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Thread: Is a rebreather for me

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    RBW Member chaetodon is an unknown quantity at this point chaetodon's Avatar
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    Is a rebreather for me

    Hi to all rebreather divers, I have some questions asking for some advice from the more experienced rebreather divers. To fill you in first, I am a professional diver who lives in Australia, I collect and study marine fish. I have been diving for about 45 years on SSBA and sometimes OC scuba (this gives away my age). I have been doing long stints on air at relatively shallow depths compared to rebreather divers. 60-80 feet generally, sometimes 90 feet. Depending on the dive I do a stop and then finish on O2 at 10 feet, if itís a long dive I do 25 minutes O2 back on air for 5-10 then O2 again. Recently I have been using nitrox which I should have started using years ago. This has been a great benefit to me especially for the depths I work at. My question is relevant to a statement I see posted often. ďIs a rebreather for meĒ
    The two benefits it will give me are enormous. That is, no bubbles so I can get closer to the fish, and secondly, maximum allowable dive time. The negatives however may outweigh the benefits, so begs my question. I have read quite a bit so far and see that good or new gear goes a long way and more importantly a thorough understanding of whatís going on, monitoring my PPO2 regularly and CO2 throughout the dive. I understand the dangers of CNS O2 toxicity and also the added dangers associated with rebreathers, hypoxia and CO2 build up. The basic theory of rebreathing I see is simple, yet I realise I do need to study and understand more the chemical reaction process of the scrubber materials, O2 sensors, calibrations, understanding O2 and diluent feed valves etc etc etc. This and becoming familiar with every component of the particular unit I decide to buy. I imagine itís a must to do a rebreather course or at least learn with someone that has a lot of experience?

    One problem would be for me is I donít want to be geared up like Neil Armstrong. I appreciate tech divers (cave and deep divers) need to have everything available to them because there is no way out! Divers have to rely on their gear, have enough bailout gas and buddy. It is a little different for me as I can bail out easy from the shallower depths. Finally, I am happy and diligent enough to put the time in to check that the gear is set up properly and do my pre-dive checklist. However, I hope that during the dive I can rely on a regular ritual of looking at my PO analysers without having to do much else? How frequently do I need to do this? I understand there are warning alarms on the shearwater controllers. Are these the controllers the best investment to suit my diving (More electronics some say is more to go wrong) If I see there is a problem (which I hope is not too frequent with a good rebreather) I can easily bailout. I was thinking of a simple setup such as a KISS or similar (I feel I need a streamline non bulky set up, because I have collecting equipment to carry as well), but If there is too much rocket science to worry about during a dive, such as if I have one with less electronics to worry about but find I am dealing with more calculations and manual things to do during my dive, maybe a rebreather is not going to benefit me? There are things which I need to do during my dive, so I canít have my dive revolve around the rebreather. I am hoping simple checks will allow me to get my job done and if there is an alert I can bail out? Forgive my naivety I am still learning about these life support systems. Any input or advice is appreciated.

  2. #2
    RBW Member Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    As you have mentioned there is a list of pros and cons for switching to a RB.

    A RB is definitely more complicated and not as safe as OC. That is why we carry OC for bailout. Generally speaking you can get about 3 hours at 70' without any deco obligation and this would only require minimum BO, vs. several tanks to be underwater for 3 hours at 200'.

    It will be a risk vs. reward factor that only you can decide upon. If you do make the leap, I would recommend a HUD of some sort. You can never go wrong with anything made by Shearwater.

    Perhaps join in a try dive event in the future to get a feel for what is involved.

  3. #3
    RBW Member broncobowsher is on a distinguished road broncobowsher is on a distinguished road broncobowsher's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    Sounds like you are a fairly good candidate. I find a rebreather not much different is complexity than a set of doubles with a stage bottle. And a whole lot lighter as well. With the profiles you listed, it's just a rebreather with a bail out. You are not needing multiple bail out gasses. You are already very aware of what you need to know.


    Keep researching it, find a try dive if you can. I think you will like it.

  4. #4
    New Member Bazza has a spectacular aura about Bazza has a spectacular aura about Bazza has a spectacular aura about Bazza has a spectacular aura about Bazza has a spectacular aura about Bazza's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    Mate .... go SCR !

    At present AUP (Oceanic) in Oz have a stack of Explorers in their warehouse collecting dust as the product has been abandoned by Hollis - a bargain asking to be collected.

    The SCR solves an awful lot of the problems you describe , if you use it just for the work you describe. I am not a great fan of gas extenders myself but for what you're doing it fits the bill nicely.

    The other option would be to pickup an old Inspo Classic ( just check the handsets for cracks before you buy). For Oz$1500 you can pick up a unit in good nick and then try it out for size. If it does the job then you have a cheap solution if not you've not wasted much dosh - tax write off.

    More than willing to help you out if you want it ... regards Baz

  5. #5
    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: Is a rebreather for me

    Balance the cost of training, consumables, rig annual maintenance etc. Does it add it up to a cost/benefit for you? If so, I'd say do a try-dive with the rig you are interested in. If not, I'd say stay OC, much cheaper and easier especially if you travel. They aren't cheap and unless you dive regularly with one, you are pissin' your money away by owning one. Just look at how many guys are trying to unload theirs on RBW, Fleabay etc. I'd also stay away from the POSeidon rigs...

    Now if you are a trust-fund guy with a deep bank account... I'd say jump in!

  6. #6
    RBW Member chaetodon is an unknown quantity at this point chaetodon's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    Thanks for the feedback guys this sounds good, I looked up HUDís (Thanks Dsix36) which seems simpler and more compact than the larger screen display. A try dive would be nice but a pool dive might not help much, most of the training in Australia is in the south of the country 1,000 miles from me. There is one club here in Brisbane but they charge $2,000 just for the course and then that is for a particular RB, add extras to hire gear boat dive etc. Then a new RB is between $8.5K and $12K Australian dollars which is not much better than $US exchange. (Yes expensive whynot? But could still be worth it for me, itís how I make my living)

    A couple of further questions. There is a minefield of RBís out there and I suppose everyone has their favourites. Can you narrow some down for me?
    I guess I could go with whatever parts and service is available here in Australia, although it wouldnít bother me to import parts I need from the USA.
    I am fairly handy so I could learn to service them myself? I am familiar with O2 sensors and know they need regular replacement but what other commonly perishable parts are there that start getting expensive?
    To narrow down my questions there are a lot of used RBís here for sale around the $2-3k mark.
    This could be a good saving but I may find out I have to replace $3k worth of parts. If I go down this path can you advise what to look out for? If I buy new I guess I am going to get a good run from a unit before expensive replacements are needed. I will try to find a rebreather diver over here that needs a buddy perhaps so I can absorb more info. It is harder over here, not as many people are doing it in my area. Can you also advise the best nuts and bolts bible to study RBís that would be a practical starter for me? Not getting in to the rocket science of Trimix just yet (but maybe one day). Cheers guys and thanks for the feedback.

    P.S. Question: If I have an unobservable triple O2 sensor failure or electronics, with O2 toxicity there are usually some tell-tale symptoms, at least in shallower water, I have experienced high PPO2 (I donít make a habit of it). I imagine hypoxia has no warning and is straight out death? With CO2 toxicity would a warning sign be shortness of breath? I am just interested, not about to experiment with myself.

    BAZZA... I looked up some footage of the Hollis, it would be perfect (and safe) for nitrox but from what I see from you tube it is far from bubble free, unless I could close the loop occasionally for a short time and then do a complete flush, this would be a great method but I donít know enough yet, this could probably be a dangerous practice? I have spent years collecting fish on OC so I donít know the difference yet between the bubbles scaring fish from OC to SCR to CCR because I havenít tested an RB to find out. The most important thing for me is not scaring fish rather than long dive time on one cylinder. Just recently I have been using a 50 litre cylinder with nitrox and hookah hose and I also have scuba cylinders. Before this I spent as long as possible on SSBA petrol driven hookah compressor. I have no limit to dive time as it is, barring my decompression limits. I can come up after a couple of hours have some surface time and do a repetitive dive. I looked up your website already before I joined RB forum, thanks for the offer to help pick out a unit, sounds like you can help save me some dollars I appreciate it, I will give you a call.

  7. #7
    RBW Member haaginheimer is an unknown quantity at this point haaginheimer's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    If just going recreational. Look for something lightweight and easily serviced. For Aus I would think any AP unit is a good start



    Quote Originally Posted by chaetodon  View Original Post
    Thanks for the feedback guys this sounds good, I looked up HUDís (Thanks Dsix36) which seems simpler and more compact than the larger screen display. A try dive would be nice but a pool dive might not help much, most of the training in Australia is in the south of the country 1,000 miles from me. There is one club here in Brisbane but they charge $2,000 just for the course and then that is for a particular RB, add extras to hire gear boat dive etc. Then a new RB is between $8.5K and $12K Australian dollars which is not much better than $US exchange. (Yes expensive whynot? But could still be worth it for me, itís how I make my living)

    A couple of further questions. There is a minefield of RBís out there and I suppose everyone has their favourites. Can you narrow some down for me?
    I guess I could go with whatever parts and service is available here in Australia, although it wouldnít bother me to import parts I need from the USA.
    I am fairly handy so I could learn to service them myself? I am familiar with O2 sensors and know they need regular replacement but what other commonly perishable parts are there that start getting expensive?
    To narrow down my questions there are a lot of used RBís here for sale around the $2-3k mark.
    This could be a good saving but I may find out I have to replace $3k worth of parts. If I go down this path can you advise what to look out for? If I buy new I guess I am going to get a good run from a unit before expensive replacements are needed. I will try to find a rebreather diver over here that needs a buddy perhaps so I can absorb more info. It is harder over here, not as many people are doing it in my area. Can you also advise the best nuts and bolts bible to study RBís that would be a practical starter for me? Not getting in to the rocket science of Trimix just yet (but maybe one day). Cheers guys and thanks for the feedback.

    P.S. Question: If I have an unobservable triple O2 sensor failure or electronics, with O2 toxicity there are usually some tell-tale symptoms, at least in shallower water, I have experienced high PPO2 (I donít make a habit of it). I imagine hypoxia has no warning and is straight out death? With CO2 toxicity would a warning sign be shortness of breath? I am just interested, not about to experiment with myself.

    BAZZA... I looked up some footage of the Hollis, it would be perfect (and safe) for nitrox but from what I see from you tube it is far from bubble free, unless I could close the loop occasionally for a short time and then do a complete flush, this would be a great method but I donít know enough yet, this could probably be a dangerous practice? I have spent years collecting fish on OC so I donít know the difference yet between the bubbles scaring fish from OC to SCR to CCR because I havenít tested an RB to find out. The most important thing for me is not scaring fish rather than long dive time on one cylinder. Just recently I have been using a 50 litre cylinder with nitrox and hookah hose and I also have scuba cylinders. Before this I spent as long as possible on SSBA petrol driven hookah compressor. I have no limit to dive time as it is, barring my decompression limits. I can come up after a couple of hours have some surface time and do a repetitive dive. I looked up your website already before I joined RB forum, thanks for the offer to help pick out a unit, sounds like you can help save me some dollars I appreciate it, I will give you a call.

  8. #8
    Fake Diver Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    get a KISS GEM, uses your existing OC gear, single tank, turns a faber 95 into 4 hours of diving, with the tiniest bit of bubbles.

    If you were tech diving,then CCR< but for recreational use, an SCR cant be beat. I dove one for a year until I transitioned into tech diving.

  9. #9
    RBW Member chaetodon is an unknown quantity at this point chaetodon's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Pack  View Original Post
    get a KISS GEM, uses your existing OC gear, single tank, turns a faber 95 into 4 hours of diving, with the tiniest bit of bubbles.

    If you were tech diving,then CCR< but for recreational use, an SCR cant be beat. I dove one for a year until I transitioned into tech diving.
    Hi Jeff, I looked at a few you tubes on the Hollis and I don't know if it was the user or the unit but they had a steady stream of bubbles ( although mostly small but not always) my main objective was not to scare fish so I thought no bubbles would be the best. CCR obviously gets more complicated. If I could close circuit for just a short time while I round up a fish so I have no bubbles for a short time and flush, then these kind of units would be ideal for me. I haven't seen much footage on the GEM but I guess it is constantly feeding small amounts of gas in the loop relative to my metabolism. Sometimes I exert a bit of energy so then the more I breathe the more bubbles I would make. Hard for me to know how effective my idea is without actually using one. With your experience have you noticed are the fish bothered at all by the small stream of bubbles compared to the CCR?

  10. #10
    Fake Diver Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack will become famous soon enough Jeff Pack's Avatar
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    Re: Is a rebreather for me

    Its a tiny stream of bubbles when you breath. Its certainly not as good as CCR, but you have to balance the expense, time, and higher risk of CCR versus SCR, which is really rock solid.

    I wouldnt suggest the Hollis though, the GEM is very simple, the only electronics is what drives a single cell PPO display. Thats it.

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