Atomic Aquatics SS1 Auto-air

The concept is geat, you can use it on your BC inflator hose and eradicate the need for an octopus set-up or (as I did) you can replace the existing set-up on your rebreather, but what's it like?

Let's get one thing straight, I don't like the octopus set-up, in general it's a cheap and cheerful reg that is a ghastly breathe at any depth, a likely failure point on your gear and something else to snag up when you are grubbing about after lobbies and swag. Guys, and gals, who buddy with me when I OC know that if they have an issue and run out of air then we buddy breathe in the 'olde style', you either accept that or dive with someone else..........

Anyway this auto-air seems to be a wayforward, simply nail it to the end of your BC inflation system and it simply adds a function to the existing inflation/deflation arrangement or that's the plan!
Picture 103

It looks the part!

I fitted one to my Inspration unit and have been using it now for a few dives so feel its time to comment on the good......and the bad.

Firstly the good, well its smaller than the set-up supplied by AP and it breathes very well at depths of down to 42m, certainly not appreciably worse than my OC set up which is scuba-pro Mk25 plus 500 reg. There is no dribble of air which does occur with the AP auto-bail out set up and the inflate and deflate buttons are much easier to locate and operate.....and there lies the nub problem.

The inflate button is large and easy to find, which is a 'good thing' in general but I found that when I am 'winding up' to my SMB it is quite easy to inadvertantly press and cause your buoyancy to go all to hell and guys let me assure that you that the last thing that you want is 'orrible buoyancy when you have significant deco racked is a potential killer!

The big issue which I have is that the designers have considered the requirements and 'decided' that the inflation or 'up button' should be biiiiiiiig and easily found, something which I fundamentally disagree with, the deflate shoul;d be big and obvious so that air can easily be dumped in-case you get into an uncontrolled ascent but to ascend? Well you should not be inflating your BCD or wing and most agency now train divers to hold the hose and be prepared to dump air so I'm not quite sure what was going through the head of the designers, it almost appears that they are non-divers!
Picture 104

Big and 'orrible buttons!

Now I have tried a few positions with the system but you need to combine ease of access when there is a problem with secure storage so it doesn't get 'nipped' and supply air to the wing, so far I have had no luck but will persevere until the deco dives start in earnest.
I can certainly now understand why the AP supplied unit has a small 'hard to depress' button for the wing inflation function, they assume that divers will use their drysuit for buoyancy control and wing for additional buoyancy only on the surface which is 'reasonable' not always 'actual' but certainly reasonable!

How long will I persevere? Well I cant answer that at the moment, the weekend dives at St Abbs head were horrid with problems of oxygen cell failures combined with unwanted inflations really taking the pleasure from the day. I can see this being fastened onto my OC kit in the very near future!

Richies ratings 9/10 for build standard and breathing but 2/10 for design of inflation system

It's a horrible thing to say but 'guys stick to masks, you make them really well!'

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