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Full Face Mask

Discussion in 'Fins, Masks and Snorkels' started by Darian Dunn, Apr 20, 2002.

  1. Tm530

    Tm530 Angel Fish

    My regular dive buddy and I dive almost all of our dives on Divator MKII (AGA) masks with OTS Buddy Phones. We started on this trend about 3 years ago. Why? One, it's comfortable. Although I will say that many divers will need at least an orientation dive on them before I would attempt any serious Open Water dives. Less dry mouth, no jaw fatigue, visability is excellent, no fogging. In colder water it will keep you warmer, but I must admit I dive it without my hood when the water gets warmer in my area (RI). It is also just plain fun! Isn't that what diving is all about? There are a lot of situations where I would not reccomend it, cave diving comes to mind. The Buddy Phone is great for low vis dives, as well as dive where a lot of "team" coordinating is needed. We dive them shallow, as well as deep. We did 2 Nitrox dives on the U-853 about a month ago and used them (no penetration). I still bring an octopus and a spare mask in a pocket (Scubapro frameless), but I am actually thinking about getting a block so I can switch into a redundant pony, if needed.

    If anyone comes through RI for some diving, I could probably arrange a dive on them (I have 2 myself, my buddy has 1). I even have a surface unit for the boat! (ok, ok...so I spent a bonus check on it...).

    I would love to hear some feedback from others.
  2. SMan

    SMan Angel Fish

    Being a new diver and living in an area where the water gets cold I was wondering about full face masks. Since I am relatively new to diving (not quite two months) I have only seen one from a distance at a quarry. What other equipment is involved besides the mask? Special regulators or will any reg fit? Sorry to ask such a basic question, but what is never asked is never answered.

  3. Cave Diver

    Cave Diver Divemaster

    If anyone is interested, an instructor that I know has a FFM for sale. I don't have a lot of details, as it never really interested me personally, but if anyone wants info, PM me and I will find out for you. I believe that it is the Neptune Ocean Reef and I recall him telling me that has less than half a dozen dives on it.

    Dive often, but dive safe.


    DEEP SEA Nassau Grouper

    The better full face masks typically come with a built in, high quality 2nd stage regulator. In the case of the Interspiro/AGA full face mask (FFM), it does have its own 2nd stage built in. You only need to connect the AGA supply hose to one of your LP fittings on your 1st stage and the other end to the AGA. The AGA hose, for some unknown reason, comes off your left side. This means you can keep your primary regulator for a "Safe 2nd" if you wish.

    The AGA design is perfect! Each time you inhale, the gas comes from your 1st stage into the AGA 2nd stage then comes into the FFM via two ports. The ports reflect the air over the visor keeping the FFM de-fogged and cools your face (great if your swimming fast or under a work load). The air then enters the oral-nasal cavity via (2) one way valves. When you exhale, the gas cannot go back into the FFM due to the one way valves ensuring you do not get a Co2 build up. The spent gas is sent out the 2nd stage regulator into the water. I may add off to the side which keeps the bubbles out of your face (great for camera work).

    Just about all other FFM on the market at this time has copied features of the AGA but have fallen short one way or another. In all, its my favorite along with many others. Oh, it is also US Navy approved and used around the world by Militaries, Search & Rescue teams, commercial divers and recently MANY Sport Divers!

    The only negative thing about most FFM, they don’t fit skinny faces well or small women. However, if you work with them putting in surgical tubing or weather stripping, you can get them to seal fine. Beards are 50/50 (some fit ok, some don’t).

  5. Ron Mitchell

    Ron Mitchell Garibaldi

    I have owned both the Neptune and AGA FFM's. The neptune is user friendly and less expensive. It's an adequate FFM for most recreational use. The Neptune has more available options such as a quick disconnect, which I highly recommend. Both masks can be equipped with surface valves, also a must. I sold my Neptune to buy the AGA, it cost a little more than the Neptune but I like the AGA's performance much better. The AGA for me, is more comfortable, it breathes easier, the nose block works better and is way easier to adjust in the field. Nothing against the Neptune but is looks like a toy compared to the AGA. Most SAR teams use the AGA and it's one of a few FFM's approved by the US Navy. FFM's are not for everyone, they require additional training and equipment. The payoff is less jaw fatigue, ability to add communication, and you'll never lose or have your regulator kicked out of your mouth.:)
  6. RICHinNC

    RICHinNC Solo Diver

    Two questions on the ffm....

    1...Equalizing...In a regular mask there are times I really have to squeeze my nose hard to equalize....good system for that in these masks??

    2....Sinus....My nose really runs in a regular mask....I have had to take my mask off to "clear it out' of drainage so I could get a good grip on the honker to equalize. How does this work in a ffm???
  7. SD40T-2

    SD40T-2 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SLC, UT
    Does anyone know offhand what course would be applicable for FFM under SSI speciality courses (if any)? FFMs have got my interest.

  8. SeaJay

    SeaJay Loggerhead Turtle

    I've used an AGA ffm at the Aquarium, to do the shows there. The communications feature enables us to do our dives while talking to the audience... And a "bone conduction device" similar to a Buddy Phone (but placed against the skull rather than on the ears) allows the diver to hear what is going on outside the tank. Thus, the diver can communicate with the Aquarium's patrons.

    It's a pretty neat setup, but there's some issues which don't come up until you've used one of these ffm's. Those of you who use them will know this, but in case someone's reading this that hasn't used one of these is curious about ffm's, there's some things that you should know...

    Firstly, talking underwater, even at our Aquarium's 41' max depth is very strange. Sure, a regulator is designed to deliver air pressure that's equal to your surrounding pressure... So talking shouldn't be funny. However, the air that's running past your vocal chords is simply more dense than it is at the surface, and so it just feels funny. I don't know how to describe it. Sure, you can communicate, but it takes some getting used to. It's not like you can just strap one of these things on and *poof* you're golden.

    Secondly, everyone thinks that being able to talk underwater is a great thing. I can tell you from using communicators on motorcycles, in scuba equipment, and even CB or FM radio vehicle-to-vehicle, that communication isn't always desired. After using it a while, you often wish you could just go back to your quiet little world. I can see how it'd be useful in a commercial application, and it's certainly a bonus at the Aquarium. However, I don't think I'd want to use one on a regular basis.

    Thirdly, ffm's seal around your face... Of course, this means that your face isn't wet and using one feels very much like walking in space... But imagine how strange it is to have an ooa in a full-face mask. You breathe in, and not only do you not get any air, but this thing on your face actually sucks in onto your face, locking on as you try to inhale. It takes a bit more than just spitting out your reg and getting a buddy's reg or alternate air source... It's much more serious. Imagine... Typically, there's like five straps holding this thing on your head, and at least in the AGA's case, you've got to loosen a strap first to get the mask off. It can complicate things really fast. This is why everyone's recommending the training. Simply put, ffm's are missing the simplistic design of a regular mask and reg.

    Lastly, I don't know of any "real" ffm (one that is singular in design and has an open oral/nasal cavity) that does not use acrylic as the "window" of the mask. Acrylic, unlike glass, is not relatively scratch-resistant. Quite a bit of care must be taken to keep the viewing surface clean and nice... And if you scratch it, we're not talking about replacement for $50, you know? We're talking about a pretty serious investment here. And no matter how you treat the mask, it's still going to get beat up a little. You can take great care, and it'll last longer, but it's never going to last like a standard mask does.

    Don't get me wrong... FFM's definitely have their place. In fact, I'll be using one when I do my World Record Dive this spring. They're great for communication and to prevent jaw fatigue.

    But don't forget that there's a reason why most don't use them unless they're particularly called for.

    Having said all of that, does anyone know of a ffm that's really a ffm (as in, not the "cheater" Scubapro style) that uses tempered glass rather than acrylic? I hate that stuff.
  9. Uncle Pug

    Uncle Pug Swims with Orca ScubaBoard Supporter

    Kirby Morgan Band Mask... about $2500 new without the comms.

    Shane just picked one up off of Ebay for $1225 new with comms so good deals can be had (actually I did the bidding using his account... he was busy watching TV.) :rolleyes:

    BTW... this is a surface supplied mask.

    Another consideration with the AGA is that they are so buoyant it really can get annoying and contribute to lower jaw fatigue.

    And comm units are fine to have if you are on surface supplied air... but jabbering away while on open circuit scuba will seriously limit your bottom time.
  10. Bob3

    Bob3 Dive Shop

    The KMB Bandmasks have a plastic faceplate, might be Lexan now. They can handle a lot of abuse. I've never had to replace one.
    They can also be used w/scuba & free swimming, the side block will accept a standard regulator hose on the bailout post if you're too lazy to rig it properly with the proper whip + bailout.

    Last year I sold a brand new Bandmask for $1000. It was a USN surplus Mk 10 tho, think it was from the '70s.

    Poseidon has a new FFM out now too, has a Jetstream built in & is switchable from plain demand to positive pressure. Eat yer heart out AGA. :mean:
    Other than that, it's pretty similar to the AGA, has counterweights built in tho & the reg hangs down a tad further. Comes in a small size as well as the normal large so it'll fit the narrow faces w/o having to go the "tubing on the skirt" route.

    FFMs really come into their own when ya wanna take a little nap, hard to do with a normal reg. :wink:

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