I got an email about the NiTek Q compass accuracy. Believe me, I wanted the most accurate compass we could get because I explore caves when the opportunity presents itself. The exploration isn’t done until the directional survey and distance measurement is done. With all the compass technology out there today there are a few misconceptions of compass accuracy. The new age compasses on phones are not all true compasses, but rather GPS technology with compass graphics interface so the degree of accuracy is different from that of an electronic compass chip.
The accuracy of the compass chip in the NiTek Q is +/- 3 degrees and tilt compensation is minimal so keep it level like a mechanical compass. I have used a Casio watch compass for survey and compared it to my mechanical compass survey and found the variations to be acceptable. I was getting +/- 3 degrees on the resurvey of passage or from one surveyor to another, part of that is most mechanical compasses used for underwater, (Silva) are in 2 degree increments so there in itself lies a degree of error. The survey specialists still prefer a mechanical compass when they are looking at short distance loop closure on a project, but for expedition style survey to capture trend and direction the electronic compass can do the job.
There are only a few electronic compass chips on the market so beware of advertisements of a greater degree of accuracy on a device unless you are paying $450 for a digital compass only, then make sure the accuracy fits the claim. They sound good until I read the fine print on the accuracy.
The biggest power drain on the NiTek Q dive computer is the display…the bright, yellow OLED display is power hungry. The computer has battery protection to keep it from going into deep discharge, but this protection is overridden when in dive mode. It will stay on as long as it can.
Of course, I test everything to failure so I had to see what would happen by diving the Q without charging it until it died. I finally got the battery indicator to drain completely on a dive and after the dive it went to sleep and wouldn’t wake up. I thought I had taken it too far. I put it on charge and pressed a button, nothing happen, oh sh!?t I drained it. After 5 minutes of charging it came back and all was good. I called the developers to confirm what happened and see if I did screw it up. All is good and this is what I learned : you can’t overcharge the computer, leave it on charge if it’s convenient. A full charge takes 4 hours.
Reducing the contrast (brightness) can give you up to 20% more battery life. The battery has a very low discharge rate so it can go six months in standby mode. Since the display is the power drain, when you turn the computer on and let it stay on for ten minutes that’s ten minutes of battery life. So put the computer back to sleep when not in use by holding the B button for 3 seconds.
I met Eric of Surface Interval Clothing at the Beneath the Sea dive show this past spring. I bought one of the cave diving t-shirts and he and I talked about creating a sidemount shirt. I am happy to say Eric put his talent to designing a Dive Rite Signature T-shirt for sidemount. The quality of the art and and shirt material are the best. We have listed a few SIC diving t-shirts on our website, but you need to order direct from Surface Interval.
Our largest internet dealer, Dive Gear Express, stepped up and ordered a large quantity of our Dive Rite Logo tee and Serious Diver tee so those are available as well through DGX. Show your colors at dive sites, you never know who will be there.
I’m diving the latest Rev D firmware update for the HUD and I have to say it’s impressive. The new features include a buddy readout on the outside of the HUD, so whatever you see anyone looking at you will see as well. In addition to the DIVA (display integrated vibrating alarm) the reading light will strobe letting the world know you have a problem. The HUD also has a blue warning LED, any warnings on the controller are relayed to the HUD and the blue LED will flash every 7 seconds until the problem is dealt with so it gets your attention.
You can handle your decompression stops via the HUD as well with a combination of green and red LED to let know you are coming up on a stop and when to move to the next one. The reading/signal light is a multifunction light, it’s the strobe or quick reading light. I tested it in a cave with all my lights out I found the line with the reading light…good to know I have one more back up light. A few more test dives and firmware updates and we should be ready to release it.