Every diver needs tools and the tech diver needs a few more. I took an idea from my motorcycle adventures and designed our new Tech Tool Bag roll bag for myself with the tools I have traveled around the world with. I have fixed regulators and replaced electronics in my O2ptima rebreather with this selection of tools.
A ½ wrench for getting in between cylinders to adjust bands or tighten the bands on doubles. A four way screwdriver, two double ended tips is the ultimate screwdriver. A must is two adjustable wrenches so you can hold the nut on a second stage while replacing a hose. Tie wraps are a must along with an o ring pic, if you can’t find an o ring pic a good substitute is a large safety pin. I usually keep DIN o rings on the safety pin for quick access. You need two hex key sets, a standard and metric set, look for a compact set, I stay away from the individual hex keys because the most used one tends to get lost. The extra hex key is a large 8 mm key for removing DIN inserts from tank valves and of course a pair of channel locks. The zipper pouch is for a selection of o rings and lubricant, 5 zip lock bags are included for o rings.
We are working on a new family of dive computers. The NiTek Q is the first recreationally focused computer that incorporates an OLED display, previously reserved for high-end technical diving. Out of the box, it is configured as a two gas Nitrox computer that is user-upgradeable to incorporate a compass, Trimix or rebreather capabilities. You choose what you features you want or need. Charged via a standard USB the internal battery provides power for up to 20 hours of operation with a standby life of six months.
We are currently performing cold water tests at the factory. We fell a bit behind schedule after DEMA when we learned that the compass chip we had planned to use was discontinued. Not wanting to launch a product that would have an obsolete part, we’ve taken the time to source another model. The developers are now integrating it into the boards.
I have been diving one of the prototypes and like the size and sharp OLED display. I shot this video on a recent dive. NiTek Q Video
Keeping up with line markers is always an issue. Over the years sliding them on a piece of surgical tubing or bungee has been the preferred storage. I see some cave divers doing a bungee on the primary light handmount. I liked the idea, but I had a few storage and deployment problems so I modified it by using a 6-inch piece of 3/16 bungee and stretching it through the adjustment bracket on the Goodman handle. I store the markers on the outside of the handmount with the knot keeping them in place. I find this quick and easy to deploy. I can even keep directional markers on one side and non directional on the other side.
We get questions about the difference between the TransPac and TransPac II so I thought I would give you some history on the TransPac. The original TransPac was on the market from mid 1995 to March of 1997. This first generation model had the shoulder straps bolted to the waist belt. In the spring of 1997 we launched the TransPac II. The key differences were the change from bolts to a stainless steel sideplate and interchangeable shoulder straps so we could customize the fit to the diver. The shoulder pad and strap were integrated and attached to the back plate via stainless steel slides and Velcro for pad placement. After a few years we eliminated the right shoulder epilate to stop the routing of backup BC hoses over the shoulder. At some time late in this product’s life we dropped the II from the name “TransPac II,” while making some important changes for the evolution of the product. This era TransPac can be easily identified by the embroidered red/white logo and TransPac name on the epilates.
In 2005 we moved production to a modern facility in the USA that used computerized machines to produce a high quality product. The major change to the product was integrating the over-the-shoulder straps into the back plate so sizing could be more easily changed by trading out only the shoulder pad and not the entire assembly. This allowed divers to tweak the fit even more with half sizes if desired.
In 2010 we introduced narrow side plates and resized the hip pads for improved accessory mounting. You can spot the latest production product by checking the epilate. It will be labeled with a rubber patch that has our new red/yellow/white logo.
Now that we have been delivering TransPacs with new,, narrow sideplates let me share some advantages. The original wide plate was a rigid platform for earlier weight pocket designs but as the weight systems evolved I knew it was time to change the plate design. After the new weight systems were out I could change the plate size to make it more tech friendly. It’s thicker and serrated so it stays in place without the aid of an additional belt slide. Yet, more important to me is that is takes up no more room than a normal slide so I can use it for a D-ring without taking up additional space on my waist belt that interferes with accessories. It also lets me move weight pockets around on my wife’s rig since she doesn’t have the real estate on the waist that I have, another plus for women. You can also put a rigid D-ring on it if desired.
The EXP Fins are here after months of testing and slow production to ensure they are what they should be. The fins are retro – the original monprene blend that Apollo used. Monprene is the best choice for a high performance blade and exactly what we want in a tech fin. Our blades offer the best blend of power to work ratio.
I have tested a pair for the past three months and knew the formula was right because I found a set of original Apollo fins upstairs to dive against in testing (sorry Dan, I trashed your original Apollo fins while testing). I could swim in high flow for 3 hours nonstop without any calf cramps.
Two weeks ago, I was teaching a cave course the day our full production models arrived so I put both students and the assisting instructor in the blades to test rather than the rubber fins they were wearing. All three guys refused to give them back and bought them on the spot. Their comment was it was the best fin to actually swim with. A little something most divers don’t think about: in cave diving we swim for miles, nonstop. We aren’t floating and we use a wide variety of kicks. It’s the best environment to test fin performance. If you have doubts come swim with me.
I defined technical diving back in 1991 as “having to manage multiple regulators (gas supplies) while diving.” I told Dr. Hamilton and Mike Menduno this at the first AquaCorp Tech conference in New Orleans just days before DEMA. They were asking the attendees their definition of technical diving. To-date the managing of gas supply underwater is still the most common issue.
I bring this up because today the definition of a technical diver seems to be “someone who doesn’t settle with an equipment solution out of the box.” Everything should be adjusted to fit a diver’s stature for ease of access and comfort. That’s why there are so many hose lengths for divers now. A standard hose length won’t work for every body. We just shortened the traditional 27” BC inflator hose to 22” because it works better on most BCs and so far everyone seems to prefer it (we still have the 27” in case you want it).
Our new Tech SPGs are naked so the tech diver can pick the right hose length for his body stature and application (see the TIPS section for recommended starting lengths). The old standard is 32” for single tanks, yet tech divers want a shorter hose on their doubles and certainly their sidemount bottles. The most popular doubles gauge hose lengths are 24” and 26” depending on your height and I bet some women would like 22” (let us know). I personally prefer the 26” because when I am diving with dry gloves I like to clip it up on a chest D-ring so I can easily look at my gas supply and not have to unclip it from the belt in cold water.
LED lighting technology is rapidly changing and we are delivering the best lighting that we can. While others package existing technology from other industries into a dive light, we have actually engineered our LED technology specifically for our own underwater handheld and canister lights.
It was a challenge to the electrical engineers to create the packaging and heat sink for our product. Our LED products can run out of water without excessive heat buildup. The latest generation of canister light the LED LUX is the culmination of this design. We were able to increase the output and the rated burn time. We started testing the new design with the later LED 700 releases seeing them get up to six hours of burn time on a light that was originally rated at four hours. The LED LUX is brighter and will burn up to six hours on a new battery.
In our product manual, we are rating it conservatively at 5 hours after I tested it on my own three-year old batteries. We rated it for the lower time of five hours to be conservative for divers wanting to upgrade from the older MR11 HID light. The light is designed to never leave you in the dark, the rated burn time is based on a constant voltage of 10.5 volts and when it drops below that it tapers like the LED handheld to give up to an hour of lower output light. We use NiMH batteries to take advantage of their discharge capabilities and recovery from deep discharge to take advantage of LED performance.
Look for a new canister with longer burn time coming soon.
The new HID 1000 adjustable reflector assembly has some improvements over the old H10 reflector. The HID 1000 reflector is recessed into the shroud so there is less backscatter and a better pin-point focus. The new shroud protects the reflector from damage as well. They don’t survive sitting your cylinders on it.
The HID 1000 reflector comes standard with the metal Goodman handle on it with the big pad to rest on the back of your hand. If you have the H10 light the new reflector from the H1000 will fit and you will feel and notice the difference. I wrote this because I have been asked in the field about upgrading the reflector. You can do an upgrade directly with us at the factor and it will only be $59 if you reference my blog. Otherwise, the retail is $99.
Our new shipment of dry suits are in with more improvements. Suits have the big pockets on both sides with a line leash inside for stowing gear. The new boots are an incredible fit, a combination of neoprene and rubber coated neoprene, they are warm and form fitting so you don’t need to go up a fin size for a good fit. The outer seam tape is gone and the cut of the suit has changed slightly for a better fit. I have put a number of dives on mine over the past few weeks and the changes are noticeable.