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Thread: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

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    RBW Member tele is an unknown quantity at this point tele's Avatar
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    Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    I've had an Inspo classic sitting in a box for a good while. When I picked it up I also picked up a set of Hammerhead controllers with replacement lid for the Inspo. Life got in the way, never got around to getting certed. After talking to people again I get the horror stories. I understand that there are corrosion issues, and a dissimilar metal issue with the battery cap. I've heard a range of things from it's not a big deal to they're instant death.

    A. How bad are these controllers? Is there software issues? Serious code bugs? Battery issue the only issue? One thing I was told is a dielectric compound is normally applied to the threads to help with conductivity.

    B. Are the insides really potted?

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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    There were different generations of metal handsets. I had nickel plated ones, later upgraded to anodized aluminum, and then finally upgraded to delrin. I had several problems with all the metal handsets. I went through intersema pressure transducers like candy. And I had leaks that required sending the head and handsets back on several occasions. All of those problems disappeared after the delrin upgrade. But of course the problems I had might just have been coincidental.

    There was a dissimilar metal issue with the battery cap. I used Noalox on it to eliminate the aluminum oxide buildup. Very cheap and easy form of prevention.

    There was only one notable "bug" with the software that became sort of a joke among divers. The deco algorithm would get stuck at the final 1 minute at 10 feet/3m. You could be there for an hour unless you raised your arm up above 3m and then it would clear. It was not a big issue, but we always wondered why it couldn't be corrected.

    The battery issues were related to having a single AA battery running the computer, solenoid, and backlight. If the battery had marginal power and you did anything to activate the backlight at the same time the solenoid fired, it could cause a reboot of the computer. The workaround for this was to squirt a little O2 by MAV before pressing any buttons in the handset in order to make sure the solenoid didn't need to fire. Also keeping batteries fresh or fully charged. And finally they came out with a replacement handset that used a larger battery. I never bothered with the upgrade.

    The cable might be potted but the inside of the handsets is not.

    Hope that helps.


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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Hey there:

    First: There are still Metal Wrist Units out in the world being dived - we still get Upgrade requests, and we can see how many hours these units have on them.

    Second - True Story Time: The first Acrylic Wrist Units were designed by a brilliant engineer/machinist named Scott Koplin. The inspiration for the wrist units was early work done for me by Alex Varouxis of Associated Design, as well as the early iMac designs by Apple - I'm a fan of their design work - (speaking of Alex: He's one of the unsung hero's of the early days of the CCR biz - Alex designed so many things that are still out there and in production that it's amazing he doesn't get his own Star on the CCR Walk of Fame...).

    They worked really well to 100m, but, of course, we had some folks who wanted to take them deeper (if you look on the early Acrylic units, you'll see there is a o-ring screw located on the top which appears to serve no purpose. The "purpose" was to allow Mineral Oil to be filled into the wrist unit after assembly so the unit could - theoretically - be taken very, very deep).

    One of those guys who wanted to go deep was Dave Shaw. Dave used to call me a couple times a week just to yak and talk about CCR diving, and he had this "big project" he wanted to do but didn't divulge the nature of it.

    One day, Dave calls me and tells me about this mongo dive he did in South Africa - 890 feet deep. He hadn't told me about it beforehand because as he said "I knew you'd be pissed and try to talk me out of it". I assured him he was right, and that it was a nutty thing to do. Well, he was going back - and asked me if I could design and build him a set which could do 1000 feet. Again, I castigated him to the best of my ability about deep diving, etc, but I also knew that he wasn't the only one who was taking our stuff to extraordinary depths.

    Most of you know what happened next, thanks to the BBC and Outdoor Magazine - it was a terrible loss for everyone, and nearly cost Don Shirley his life - however, Dave's Acrylic Primary survived the crushing depth, and was still functioning a couple of days later when they recovered his body - Don Shirley's Secondary also survived (his Primary imploded because some of the Mineral Oil had leaked out when he was doing a repair at the dive site, and the tiny air bubble in the set was enough to cause the plastic to fail catastrophically at 800 feet).

    Meanwhile, I had a new engineer (who shall remain nameless for reasons you'll see below) design me a Metal Wrist Unit set which could handle 1000 feet of pressure. The idea was to design something that could withstand the pressure, but be small and light enough for divers to wear. The initial test batches were Nickel Plated, and were absolutely beautiful, in a Terminator 2 kinda way. We build a fairly elaborate Salt Water Test Tank in the shop and run them in there for a week with current flowing through the sets to verify they do not corrode. They come out as beautiful at the end as they went in. Awesome.

    Now, this engineer/machinist was located in Louisiana and did a lot of work for the offshore oil industry, which is an important point. I issue a contract to this guy to deliver 600 sets of Wrist Units, and pay him 1/2 up front to get him going. I inform many of my customers, including Dive Rite of the cool new stuff coming, which creates demand, as we all know in the dive biz.

    One day, I walk into my office, and there is a message on my answering machine (I'm not making this up). It goes like this: BEEP: "Hello, Mr. Juergensen, this is Wanda ------, I'm Mike -------'s wife. I'm calling to inform you that he is....um.... presently in Jail....um, and that I don't know if he's gonna, um.... ever get out. He got arrested, um..... for having a bunch of Meth, and I think, um.... he was selling some too. Um, please call me if you want..." BEEP.

    Imagine my face when I hear this. Half my money is out to this guy, and according to his wife, he's in Jail and probably won't get out. I call her, and I guess this guy was able to run his machine shop all night long by doing Meth (something I've been told by other machinists isn't all that unusual in some places).

    So - I'm NOT getting my parts from this guy - his wife says that after he got hauled away, his employees all came into the shop and looted all his tools and some of his equipment that wasn't bolted down too hard. What am I going to do now? I'm out something like $50k to this guy, and all I have are some MasterCam files which are not usable, as it turns out.

    Well, I was also working with Carleton on the US Navy gig, so I went to the Engineering Firm we had doing our FMECA work for the Navy electronics and asked them if they had any Mechanical Engineering folks to refer me to. They did, and so we began a re-engineering of the metal Wrist Units with this new firm.

    HOWEVER........ This firm knew nothing about the Oil and Gas industry, and even less about Salt Water. *I* didn't know that either - I had (mistakenly) assumed that Nickel Plating = Nickel Plating, but nooooooo. It isn't the same. High Phosphorus Nickel Plating is what the first guy had been doing, since he knew how to work with Oil Rigs and Salt Water - this new group did not specify anything about that when they had my sets Nickel plated.

    So - the sets arrive - finally! They are indeed beautiful. We start building them like crazy since there is so much pent-up demand for these things. We're shipping them out to everyone, and building Optima heads like crazy.

    Then, I gets me a phone call.... From my buddy, Charlie Hunter in Hawaii. It goes something like this: "Dude, I have a question for you. Why does my handset fizz when I go diving?" I assure him that this can't possibly be happening - maybe he has something else stuck to his wrist unit? "I'll check it next time I go diving" he says.

    Maybe the next day, or a couple of days after that, I get another call from Charlie: "Dude, it's fizzing like an Alka Seltzer." "That' can't be" I say. "I made a video of it, dude" says Charlie. I get the video, and there is no denying it - the thing is fizzing - not quite as bad as he says, but bad enough that there is something not right.

    I will admit, it took me a while to realize that Charlie's set wasn't just an isolated incident. There was something wrong with the Nickel Plating. Turns out, it was NOT high phosphorous Nickel - no one in Utah (where the work was done) had any idea about Salt Water corrosion.

    Immediately, I call the engineering company, and have an urgent discussion - this plating is not going to cause any problems with the sets leaking, but it makes them fugly. We change a couple things with the sets: The Face Plates and Battery Caps will now be 316 Stainless. The bodies will be Hard Anodized and Teflon Coated, the screw holes for the Faceplate Mounting Screws will be enlarged to allow 316 Stainless Helicoils to be installed, with Carbon Grease to prevent galling.

    We swap out nearly every set out there (we still see some to this day come in for upgrades that have hundreds of hours on them, but look like hell).

    These wrist units do very well out in the world. We did have some issues with the Pressure Transducers, as Ken said BUT, that had nothing to do with us or the design - it had to do with the Pressure Transducer design itself, which I hasten to point out, EVERYONE had problems with (everyone in our biz used the same transducer). In fact, one afternoon I got into a pitched screaming-fest with the President of the company in Switzerland who manufactured them, whereupon he ordered his entire sales staff to "never sell to Juergensen again!!" which was funny because his local distributor and I were very close, and even though he was told never to sell to me again, he still did. Furthermore - the "A" version of this product got quickly changed to a "B" version which had a different adhesive holding down the stainless ring on the ceramic substrate (EXACTLY what I told the Pres. of the company was wrong with his product), and eventually the current "C" version which is an even better adhesive that has better thermal characteristics (to the rest of the dive computer industry - you are welcome - I took one for the team there...).

    Meanwhile - I was working closely with my good friend, Jakub Rehacek of Golem Gear, and he introduced me to the incredible Bretislav Vaisar - a master designer, machinist, and (more importantly) Diver. I communicated all my experience through years of wrist unit development to Bretislav (through Jakub, since Bretislav was still learning Engligh) and he designed all our versions of wrist units, as well as the Hammerhead CCR. We continue to work with Bretislav to this very day.

    So there is the very long answer about the Metal Wrist Units.

    As I get older, and more time passes, I realize that a lot of these stories are not generally known by the diving public, and I will endeavor to try and write about them. A lot of this stuff is known by my friends (who's ears I bend in times of crisis), but are good illustrations of what goes on behind the curtain to try and bring good equipment to divers. It's not all roses, that is for sure, and I'll bet if other manufacturers told some of their own "horror stories" it would make a pretty good book.

    For my own part - I keep a well documented "Shelf Of Shame" in my warehouse. On it are all my "Great Ideas" that failed miserably. I use it for educating new engineers about how "we tried this in 2002, and it caught fire underwater" and also to keep myself from thinking I'm all that smart...

    And now you know the story behind two shiny rectangular boxes that have a prominent position on that shelf...

    Kevin Juergensen
    Juergensen Marine, Inc.

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    RBW Member tele is an unknown quantity at this point tele's Avatar
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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Wow! Thanks for the all the info! I'll have to look to see which version I have. Do people coat them with anything to protect the plating? Mine look perfect to my memory (maybe it was polished before I bought it, who knows.)

    Also, I have no plans to do extreme depths.

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    RBW Member markdol2 is an unknown quantity at this point markdol2's Avatar
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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Great story kevin,thanks for sharing what others dont have the hutzpa or are afraid to!

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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    If they are the Teflon coated Hard Anodized models, you don't have to coat them with anything.

    Here are some pix I dug up from my archives:

    Proto2.jpgAnodized3.jpgAnodized2.jpgAnodized1.jpgCorrosion.jpgNickel2.jpgNickel.jpgProto3.jpgNixHH.jpgProto1.jpgAcrylic.jpg

    So, I can't figure out how to run these things in order - but you got:

    1) Acrylic Units showing how cool they looked when new. Remember: These bad boys went to 900 ffw with Dave Shaw and Don Shirley

    2) The ever handsome Mark Nix wearing his Hammerhead Inspiration with the HH Acrylic Wrist Units (this was in Advanced Diver Magazine and made Mark rich and famous).

    3) Prototype Aluminum Units - the early version - these were too bulky, but the Nickel Plating was bulletproof.

    4) Production Nickel Units - Sooooo Preeeettttyyy.... My precious...

    5) Ahhhhh! What happened?? Corrosion of the Nickel units. Extreme Version.

    6) Hard Anodized Units. Way cool.

    7) Delrin Unit prototype.

    And I'm not even showing the other multitude of versions we've tried. Like they say, learning how NOT to make something is often more valuable than learning HOW to make something...

    Kevin.

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    RBW Member whynot? will become famous soon enough whynot? will become famous soon enough whynot? will become famous soon enough whynot? will become famous soon enough whynot?'s Avatar
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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    I will admit, it took me a while to realize that Charlie's set wasn't just an isolated incident. There was something wrong with the Nickel Plating. Turns out, it was NOT high phosphorous Nickel - no one in Utah (where the work was done) had any idea about Salt Water corrosion.

    Funny Kev, I had the exact SAME problem with a chrome shop in SLC (Salt Lake Chrome Plating- absolute bozos!). The job was absolute shit on my conshelf regs and the guy who was supposed to be their "chrome expert" was either sniffing to much of the chemicals used in the chrome process or a total meth-head. Either way he f-ed up 4 sets of 1st and 2nd stages and then proceeded to try and charge me. What is it with guys who plate????

    Great reading your history of the handsets, always love hearing about your experiences, Hope all is well with you.

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    RBW Member AQUANOMAD is an unknown quantity at this point AQUANOMAD's Avatar
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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Kevin. Your the best. I always enjoy reading your posts. I think a documentary is in order on your life in diving!

    Sent from my SM-G360T using Tapatalk

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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Quote Originally Posted by tele  View Original Post
    Wow! Thanks for the all the info! I'll have to look to see which version I have. Do people coat them with anything to protect the plating? Mine look perfect to my memory (maybe it was polished before I bought it, who knows.)

    Also, I have no plans to do extreme depths.
    You might want to think about sticking a sacrificial anode on the metal unit like they do on ships? If you get it right (periodic table - there you go) you should resolve the corrosion issue or at least minimise it, if you remember to replace it regularly. Just a thought that might help.

    I've not had any show stopping experiences with my Hammerheads; I currently have three one Inspo Classic (rev C), a Hammer cave meg (Rev c and rev D) and one of Golem gear's side mount units (rev C and Rev D). Yes I have had to send the units back for service and or upgrade over time - I think about 3 times since 2007ish. Two eyars ago, I had a depth sensor fail on the Hammer Meg after I had just bought it but as you are now aware, only a few companies make these things and Jeurgenson marine is not one of them - I sent the unit off to KJ and upgraded my secondary to rev D at the same time. I really liked the Acylic handsets I originally hand on my classic, loved the Rev Cs I upgraded to and think those Rev D handsets and HUD are the bee's knees. Can't think of any other electronics out there I would switch to.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hammerhead Controllers, Metal ones, What's the low down?

    Quote Originally Posted by AQUANOMAD  View Original Post
    Kevin. Your the best. I always enjoy reading your posts. I think a documentary is in order on your life in diving!
    Sent from my SM-G360T using Tapatalk
    Maybe Kevin has heard of this great documentary company... I think their website is something like 'electricfilm.com' or some such...

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