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Steve Williams

New Housing "Airlock" Vacuum from Backscatter

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Vivid Housings has tiny electronic indicators available for less than 75 Euro, with a switch and red and green LEDS to indicate whether the vacuum has been lost. I think most housings would have space for these where they can be seen from the outside. They also make the Leak Sentinel which is the complete unit, valve, vacuum sensor etc.

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Can you please provide a link to that item and price?

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I am also thinking that vaccuum checks are a must for underwater photographers (I have one in my Hugyfot D7000 housing and it brought peace of mind that I didn't have before while diving.

 

Someone suggested that it would be useful on strobes too. Indeed, I wouldn't mind having one on each of mine Inon Z240 type IV, these are expensive toys too. Xan anyone comment on the feasibility to do it on strobes?

 

By the way, would a vaccuum check system also secure the Nikonos 5-pin connector on housing side?

The question may be stupid, I have no idea if how the barrier between water and inside housing is made on nikonos connectors.

 

Nicool

I was hoping that someone else would answer this question for you. Normally the strobe connectors are water / air tight. You would need to drill a small hole in the inside where the pin's are to allow for vacuum to enter the housing. We designed a connector that would fit in the nikonos socket two years ago and have not sold one yet.

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www.vividhousings.com

 

I have two in shipment.

Cost with custom adapter was 200Euro or about US$260 each including shipping

.

I will post a report in early May upon return from Indonesia.

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Nicool

I was hoping that someone else would answer this question for you. Normally the strobe connectors are water / air tight. You would need to drill a small hole in the inside where the pin's are to allow for vacuum to enter the housing. We designed a connector that would fit in the nikonos socket two years ago and have not sold one yet.

Thanks for the answer Bill, very very interesting :-)

So you would deliberately create a path for air to flow in the nikonos sync plug, to ultimately mate itsafer because tighter.

I moved to optical fibers after my electronic cable unscrewed itself in the rinse tank, causing me the lost of my cable and of the bulkhead, but I must admit that I like better electronic sync (I do ttl, so optical fibers take a lot on the camera battery).

 

I sent you an emai with some questions on friday about using your sentry on my future Nauticam OM-D housing. On that one there's a single bulkhead (aimed at Electrical strobe connection), so I assume that I would need a separate hole to be drilled for thensentry if I want to use your nikonos plug accessory?

 

By the way did you or anybody develop a vaccuum check system for pricey strobes (I am thinking of my 2 Inon Z240 type 4)?

 

cheers

Nicolas

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Nicolas

I don't know of anyone who has a vacuum system for strobes but it could be done if there is room for the vacuum connector. I will reply to you email about the OM-D housing latter today. Yes you are correct about needing the extra hole drilled. That is a solution but it may not be the best one.

 

Have a great day.

Bill

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I am just back from a week in Key Largo using the Leak Sentinel from vividhousings.com, and it definitely made me comfortable dunking my D90 and macro into my camera bucket on the boat each morning. Having the blinking green light going during that first kerplunk and during the dive is very reassuring and gives positive confirmation that the vacuum is holding.

 

Miso, who runs Vivid Housings, was able to make an adapter for my Aquatica AD90 housing and have it shipped out to me from Europe in less than a week. It fit perfectly, once I figured out that the lockwasher goes on the _inside_ of the housing. Duh!

 

I would assemble my equipment in the hotel the morning before the dives, and pump it down, going 3-4 extra pump strokes after the LED went from blinking red-green to blinking green. I would leave it pumped down the whole day until I was back at the hotel to remove the memory card and battery. I never got any water into the vent area: I used a towel to dry that area off thoroughly before removing the cap. If I was opening the enclosure on the boat, I would definitely want to have a towel or some compressed air to blow off the water around the cap. Now where would I get compressed air on a dive boat? :)

 

For $260 all in, it's an amazingly good deal: provides the vacuum lock of the seals, provides continuous visual indication of vacuum, and the battery (single 1632 coin battery) seems to last forever.

 

I agree with other commenters: there's just so much that you can get wrong putting a complex system together and that having some way to verify the integrity of the seal other than destructive testing only makes sense. Whatever system you get is infinitely better than not having a system. We are talking a fairly small fraction of the cost of your entire camera/housing system to keep it dry on the inside. Look at all those posts about folks getting their D7000 housings flooded because of the stupid microphone cable!

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I am just back from a week in Key Largo using the Leak Sentinel from vividhousings.com, and it definitely made me comfortable dunking my D90 and macro into my camera bucket on the boat each morning. Having the blinking green light going during that first kerplunk and during the dive is very reassuring and gives positive confirmation that the vacuum is holding.

 

Miso, who runs Vivid Housings, was able to make an adapter for my Aquatica AD90 housing and have it shipped out to me from Europe in less than a week. It fit perfectly, once I figured out that the lockwasher goes on the _inside_ of the housing. Duh!

 

I would assemble my equipment in the hotel the morning before the dives, and pump it down, going 3-4 extra pump strokes after the LED went from blinking red-green to blinking green. I would leave it pumped down the whole day until I was back at the hotel to remove the memory card and battery. I never got any water into the vent area: I used a towel to dry that area off thoroughly before removing the cap. If I was opening the enclosure on the boat, I would definitely want to have a towel or some compressed air to blow off the water around the cap. Now where would I get compressed air on a dive boat? :)

 

For $260 all in, it's an amazingly good deal: provides the vacuum lock of the seals, provides continuous visual indication of vacuum, and the battery (single 1632 coin battery) seems to last forever.

 

I agree with other commenters: there's just so much that you can get wrong putting a complex system together and that having some way to verify the integrity of the seal other than destructive testing only makes sense. Whatever system you get is infinitely better than not having a system. We are talking a fairly small fraction of the cost of your entire camera/housing system to keep it dry on the inside. Look at all those posts about folks getting their D7000 housings flooded because of the stupid microphone cable!

Good post.

 

Some day ALL housing will have such a system.

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To me a vacuum system is more or less needed to really enjoy my underwater photography. Due to plain stupidity on my behalf I have earlier had one total flood and one partial. It came to the level where I worried just to much over doing another screw up, and taking my camera under water became quite stressful, which is the absolute opposite of what I want it to be. A vacuum system takes most, if not all of the worries away, as one simply knows that nothing is Leaking. I agree with the above that any such system is much better than not having a system. I also agree with John, these systems will without doubt be an integral part of future housings.

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Whilst I agree with much of the above, I do think that there seems to be a tendency to think of vacuum devices as a "silver bullet" that will prevent leaks. Good practices when using housings will still prevent leaks. All the vacuum units should provide is an additional level of verification that theses practices have been correctly carried out.

 

To illustrate this, I know of at least one instances where the vacuum bulkhead itself has caused a leak! I have had a catastrophic housing flood, however this was caused by the lack of a port lock on that particular housing, rather than any failure of the seals on the housing. The vacuum system would not have prevented it :(

 

I have also had an experience where having the vacuum system has prevented me getting in the water when I would of safely done so without it (due to temperature change).

 

I agree that they are a useful piece of equipment and expect that I will probably have one fitted to my next housing, but am a little concerned that they are being seen as a replacement for good practices and common sense ;)

 

Adam

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I have had a catastrophic housing flood, however this was caused by the lack of a port lock on that particular housing, rather than any failure of the seals on the housing. The vacuum system would not have prevented it :(

 

Adam

Adam. you are displaying a classic lack of knowledge about this system. With the vacuum pulled, that IS a port lock. You cannot open the housing or remove the port without releasing the vacuum.

I've just been commissioned to write a piece for an American publication about vacuum leak test devices and I thought of you when I wrote: "I foresee this important device becoming more popular as people wake up and smell the coffee and more of these expensive cameras not so protected become toast. Others may protest and need to be dragged kicking and screaming away from that cautious test in the freshwater rinse tank."

Edited by John Bantin

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Whilst I agree with much of the above, I do think that there seems to be a tendency to think of vacuum devices as a "silver bullet" that will prevent leaks. Good practices when using housings will still prevent leaks. All the vacuum units should provide is an additional level of verification that theses practices have been correctly carried out.

 

To illustrate this, I know of at least one instances where the vacuum bulkhead itself has caused a leak! I have had a catastrophic housing flood, however this was caused by the lack of a port lock on that particular housing, rather than any failure of the seals on the housing. The vacuum system would not have prevented it :(

 

I have also had an experience where having the vacuum system has prevented me getting in the water when I would of safely done so without it (due to temperature change).

 

I agree that they are a useful piece of equipment and expect that I will probably have one fitted to my next housing, but am a little concerned that they are being seen as a replacement for good practices and common sense ;)

 

Adam

 

I totally agree with your first paragraph. In your second paragraph, didn't the vacuum system detect the leaky vacuum bulkhead? As far as the port lock is concerned with 10" of vacuum it would take in excess of 50 LBS / 362 kg of force to remove the dome port from my ikelite housing so I think that this would have saved your flood. I have not had the temperature problem you indicated. I have see vacuum systems save more than one camera. I think that they will become more standard in the future and many housing may integrate them at an added cost or option. But currently, it is a aftermarket custom add on accessory for a lot of housings. What I am wondering is at what cost will people with point and shoot cameras start using these systems as the P&S cameras are getting better and slightly more expensive?

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It may be a surprise but I am aware that a vacuum in a housing will help make a port lock! I don't think I suffer from a "classic lack of knowledge" and have been fortunate enough to have used most brands and types of housing (including some equipped with vacuum systems) more extensively than most.

 

Even with a vacuum in a housing, enough force will still move the port. I'll let other brighter persons do the physics, but 50 lbs quoted is actually about 22.5 kg. That is not a whole lot of force. Call me a Luddite, but I am much happier with a piece of metal that prevents the port from coming off. Of course, if a housing has both, I am also happy:)

 

The vacuum system did not detect the faulty bulkhead as the bulkhead failed catastrophically whilst underwater.

 

I think I should be clear that I do not rely on a "cautious test in the freshwater rinse tank" to ensure my housing's integrity, nor would I recommend anyone else to. Like many other active underwater photographers, I currently rely on a extensive maintenance and inspection regime before and after each and every time I open the housing. John, I would hope that, in the interests of balance, you will point out in your forthcoming article that, despite there being a lot of people diving with housings, the incidence of floods is actually fairly rare. This is because most underwater photographers are aware of the issues, and have strategies for dealing with them.

 

I think the point of my post was to point out that vacuum systems are a good addition, but should not be seen as a replacement for the current checks and procedures that most underwater photographers follow to prevent leaks. Sorry if I offended any evangelic sensibilities :)

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Adam

I may have incorrectly stated or incorrectly converted the 50 lbs as I am not that used to working with metric weights and forces. It took over 50 pounds of pull to dislodge the port. That is a 50 lb weight attached to the dome with the dome pointing strait down.

 

Sounds like you must have had one of those plastic bulkheads that are glued together? care to elaborate on it a bit?

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I know of someone who did forget to pull a vacuum and went in the water without the plug. This is essentially like diving with a hole in the bulkhead of your housing. Fortunately, he had a dome port on and caught it as the water started rushing in so he was able to turn the camera so the water began collecting in the dome as he was aborting the dive.

 

To Adam's point, having a vacuum system isn't completely fool proof. You still need to check your system before jumping in.

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I know of someone who did forget to pull a vacuum and went in the water without the plug. This is essentially like diving with a hole in the bulkhead of your housing. Fortunately, he had a dome port on and caught it as the water started rushing in so he was able to turn the camera so the water began collecting in the dome as he was aborting the dive.

 

To Adam's point, having a vacuum system isn't completely fool proof. You still need to check your system before jumping in.

This doesn't add up. Surely, if water could get in, air would have got in first, before he hit the water. Sounds like someone ignoring the red light. Thank goodness he doesn't have a rebreather!

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This doesn't add up. Surely, if water could get in, air would have got in first, before he hit the water. Sounds like someone ignoring the red light. Thank goodness he doesn't have a rebreather!

Is that flashing red or full red it makes a difference, the choice is yours. :pardon:

Andy.

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I think we are venturing into the realms of the urban myth, where diving computers, BCs and even pressure-gauges can kill you!

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Not all systems have a red light. Just saying.....

 

If my housing tries to kill me, I'll definitely get a vacuum system :)

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This doesn't add up. Surely, if water could get in, air would have got in first, before he hit the water. Sounds like someone ignoring the red light. Thank goodness he doesn't have a rebreather!

He doesn't have electronics on his system. He just checks the vacuum before going in. Just forgot to do that on this particular dive.

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Can you please provide a link to that item and price?

Here is the link to the Leak Sentinel, which I used for week in Key Largo earlier this year and highly recommend to reduce your stress levels!

 

http://www.vividhousings.com/leak-sentinel.php

 

I see you are using nearly the exact same setup I use: Aquatica housing, with D90, ULCS arms. I use S&S YS-110 strobes though!

 

Willis

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Pete

I am looking for a link to the electronics for 75 Euro. I have searched the site many times and can find no reference to this.

 

Roger

Hello,

I have added the PCB only on the Leak Sentinel's product page. I will update the website soon, until then, please contact me by email with any questions you might have.

Miso

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Hi Adam,

 

Good work. The best analogy I can think of is it is like diving with a buddy. It is always more sensible to have the extra checks.

 

Alex

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