Annual Regulator Service and Video Editing

final cut pro editingThis past week and weekend was extremely busy indeed.  As you know we have been going non-stop these past weekends with a trip to Ulleongdo and Dokdo, a wedding on the East Coast all followed up with rebuilding regulators and servicing gear.  Each event means pictures, blogging and video editing.  Most of this is done at night after work long into the night.  Scrubbing video footage and marking our favorite clips and pics.  Once that is done we add in our logos, splash and end page as well as any effects and or transitions.  Needless to say not a quick task despite us 2015-07-16 00.04.49doing it all the time.
Once the wedding video, pre-wedding dive video and finally Ulleongdo video was finished it was time to service gear.  Carefully inspecting the regulators, hoses and all other attached items ensures that we have a good idea of what kind of condition the gear is currently in, and it will help to identify any troublesome areas.

Once inspected as a whole the main components are tested to give a benchmark then each piece is broken down into the simplest component and each thoroughly inspected one-by-one.  Then comes the careful cleaning of 2015-07-15 01.01.57each and every piece, to include hose ends, hose o-rings and even transmitters and SPGs.  A thorough rinsing and drying is needed followed by replacing all the parts that were discarded as per manufacturer recommendation.

Now comes the meticulous re-assembly noting some parts are lubricated while others are absolutely not.  Torque specifications are strictly followed and careful application of new parts and o-rings.  Order and attention to detail is critical.  Once the equipment is roughly 98% complete each piece is tested using the guidelines laid out by the manufacturer.  The 1st stage needs to perform between a certain IP (intermediate pressure).

2015-07-15 20.59.15Once the 1st stage is calibrated the 2nd stages must be calibrated.  Each second stage must be calibrated to manufacturer specifications.  This might even mean that you must use a separate 1st stage to conduct these tests to achieve the proper IP pressure for 2nd stage testing.  The tests for the second stage are critical to achieve maximum performance from the regulators.  First set the IP to spec, then adjust the regulator to hear a very minor leak…then turn slightly back to stop leak.  Once more turn adjustment knob slightly and viola the reg should be very close.  Finally the 2nd stage is validated with a cracking test (officially called the Inhalation Effort Test).  This test simply measures the force needed (or difficulty) to breath from the regulator.  For this you need a Magnehelic gauge.

Ultimately repairing your own inhalation effort testequipment will give you the satisfaction of knowing the job is done right and you can fine tune your equipment for you.  The downside is that the equipment to get started gets pricey quick.  It will cost the average person around $500-$1000 just for the specialty tools and calibration equipment.  This won’t even cover the cost of attending the manufacture’s training so that you can buy the parts and have access to the repair manuals.  There are places that you can save some money while still getting some great test gear.  For example the single item that I would recommend is the DUAL PRO 2015-07-15 23.46.53STAND, 0-3 MAGNEHELIC, IP GAUGE, FOUR SPINON ADAPTERS.  Just like it says it is a dual gauge that verifies IP and breathing effort (inhalation and exhalation with this model).  As you can see it is nearly $400 once you add in shipping.  That is half of a high-end DIY’ers budget.  Now you can see why shops charge so much for servicing gear.

If you are a DIY’er look no further than Scuba Tools for each and every tool you may need.  This company is a small business that supplies even the large manufacturers with tools and customized equipment. They are great to deal with as well.

Hollis 500SE Regulator Review

Hollis 500SE Regulator profileWith every new regulator launch comes new “hype”, most of the time I have noticed that most of the improvement is in the visual design.  The new version looks cooler, it’s black and features aggressive characteristics to portray the “Tec” image.  Well this new design isn’t really new at all.  In fact it is quite old.  If I would have seen this a few years ago I might have passed it up for the newer looking round regulators…and I would have missed out big time.

Benefits of the Hollis 500SE

  • Pneumatically balanced servo valve system
  • Patented Orthodontic Mouthpiece for comfort and reduced jaw fatigue
  • Standard with 30″ maxflex hose
  • Easily disassembled without the use of tools and underwater if necessary
  • Left or right positioning – no upside down
  • Boltsnap tie point (Hollis.com, 2015)

Hollis 500SE Regulator backsideHollis has brought back an old design with a modern look and features.  Hollis highlights these features on the regulator’s website (http://www.hollis.com/500se-dc7), the ones listed above.  Of those bullets I feel that there are 2 that need to be mentioned again.

First the statement, “Easily disassembled without the use of tools and underwater if necessary” is an understatement.  I was a bit skeptical when I read this but wow this regulator is unbelievably easy to disassemble.  All you have to do is twist off the plastic nut that holds in the hose and pull the interior of the regulator out…done!  That is seriously it.  This is amazing for cleaning or removing debris.  To go hand-in-hand with that, the service kit is minimalist due to the simple, but reliable construction of the 2nd stage.  I would like to thank Hollis for this design because it makes yearly overhauls simple and time saving.

Hollis 500SE Regulators on BCDSecond, “Left or right positioning – no upside down” design makes for great application during stage/deco/bailout bottles, sidemount setups and finally air-sharing.  Students no longer have to worry about regulator orientation and an air sharing exercise can be done in the blind.

One of the most important features of the regulator (for me) wasn’t highlighted by Hollis and it definitely needs to be mentioned.  For those of you who know me know that I primarily dive a PRISM 2 eCCR.  The CCR is probably the greatest tools for underwater videography because there are no bubbles that ruin your shots, no giant distortions covering your subjects…just clear water.  This is where the 500SE makes it’s money.  For the divers out there that can’t afford to dive a CCR and want to minimize bubble intrusion in your videos this is the single greatest option…and at a fraction of the cost.

This past weekend I shot tons of video underwater (which I am still scrubbing through) and the 500SE’s performance related to video was fantastic.  At almost no time did the bubble ruin a shot or distract from the video.  I didn’t have to think about breathing during my scene captures…simply amazing as far as I’m concerned.

Hollis 500SE RegulatorSo how did the 500SE perform in the water?  Excellent, and I am sure that didn’t surprise you.  The 500SE breathes extremely easy and I didn’t have any issues with free flows during any dive, ascent/descent etc.  The mouthpiece is very comfortable and I didn’t endure any sort of jaw fatigue or feel any pull or push…the regulator rested perfectly in my mouth and was barely noticeable.

Drawbacks of the Hollis 500SE

I honestly could not find a downside to this regulator.  These regulators have now retained a permanent home on my gear for all my OC dive setups.

Summary

Would I recommend this regulator?  YES! Who would I recommend this regulator to?  This regulator makes deco/bailout tank streamlining a breeze.  It is also great for beginners who want a high-performance regulator that can meet recreational and technical diving demands as well as feel comfortable in their mouths during long dives.  Finally and without a doubt I would highly recommend this regulator to every open circuit videographer out there, especially those non-professionals that implement multiple cams like GoPro cameras on helmets.

Was there a question that I didn’t answer?  Still want to know more?  Feel free to comment below, I love to hear our feedback.

ANTARES Dry Glove System

 with the Hollis DX300 Drysuit

ANTARES dryglove kit on Hollis DX300First off I have to say this is quite possibly one of the easiest projects I have done related to scuba diving.  At first it does seem intimidating but it is easy I promise.  If you have been following our blog then you know that I recently reviewed the Hollis DX300 drysuit.  This suit was super comfortable with it’s silicone seals and material.  The major benefit of this suit is that is utilizes quick change SiTech QCS Oval Ring system that is completely compatible with the SiTech ANTARES system.

Oval Stiff Ring for ANTARESIf you don’t have a new Hollis DX300 and you are using this on an older QCS Oval system then you need to verify if you have the new or old QCS system; the older version requires the additional purchase of the Oval Stiff Ring which replaces the thinner older (non-ANTARES-compatible) rings that attach the seals (this is an extra step but it is as simple as changing your silicone seals).  

If you are lucky enough to have the new QCS seals (any QCS Ovals manufactured after May 2013) or the Hollis DX300 then you are a mere 10 minutes away from dry hands.

Total Cost of Project:

  • $124 for parts (not including shipping)
  • 10-15 minutes of your time

Items you need to purchase:

  1. BLUE PVC Dry Suit Glove Replacement ($24)
  2. Antares Oval Dryglove System ($100)

I highly recommend the blue/orange gloves because it is easy to see hand signals if you have a darker drysuit or black gear, or limited visibility.  The black gloves look great on the surface however they aren’t as functional underwater for signaling.

Installation:

 

  1. Find the spacer ring that creates a snug fit with your glove (if you purchased the blue gloves above then it will be the blue spacer).  Thinner gloves like rubber only (no fabric on the inside) should take the green spacer.
  2. Tuck the glove wrists into themselves to fold over the spacer ring.
  3. Check to see fit on writs and verify oval is properly placed for wrist and movement.
  4. Hold glove and ring in place and press firmly into the quick connect cuff ring that attaches the glove to the drysuit ensuring there are no creases in the glove as the ring seats itself.
  5. Push the ring all the way against the quick connect cuff ring.
  6. Pull the glove and the quick connect cuff ring in opposite directions to ensure proper installation.
  7. Trim excess material from glove cuffs.  (1.5cm/1.25in should be enough)
  8. (Optional) install ANTARES support ring into the drysuit sleeve.  This is included in the ANTARES kit (previous kits required an additional purchase).
  9. Lubricate the glove seals with the lubrication stick provided
  10. Test glove to suit fit by pressing the glove into the suit.
  11. Relax…your done.

Surprisingly easy huh?.  That’s exactly what I thought and it was truly simple.  The modular system is amazing and it really makes the Hollis Drysuit even better.  Now you can quickly (within 1 minute) change from wet to dry gloves or back.  Even better you can swap out QCS Oval Kitgloves should a previous pair become damaged, torn or flooded.

I can’t stress enough what an amazing system this is, especially when paired with the Hollis DX300.  I think that my next project will be installing the SiTech QCS Oval system on my Hollis BioDry 100 so stay tuned.

If you purchase these and doe this easy project let us know how it went for you and what your thoughts are on this system.  If you have questions drop us a line as well.

PADI’s new Smart Phone App

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 15.01.59I am so pleased to see that PADI finally gave their smartphone app a facelift because the previous version was outdated from it’s initial release.  The app finally provides some needed and highly useful functionality.  The user interface is sleek and more closely matches the online experience now that PADI also recently updated their website.

One of the nicest features of the PADI app is the SSO (single sign on), it should be linked to your existing email address and password from previously established accounts (at least this is true for PADI Pros).  As many pros (should) already know that if they sign-up for Scuba Earth all their certifications will be available via PADI eCards (it will take a few days after initial signup for availability).  This is one more reason why it’s better to be a PADI Pro versus just a PADI Diver.

The new app is easy to navigate and offers instant access to pro check, tools (utilities) like knot tying, hand signal reviews, checklists, e-cards and even a digital logbook.  There is even a spot to get local weather.  The one tool I would ask PADI to incorporate into the next app update is a diver check…I understand that this can be done via login thru the web portal (via the app) however it would just be nice to see a button to access it as easily as the “Pro Check”.  There is no doubt this is a step up from the previous version…finally the PADI app is a useful tool that I am happy to have on my smart phone.

Final Verdict: This is a MUST have for all levels of PADI scuba divers!

PADI Mobile Apps Site: http://www.padi.com/scuba-diving/padi-app/