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Gear Review - Interspiro Divator Lite and DP-1 Surface Supply Air Unit

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by dittrimd, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. dittrimd

    dittrimd Force Fin Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Coventry, CT
    223
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    DISCLAIMER: I am not an Interspiro rep nor am I receiving any money from them for this report. This is just one volunteer public safety diver’s report on a couple hours spent in a pool using this equipment. I am trying to keep this unbiased and fair so anyone else interested in something like this can look into it for themselves.

    I had the opportunity to demo the Interspiro Divator Lite diving system and DP-1 surface supply station. For those of you not familiar the Divator Lite it is a composite dual tank diving system. There is some information on the Interspiro website but seeing and using the equipment in person was amazing. I should have pictures this week and I will post them. For now I will go through my best description of the system. I will try to keep editorial comments to a minimum.

    TANKS:
    They had two tank sizes a very small set and a larger set. The operating pressure is 300 bar or 4350 psi. You can fill them to 310 bar or 4500. This gives you the equivalent of on AL80 @3000 psi on the small system and twin AL80s on the larger system. The tanks are a thermoplastic inner liner with carbon fiber windings on the outside. This is different from most fire composite tanks which are thin aluminum with carbon fiber windings. This is because water could get between he carbon fiber wrap and the aluminum skin and could corrosion over time which would not be visible during any type of inspection. The two tanks are held together by some stainless steel bands and a bracket which does two things. First is has a post for securing the bronze weights to the tank assembly (more about this later). It also provides the connection to the BC. (See below)

    VALVE/GUARD ASSEMBLY:
    At the end of the tank is a header/valve assembly which connects the two tanks together and also acts as a protective device and a carrying handle. The tanks are mounted inverted which obviously puts them at risk for damage. The guard is very robust and protects not only the header but the valve and first stage regulator. The regulator is a standard DIN and the protective plug also has a spare O ring in the event of a failure.

    WEIGHTS:
    The weight system consist of a single cast piece of bronze with two steel cables in the casting itself. The bronze weight slips over a SS pin located between the two tanks. A locking pin secures the weight to the tanks. You can also add more weight to the bronze in the form of additional bronze plates. Now this is not diver detachable weight. This weight is to counter the positive buoyancy of the composite tanks. The nice thing about this is that I could walk around all day with the BC on and no weights attached. Once I was in the water it was very easy for the guy on the edge to put my weights on. The BC also had pockets for detachable weights.

    TANK TO BC MOUNT:
    The stainless steel bracket on the tanks has tow round pins which fit into holes on a separate stainless steel rail. This rail is connected to the BC. A simple locking clamp allows the tank assembly to slide and tanks come off the BC. Coming off was easy but aligning the two holes were a bit tricky. Practice would most likely make this easier.

    BC:
    There was no mistaking who made the BC for Interspiro. The BC was a Zeagle adaptation which almost looked my ranger. The rail for the tank just fit into the webbing on the rear of the BC where the cam bands usually go. Don’t get me wrong I love my Zeagle Ranger but I am thinking that a back plate BC with the holes for the tanks would make a better combination. It is something to think about going forward.

    REGULATOR:
    This is the key to this whole system. The 1st stage is a din regulator with multiple ports. Out of the 1st stage there are two hoses that go to a manifold located on the right shoulder strap about at the nipple line. This manifold is much more than just a connection point for hoses.

    The whole principle of this system is that the primary air volume of 80% is available as you primary air supply. As you approach 80% the breathing becomes more difficult. The guy said you could get up to eight breaths. If you have the “heads up display option” as they call it (it is nothing more than a red LED mounted on the outside of the mask) this red LED will start to blink to let you know you are getting low on air. You then reach down to your manifold block and flip a switch which engages your reserve air. I guess this is similar to a J-valve but with some more modern twists. I found the reserve valve easy to find and actuate with little experience.

    The manifold receives both high and low pressure. The manifold also has connections for the pressure gauge which is on your right shoulder as well as a second, second stages. We should also not forget the connection for the MKII full face mask. The nice thing about this is that the hose is directly in front of you and is even better than using a swivel on a normal scuba tank.

    The best thing is that all the hoses except for the inflator hose come up from down below. The inverted tank design completely eliminates overhead snag hazards and all the hoses are easily reachable from the front. The only issue was the valve handle on the tank was a bit difficult to actuate. It is designed to be difficult so as to not accidentally get turned of but the handle design could be a bit better.

    The last and final thing the manifold block is for is to connect the surface supply air hose. A single very small hose connects to the block via a quick disconnect fitting.

    Now I would have never thought a small team like mine could have ever dreamed of using surface supply air. After seeing this unit it is now within the realm of possibility. First my thought was cost and second keeping people trained. Now cost is an issue but not as bad as I first thought. Ballpark on the system is $10K for the surface unit, 200’ of hose and two cylinder setups. You can eliminate the two cylinders setups if you have DIN valves on your existing tanks or retrofit them to DIN. The BC, Tanks, Regulators and MKII masks is around $5500 per unit. You can subtract about $1000 for the mask if you already have one. We have six so I asked the question.

    The unique thing about the surface unit is that is delivers 4350 psi in the hose. The regulator a depth makes all the compensation for the air pressure. The makes operating the system at the surface very easy. The hose is only 10 mm OD and 2 mm ID so even if the hose were to be completely severed the inertial force would be very small. The hose is Kevlar impregnated and strong enough to lift 7 fully dressed divers. (or so they say) It was easier to use than the comm rope on our OTS system. Speaking of OTS it sounds like they are working with Interspiro to get a wire without the rope to go with this hose system. On the surface the hose fits neatly on a rack that stores it in a figure eight. The whole rack with all the hose on it was easily lifted by just one person. This makes the system very portable and easy to use.

    PROS:

    COMFORT:
    You don’t even know you have a tank on your back. The small compact two tank system keeps the center of gravity very close to your back. I tried to get the BC to roll like my AL80 with AL13 pony setup. I put myself in every position and the BC stayed in perfect position.

    STREAMLINE PROFILE:
    I did not take any measurements but it does not take a rocket scientist to see that the two small tank systems reduce your profile and the inverted tank reduces the tangle hazards.

    SIMPLE SURFACE SUPPLY UNIT:
    As I said before this setup is easy to learn and setup which makes it very relevant to volunteer teams like mine.

    CONS:

    HEADS UP DISPLAY:
    Just a red LED that is secured to the outside of the mask which compared to the rest of this system seems to be kind of a kluge. The wire is just wrapped around the regulator hose and could seemingly come loose and create a snag hazard. It would be nice if they could adapt their firefighting heads up display to the diving rig and find a better way to secure the wire. It is a small issue but one none the less.

    SURFACE SUPPLY ONLY WITH INTERSPRIO BC AND REGULATOR:
    I am not sure how you would even go about making this work with another setup but the system was so clean and easy to use I would like to see it be adaptable to our normal scuba rigs. I mean if we used 3000 psi tanks and were able to modify our rigs to we could use the quick disconnect it would be great.

    My plan is to get some better pricing and make a presentation to our dive commanders. At least we can determine if this is a direction we want to go in and we have already been offered a team demonstration.

    I hope this was helpful. I know it was long winded but I felt that it was worth the effort. I will post the picture and keep everyone updated as more information becomes available.

    Mark D.
     
  2. muddiver

    muddiver Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Coast USA
    2,630
    104
    63
    Sorry, I don't see how a working diver can draw enough volume through a 2mm hose. Most SCUBA and surface supplied hose is 3/8" (9.525mm) and when working hard I have no problem overbreathing a 3/8" dia. hose.

    Kirby Morgan makes an air control system for only $4750.00 Kirby Morgan Air Control System - Amron International add some hose @ $2.19*300=$657 and you are only at $5407.00 Sorry I don't see teh saving here.
     
  3. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    22,171
    2,770
    113
    We used the Amron 2-Diver Air Control/Communications and ran it off 4 scuba bottles that were independently interchangeable. Worked well for two divers in SL-17s (with polluted water wiskers) with Viking suits and SL yokes, a far superior solution when compared with AGAs (which I happen to like) and an Atlan 5mm Neoprene Drysuit with neoprene neck and wrist seals. You need complete protection from the water and the ability to disinfect.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. dittrimd

    dittrimd Force Fin Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Coventry, CT
    223
    8
    0
    Great follow up information. Please keep it coming. Mud I am not sure what pressure your system works with. The way the Interspiro guy explained it to me is that most other surface supply systems operated at lower pressures and require correction for the divers depth. This system operates at high pressure 4350 psi and the regulator at depth on the diver takes care of the lower pressure. Again I am not an expert with these systems so correct me if I am wrong. I want to learn as much as I can so I can make a good evaluation.Thanks for your help.Mark
     
  5. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    22,171
    2,770
    113
    You are correct, but that "correction" as you call it is not particularly critical and does not occur constantly, get to depth, pretty much set and forget. But the pneumofathometer is a much more accurate depth gauge and helps to keep the tender and supervisor's head in the game. Here's were I learned surface supplied operations, and yes I am a charter, card carrying member of the "Michigan Mafia."
     
  6. Yotsie

    Yotsie Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Modesto, CA
    260
    4
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    We have run the system that Muddiver linked for the past 12+ years. I, too, checked out the Interspiro rig at the IADRS conference in Colorado. I spent a lot of time talking to the reps and playing with the system (no actual in water experience though). Afterwards, another teammate and I decided the KM system we already employ is still a very viable unit. The pneumofathometer hose is very useful for more than just depth monitoring. I liike the direction Interspiro is going with the composite tanks that are rated for higher operating pressure, but my opinion ended up the same as Mud's... There is actually no savings in Interspiro's rig.
     
  7. muddiver

    muddiver Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Coast USA
    2,630
    104
    63
    It's just my dumb engineer's opinion, but a high pressure hose, even a small one, is harded to deal with because the laws of physics will make it want to straighten out and the be stiff. The two other systems mentioned here, as well as the garage setup I made, use an intermedeate pressure in the unbilicle hose that will range between 135 psi (9.308 bar) to around 195 psi (13.44 bar) if you go to 100 feet of depth. The pressure out of the supply weither it is a compressor or high pressure cylinders is regulated at the manifold in the box down to the intermeadeate pressure with a constant flow regulator similar to a welding regulator that can be adjusted by the surface crew. Using lower pressures after the supply cylinder is much safer for the surface support crew. I've seen guys hit with whiping air hoses and broken fire hoses and it's not a pretty sight.

    The umbilicle uses a more flexable diver's air supply hose, and it includes the communication wire, a pneumofathometer hose and a strenghth member (usually a 3/8" to 1/2" rope). The intermeadeate pressure is still regulated at depth down to breathing pressure by the second stage on the diver's mask/helmet.

    The lower pressure system is eaisier to repair in the field if something breaks. I don't think the average joe is going to have the tools and jigs need to refit the connectors on the Intersperio hose in the field by hand. I can rethread an O2 or #6 JIC fitting on a 3/8" Gates hose in less than 30 minutes if one should blow off or the hose should get cut. Then you are back in business.

    Also, can the Intersperio be supplied off of a compressor? Say the fire departments SCBA fill rig, a construction compressor filtered with one of those breathing air filter kits or a Brownie hooka compressor. The Amron and the KM sets both have provisions for many types of air supply. And they come in two diver configurations.

    But the Intersperion is cool looking.
     
  8. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    758
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    Thanks for the report Darryl:D
     
  9. dittrimd

    dittrimd Force Fin Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Coventry, CT
    223
    8
    0
    Mud,

    Suprisinngly the hose was very easy to manage. It is pretty stiff given it is reinforced kevlar but there seemed to be little to know issue with handling it in or out of the water. Again I cannot comare this to any other systems. I have used 1/2 and 3/8" air hoses at 120 psi and I can tell you that while the HP hose was stiffer it did not make it hard to manage it.

    On the issue of safety the reason why the ID is 2mm is becuase in the event of a castrophic failure there would be very little inertial force due to the small volume of air coming out of the hose. The energy would disappaite very quickly and you would not have a very dangerous situation. It might be a bit loud. Sounds like a good experiment though!!

    It sounds as if the IP system hoses can be a bit bulky with two hoses and a comm line. The IS hose was smaller than the OTS comm rope for wired systems. It also floats which is nice as our comm rope is easily snagged. I know there is not comm capability but as I said the IS guys are working with OTS to come up with a solution. Should be interesting to see what they come up with.

    You bring up a good point about field repair which I did not get into a discussion. Again I have repaired LP/IP air hoses very easily in the field. Your assumption that tools and or expertise would not be readliy available in the field is probably right on the money.

    As for running off the comressor I did not ask that. I can say that while we usually have access to portable compreesors or cascade systems on our calls very rarely are they ever close enough to the diving area where we could hook them up. We would just keep refilling bottles as they became used up. So for PSD diving this would not be that big of an issue. My guess is that in commercial diving this would be applicable.

    Thanks again,

    Mark
     
  10. BladesRobinson

    BladesRobinson ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Mark,

    Thank you for your unbiased opinions. You hit the nail on the head and for those wanting to go to the next step (surface supplied air) and increase safety, the Interspiro system certainly has benefits. It has shortfalls too and I am hopeful these minor shortfalls will be resolved over time.

    Unlike Mark, I can NOT make a disclaimer since Dive Rescue International sells Interspiro products so forum readers might take that into consideration before reading further.

    I really like the Interspiro system. I have used the Kirby Morgan system too and Dive Rescue International sells it to PSD teams (another disclosure). Having used both and having no more financial interest in one over another I hope there is balance to my bias or unbiased opinions.

    The Interspiro system is UNCOMPLICATED, CLEAN and STREAMLINED. All of these are attributes that are favorable to public safety divers. There is plenty of air despite the fact that the diameter of the hose line is small. This is due to the fact that the Interspiro system delivers high pressure to the diver and most other systems I am familiar with deliver low pressure to the diver. The high pressure line is also strength member rated for life safety. Most of the older conventional systems have a strength member (rope), a pneumo hose and an air supply hose. These traditional umbilicals are bulky and less streamlined than the single low diameter hose used by Interspiro.

    As Mark pointed out, there are some drawbacks, as there are with ANY system. Divers should carefuly weight the "pros" and the "cons" and make a "cost/benefit" decision that gives strong consideration to diver safety.

    Another advantage I see to the Interspiro system is the low air alarms on the surface and at depth and a simple (nearly) fool proof system that is less complex than the older more traditional surface supplied air systems.

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the Interspiro system OR the Kirby Morgan system, please contact Patrick Kitchens at the Dive Rescue International office. Call 800-248-3483 or request more information online at: Dive Rescue International - Supplying Water Rescue Training and Equipment

    Mark and Yotsie ... thank you again for sharing your thoughts!
     

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