Hey there, we are back with yet another Diving tutorial. This time, we take a deeper look at the regulator and the weight belt. Both are crucial parts of your diving equipment and should be treated with care.
Let’s find out what you should look for.
The regulator is what keeps you alive underwater by allowing you to breathe from the compressed air bottle. Since the air in the bottle is highly compressed, it must be adapted to the ambient pressure via two stages. The first stage is connected directly to the valve of the tank.
Make sure that the cap of the first stage is always closed when disassembled so that no water can penetrate. It ensures that air escapes only when you inhale and adjusts the air pressure to the ambient pressure of the respective water depth. You can also use the so-called air shower (large button in the middle of the outside of the second step) to vent air. Sometimes it happens that the button gets a bit stuck and the machine “blows off” uncontrollably. In this case, hold your thumb on the opening through which the air passes to stop the air flow and then press the button until it slides back into its normal position.
In addition to the second stage, through which you breathe yourself, there is an additional second stage as an alternative air supply – called octopus for short. This serves as air supply for your buddy in an emergency and is conspicuously color-coded. Always attach it to your jacket so it’s easy to find and access. There are two more tubes on the regulator.
At the end of one is a small clutch. Connect it to your inflator hose on the jacket to inflate it quickly. The other hose is for the pressure gauge that you use to check how much air is left in your bottle. Sometimes the pressure gauge is integrated into a console with compass, depth gauge or dive computer. When putting on your equipment, make sure that no hoses dangle freely around you. Otherwise, you could get caught or damage corals and the like.
You can attach the hose to your pressure gauge under the hip belt of your jacket. This way you always have it handy to check your air. When choosing your own regulator, the first criterion is that you can breathe easily without resistance. You can partially adjust the resistance again on the second level – also check if you can see a fitting switch on rental equipment and if you can breathe better above it.
When buying, you should also make sure that the first stage has a DIN or INT connection, with which it is mounted to the bottle. With DIN you have a rotary connection which is screwed into the bottle. The INT connection is a swing stopper which is clamped to the bottle. Which connection is better for you depends on your diving habits.
The DIN connection is the most common in Europe, you will also find more bottles suitable for such connections in countries or regions to which Europeans in particular travel. However, INT is more widespread worldwide. Nevertheless, there are also adapters for both options, which then enable the use with the other connection.
After each dive the regulator should be rinsed well with fresh water. Make sure that the cap on the high pressure inlet of the first stage is closed. It is best to hold the first stage higher than the second, so that no water can penetrate through the hose into the first stage. For storage, the regulator should be laid flat and the tubes should be formed into large bends without kinks. Once a year (or if you notice a higher breathing resistance) it has to be checked. It is best to call your nearest dive shop and ask if they do the revision of your manufacturer.
Together with the jacket, the lead helps you to balance yourself in the water. How much lead you need depends not only on your body shape but also on other factors, such as your wetsuit or whether you dive in fresh or salt water. For example, the thicker your suit is, the more buoyancy it has. Whether the suit is completely new or still dry also has an effect on the car instinct. Especially at the beginning, many divers tend to use more lead in order to be able to dive better in the water.
However, it is worth working on it with a few tricks even without much lead the first 5 meters to create, because afterwards the water pressure does its rest. If you have too much lead, you have to counteract the downforce later by air in your jacket. A good buoyancy, where you only have to use the jacket minimally, provides more diving fun and saves air. If you have not been diving for a longer period of time, the dive guide should check with you on the first dive what the optimal amount of lead is for you. If you do not have your own weight system, in most cases you will receive a simple weight belt as shown above. Of course it does its work like all other variants, but a disadvantage can be that it permanently presses on the pelvic bones and leaves painful spots. Besides such simple models or padded weight belts with soft lead, some buoyancy jackets have the possibility to integrate weights. Another variant are harness weight belt systems. What all of them should have in common is that you can throw off the lead quickly in an emergency. The weight belt, for example, is tightened so that it can be opened quickly with the right hand.
Buying your own lead is especially worthwhile if most dives are planned in your home country. For female holiday divers, it is always important to consider whether the weight of the lead makes the luggage too heavy and thus causes additional costs during the flight.
A normal weight belt is quite robust, but it still makes sense to rinse it with fresh water to prevent salt incrustations. It should be stored so that it can dry well. Remove the lead from lead pockets and place each one to dry.