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Diving Gear Manufacturing Questions

Discussion in 'Diving Into New Gear' started by C.Gates, Nov 25, 2019.

  1. C.Gates

    C.Gates Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: San Francisco, California
    Hello ScubaBoard! This is my first thread, so please bear with me if this is in the wrong area.

    I am 15, and have been diving since I was 13. I am a machinist for my high school's robotics team and I love to dive and make things.

    I am looking into regulators. How important is it that the manufacturer holds an ISO 9001? I was looking at Atomic Aquatics, but they do not say anywhere that they hold the ISO 9001. I know that Apeks holds one with the EN 250 cert for all of their regs. Are there any brands to avoid? Is it good to stick to one brand for everything? I have heard stories of faulty equipment resulting in problems, so I want to avoid that as much as possible. Do recalls happen more to certain manufacturers? I want to buy a regulator that I can trust, and I want one that can last. If anyone could provide input on this that would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,

    BlueTrin, descend and CAPTAIN SINBAD like this.
  2. Divectionist

    Divectionist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Gold Coast, Australia
    My standard manufacturer recommendation for proven regulators with top notch first and second stages, that can be serviced worldwide, is Scubapro. In particular, MK17Evo or MK25Evo. Second stages S620Ti or G260.

    Apeks and Atomic are solid, but a bit niche, so servicing can be harder. May not matter for you, in which case they are equally nice and any of them can last a lifetime if properly maintained.

    You can mix brands, but why would you.

    I'd stay away from the Cressi, Mares, etc brands. From what I hear, they are all 'okay', but they generally seem to end up in mouths that are listening to their dive shop sales person a bit too much, with better options out there. The brands you mentioned are both in the better options category I would say.
  3. loosenit2

    loosenit2 Solo Diver

    ISO 9001 is not a major selling point for SCUBA manufacturers at the consumer level. All the major manufacturers, and many of the smaller ones, make excellent regulators. Nothing at all wrong with the products made by Scubapro, Mares, Tusa, Cressi, Atomic, etc. It is more important to consider the specific product you are looking at and determine if it meets your needs. Each brand has regulators in the lower end of their range and the upper end, each of these tools have different strengths and weaknesses. I would encourage you to look more at features than brand. Do you want a cold water regulator vs warm water? # of HP and LP ports, maintenance schedules, cost of service parts, work of breathing/venture adjustments, etc etc.

    I have dove with Scubapro, Tusa, Cressi, and Deep6 and they are all solid regulators.
  4. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    As already pointed out, the worldwide reference for reliable regulators which can be operated for decades is Scubapro.
    I did buy my first regulator in 1975, when following my first scuba class, it was a MK5 first stage and 109-adjustable 2nd stage, which later I converted into a 156-balanced adjustable. I am still using it NOW...
    Scubapro continues manufacturing all the (updated) parts required for maintenance, and with proper service these regs are yet today the state of the art for their low respiratory effort and reliability.
    They can be serviced everywhere in the world, and, after proper training, you can service them yourself (which I find much more safe than relying in someone's else skillfulness for maintaining a device which affects your life).
    I am currently owner of 4 Scubapro MK5 1st stages and 6 2nd stages (109 converted to balanced), all fully compatible and interchangeable.
    They never failed me in over 1500 dives and more than 30 years of operation.
  5. runsongas

    runsongas Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    Apeks is part of Aqualung, would not call it niche or small
    wetb4igetinthewater likes this.
  6. loosenit2

    loosenit2 Solo Diver

    It is true that scubapro is a major manufacturer with quality products and a worldwide presence; but, there is a cost to their products. Literally a high cost in $$, both for initial purchase and maintenance. Parts are readily available but I don't think anyone would call Scubapro a manufacturer that supports or encourages self maintenance . They use a plethora of special connectors etc to discourage users from maintaining their own equipment and rather take it to an LDS. Individuals can procure Scubapro parts but it is not without effort or cost and Scubapro focuses their training on LDSs, not individuals.

    All this is true for the US, might be a different dynamic in Europe or Asia
  7. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    @C.Gates I manage the ISO system for our company. ISO 9001 is a management system. It means that the company has documentation control in place for pretty much everything they do. All instructions are controlled documents to manage revisions properly, there is regular review of all documentation etc. It is very important for some industries, particularly when you are evaluating suppliers. It has no bearing on the quality of the product that comes out, nor of the customer service you are going to experience when dealing with them. It is also very expensive. The initial certification process is well over $10k, and there are annual audits required that are about half that. Add to it the amount of time that your quality manager must spend to maintain the system, and it is incredibly expensive to implement and maintain for small companies. Worth it for certain industries, but not so much for this one. In general, the ISO management system is very valuable for a company, but has little benefit to the customers.

    EN250 has little to do with regulator quality either. All it means is that it can supply sufficient gas at a low enough breathing effort to pass a test. It is required to sell in the EU, but many products that don't rely on the EU market *think KISS rebreathers*, aren't going to go through the considerable expense to certify the units, it just isn't worth the expense.

    As far as the other stuff. Keep the regulators in the same brand, but the rest of the gear doesn't matter.
    Plenty of threads on here with recommendations for regulators, and in the US I really wouldn't recommend either Atomic or Apeks, but especially not Atomic given their recent bout of bad customer service.
    PBcatfish and markmud like this.
  8. Hoag

    Hoag Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ontario
    C.Gates, pretty much everybody will have their own personal preferences and their opinions will, to a large extent be based on what they use. As for me, I have an Aqualung Legend 1st & 2nd stage with an Apeks "Octo". It has served me well for many years.

    What I would recommend for you though is to buy what your LDS carries and is able to service. Given that you have 25-40 dives, and are looking to buy your first regs, I am assuming that you will not be tearing apart, servicing, and rebuilding your own regs. This means that you will be taking your reg in to have it serviced. For that reason, I would lean very heavily toward a reg which you can get serviced conveniently.

    There are several good reg manufacturers out there. Deep 6 Gear has a reputation for being very good value and I know that at one time, you could send the regs back to them for service. (They also have a very good "Black Friday" sale going on right now.) While this may not be as convenient as walking in to your LDS & dropping it off, their price/performance may make this a viable option. Otherwise, like I said, I would stick with what you can get (and get serviced) at your LDS.

    PS. Welcome to the board.
  9. James79

    James79 Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Lower Alabama
    Also, if you follow @Angelo Farina and some of the rest of us down the DIY route, look at both the SP mk5/mk10 108/109/156 series, and the Aqualung Conshelf series (recommend staying with the metal seconds).
    People still swear by them for a reason... And they are easy to maintain. As a smarter man than I has said, regulator maintenance isn't difficult, it's just precise. If you're working as a machinist (even at the highschool level) I'm guessing you have a pretty good handle on precision.
    markmud likes this.
  10. АлександрД

    АлександрД Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Moscow, Russia
    let me remind to all of yours:

    All regulators IS THE SAME! You can find perfect quality Taiwan regulator, or you can find branded, but it will fail on the first dive...

    Regulator - is one of the most simple and most reliable parts of diving equipment.
    BUT! it is true only for one case: If you use your equipment with care.
    It mean - well freshed after dive. Very well freshed and cleaned after diving trip. Servicing, when you have suspiction for something. Do not stay it under direct sunlight.
    And use only proven and famous (good-famous from other divers) service shop.

    OR you can follow The Way of the Jedi Force the solo diving way (like techno diving way) for your equpment - you should be self-relliant, and all your equpment should be doubled or tripled :)

    Yours more detailed question could be "What of the regulator models is the best for: 1) breathing effort 2) reliability 3) servisability"
    And for this quesion you already had some answers above.

    Mares Abyss
    Aqualung Titan (OLD! model)
    Aqualung Cousteau
    Scubapro MK5(or MK25) + BA-109 (or BA-156 or G250)
    Apeks (not Flight)

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