit ragged. I was thinking of moving from a console design to a wrist model, simply because I thought it would be easier to see when handling an underwater video housing.

 

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was wondering around the Thai Dive Expo in Bangkok and the local Uwatec distributor had a Galileo Sol on display. Expecting a negative response, I asked if it was for sale. The nice young lady told me that they had only received two and the other one was being held for the company owner but, if I wanted it, I could buy the one on display. Given the price was nudging $2,000 USD (import duties and taxes in Thailand are high), this had to be a fast impulse buy or I would talk myself out of it. So, I quickly slammed down a credit card and became the first owner of a Galileo Sol in Thailand.

 

Do I regret my impulse buy? Not one little bit. :)

 

I spent a few days playing with the settings and reading the comprehensive, yet understandable, manual. I used the included SmartTrak software to adjust some of the settings and to personalise it. It now displays my name at startup and contains several text messages that I entered (more about these below).

 

I did my first 2 dives with it last Sunday.

 

Preparing for the dive was easy. The initial pairing with the tank transmitter was painless. Setting the Nitrox percentage was easy. During the dive I was very happy with the display of data. The screen is large and easy-to-read, even for my 50 year-old eyes. The only warning message I received during these two dives was when my tank reached 100 bar. Even this warning, like all the warnings, is customisable. The warning text was clear, concise and the sound appropriate (my previous dive computer made intense panic-inducing alarm sounds even for low level warnings). I love the safety stop countdown timer that automatically starts when you reach the safety stop depth.

 

Switching to the inbuilt compass was easy and worked well. The compass works even with the computer tilted off level. The backlight is bright, although I rarely needed it because the big characters on the screen are always easy to see, even from an angle.

 

The Galileo Sol features a heart rate monitor and uses this in its tissue gas take-up formula. If you are working harder, your heart is pumping harder, and more N2 is being absorbed by the tissues. This is more accurate than the breathing rate monitor used in earlier dive computers. The Galileo Sol monitors both heart and breathing rate and allows the user to select which one or both (best or worse case) should be used in the formula. To monitor your heart rate, you have to strap a thin plastic monitor device (made by Polar) around your chest. It is comfortable and once on, you forget it is there. Of course it does attract some stares and questions on the dive boat. And I did come in for some "ribbing" when I unzipped the back of my wetsuit after the dive. Until you peel down the suit and the whole monitor becomes visible, from the back it looks like you are wearing a black bikini top... ;)

 

The Galileo Sol should be a big hit with all underwater photographers and videographers. With its large, easy-to-read screen and logical layout of all your diving data in one place, it enables you to check your dive status while still shooting. Because the screen can be read at almost any angle, you can keep your hand steady on the housing's arm while glancing over to read the computer.

 

As mentioned above, I have also found that the "text input" feature under personalization has an extra benefit for underwater videographers. I put in a series of "directions", (e.g. "wait here for 20 seconds then follow me", "do not look at the camera", etc). Underwater, I just scrolled to the appropriate text and showed it to the actor. Fantastic.

 

The SmartTrak software is used to personalise the Galileo Sol. It is also used to upload dive data for display, analysis and historical log book records. My one tiny grumble about the Galileo Sol is that, while Uwatec have fully updated SmartTrak for the extra features of the Galileo Sol, the Mac OS X and Palm OS versions (JTrak and TravelTrak) have lagged behind. But, I have heard directly from Uwatec that the updates to these are in the pipeline and should be available as free downloads in a few weeks.

 

Oh, and two other great improvements in the Galileo Sol over previous dive computers: user replaceable batteries and downloadable firmware updates. If Uwatec find a problem in the onboard software, or, if they add some new features to the onboard software, there is no need to send it back. Via the SmartTrak software, you can download the new firmware version over the internet and upload it to the Galileo Sol, in the comfort of your own home, as they say.

 

Another neat feature is the strap. Dive computer manufacturers need to make the strap long enough for the largest wrist and the thickest wetsuit. This usually means a lot of excess strap flapping all over the place. not so with the Galileo Sol. Its excess strap slots neatly under the unit out of the way.

 

In conclusion, I am very impressed with the Galileo Sol. It's price may scare away some people, but, IMHO, the Galileo Sol is "state-of-the-art" and the future direction for dive computers.

 

Regards

Peter

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Thanks for the nice report! It does sound like a great computer. The heart rate monitor sounds like a very interesting feature, now a real measure of work.

 

Too bad this computer is not available in the US yet, any idea when it will be? I also expect that it will not be cheap...

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I don't often openly endorse a dive product but, mainly because I am very impressed and partly because I have to justify the price of my new diving toy, ;) I thought that I would post a brief review of my recent experience on my first two dives using a brand new Galileo Sol dive computer from Uwatec.

 

Apparently, for the time being, these new dive computers have been released only in Asia Pacific. I had read about the Galileo Sol and was interested because my old dive computer was looking a bit ragged. I was thinking of moving from a console design to a wrist model, simply because I thought it would be easier to see when handling an underwater video housing.

 

One of the divers here was on the beta team, I thought it was an interesting device but a little bulky for my needs.

Edited by breals

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One of the divers here was on the beta team, I thought it was an interesting device but a little bulky for my needs.

 

My first reaction was similar. It looks like it is bulky. But, when strapped on the wrist it does not stick out far.

 

And, when your eyes get to my age, you need the big screen to be able to read it comfortably in low light. As I mentioned above, I was able to keep my left hand holding the video housing handle, arm fully extended, camera running, and still see my dive status.

 

Regards

Peter

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Peter, I think you just cost me some money. I saw the advert for the Sol in Asia Diver on my last trip and thought it looked like a good product, but after reading you hands-on review, I think I'm sold.

 

Hopefully they will be available worldwide soon.

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didn't see this til now. Nice report Peter.

 

well at least you had the decency to cover up your nipples... Must have made for an interesting tan line... :)

0407_tests_galpolar.jpg

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I have just returned from a 3-day / 11-dive liveaboard trip to Chumphon, Koh Tao and Prachuap Kiri Khan in the Gulf of Thailand.

 

The Galileo Sol performed flawlessly. It's big screen and text warnings keep you up-to-date with your air and deco status with minimal distraction; a real plus when running the video camera.

 

Looking at the heart rate after the dive is interesting. About 20 minutes into a 25 meter dive at Chumphon Pinnacles, a group of 4 Bull Sharks showed up and started showing off for my video. They zoomed up and over the top of the Pinnacle right past the lens of my video camera 3 times. Before this event, the graph of my heart rate was a steady 90 bpm. Then it shot up to 125 bpm... :)

 

Regards

Peter

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I've seen one here. It looks like a mini TV... u can also download dive site maps etc...

I wanna hv one when I grow up... :angry:

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I bought mine in Phuket at the begginning of August so I may well have the 2nd unit in Thailand. I assume that because it had 140 operating hours on it and it had never been near the water. I assume everyone was playing with it in the shop :rolleyes:

 

Since then I've put about 55 dives on it and must admit I love it. It gives me much more bottom time than my Suunto and after 30 dives over a 2 week period in Palau including 3 dives on the final day it only wanted 19 hrs of no fly....my old stinger would have thrown a fit! :P

 

Anyhow I do some night wreck diving and I found the screen a heck of a lot easier to read and with the integrated air it was nice to be able to set up audable alarms incase I got a wee bit ingrossed in my photography. I stopped wearing the heart rate monitor after about 20 dives as the novelty kind of wore off. I couldn't really tell if it made any adjustments to my bottom time as I really didn't exert myself too much.

 

One interesting thing I did notice was how my heart rate dropped througout the dive.

Putting my gear on had a heart rate at 120 bpm.

Hitting the water dropped it to 90 bpm after a couple of minutes.

Then getting deep to say 36 mtrs had it slowing down even more to 75 to 80 bpm. It kind of stayed at this rate until the exertion of climbing out of the water shot it up to 120 again.

 

All in all I'm really pleased with the purchase. Hopefully I can get 300 to 500 dives out of it before a battery change which was one of the main things that attracted me to it in the first place.

 

We'll see.

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On the subject of heart-rate, I notice that even when relaxed at 6m deco stop my heart-rate is a lot higher (say 90) than it would be normally on land (50-60). Also my heart rate continues to be higher after the dive. Somethings obviously going on! I also notice that younger people with Galileos tend to have higher heart-rates than me.

 

I have upgraded mine with PDIS (Profile Dependant Intermediate Stops), a sophisticated type of deep-stop. I find it works well unless I do a stop and then dip back down a couple of metres to photograph something, when it then adds more PDIS progressively shallower. (I now ignore these.)

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I have upgraded mine with PDIS (Profile Dependant Intermediate Stops), a sophisticated type of deep-stop. I find it works well unless I do a stop and then dip back down a couple of metres to photograph something, when it then adds more PDIS progressively shallower. (I now ignore these.)

 

How did you upgrade with PDIS?

 

Regards

Peter

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How did you upgrade with PDIS?

 

Regards

Peter

 

Go to www.scubapro.com

 

Galileo upgrades are free.

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Go to www.scubapro.com

 

Galileo upgrades are free.

 

Thank you. I have downloaded the 1.4 update from ScubaPro's UK website. Their Asia Pacific website does not have the download, just a broken link to the UK site in the Downloads section...

 

Regards

Peter

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How do you download dive maps for this computer? Is there a source to see what maps are currently available?

 

Thanks

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I have in my possession the new Galileo Terra, the new baseline single nitrox mix model without heart-rate or gas-integration. It can be upgraded to 3-mix nitox and heart-rate at a later date if wanted.

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I have in my possession the new Galileo Terra, the new baseline single nitrox mix model without heart-rate or gas-integration. It can be upgraded to 3-mix nitox and heart-rate at a later date if wanted.

 

John,

Is a review in Diver imminent?

(I'm in the market now!)

 

R

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Hi Ralph,

 

Jarret had one with him in Cayman this week. It looked very cool and he seemed to like it. Although I would wait for the JB review, where the B stands for Bantin not Brown (that's Jarret's surname, BTW)!

 

I doubt they will let me have a go with one, after I spelled UWATEC incorrectly in my new book! Doh.

 

Alex

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Given my experience with my UWATEC COM dying on me twice during a dive (both times after it had been serviced) and recently my SUUNTO D6's battery draining unexplainably quickly (also been sent in for service 2nd time) I'd be very wary of a computer that uses more than one battery.

If I'm not mistaken this one has 3: computer, the device to measure your heart rate and the thing (sorry don't know the correct name) you connect to your first stage.

 

But maybe I'm just unlucky with all electronic/digital devices :D lol

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Given my experience with my UWATEC COM dying on me twice during a dive (both times after it had been serviced) and recently my SUUNTO D6's battery draining unexplainably quickly (also been sent in for service 2nd time) I'd be very wary of a computer that uses more than one battery.

If I'm not mistaken this one has 3: computer, the device to measure your heart rate and the thing (sorry don't know the correct name) you connect to your first stage.

 

But maybe I'm just unlucky with all electronic/digital devices :D lol

 

Don't let the 3 batteries influence your decision. The batteries are easily managed.

 

Firstly, the one in the heart monitor lasts "forever" and is not critical anyway. It will last for 2,500 hours of use and switches off as soon as it is dry. You'll probably buy a new computer before this battery dies. If not, just buy a new Polar heart monitor or dive without it. For most recreational diving, the heart monitor is not essential.

 

Secondly, the battery in both the computer and tank transmitter are user replaceable and reasonably easy to purchase in most large cities. I keep a spare for each in my little toolkit. They can be changed in a few minutes, as long as you know how to clean and grease an O-ring.

 

Thirdly, both batteries are monitored by the dive computer and the PC interface and you are given plenty of warning when they need replacing.

 

So, the worse case scenario, is a battery going from good to bad during a dive. That situation is not likely. But, if it happened, you would do an immediate slow ascent and an extended safety stop. Then get out of the water and replace the batteries.

 

So, the "battery issue" is easily managed with the normal due care and attention that you put into all your dive gear and procedures.

 

Regards

Peter

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I doubt they will let me have a go with one, after I spelled UWATEC incorrectly in my new book! Doh.

 

Well, I for one didn't spot that.........

:D

 

R

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Hi Davephdv:

 

Regarding maps. I am not aware of an on-line chart library. It looks like you basically up-load a jpeg version through SmartTRAK.

 

I picked up a Galileo Sol this past week and am presently playing with the new software. Pretty similar to the the version I used with my Smart computer. Can hardly wait to upload charts.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

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I have not used the Terra yet (Diving it next week) but I love the heart-rate part of the Sol even just to see how I'm doing!

Last week I got 180bpm on a hard swim against a surface current to a down line and later 47bpm during a deco-stop at 6m. My buddy said I should have been dead on both counts!

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Hi Davephdv:

 

Regarding maps. I am not aware of an on-line chart library. It looks like you basically up-load a jpeg version through SmartTRAK.

 

I picked up a Galileo Sol this past week and am presently playing with the new software. Pretty similar to the the version I used with my Smart computer. Can hardly wait to upload charts.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

 

Don't want to discourage you but I found that the "maps" feature of my Sol to be the least useful and stopped using it. Firstly the resolution means that you are limited to very large thick lines and large shapes. Anything fine, small or complex gets lost in the resolution. I tried doing a simple map of one of the wreck sites that I dive often. I drew it in a simple drawing package and uploaded to the Sol. I tried several versions. If I made it big and simple, it was not useful underwater. If I made it detailed and complex, the detail was lost in the resolution.

 

On the other hand, I have found the ability to load text messages very useful. I have programmed about 15 simple messages, a few related to diving (e.g. let's turn around and go back) but most related to video shooting with a model.

 

Some examples are:

 

"Stop, wait here 15 seconds, then follow me",

"Swim over my head",

"Look at this thing that I am pointing at",

"Please don't smile or wave at the camera".

 

I use these to give instructions to people who volunteer to model for my underwater videos. Works well. Just scroll to the message and show it to them. Beats waving your arms around like a crazy man... :D

 

But, please let us know if you do have a successful experience with drawing maps for the Sol.

 

Regards

Peter

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