For some time now, Innerspace Systems has been working on a Megalodon head called APECS 3 that supports integrated decompression. As with any major software / hardware engineering project, there have been some delays, which has Meg owners clambering for information about when it will come out. It’s amazing how so many of these rebreather divers are pestering the company and acting like a bunch of kids a few days before Christmas. What I don’t really understand is why people are so anxious.
It’s not that I wouldn’t like to have integrated deco, but I really don’t see it as being all that big a deal. When software gets more complex it also gets more buggy, which is why I’m pretty happy having a very basic loop controller. Keeping the deco on a different unit like a VR3 is a nice modular system, and besides, I don’t really even use the computer on really deep dives.
When I plan a bigger dive, I do it like this:
Work out the details on the laptop
Cut the tables and laminate them (wrist mounted slate)
Cut bailout tables and laminate them (also on wrist)
Do the dive as it was planned and as it appears on my wrist.
While I use the computer to validate my deco schedule, it is really only there for backup.
Again, it would be nice to have integrated deco, but IMHO, you should not do big dives if you can’t maintain a setpoint. Provided you can, or even if you depend on your loop controller to do it, your actual setpoint will match that on your computer. Everything should jive and you can validate the deco schedule on your wrist.
It’s tempting just to jump in, do a gnarly dive and depend on your computer to get you out of it, but doing so ignores some of the basic safety precautions of technical diving like proper gas management, which is a risk that I really don’t feel comfortable taking.
Because many of the dive sites I love require travel, and because a full-blowen technical diving expedition for open circuit diving requires a sometimes prohibitively large volume of helium and pure oxygen, I made the decision some time ago to get into rebreather diving.
Many of the people I dive with have been using them for some time now, and as a result many of the technical trips are targeted at rebreather divers only. This largely left me out in the cold because there was never enough helium and O2 around for me to do many serious dives.
The only question was which rebreather to buy. I flirted briefly with the Inspiration (Yellow Box Of Debt), but it’s harness system didn’t really fit my needs, and you need to get the vision electronics package to really make it cool. This will set you back $10,000, and it still requires a number of modifications to really make the unit sing.
I really like the PRISM Topaz by Steam Machines. It has a really nice radial scrubber, and the fact that you can still read the secondary display even with a total electronics failure is a huge bonus. Ultimately I decided against it though, because I didn’t like the idea of using only the Heads Down Display for my primary instrumentation.
In the end, the ISC Megalodon won out because of its very solid feature set. It has two nice readable displays as well as a Heads Up Display. It is made out of aluminum rather than plastic, and the cylinders are solidly mounted to the unit with Tiger Gear hard mounts. This makes the system extremely modular as you can use any cylinders you like. It is also nice that my dive buddies are using them.
My unit will be ready for me in late February, and I will be taking the training from Leon (ISC CEO) directly.