We have received several NiTek X computers in for service and all they really needed was a new battery. I asked the programmers how the battery indicator worked to get a better understanding of what’s happening. The chart below gives you an idea of how the indicator works.
The important thing to notice is the discharge curve after 50 hours of normal use. This can be accelerated by using the backlight for long periods. When you notice the battery indicator has moved from full it is really a notice that the battery should be changed within the next 20 hours of dive time. If you don’t, the NiTek X could go dead during a dive.
The battery indicator will be good until the battery goes through roughly 3V – so the battery scale moves between 2.9V to 2.4V as empty. The curve on the batteries are like this:
CR123A Battery Discharge
So anything above 3V is just an artifact of a fresh battery.
If you measure a new battery it is common to see 3.2V even with some load. In sleep the Nitek X uses a very low current so the computer will show a curve like the above, yet flatter. If the computer is in standby a long time the battery will be at a higher voltage than it would after some use, because there was no load during sleep. CR123A also does self-discharge about the same rate as the NiTek X sleep current.
So if the battery gets low and the diver takes it out of sleep it might just drop the voltage quickly and die, or fail to start after a long time. Or if the diver dives with backlight at the end of battery life and then the NiTek X goes to sleep, it may not turn on the next time.
Before sending your NiTek X to us for service, replace the battery. And keep an eye on the indicator.
We received two NiTek X units in service due to display errors. The DESAT information would not come back once the X was awakened after going into sleep mode. I tested it and found this to be true, but random. I then learned the following from the programmers.
DESAT, or desaturation time is the amount of time that must pass before the residual nitrogen and helium levels drop to a point where subsequent dives are treated as a single (non-repetitive) dive. This is not the same as “time to fly”. On the NiTek X DESAT times are displayed when the PGT bar graph (on the right of the computer screen) is showing one or more bars.
This explanation gives more merit to tracking tissue saturation than a 12 to 48 hour countdown most dive computers do including the earlier NiTek 3 and NiTek HE. When diving the NiTek X I see a noticeable reduction in decompression time compared to the NiTek Plus. A 60 minute dive at 100-feet using 32% Nitrox gives me 15 minutes of decompression on the NiTek Plus and then 8 minutes after switching to oxygen at 10-feet. The NiTek X only gives me 1 minute of decompression on Con 1 setting. The more information a dive computer uses to calculate decompression the better the results. The X uses 16 tissue compartments while the NiTek Plus uses only 9 compartments. You can customize the X for deep diving with variable gradient factors to make the decompression fit the environment.
We’ll look at adding a standard countdown in the next software upgrade.
I have been asked about a screen protector for the NiTek X. Zagg has one. As a matter of fact they have had it for months. I ordered some a few months ago to find it was for the NiTek He. After discovering they had the wrong computer for the shield, I contacted them and gave them the proper dimensions for the NiTek X display. I ordered some and installed it on my X. It does the job so if you are looking for a Nitek X screen protector follow the link.
Test diving the NiTek X in cold weather brought a few points to my attention. If it is extremely cold the computer may not come on until the weather warms up. I discovered this after leaving my X in the back of my truck when it got down to 18 degrees. This is a function of the battery quality so we are changing to Duracell batteries since they actually publish their operating temperature range. Some people have noticed the battery cap o-ring may be slightly exposed, don’t worry it is sealed. The next run of NiTek X parts will include replacement battery caps for all the beta units. The new cap will be black like the Fischer cap side with a knurled grip for easy access with no tools. Be sure to register your NiTek X online and we’ll let you know about any available updates.
Okay, so I know I keep saying it’s close. You’re saying, “yeah, yeah.” Well, the NiTek X is here and we are assembling the first 100 units, which are beta test units. While we were waiting for the parts to come, I have been diving the X with 4th cell integration on the O2ptima. It tracks well with the HH controller and the display is easy to read.
The first 100 units are full production beta units. We want and expect feedback from the divers who purchase them. Our development team are all tech divers so we know what tech divers expect, but we want your input so we can be sure everything you need is there. Any changes on the beta units can be sent via Workbench and USB upload cables.
The Keys trip went well and testing is continuing with team Dive Rite actively diving with the Nitek X we have in house. Our first shipment of USB cables has arrived and the 4th cell cables should be here soon. As the 4th cell cables have to be waterproof they are taking a little longer. Everything is on schedule for the buildup of the first beta production run later this month.
The Workbench, the dive planning software that comes with the logbook for the X is complete. Use the links below to download the software, see how it works and what it is capable of. While this demo is web based the version supplied with the cable will run without web access.
Look under “Downloads” for both a MAC and WIN version of the software.
The PCB validation is complete and the validation sample and I are heading to the Keys for some diving. I will let you know how the computer performed upon my return.
The 100 boards for the first beta run are now on order and we are testing the cases in preparation for final assembly of the first run of units. After we receive the production schedule for the first 100 boards we will be able to announce the ETA on the first run. After the first 100 have been sampled we will order another 250 boards and go into final production.
The Workbench software is complete and will be online very soon to allow divers to play with and experience the interface.
The countdown continues and we are ready to receive a final production unit with all the bells and whistles including backlighting next week. The uploader cable and software interface are all ready as well. After Heliox confirms everything is correct with the production boards we will order the first 100 boards and go into production as soon as they arrive.
Our plans are to deliver the first 100 units to a select number of patient consumers to test dive. In order to avoid a slow down in the second production run of the units, the next 250 boards will be produced concurrent to this. If we find any glitches in the programming it will be corrected with firmware updates.
We are in the final phase of testing the Nitek X. The validation boards are on order. After the boards come in we will assemble the first ten production units and if all goes well we will give approval for final production. The Workbench for the X is being moved to a new server and we will have a link for it shortly. The screen captures of the software pages look impressive and are easy to navigate. We are moving ahead rapidly and currently everything is on schedule.
After seven days of teaching I have the to say the NiTek X is performing as expected. While I am teaching I don’t pay as much attention to the computer as I do when diving it for evaluation. I discovered the Mix 1 default setting was missing from the NiTek X. We have specified that all computers in the NiTek family default to Mix 1 for the next dive after a ten minute surface interval. This is now being added to the NiTek X. You can override the default in set mode (for setting mixes) to start the dive on a gas other than Mix 1. Final programming is being completed and we are about to release the first 100 boards. The computer cases are ready so we can begin assembly. I will be able to give weekly updates from now on.