Do You Know Your ‘O’ Ring From Your Elbow?
From the moment you began your open water course you realized scuba diving is an equipment intensive sport. There are essential equipment items such as regulators, BCDs and cylinders, as well as lots of accessory equipment such as underwater torches, reels not to mention modern day essentials such as dive computers.
You may remember reading about it in the PADI Open Water diver manual section on Diving Equipment. Here we look at Caring for Scuba Equipment, Choosing Scuba Equipment as well as discussing basic features. You would have completed the multiple choice exercises in the manual, as well as answered the odd question on your quizzes and final exams.
Most scuba divers don’t really know much about their equipment and are often reluctant to learn for fear of not understanding and a common misconception that it’s all very complicated.
Have you ever been curious about how your regulator works? Maybe you’ve overheard your instructor tell you ‘small bubbles no troubles’, thinking ‘how do they know that?’
Well these are just some of the things you will learn if you complete the PADI Equipment Specialist course. We will teach you basic problem solving, maintenance and repair for BCDs and regulators as well as common problems associated with fins, masks and even scuba tanks.
Having this knowledge is invaluable and will make sure your dive trip runs smoothly and you don’t miss out on any of the exciting stuff over a small problem that is simple to rectify, like a leaking tank or regulator O ring!
Crystal Equipment Legend – ‘Kiwi’
At Crystal Dive we have our very own equipment guru; Kelvin Morris, better known to the Crystal Crew as ‘Kiwi’. Kiwi has been at Crystal Dive for almost 10 years and is one of the most experienced instructors on Koh Tao, certifying thousands of student divers.
Although Kiwi loves teaching scuba diving, he also loves anything equipment related and is our main man when it comes to teaching the PADI Equipment specialist course.
A fully certified Service Technician, Kiwi goes above and beyond the minimum requirements when teaching the course.
He’ll show you how to disassemble, service and reassemble un-balanced and balanced regulators, so if you own your own set of kit you will be able to fix any problems you may have with it.
Just Add Water!
The main brand of scuba equipment we use is Mares. Mares are one of the largest and most successful producers of scuba equipment in the world. They manufacture everything from regulators and BCDs to dive computers to masks and snorkels.
The Mares Rover brand is one of the most popular for dive schools throughout the world. Having knowledge about their equipment, how it functions and how to service it will be an extra feather in the cap for anyone looking to work in the scuba industry as a professional diver.
If you want to become an expert then consider becoming a Mares technician like Kiwi (who is also a certified technician for two of the other major brands). This will make you the go to guy for your dive buddies and much more employable to prospective employers.
On The Tools In The Bat Cave!
The Equipment Specialist course itself is conducted over a full day in our own workshop affectionately known as Kiwi’s ‘Bat Cave’. This is a fully tooled scuba diving workshop.
Kiwi will take you through scuba cylinders, regulators, BCDs and instrumentation. You will learn all you need to know from simple things like replacing a mask strap, or tank O Ring, to how to solve free flowing regulators and then progressing to completing a full service on a regulator set.
Be prepared to roll your sleeves up, nick a finger when getting off tiny swivel O rings and getting a sweat on as you hang onto the other end of Kiwi’s spanner when dismantling some of the tighter of 1st stages.
There are no written exams or knowledge reviews – although you will be issued with the new PADI Equipment Specialist ‘Touch’ which you can download onto your tablet. This is a brand new, and very cool interactive manual, taking you through basic equipment with a series of diagrams and videos to enhance the learning experience.
The course itself, whilst supported effectively by the ‘Equipment Specialist Touch’ is mainly practical based so you will need some good old fashioned elbow grease to complete the course.
Don’t worry if you have never been a ‘tradie’ or you’re not ‘practically minded’ and have never been in a workshop before. You don’t need an Engineering Degree for this and under the tutelage of Kiwi you’ll be up to scratch in no time at all!
An Extra Dimension For Interns
For budding Divemaster Interns this is a great way to expand your diving knowledge and make you a much more knowledgeable dive professional.
During your Divemaster Internship you will come across situations where equipment needs some attention and you will send the kit to Kiwi. Even your brand new and shiny regulator will need an O ring or 2 replacing at some stage.
There is nothing worse than being asked a question about the equipment you are using and not being able to answer. However, as an Equipment specialist you will be able to field equipment questions confidently.
Prospective employers will see you in a better light if you are able to service and maintain the dive centre equipment giving you a head start when applying for work.
And even if you have no ambition to become a dive professional, when you are on your diving adventures around the world you can earn yourself kudos (and maybe a cold beer) by solving simple problems like a leaky SPG or even fixing dive buddies equipment.
The Final Test -The Tank Band
For those that have already completed the Equipment Specialist with Kiwi you will be aware the final and most dreaded test is the threading of a tank band onto the back of a BCD! What seems such a simple concept can become a very complicated task. Once you have mastered this art you are a true Equipment specialist and it makes a full service of a regulator 1st stage seem like a walk in the park!
Author: Crystal Dive