I stopped by Scubapix today to pickup some parts and suffered a serious case of “pressure pot” man-envy. Peter’s new pot is a monster, capable of fitting a full size DSLR with grips and can go to 120-150m; depending on your level of fear. It’s quite a handy device when you do any bulkhead changes to a DSLR, or when you’re just not sure if things are 100%. I took the opportunity to test both my Aquatica rigs after a few changes to the bulkhead configurations.
If you’re in Cairns, give Pete a visit at Scubapix whether you need to use his pot (he takes payment in beer), or need to pickup a new DSLR housing or accessory.
Here’s my top to underwater GoPro tips:
- Get a flat lens (Hero 1-2) – you’ll need an aftermarket flat lens to use the GoPro standard housing underwater. They all work pretty well, though watch out for vignetting (blacked out) corners. Alternatively get the GoPro Dive Housing. Note that the newer Hero3 standard housing is good to go out of the box.
- Secure it – tether your GoPro underwater; the standard mounting system is pretty good, though has been known to fail unexpectedly.
- Turn off the LCD – turn off the LCD BacPac when you don’t need it, it sucks the life out of the battery.
- Get close – you’ve heard it before, get close to your subject, then get closer.
- Stabilise Yourself – save the roller coaster rides for the theme park, stabilise yourself and trim your buoyancy before shooting video.
- Avoid Exposure Shifts – the GoPro doesn’t handle big shifts in exposure; lights and darks don’t get along so well, so try and avoid this.
- Feed it light – without enough light the Hero dies (just joking, it just struggles with exposure). Feed it rich light, and it’ll return nice saturated colour. Use wide angle video lights or stick to kiddy pool depths.
- Use filters wisely – filters can make or break you, so use the right type of filter for your colour water and stick to the shallows.
- Point of View – use them for what they’re designed for; capture the world from a point of view – it needn’t be your own.
- Hog the glory – edit your video so that is tells a story, and share it with the world, or at least your friends on Vimeo.com.
I’m a grown man, and I pissed myself. There, I’ve said it!
Before I begin my rant, here’s Pee-valve 101 for the uninitiated. You put a one-way pee-valve in your drysuit, put a disposable, self-adhesive condom style device over your you know what, and connect the two via a hose. All going well, you’re able to take a leak with your drysuit on (above and below water). There are pitfalls however, including kinked hoses, complex shut-off valves (see below), and the mythical bug that can swim through the valve, up the hose and into your penis (I still get shivers about that one!). You might think YUCK, but when you’ve got to go on a 4-5 hour dive, something has to give. The alternative is adult nappies, to which I say YUCK. For the laddies, I’m aware of a device called the She-p, however I’m woefully unqualified to provide an opinion.
With my brand new drysuit zipped up, I jumped in the water and began to relieve myself. Immediately I thought “OOOH NO! – there’s too much back pressure”. Moments later I came to the realisation that I had urinated inside the drysuit and had to face the ridicule of my peers, all of whom laughed as they heard me scream like a girl on the surface next to the boat.
Some say I’m incontinent, but I deny those rumours and am blaming the poor instructions that accompanied my Si-Tech pee-valve. Before you ask, I read the instructions thoroughly, which stated “Push the lid down and turn to close (off) and turn top open (on). When using, turn the valve open and then urinate.”. “Turn top to open “, what the hell does that mean? What they neglected to say was that the valve has 3 states, fully left is closed, full right is closed, and open is in the middle. Like any normal person, I assumed that a turning mechanism would use the same logic of “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, which was a mistake!
To be fair to Si-Tech, I’ll add that on subsequent dives I have used the device and am now master of my domain. I’m far from an expert on the topic, but have used a few models to date including the Dive Rite and OMS ones. I can’t tell you which is better, as all the balanced models seem to work, though the Si-Tech model does seem to have the need to check for an open state.
So be warned kids, if you choose to plumb yourself into such a device, you may want to test it by blowing through the hose prior to soiling it. Oh, and before you ask where to buy the condom things from, I get mine from brightsky.com.au in Oz.
Here’s the nerd coming out in me, but after missing out on a deep dive because someone had the wrong marks I’m now taking control of the situation. I was going to buy a GPS, but after some research I found out that Navionics make an IPAD App that is basically a full blown chart plotter and GPS for $45. It includes Australian and New Zealand waters, and is very detailed in terms of chart plotter information. I’ve only used the app out in the wild once thus far, but it paid for itself and certainly helped us located and dive a new wreck.
The only issue I’ve found with the app is that it doesn’t bulk import marks from other sources, so you have to enter this manually but it’s not the end of the world. You can export anything that you enter or snapshot though.
I posted a review mini review of the Shearwater Predator on my old site. Unfortunately that’s gone now, but I’ll sum it up by saying that my opinion of the Predator and Shearwater Research as a company is very high. My Predator, which began life as a Pursuit and was upgraded, works like a charm. Warranty and support from the factory and their distributed service team is also excellent.
I noticed this morning that they have just released a new stand alone computer, the Shearwarter Petrel. I’ve not seen one in the flesh yet, but they look great. The reduction in size and ability to run of a normal AA batteries is a big plus in my book. No doubt the model is designed at attacking the competition’s with the LiquiVision Xeo and Heinrich Weingkamp’s OSTC 2N; both also very good looking computers.
Firstly, my apologies for the state of this website.
I’m in the process of building a new site after an online hosting disaster.I’ll stop there though, so as not to incriminate the guilty.
Please check back later when I’ve got some content and images up, for go to Facebook or flickr.