I had a great dive last week with my friend, Bill Main. He was taking his new RX10 on its maiden voyage while I bolted a production TransPac XT to a set of back mounted steel 104 cylinders, some of the heaviest cylinders on the market and preferred by Florida open circuit cave divers. We went for a leisurely swim in Devil’s Ear cave at Ginnie Springs. I was amazed at the support of the new XT. I had dived every prototype up until now and knew it was better than all previous models, but I hadn’t taken a production unit out for a swim yet.
I thought the changes were going to be more cosmetic than functional, but was I ever surprised. The guys at the office had already dived steel 104s a few days earlier and had told me the new harness was impressive.
Drop me a note if you want to stop by and try A TransPac XT, maybe I can get away and dive with you.
Last year we decided to make some changes to the Button Gauge: it needed the same safety features as a hose SPG – a pressure relief valve. It took longer than expected, but it’s now back in stock. I feel this is an important feature especially because of the abuse this little gauge is exposed to. It’s most common application is on decompression bottles and rebreather bailout bottles. Applications where close gas monitoring is not important, but rather monitoring if the tank if full or needs filling.
This application usually means pressurize the cylinder, check everything, then turn the gas off to prevent loss thru regulator free-flow concerns. If the pressure drops on the cylinder the regulator can fill with water including the SPG, this can damage the gauge and regulator. This happens more often than divers will admit. Another area of abuse is exposure by mounting the gauge on the top of the regulator of a decompression or bailout bottle where it can be bumped, hit and anything else you can imagine. I see many guys will now mount a button gauge on the bottom side of the regulator to protect it. Since it is only used to check starting and ending pressures tucking it away on the underside keeps it out of harms way.
With the launch of the new XT line we have the toughest line of wings available in the sport diving market. Coupled with the SuperFabric technology we also launched a new, tough 210 laminated bladder. It’s the same material used in lift bags and surface markers. It’s pinch-proof, poke-proof and snag-proof and we believe so highly in this product we now offer a lifetime warranty on all 2012 model EXP and XT Wings that carry the 210 bladder.
A lot of people ask us why the bladders are bigger than the outerbag. They discover this when they dismantle their wing to clean it. You don’t need to take your wing apart to clean. Just run fresh water through it, dump and inflate overnight. But to answer the question, the bladders are bigger than the outerbag to keep stress off of the seams. Due to the restriction of the outerbag, the bladder isn’t able to inflate to its full size. That’s a good thing.141
This month we are launching one of the toughest wings on the sport diving market today. Based upon the success of our Nomad XT Rig, plus input from our customers, we’ve developed a wing with three layers of protection from punctures, snags and abrasions. They’ll take a hell of a beating.
The first layer is the 200 weight inner bladder which is highly resistant to punctures. Next, we add a 1000 denier Cordura outerbag on the face of the wing with SuperFabric material on the reverse. SuperFabric is a technical fabric resistant to cuts and damage. Created as a base layer and then overlaid with plates, its flexible, yet will keep sharp objects from penetrating.The key to making a tough wing isn’t thick, heavy fabric. It’s layering. VIDEO: XT Series Wings
If you damage this wing, call me. I want to go diving with you and see for myself what could possibly hurt this wing.
Before launching the EXP line of wings in 2009, all Dive Rite wings had a solid mid-section with slots for cam straps. We changed that with the innovation of the EXP wings and it has worked so well, we will continue the same mid section design for the new XT wing series.
The webbing crosshair configuration lets the wing adapt to any backplate with or without slots or a single tank adapter (STA). The multiple grommet holes let you adjust the height to help with trim and placement. The webbing is actually stronger than a solid center panel. Another advantage is that it allows us to give a 3D effect to the wing, which creates the necessary lift in a smaller package. You can’t do a panel strip on the inside of the wing if it’s solid. VIDEO: Crosshair Backplate of Dive Rite Wings
The Single Tank Adapter (STA) was originally named “Singles Mounting Plate (SMP)” when I designed it in 1985. At that time, we had just launched the Dive Rite Wing, the original doubles wing with 60lbs of lift. Cave divers dropped by the old shop to share their ideas and show us their modifications, since back then no one could dive a product off the shelf without a few adjustments.
Guys were cutting slots in the wing for diving singles and my girlfriend (now my wife) was a new cave diver that wanted to dive her backplate all the time, including with a single tank. We had a ABS plastic plate, so I got the idea to rip it from top to bottom on both sides of the cradle that nestles between the double tanks. I added cam strap slots on both sides of the bolt holes. I now had a set up to attach a single tank to a backplate, my girlfriend was happy and the guys stopped mutilating their wings.
Today, the STA is so popular with the single tank crowd that we have now shortened our STA so it doesn’t interfere with the smaller center section now prevalent on single tank wings. Our single tank wings (Travel and Voyager) do not require a STA since we have gone to a crosshair center section that keeps the wing and harness securely together, however some prefer the convenience and added weight of a Single Tank Adapter. VIDEO: Single Tank Adapter 2012
After we launched the Nomad in 2007, the first upgrade we did was to the outer bag changing it to a tough fabric known as SuperFabric, made in the USA and lives up to its name. I have tested it in small caves and expeditions and it does the job. Earlier this year we launched the Nomad JT for the dedicated, hardcore sidemount divers using SuperFabric, again it does the job.
So now we are launching the XT signature line with the Travel, Voyager, Rec, CCR and Classic all getting the SuperFabric addition. The line will also get a bladder upgrade, the same material used in lift bags. The total construction of an XT wing will consist of three layers, the tough bladder, a protective 1000 denier inner bag and the SuperFabric outer shell. The competition touts making a thicker material wing is stronger, but actually strength comes from adding layers so each barrier adds protection. The wings will debut later this month.
The new XT line is so tough that it comes with a lifetime warranty on everything. I’ve been diving the XT for a few years so if you do have a warranty claim, don’t be surprised if I contact you about the dive or ask to join you.
Nomad XT Wing w SuperFabric
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.