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How robust is your housing?

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All of my water entries since I got my DSLR have been shore entries, since it's new I've been freaking out a lot because "hey that little wave could cause damage to my housing because it'll be crashing on it", I don't think it really can but I'm sure you all know the feeling. At least it has a vacuum system so I can look at the green led and chill out ; )

 

So any experienced/long time users of DSLR housing with funny/surprising/harrowing stories of what their housing have gone through? There must be some interesting ones.

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Hi i think you will find that your housing will put up with a lot, as the manufacturers know how hostile the under water environment can be.

I stride off the dive deck with mine as I hit the water lift it above the water, also roll from a rib. With out any issues I know quite a few who do the same.

When I dive in Malta I have stride off from 2 metres plus with out any issues.

 

Regards,

Andy.

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Diving in the Alor Straits a couple of years ago, my buddy and I got caught in an extreme down current. I was carrying my BS Kinetics carbon-fibre housing (Canon XF100) with a pair of Sola 4000 lights - not a small system. The other diver was quite inexperienced.

 

I quickly clipped off the housing to two points on my BP/W chest harness, grabbed the other diver and manoeuvred her to the wall. By now we were deeper than 35 meters and being pulled downwards fast. We were on Nitrox so could not go any deeper. Our bubbles spiralled straight down below us.

 

The only way up was to climb the wall, hand-over-hand. Occasionally, I had to help the other diver regain her hand-hold on the wall. Gradually, we climbed up to 10 meters where we started a series of stops, before climbing to the surface. During the whole climb, the current pulled down on us. The down-current only disappeared a few meters below the surface.

 

The whole time, my housing was bouncing around somewhere near my belly. The current was causing it to flap around like a flag in a wind. It slammed into the wall quite a few times.

 

I expected to see lots of major gouges in the carbon-fibre and maybe even some scratches on the dome port. But all was well. Few minor scratches but purely cosmetic. The housing survived very well.

 

I must confess that we did some damage to the coral and sponges on the wall while climbing up. I did try to place my hands carefully but all the handhold points were covered in marine life. But, it was a life-threatening situation so I feel that our actions were justified. When a current grabs you in Alor, you don't have a lot of choices. Swimming up was impossible. Swimming away from the wall would have probably killed us.

 

Regards

Peter

Edited by peterbkk
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Housings are stout. The weakest point is the port/dome 'O' ring seal at the surface and the first 10/20 feet until external pressure builds.

A vacuum system will help in this area.

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Seacam 1ds housing. Dropped from 6 m into a ravine and bounced off a large rock into shallow river bed. Proceeded to tumble another 10 m until it got wedged between two rocks. Needless to say the dome was scratched beyond repair but to my surprise housing has only minor scratches. I did have my vacuum check on. happened 8 years ago. Now I never let a housing sit on a flowing river never mind how shallow.

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Sorry guys OOT but I need to share this............

 

Hi Peter,

Alor ....hhhmm..scarry place, a good friend of mine at Karl's Dream ( Alor Straight too ) needed to rev his 140HP outboard to 3,000 RPM just to maintain position during one of those super current there and this is a small RIB of no more than 4.7 meters which can do 25 knots with 6 divers at WOT in flat water. Damn, I would not want to be caught at such current speed. In 2009 I nearly died at 3.5 knots horizontal current which I never knew has pocket of down current........but I do have a bail out device for down current powered by 2 x 68 grams C02 cartridge and 50 meters reel with 1000 lbs kevlar to allow me not to die of embolism. Full BCD inflation 20 liter class and full kicking on powerful fins can't do shiet...its at a bluewater 200 meters ahead of a sea mount, not a wall, so I can't do Spiderman escape and got to use my bail out device. 1st and last REAL use...wheewww.

 

Contact Carter Lift Bag. Its a US company.

http://www.carterbag.com/personalfloat.html

A 50 lbs lift will do, its totally enclosed model...choose CBPF-50. It can be installed with a C02 activator, which can take 68 grams one-time-use C02 cardtridge. Remember in the older days when one buy Scubapro BCD the Classic, it has in its pocket a CO2 inflator ?

 

Per 2 cc of CO2 at 1 ATM = 1 liter air space. So you get 34 liters of air equal lift at surface and 6.8 liters at 40 meters depth.

The key is the 50 meters line with a reel, so that you can send the float all the way to the surface if not shallower and at 10 meters or 2 ATM, you get 17 liters lift equivalent. It has over pressure valve, so no worry. Its material is tougher than 400 denier BCD fabric, super tough. My 50 lbs one ( no C02 inflator ) is now almost 8 years old already and its my second marker sausage, not bail out one....but I can use it as bail out when needed...however pumping such a big sausage with octopus is a pain in a strong current, let alone down current. Get 600 lbs dyneema/spectra, it will fit in a small finger reel. Kevlar rot in the sun UV, Dyneema/spectra does not. This super sausage can save your life. Mine is custom made and shape, but its a 22 liters lift equivalent only with some "unique" feature.

 

2 x 68gram CO2 stashed well will not be detected by airport x-ray and its airline safe no worry.

Life jackets on planes are +-32gram CO2, same cartridge type too...LOL.

http://www.lelandltd.com/small_high_pressure4.1.htm

There are two kinds of thread for 68 grams. 1/2-20 UNF and 5/8-18UNF. Carter can tell u which one to use for the kind of activator he will provide.

 

You can Fed-Ex CO2 from USA to Singapore, its possible with hazmat surcharge of US$50 or so.

Or call a marine supply store which may carry 60 grams CO2...just make sure the thread type match ur CO2 activator.

Clean the cartridge well and lubricate a bit for longer life from corossion.

 

One word of caution. Do not ever get entangled with the reel line when u launch this floating missile.

At shallow water, say 10 meters or 2 ATM, 17 liters lift is not something your fin can EVER fight for more than 20-30 seconds before you see stars and then tunnel vision from over extertion and still being pulled to the surface...LOL.

 

Practice makes perfect, I always practice using this bail out device, combined with long ahhhhhhh and very short rapid breath, depending on how much line I reel out before I launch myself to the surface. In strong current, if you release 20 meters of line from the reel, you will not stop at 20 meters depth but at approx 10 meters due to sideway movement of the sausage in strong current and the line will not be straight up pure 20 meters. Make a knot at 30 meters on the reel line and place a simple marker with a yellow color string or whatever very visual . So when you see the marker, grab hard the line and fly to the surface and you will stop approx at 15-20 meters.

 

The finger reel itself, place a tiny bit of lead for sure negative buoyancy because when the sausage rise to the surface, the reel will spin so fast its hot even with gloves on if you try to slow it down and it may follow the sausage for a while. You would want the reel to be at your depth with a mere soft guide-touch from your hands making a circle to the Dyneema like how fishing rod guide holes manages the line. Never never clip a reel to your BCD while deploying this missile.

 

One won't die from embolism shooting up fast from 40 meters to 15 meters if you open up your airway. Deco obligation ...that is another story but sucked down to the abbyss will be worse choice I guess. Hardly a need for deep stop deeper than 21 meters..... if you are only doing 40-50 meters and has say 15 minutes deco stop obligation. As long as you are within 12 meters depth, the algo can re-calculated by the dive comp even if you do violate deep stop to save ur life. I personally don't care about deep stop if 50meters as max depth, but my 10 meters to 3 meters I do super super slow.

 

The worse & strongest current in Indonesia is not Alor.

Its Capalulu Straight. There is a tide station there and its 9-10 knots at peak, no joke.

1° 52.962'S by 125° 19.945'E its between Ambon and Halmahera.

Anything 30 miles north of Ambon Bay, its crazy current zone already exposed to Indonesian Throughflow

 

Dive safe Peter....

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The pre-loading of your O-rings afforded by a vacuum system will certainly make things safer in the surf zone.

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I have seen a Subal with dome port fall off a 5 foot wall, hit concrete and just sustain some paint nicks.

I have also seen a Nauticam fall from a table on a live a board, put a big dent in the wood deck, break an Inon Z240 strobe off.

Both rigs continued to work without leaks, but the D800E inside the Nauticam later died with an electrical problem from the impact.

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I take my Aquatica cave diving, and by necessity, caving. That thing on the website about not being able to scratch the housing is not true :-) With an 8" dome on and no vacuum system I have bounced it across a lot of rocks. I have also dragged it through small restrictions and dropped a bag full of housing down big pitches, gently bouncing it against the wall.

 

You'd be surprised what housings can take. I always figure there's no point in leaving expensive equipment at home - you definitely won't get the shot that way.

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As already mentioned before I consider the pre- and after-dive time as most dangerous for a housing. I own an Ikelite housing for my Sony A65 and I am always really afraid that something goes wrong before or after the dive. This is mostly the case when I'm using the 8" dome which is really heavy as I am pretty mistrusting those four funny port clips which I tighten from time to time when I do a lot of dives.

 

As soon as I am into the water I am not afraid anymore because water pressure will keep everything together. As I am always very carful when assembling everything I am never nervous as long as I am underwater.

 

So for me the dangerous phase is before and after the dive ;)

Edited by Mark Twain

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Someone (well, me) managed to knock my Aquatica system off of a flybridge last year. It fell about 6' to the boat deck, which was carpetted. I saw parts go flying, but it turned out it was only the dome shade that popped off. I put it back on, snugged up the set-screws and no harm done.

 

I mean other than I had to rinse out my drysuit undies... :-(

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Did many backroll entry off a RHIB at Socorro earlier this year, negative entry, so my camera came with me on entry -- no problems.

 

D800, Nauticam housing, Zen 170mm dome, two strobes, etc

Edited by CamelToad

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Forgot my housing for my Canon F1 with macro port and two SB-103 on the car roof, realized they where there when I hit the +/- 60mph mark and heard a loud thumb from the back of the car (rig hitting the trunk before flying off on the road. The housing got some serious paint surface modification and the macro port had a fat lip, but pressure testing it showed that it was 100% dry, the camera was not harmed, but the two SB-103 where trashed (lucky for me, two monts later, Nikon replaced them for two brand new SB-105 :-)!!!)

 

Also got a wind surf board smack in the dome port on a sport shoot, aside from the three stiches gash on the head and the scratch (like a big one this time) on the dome, all was good.

 

I can think of a lot of much more fragile gears than the average housing. that is no excuse to abuse them, but it is good to know they can survive a bit of trashing.

 

Also recently saw a housing that spend a whole year lost in 300ft of water , camera was still in top condition when retrieved.

Edited by Viz'art
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Forgot my housing for my Canon F1 with macro port and two SB-103 on the car roof, realized they where there when I hit the +/- 60mph mark and heard a loud thumb from the back of the car (rig hitting the trunk before flying off on the road.

 

Perhaps Aquatica should explore an air-bag option for their housings, Jean. :notworthy:

Edited by Stoo

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Maybe start by removing the air from my head, but to my defense, it was a late December dive, it had blustery wind and was snowing like hell, and I was wearing a wetsuit, so brain freeze... I guess!!!

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