Reviews

Shearwater Predator Dive Computer

When, or if, you progress to rebreather diving the training and diving you will notice big changes. During initial training you are taught to abort the dive if your unit squeaks, then as your skills and experience grow you learn how to manually fly the unit and build in extra redundancy. This computer gives that extra redundancy.


One of the most refreshing things about this dive computer is the disclaimer, or more accurately the reality check. Whereas some manufacturers add weasel words Bruce Partridge and the guys at Shearwater pull no punches, 'there are bugs, we just don't know about them yet' is one of the phrases I find most amusing, but they are right, diving blind with just a computer or computers is a way of killing yourself. You really do need to know what you are doing, what the decompression requirements will be and how to deal with any of a multitude of problems that can and will occur.

Ok, so that's the 'disclaimer' out of the way. Nuts and bolts first, the computer as supplied has two of the elasticated straps to secure it to your arm, these are 'orrible and slip. Fortunately there is an option available, Narked@90 supply a very good stainless steel bungee mounting plate, I would suggest swapping immediately. If you decide to mount the computer directly onto the unit then this plate can also be used, the choice is yours but the same bracket can be used and works. Buy one!!!

Picture 012

The 'old straps' slippy and not comfortable

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The narked at 90 stainless backplate with bungees for wrist mount


The screen is OLED, that is 'organic light emitting diode' and its very bright and very clear, allowing your buddy to glance over and see your dive status, to further aid in quick diagnosis Shearwater have used colour to indicate status:-

Green - Everything is fine;
Amber - You have an issue, review and decide what actions to take;
Red - You have an urgent issue, action needs to be taken now; and
Flashing Red - You are dead:

display
The display showing green, amber and red details

Perhaps I am being a little flippant but any issue taking you to a red flashing screen will probably kill you or at least make the remainder of the dive very interesting!

The battery is a user-changeable AA type, please look on youtube if you are unsure, always change the O-ring and from personal experience save your dive log onto a PC if you are anal about dive records, I found that the built in power supply does not seem to have capacity to retain the memory when you change the battery despite the claims from Shearwater. Oh the battery life is supposed to be 'about 150 hours', this ties up with my personal experience of 'about 120 dives', more than enough for most divers who can simply fit a new battery at the start of every season.

If you buy this computer you will probably be a rebreather diver although it can be used for normal open circuit diving, you can connect the computer to your unit via the fischer connector, you will need a conversion kit if you use an AP diving unit, this is available from narked at 90, although you will need to buy some parts from a sister company in the USA, obviously copyright issues!
The computer interfaces with three O2 sensors and I would suggest that you utilse two existing sensors and fit an additional sensor giving some redundancy should there be an issue whilst diving.

Interface between your home and dive computer is via a bluetooth connection and the instruction manuals are remarkably clear although a technophobe may need a little assistance, but the instructions are probably the best of any dive computer that I have used.

Using the computer 'in-dive' is via two piezo type buttons which allow access to a quite intuative user menu, making the Predator much easier to navigate and change in dive than other tech computers I can think of......

Technically the unit utilises 'a variation' the well known and 'proven' Buhlmann ZHL-16C algorithm, this algorithm is in the public domain so if you want to look in more detail then use google or a web-browser of your choice.

The profile of the deco software was developed by Eric Baker and is 'factory set' at 30/85, if you want to add some conservatism this can be modified, again Shearwater assume that we are all 'big boys' who know the potential consequences of our actions.

IN common with most manufacturers there are various upgrades available which can be purchased and downloaded onto your computer, a popular upgrade is to add VPM-B software which takes account of the possible (probable?) formation of micro-bubbles and changes teh deco profile accordingly, but you pays your money and takes your choice!

Richies Rating 9/10: An excellent product but you really need an aftermarket 'bungee attachment'

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