VRX Dive Computer

Why should I be reviewing a second dive computer which is no longer manufactured and the product support may be phased out? Well read on and see why and no it's not that I have an unrequited love of the VR team

One of the banes of my professional working life as a chartered engineer in the rail industry is purpose made and manufactured computer hardware, it seems no sooner than it's delivered that it's obsolete and the design boys are trying to 'sell' something new. The fact that the old, obsolete equipment is now fully debugged and working great seems to be forgotton in the drive for new smaller, whizzier things. So it is with the VRX it's a mature design that works, on a world-wide stage there have been loads of these computers sold.

Unfortunately as you may gather the VRX computer, along with the VR3, is no longer manufactured which is a great shame, you will also find that any repairs, over and above servicing the push-pins, are vitually impossible to carry out either by yourself or via a service centre.

The computer is very well built with reviewers and on-line forums joking that it can be used to break open lobsters and the like, yes it's robust but that is no excuse to abuse it, take care with the push-buttons and make sure that you have a screen protector fitted to ensure that it retains some value, although the resale on Ebay is around £200 for a good un but that is no excuse not to try to keep it in some semblence of good condition!

As with my VR3 units I have not managed to find any aftermarket bungee mounting arrangement so favoured of tekkies, this means you are stuck with the existing 'stretchie' wrist band and awkward plastic clips, to make sure that the strap doesnt loosen mid-dive I have applied a liberal coating of aquasure to the bungee close to the clips, this means its a wee bit slack when I wear without my dry-suit but I don't do a huge amount of warm water diving so this isn't an issue.

Glue the adjustable end down when you have a snug fit

One area where I do have a bit of a gripe is that there are no obvious attachement points for a secondary strap, which is always problematic as I do like a lanyard attachment, it wouldn't be so much of a perceived issue if I didn't spend so much time grovelling among kelp and wreckage but I did need to fit this lanyard. After a bit of head scratching I decided to loosen one of the strap pins and place the lanyard under that, now this may be a problem as the pins are stainless steel and the computer body is aluminium, a prime candidate for galvanic corrosion! So if you are having issues apply lots of WD40 and let it soak in rather than damaging a pin that you can't replace!

That's how I managed to fit a secondary restraint

This particular unit has a built in lithium ion computer that you recharge by removing a small cap and plugging it into the mains or some solar power monkey and that works well with quite a low charging time from the mains and on a live-aboard holiday there was always plenty of power just by plugging in a small power monkey between dives. However these batteries do have a finite life so my next job is finding a service centre that will swap out this battery. I am guessing it wont be too hard and I know a company on Tyneside that swaps out batteries in Greenforce torches that does a great job so when it's all swapped out I will give you an update.
The battery life does appear better than the VR3 which is necessary as the power consumption is higher due to the small torch built into the side of the unit. I think that 'torch'is being a bit kind, what you have is basically a water-proof bulb in a hemisphere so light to look at things held close to the computer but that's your whack, I can see that coputers need a USP but really? I can maybe guess that it was for extended deco to allow divers to read books, who knows?
There are a couple of dated games on the computer to help while away the deco and with the coloured screen whilst not adictive they are certainly leagues ahead of the space invaders arcade games of my mis-spent youth,again useful for those horrendously boring thirty minute stops at six meters but that's it.

Set up and Ready to Dive

The VRX uses a modified Buhlmann ZHL16 algorithm, the use of this model does cause some on-line arguments with its detractors complaining about extended shallow decompression obligations with long stops at 4.5m in comparison with computers using other algorithms. My take is that I would rather spend time in water than in a helicopter and the pure maths, based on the quantity of computers variants, both VR3 and VRX, out there and the dives conducted, is that the algorithm works so use it. If you would rather wait in the boat whilst I complete my deco, then fine use a computer with a more aggressive deco model.

The computer holds up to plenty of gas mixes so even the most ardent of twin-set-tekkie should find that his deco gases are covered along with any slightly different mixes which may be used in emergency situations, there are also versions which allow He mixes to be dived. As an aside the most mixes that I have programmed into any unit was four......unless you are doing some real off the scale shit do you need any-more than this, unless you are lazy and want air, 32%, 28%, left in the memory. I would suggest holding out for one of these multi-gas units, again it has a better re-sale value and you would not need to upgrade should your diving range extend. Navigation to select the gases is simple for the more technically minded, however if you are a technophobe make sure you know the sequence of buttons to push and the prompts that you will see on the screen!

Now costs, back in the day a fully pimped VRX will have cost you around £1000, now you can obtain the same computer with box and manual for around £250 from Ebay, or similar on-line auction site. Now that's a lot of computer for your money and it's already set-up! 

Richies Ratings value 8/10 Getting a bit dated, but you get a lot of computer for your money :-)
Richies Rating features 8/10 It's all there and easier to navigate around than the VR3.

And as a post-script should you want an on-line copy of the manual for the VRX or indeed the VR3 then the link below will take you straight there, happy diving!

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