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Question to you folks out there who, like me, like the idea of a redundant air system and carry a small pony on all of your dives. How do you rig your set-up? Do you have your octo on the pony? Is there a common way of doing this? Thanks much.
I have a secondary 1st and 2nd stage regulator and transmitter for my Ztec on my pony.
Depending on the type of diving I either have it mounted inverted on my back or when boat diving slung in front off d-rings
For the team we use a side mount 19cuft pony for my personal use I always carry a 13 cuft pony mounted to my main tank similar to our dive team setup.I feel the need to dive the same or nearly the same setup all the time, so that all is the same and it becomes second nature, I do get some funny looks at the local dive spots but, oh well doesn't weigh much at all and I like the feel of the set up underwater balance is good and I do not even think about it, did have to adjust to a recent dive in Florida where I left my pony at home, took alittle adjustment weight wise but, was good.
As for regs. I use a primary,AirII and the pony has it's own reg. overkill yes,probaly.....
I dive a 19cuft pony slung in the front on my left, with the main second on the backgas and the octo on the pony. I feel another second stage would be mere clutter. I also necklace the octo from the pony with the hose running behind my neck - that is unusual, most people would simply stove the octo on the pony like a stage bottle reg, but I like it better necklaced and it's not a problem since I'm never ever handing the pony to anyone, it's for my own use (and if I had to for some reason it can be easily pulled out of the necklace) As the octo is necklaced I can spot any leaks, so the pony stays on. The hose is 40" (but if I were to do it again I'd prolly go 42") What else.. I have a button gauge on the pony rather than a full SPG as I don't need to check the pressure underwater.
On most dives, I sling a 19cf Al pony, but sometimes, I may dive with a 30cf Al pony (and occasionally, I'll even sling an AL80, just for fun). Regardless, I always sling it.
If you're not familiar with "slinging" a bottle, it involves making a little "harness" out of some plain old line ("rope"), two clips, and a screw-type clamp (i.e. big "hose clamp"), and usually a little bit of bungee to hold the hose(s). It took me all of a few minutes to rig each of my ponies. (We can post links to instructions if you want, but I don't have the link handy in the middle of the night here. )
Anyway, the pony ends up with two clips (bolt snaps, trigger snaps, whatever), one clips to my shoulder D-ring, and the other clips to a D-ring on my hip on the same side. That leaves the valve and first stage nestled right in front of my shoulder, where I can see it (and where I can be sure nothing is going to hit it). I can turn the valve on and off with either hand. Unless you're lying down on the bottom, a bottle slung like this really doesn't get in your way. You very quickly get completely comfortable with it, and having the potentially leaky bits in front of me supports my confidence in the readiness of my pony.
My ponies used to sport plain yoke valves, but I have since moved to DIN for the ponies and their reg. The absence of a yoke screw sticking toward me was the primary reason I did that. I would occasionally get something hung up on it, so I just went the easy way and eliminated the problem. (I can still use yoke if I need to -- they're convertible valves, and I have a yoke adapter for my pony reg.)
As for second stages, I have two second stages on my primary regulator. The "octo" there is my preferred method of air sharing should I be diving with a buddy and need to share. Additionally, it can prove quite useful in the event of, say, a bout of nausea resulting in fish-feeding. Being able to rinse a second stage without going to the pony can be... useful. If I didn't have the additional second stage, the dive would be over -- I have an Draconian rule that if I go to the pony (except to check it at the beginning of the dive), the dive is as over as if I thumbed it myself. (If that were negotiable, I might end up thinking of the pony as usable air to extend the dive, and *that* is the cardinal sin that pony divers *must* avoid.)
On the pony, I have but one second stage. The pony I dive on any particular dive is sized based on *my* gas consumption to get *me* safely to the surface in the event of a serious failure in my gas supply. It is not there to share (which is not to say I wouldn't use it to attempt to save someone's life, but that would be so far outside the plan that I'd consider it beyond reason to gear up for it). The pony reg, then, has a first stage, a single second stage, and (in my case) a full-size pressure gauge. (I also have a backup button-style "pony gauge", but I prefer the readability of the normal SPG. I can use the pony gauge and swap the SPG out to my primary reg if my primary SPG ever fails on a trip, and I've actually done that for a friend who blew an HP hose.)
Anyway, that's a little of how I dive with my pony (which I've had since my first logbook had single digits), and if any of this was rambling, please allow me a little leeway, as I'm up through the night for the second day in a row. (J. is now on the ground back in Japan, but I have to stay awake a while longer before she can call.)
When I use my 3ltr pony it is firmly attached to my main cylinder. This then has a 1kg counterbalance weight in a bcd pocket on the rear of the bcd.
You will want a pressure gauge and a single regulator. There is only enough gas for one diver. PONY = Pi55 Off Not Yours Clip the regulator somewhere easy to find. Make sure the cylinder is open at the start of the dive. If you invert the pony cylinder so you can reach the valve you should be able to reach and close it easiliy if the need arises. Charging the regulator and then closing the valve will get you two breaths before you need to open the valve. Trust me on this. If you have a freeflow, inside a wreck, and your buddy is outside of the wreck, your co-ordination will go downhill v swiftly. Trying to open a valve when you really really need some gas is not fun. Been there, not good.
If the dive goes pear shaped, your gas consumption will increase dramatically. Lets say from 25lpm to over 100lpm. You have 200 bar x 3 litr of gas = 600 litres. So you have enough gas to get you to the surface. If you are doing decompression dives which is quite common in the UK under BSAC or TDI then a pony does not provide sufficient backup gas. Buy a twinset and learn to do shutdowns.
I tend to use a pony on dives between 20m and 35m. Dives from 30-50m are generally on a twinset and stage.
When you do your gas planning ignore the contents of your pony. It is not additional gas. It is the emergency gas supply.
I use a 19cf with a strap mount quick release, short SPG with a quality first and second; it's tight to the BC on the right side. Dumpable weight to counter in the left side of the BC, none on the right to free up pocket space, the rest is on my hips to balance the rig. My primary is on a 5ft hose, the octo is tucked away, but easy to get at and the pony is on a bungee.