Returned from Egypt

I had a great time in Egypt.. I’ll post the photos in my other blog; but I returned in one piece.

The journey itself is GPS logged. I do not have all locations marked but at least it give you an idea of the journey.

Unfortunately Google decided to close the KML importing on a map, like I was using for this post. So, now you have to believe me on my word that the trip was worth doing…
Check the divesite for more.

New Budget divelights Emerging

Ever since I started looking for a decent and payable divelight I have been on the lookout for new versions, alternatives and DIY solutions. With the current Chinese lights flushing our underwater-lamp market, the producers now seem to be distinguishing themselves more on product and build quality than on brand name alone.

Where 5 years ago you could buy hyped ( and often bad) LED lamps from top brands, you can now see the top brands move away from the “cheap” market and moving more into their respective niche markets. Some of the well established brands have tried to compete with the flood of cheap lights, but I noticed most are leaving that market area for the Chinese now, unable to give them any competition.

Off course this is not only good or bad… at least it creates focus for the industry itself. It gives us, the consumer, a great alternative to be diving with decent lighting that does not straight away cut into your budget so bad that you cannot afford a decent stabjacket anymore.

The innovations in our divelight industry are currently mostly on LED color and composition, not focussing on ever-more Lumen into the same package. This is great as I often found out that when diving in murky water 600 Lumen is more than enough… and any more would only blind you because of all the backscatter you have.

The low-budget end of the market, however, still focusses on 1200, 1600, 2000, 2200, 3000 Lumen and with that has to cope with increasing raw material and productioncosts, more technical development costs and higher energy consumption / shorter lifespan.

Recently I have updated my Chinese light (MJ850) with 2 new Lithium-ion batteries. Battery indicator is not working, now… not recommended by the producer, but at least I can now use my light again for 5-8 dives before I need to recharge.

So would I still advise you to buy Chinese, now? -SURE-

Be aware that buying cheaper lights will cost you things like:

  • build quality (although .. it seems to be very good these days)
  • service
  • lesser quality components (LED type, Electronics and Battery)

but once you see the pricetags .. it becomes clear that money spent on a Chinese lamp might only cover 2-3 seasons… for starting divers and non-professionals it might be a good investment as the costs often are 1/3rd of comparable lights from the professional branded lights.

So what would you be able to buy on low budget, these days?

My old lamp, the 850 is still in production. 1200 Lumen for 90USD on small orders I would still recommend this one.

The successor for that lamp might be the AT-876, which also has the SST50 and 1200 Lumen but new batteries and electronics. Yours for 120USD.

For the person that wants to boil water and permanently blind anything or anyone, there is the 2200 lumen version based on a SST-90. You will, however, officially make an end to the term Night-dive, when using this light. (160USD)

With about a 10th of the light you would have a perfect backup lamp. The AT852 is what you would get. (40USD 200 lumen)

Then there is the good old AT-810; a 900 lumen light based on the P7 LED. Proven to be quite reliable and costs only 60USD.

If you are interested in any of these lights .. you would be able to find resellers anywhere on the web. Prices stated above are only indicative and might vary. If you found a good reseller, let me know. I’ll buy one or two new lights as well. It saves me the hassle of importing them (mind the P&P and import tax issues) and doing price negotiations. I would off-course be more than happy to setup an order of 20 lights with my Chinese friends… just mail me.

MJ 850 Divelamp second life

After a couple of years of intensive use the divelight is getting much worse… the batterylife I had at the beginning was about 6 – 7 dives without recharge when using it on setting 1 or 2 during the dives.

Now I have replaced the old accu’s by new Li-Ion versions. Rechargable, faster to load, constantly delivering maximum power… and just 1 drawback: because of the accutype the batterylevelindicator does not work.

Left: the new accu’s. right: the old ones.

Notice the great work they did at on adding the little welded knobs on top. The light is now working like a charme, again. I will be using it during our next Zeelandweekend to really put it to the test again.

Back in Holland – Great holiday in Egypt.

I returned from my dive holiday yesterday… It was a great 11 days of diving, sun, good food and rest. I have to thank a number of people, for their great company, service, fun and support.

The holiday went as planned, there where no real changes from the plan.
First a couple of days at Wadi Lahami and then a week onboard of the Rosetta.

I have done a great number of things seen a lot of new things and had a great experience. I will post on most of it… but it will take me some time to do so.

Flatworm on the move

Dive Log application

In my preparation for my dive holiday I found a great little app that I really needed to install. This is the Dive Log app from Rob Knapen. I hope it works out and that I can actually log my dives during the holiday.

The application looks simple, and is functional in the free version, but I actually bought this app as I wanted the full functionality. That actually was a milestone for me: this is the first app I bought! (and I have been using android for 3-4 years or so)

I’ll report back on how the app performed during my holiday. I will not have roaming access nor wireless access points, completely offshore.

-9- days left before traveling to Egypt.

Gearing up! Destination Marsa Alam – Egypt

It is freezingly cold in Holland, at the moment, -5C and 6-8 Beaufort Easterly wind, winter in March?! It has not been this cold in decades. (Coldest 23 March since 1916)

I am really hoping not to catch a cold now… as I am feeling not to well. The idea is to go on holiday within one month. Early in the spring season, just before the big tourist rush.

The first stop is at the famous Marsa Alam resort called Wadi Lahami. It is a first for me; the resort itself is not much more than a tent-camp with a few stone buildings containing the restaurant and storage areas. The focus of the resort is on quality diving with an eco twist to it. Dives will go to Fury Shoals and other locations, by Zodiac… it is that close.

The map below shows Wadi Lahmi in the top, with right next to it Fury Shoal. The area below that is what I hope to visit on the next leg of my journey.

I will only stay four days in Wadi Lahmi; on the fourth day I transfer to the MY Rosetta. A small ship, that also partly brings me to this same location. Being on board makes diving easier… it will be 4 dives a day in a dive-eat-sleep rhythm.

Five or six days of diving off shore will almost certainly make me smile from ear to ear until well after I return home.

[updated small details]

Gearing up… without Hero 3 — a quick rant.

I’ve been working on my holiday preparations for a while.. doubting if I should really buy that Gopro camera or not. I decided I shouldn’t do that and I will explain in detail why not. I am going to use this for diving and it is an extra I will use besides my photo camera. It really is a fun thing to have, and I have done action things before. Just check out my video section.

While the Gopro is a great action camera, and it beats the competition by miles, the pricetag for non-US territory is outright ridiculous. I already warmed up my creditcard after reading all the good stories, for a low cost action camera.

US$ 399 for a Hero 3 Black edition, I figured.
In my mind, I allowed for the usual “extra costs” of shipping this to Europe. It seems to be normal for US companies to ask the same number in Euro’s as the thing is valued for in Dollars.

So: 399 USD becomes 399 Euro. NOT!

Gopro asks another 50 Euro for the same thing here. The price in Euro’s becomes 449 Euro.

Actually the difference becomes huge, that way:
The original 399 USD camera ends up to be the equivalent of 583.10 USD in Europe? — that cannot be true, can it?

Well, no.. I found out that the calculations for Europe include VAT … some $79

Still : 100USD price difference?

I think I should check out the competitors.

Returned from Zeeland. Great dive weekend

I just returned from a great diveweekend in Schelphoek, Zeeland. I’ll blog more about it .. but the most important stuff first:

The dives were great, but it was a bit chilly. Conditions underwater were better than above… With near freezing temperatures and a cold wind coming from the polders, along the dikes.

The good thing, though:

We spotted some divers that spotted a seahorse. This particular one was found at Zoetersbout (/Zijpe) and was already around for three weeks. The great thing is, I stayed there long enough to even do some video. It is relatively low quality, but it gives a good impression on what we saw.

updated… now with vimeo video

Time for a new o-ring

busted o-ring

I did it… after cleaning my lamp, checking all stuff is ready for Zeeland, next week, I cut one of my o-rings. To be very sure I am not using that one again.

While checking all of the stuff, I noticed this o-ring had a small hole in it. Now the big search for replacements will start. Hoping to find some easy way of getting my replacements. Luckily the original lamp, when I bought it, came with a set of replacements. I can still use the lamp… 

Nice dives again – Calamari Zeelandweekend

On this rainy saturdayafternoon I finally get some time to do the posts on my latest dives. Last weekend we had another Calamari divingweekend. Great, it was quite busy at the camping we stayed… but that was more because of all the Calamarians than that there were other guests there.

We had great dives again, 7 in total, even though the weather was not that good all the time. I did not manage to spot something extraordinary this time.

To show off some of the pics I took:

I hope to be at the next Calamari camp again .. well done, cheers go to the organisers.