KiSS Ocra Spirit needs some modification Part II

In order to make the rig balance, at the same time to satisfy myself having an on-board dil, I went ahead and fabricate 2 aluminum brackets

to hold 2 2l cylinders, one dil and one O2 on either sides of the scrubber cannister. Just like the Sport Kiss or the Classic Kiss. This way not only balance off the unit, also move the center of gravity of the unit up higher. Only draw back is the breather now is a lot wider, and might not be the best unit to go through restricted area. That will give me a sound excuse to acquire a side-mount unit, the Sidekick Kiss. 😀
Next thing I did was re-route all the plumbing, install a new 6 ports manifold to replace the 4 port comes with the unit.
Connect an off-board dil/bail-out set up as well as an on-board dil set up with all the fancy quick connects. Now I have redundancy 🙂
Speaking of redundancy, since I mainly dive the unit in wet suit, so I added an extra bladder to the Dive Rite wing. And now I am ready to go.
I did a couple of dives in the swimming pool and I found my balance is a lot better. I am still a little bottom heavy though. With dry suit it is an easy fix, however with wet suit, I will have to think of a way to lift my legs a little bit. One cure might be turn the cylinder right side up with the tank valve on top, however I kind of like the tank valve at the bottom better since it is easier to access to plus this can for sure eliminate the possibility of roll on and roll off my cylinder valves in an overhead environment.
Other fix might be adding some weight over the top area of the unit, but this is really the last resource I want to try because I am already over weight while diving this unit in wet suit. So my first move is going to add some lift to my legs by wearing an extra neoprene socks. I will have to try this out while I am diving in Grand Cayman this week. Will continue my report after all the tries. Stay tune and come back for more….

KiSS Ocra Spirit needs some modification Part I

Back in February this year, I went to Krabi Thailand to receive some cave dive training. While I was there trying to hover steady and do some skill, I figured I had hard time trying to stay balance as well as stay horizontal….. It is not as critical while diving open water, but in a cave, confined and silty area, it is crucial. So I thought some change or modification of both my set up and my breather is necessary.
When we talk about posture of diving, we often say: TBBBP. T is trim, which is basically the position of you body while in the water; B is balance, which is whether you are balance or not, left heavy, right heavy, top heavy or bottom heavy; second B is buoyancy, simply is whether or not you are maintaining neutral; third B is breathing, which is important to a certain extend but doesn’t really affect your posture while diving CCR (very important while OC diving though); and lastly P of course is propulsion, how you move forward or backward. Being said that, when we look at the KISS Ocra Spirit, which is the rebreather I dive, it has no on board Dil, (in fact I’ve never feel too comfortable about because of the lack of redundancy), also it has the O2 tank mounted horizontally at the bottom.

Off board Dil causing you left-heavy ( I typically side mount my off board on my left side) when beginning of the dive eventually change to left-light by the end of the dive also depending on the type of cylinder I carry, or available to me. It is not a very big deal if the off board is only for the purpose of bail out since you can fill the tank to neutral. However in this case it is also your diluent gas supply. So half way through the dive, your left side will become lighter or neutral or even positive after consuming some of the gas in the cylinder.

Having the O2 cylinder mounted horizontally, making it right- heavy due to the tank valve on the right hand side. But unfortunately these left-heavy and the right-heavy they don’t balance it out and that explains part of the reason why the rig is off balance. Having the O2 cylinder mounted at the bottom of the machine, also will make the diver bottom heavy, especially diving wet suit and this explains part of the reason the same diver cannot stay horizontal and needed to trim out….
In the next issue I will let you know how I think I can solve my problem, and what I have done to my set up and modification of my OS. I had in fact done some testing in the swimming pool with the unit and been making some minor adjustment here and there. Hopefully next week I will be able to test it more in open water while I am in Cayman. I will see how it goes. Please stay tune and come back in the next few days, I will carry on talking about the progress of this modification.

Underwater Photography and social media

It’s been a little over a year I haven’t post here in my blog. I sure try not to be lazy and start posting more.

Lately there are lot of people asking me what camera and setup I use for under water photography. In fact my set up is very simple. I have a Canon G15 with a Fantasea housing, and occasionally, I use a single strobe. I said occasionally because setting up the strobe to work properly is never an easy job and most importantly I often found the strobe setup is very bulky. However properly using a strobe for macro photo is awesome. Those pictures taken with strobe show a lot more colors. (BTW none of the picture I posted here was taken with a strobe)


Talking about posting those pictures up on social media site, please color correct your pictures first before you post. It does make a big different. Also pick and select the pictures before you post. Please don’t just copy every pictures from your SD card and dump them all onto facebook. Even cropping the pictures to include proper negative and positive space is a good idea. Bottom line is make those pictures you post be pleasure to see. 🙂 While doing underwater photography, photshop (or any photo editing software) is your friend. Just several simple key strokes, the end result of your pictures look totally different and awesome.

Of course, proper position of object, positive and negative space… are important element of a “nice” picture. Want to learn more, take a course with some instructor, like myself who post descent pictures on social media.
:-p
Talk again next time.

PADI New / Revised Open Water Diver Course Part 4

Let’s continue to talk about the PADI New / Revised Open Water Diver Course. Last we had mentioned the changes in both Knowledge Development and Confined Water sections. This round let’s talk about the changes in the Open Water section.
There is only one new skill introduced in the Open Water section and that is to deploy an inflatable signal tube either at surface or under water. If you opt to do this skill underwater, make sure you don’t let your student diver go deeper than 40ft / 18m to perform this skill, and you have to be there to supervise this skill and evaluate your student diver’s performance on this skill, otherwise if this skill is performed at the surface, your certified assistant may evaluate this skill. Also please make sure your student diver know how to inflate the SMB or DSMB in the water. Personally I think it make more sence and will be easier to control if you ask your student diver to perform this skill at the surface. Let’s leave the DSMB skill to continue education courses such as drift diver or SMB diver at a later date. In fact I think this will be a perfect set up to tease your student diver come back and learn the DSMB skill later. You may also want to purchase the ‘PADI’ SMB pack (includes a PADI SMB and a PADI whistle) and include it in your student crew pack. Doug at PADI sales desk has an awesome package deal avaliable. By the way, this is a dive flexible skill in other word, you may introduce this skill in any of the 4 dives.
The enhanced skill in open water section includes the use of audiable signal and of course the air management skill too. Again your student divers need to know their remaining gas pressure anytime during the dive, same as the performance requirement during confined water training. Your student divers need to be aware while you are making the audible signal to gain their attention, and be able to look at you for further instruction.
There is some skills shifting around in the open water. Now Dive 1 will have skill performance requirement: this includes hand signal recognition, mask clear, regulator remove and clear, air management and buddy contact. Whereas in Dive 4, you will allow buddy team to plan and execute their dive, and you and/or your certified assistant will supervise though provide mininum guidance. You may have them to dive as a group or buddy team with you or your certified assistant. Ask your student divers to use the PADI Skill / Planning Slate. By the way, this slate WILL not come with any crew pack, and you have to order this slate separately. In fact it is not ‘required’ that your student diver to own this slate. In other word, you may order some stock and lend to your student diver when they are in the course. Again you may order this slate from Doug at PADI sales desk, and he also has a bundle package of the slate available. Any flexible skill you want your student divers to perform in this dive, it is recommended to perform at the beginning of the dive before the start of their planned dive. Of course with the exception of deploy SMB and safety stop. Talking about safety stop, in the new curriculum, all student divers need to perform a safety stop at 15ft / 5m during dive 4. Since this is remain as a flexible dive skill, you may ask your student diver to perform this skill and you evaluate their performance in other dive(s). But in any event they have to perform this skill again in Dive 4 even though they have already done it in Dive 2, or 3. However if you consider your student diver has master this skill and meet the performance requirement in previous dive of dive 4, you may have your certified assistant to surpervise and verify performance in water during dive 4.
Lastly, please don’t forget you have an option to perform the emergency weight drop skill during open water dive.
That is all about the PADI New / Revised Open Water Diver Course. Doug at PADI sales desk has packages avaliable for us instructor to update our teaching aid materials. These packages include bundle with CW and OW slate, DVD, manual and PLG. the new Prescriptive Lesson Guide is just awesome. Also the OW Touch will be available to purchase at a special rate when it is released.
See you next time 🙂

Edward

PADI New / Revised Open Water Divers Course Part 3

Let’s look at what has changed to the Confined Water section of the new / revised Open Water Diver Course. Obviously there are new skills introduced as well as there are enhancement of existing skills, also there are some shifting around of skills. Most interestingly PADI has introduce a divers skill practice / dive planning slate to the student divers. Yes, your student divers are going to carry a slate with them while they learn how to dive. Pencil is not included in the crew pack though so may be is time to stock up some pencils for your student divers to use or better yet stock up some slate and pencil packages and sell your student divers a set of those. On the skill practice slate, your student divers can check a happy face or so to speak a not too sure face on each of the skill you introduced to them. This will indicate to you what extra practice is required for any particular skill. These practice can be done with the supervision of you or your certified assistant. These practice are recommended to be done during the last confined water dive, the mini dive session. We will get into the mini dive a little later.
As for new skills, the first one is air management skill. Your student divers need to know their air pressure within 20 bar/300 psi. You or your certified assistant will ask your student divers’ air pressure. Your student divers without checking their gauge, they have to report their air pressure to you within the 20 bar/300 psi margin. Then you will verify your student divers’ pressure gauge. This skill will help your student divers building a habit of monitoring their own air pressure frequently. These have to be done not just in confined water, but also in open water dives.
Second new skill is Re-securing a loose cylinder band. This is a dive flexible skill and you have an option to do it at the surface or under water or both. Buddy assistance is permitted when this skill is performed. I believe this skill is a very realistic skill and in most case, we have been doing it in the legacy program anyway.
Third new skill is checking and adjusting trim. We will help the student divers to adjust the right amount of weight needed as well as help them to place and distribute their weight: weight belt, weight integrated pouch, trim weight pocket or ankle weight etc.
Forth new skill is proper lifting technique. Obviously this will be done before getting in the water during the donning equipment period. You will emphasize to student divers when lifting scuba equipment, they must bend at knee to lift.
Fifth skill is Emergency Weight Drop at surface. Please don’t get confused with Buoyancy Swimming Accent. This skill is to be done at the surface. Your student divers don’t need to drop all their weight but enough to gain positive at surface. They don’t necessary to drop both weight pouches if they are wearing weight integrated BC. It is a dive flexible skill and also you have an option to have your student divers to perform this skill either in confined water or open water depending on your logistic. If you worry about damaging the pool bottom while dropping weight, you may want to consider having a certified assistant to catch the weight below or place a mat or basket at the bottom of the pool. There is some suggestions in the PADI Guide to Teaching.
The followings are some enhanced skills:
Good Surface Habit – student divers to have mask on all the time, either regulator or snorkel in the mouth while at surface and be positive buoyant at surface;
Staying within Reach of Buddy;
Descend and Ascend using buoyant control – simulate environmentally sensitive bottom and instruct student divers not to touch the bottom while either descending or ascending;
Relax diaphragm rather than Hyperventilating while doing skin diving skill.
Shifted Skills:
Disconnect LP hose is now a dive flexible skill and can be perform in any confined water dive except for those Scuba Divers, they have to master this skill before certification;
Weight Remove and Replace is also now dive flexible skill. In fact you have an option to split this skill in weight replace and weight remove and perform in different time or different dive. For example, you may ask your student diver to wear their weight at surface too deep to stand when you start the dive, and ask your student divers to remove their weight before they exit by the end of the dive.
All of the above mentioned skills are performance requirement and please make sure every one master the skills before move on.
Last to mentioned is the mini dive. This is the time your student diver to use the other side of their slate: dive planning slate. This mini dive plan should really be very short and brief. It is to give your student divers a taste of planning their own dive. This will sure make the open water dive a lot smoother. Your student divers will team up in a buddy of maximum 3 and plan and execute their dive. They will have to plan their entry and exit, their return air pressure, but since this is confined water, you might want to assign their return air pressure. They will also plan for any emergency procedures such as buddy separation, out of air etc. This is also a great time to have your student divers to catch up with some of the skill practices. For those “not too sure” skill, this will be the perfect time to review and more practice. They may either work with you or your certified assistant. Also this will be a perfect time for your student divers to practice safety stop since this is a performance requirement in open water dive.
That will be it for Confined Water. We will further discuss Open Water in the next few days, most likely after I come back from Cayman :) . See ya ;)

PADI New / Revised Open Water Diver Course Part 2

Let’s look at what has changed in the Knowledge Development section of the new / Revised course.
The new curriculum assumes everyone is learning to use dive computer to dive, so all the “how to use and choose” dive computer information is included in the new manual. Hence the previous How to Use and Choose Dive Computer supplement is being eliminated. However for those who still fond of teaching RDP table or eRDPml, they can still order both crew pack from PADI. For these RDP fans, there is additional quiz and exam to cover the learnt material. Student divers have to earn 75% mark to master these quiz and exam and the score is calculated separated from the main exam. IOW, they have to score 75% on the exam as well 75% on the RDP exam. There is also a new dive computer simulator, a generic one and a specific one. So if you are selling exclusively Suunto Zoop DC, then you may want to set your student up with the Sunnto Zoop dive computer simulator. You will access this simulator through Scubaearth… yes, Scubaearth. You better get yourself setup at ScubaEarth. How the DC simulator is linked? Let’s stay tuned and find out In a later date…
Other than that, the curriculum content has also been shifted. Pressure, Volume, Density is now introduced first before Buoyancy. It make full sense since that will be a lot easier to explain how buoyancy work with the knowledge of pressure, volume and density. Gas narcorsis is now moved to Section 5. Air management is now strongly emphasized: planning dive, safety stop, turn pressure calculation. Lastly, the way questions asked in the Knowledge Review sections changed to more first person scenario.
OK, that is more or less it for Knowledge Development changes. Let’s look at changes in Confined Water tomorrow.

PADI New / Revised Open Water Diver Course Part 1

PADI has introduced their new and revised Open Water Diver Course back at last DEMA.  Open Water Diver Course is PADI’s flagship program. All these changes IMO has improved the quality of the course. The philosophy of this changes are based on training a more confident and competent diver. There are new imagery to all the teaching aid, models at both the manual and the video are wearing more modern (up to date) equipment setup. Last but not least, there is new delivery method being introduced. Besides the tradition OW video, manual and eLearning, an OW touch is going to be available beginning of the new year. A lot of people are excited about it… well it will available on iOS first then Android, Kindle follows. Why iOS first, because is PADI. Next issue, I will write about what is new and what has changed in the Knowledge Development session. Stay tuned…