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Need feedback on 1st BP/W for scientific diving

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by RJChen, Oct 1, 2020.

  1. RJChen

    RJChen Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oahu, Hawaii
    And that's why I came on here for feedback, for insights like this. The stagnation is real, not much opportunity for me to learn in my current circumstances since I'm consistently diving the same gear, same people, and same kind of working dives. Switching to a BP/W from a back inflate has been a bonanza of new info.
    Boston Breakwater likes this.
  2. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I have an 11 page paper on BPW style rigs that I provide to anyone who sends me an email address.
    As others have said, for single tank diving, unless you want to have to use an STA, there are options much less expensive than the Apeks. A plate is a plate. One that has slots for tank straps coupled with a wing that also has them along with some type of roll control mechanism eliminates the need for an STA.

    A harness is a harness if you go with a basic one piece. I do make custom hardware and harness setups for those who want or need them. I had a student who had a 54-inch chest. The standard one-piece harness put the straps so far under his arms that when the d rings were positioned correctly, he had no way to clip off his backup lights that made them easily accessible. The solution was to make a couple of "t" sliders that allowed the shoulder straps to be more towards the front of his body. I have since added a new angle slide that does the same thing just a bit differently. In this case, the one-piece went to two pieces of webbing plus the custom hardware at an added cost of about 15 bucks to the overall rig and he got a BPW that was functionally the same but also custom to him. If he ever decides to stop diving and sell the rig he can sell as is or replace the webbing for 15 bucks.

    For single tank diving, a 30-35 lb wing will handle pretty much anything up to and including a heavy steel 95 or 119/120.
    Given your info regarding your body type, and the conditions you'd be in, I'd recommend skipping the steel plate and going with aluminum since you state you tend to be negative anyway. I'd simply add a couple of trim pockets to the cam bands near the plate that would let you customize the way the rig dives, make it lighter for travel, less expensive initially, and couple that with a 32 lb wing you'd be set. Aluminum plate, 2 trim pockets, 32 lb wing with a replaceable bladder, basic one-piece harness with all hardware and crotch strap, and standard cam bands. Done.

    I don't know what the Apeks rig is going to run you but I see several sites where it's between 650 and 700 bucks. That's nuts. I could put you in the rig I described above for under 400.
    theDrExplorer and JohnN like this.
  3. NorCalDM

    NorCalDM Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vacaville California
    I use the Apeks plates and wings and they are very well made. The WTX-D40 is overkill in my opinion as I us the D30 in cold or warm water and it is more than enough. I switch to an Aluminum plate for warm water diving as with my SST plate I'm a lawn dart in a 3mm full suit. I dive in Hawaii a fair amount and my typical set up is Aluminum plate and cylinder 4-6 lbs of added lead with 3mm full suit and 8-10 lbs of added lead with my 5mm full suit. Also always use an STA. I'm 6' 185 lbs. BP/W is just another platform nothing special so I don't see why it would be an issue for your type of diving and I see them all the time in Hawaii. One thing about the Apeks webbing I find it very stiff so I get my webbing from DGX as it is a little softer and the package deal with all the D rings and crotch strap is a steal.
    D_Fresh likes this.
  4. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Regular of the Pub

    The difference is how much weight can you swim up and stay afloat with w/o a working aircell. This obviously depends on your swimming skills too. The alternative is to have redundant buoyancy in an SMB or lift bag, that wouldn't be my first choice but it's an option.
  5. Bigbella

    Bigbella ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: San Francisco
    Your current vest is just fine for scientific work and needs no upgrade. Why blow the cash, if it's in working order?

    You'd be surprised what the scientific community has used over time -- most anything and everything, that they could get their grubby hands upon. I have done commercial and scientific diving for years and have used, most recently, a Zeagle Ranger; and for lighter duties, and travel, a Zeus . . .
    Fishyhead and Tournesol2000 like this.
  6. Angelo Farina

    Angelo Farina Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Parma, ITALY
    I am a scientific diver, too.
    My standard setup makes use of a plastic backplate with single-piece harness, and an old Coltri bladder which is a mixture between a wing and a rear-inflating jacket.
    The setup is more or less neutral.
    I use a number of lead weights on a separate belt depending on the suit and tank.
    Here in the mediterranean I use a 3mm single piece wet suit with no hood in summer, and a 5mm wet suit with hood and neoprene socks in winter.
    Tanks here are mostly 15 liters steel at 232 bars with double valve, so quite heavy.
    With such tanks I use 4 kg weight with the 3mm and 6 kg weight with the 5mm.
    This makes me negative enough for working with hydrophone arrays and panoramic camera on the bottom.
    Still, if needed, I can swim up easily with the bladder entirely empty (but leaving the scientific equipment on the bottom).
    I need the thrust of the bladder for balancing the negative weight of the equipment, which ranges between 5 and 10 kg.

    All that said, I do not see any reason for ditching your current back-inflating BCD and move to a stainless steel BP.
    This will reduce your capability of adjusting the weights.
    What's the real reason you want to change?
  7. RJChen

    RJChen Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oahu, Hawaii
    My current BC is the first one I started with, and some the not so replaceable bits are starting to show significant wear. While I am in a school I do get a significant discount on all Aqualung equipment, and by extension Apeks, to the point that the price differences between the different bladders are negligible and my overall rig would be comparable to say a DGX one. I am graduating this semester, so I'm trying to take advantage of it while I can. The Zeagle would become a backup and probably my travel BC.
    Hoyden likes this.
  8. Hoyden

    Hoyden ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Rockville, MD
    If you are going to be doing significant amounts of scientific diving, the fit of the plate matters. I can dive pretty much any plate, but if I am going to be in the water for hours everyday (like on a project) I far prefer a backplate with bent out lower corners like a Halcyon. I think that other manufacturers have now added the bent out corners so brand may not matter, but if I am in and out of the water a lot I can feel the difference.


    RJChen likes this.
  9. ajanelle

    ajanelle Angel Fish

    I would just dive a steel plate. If you're only diving aluminum 80s I prefer something that will still be slightly negative with an empty bladder and tank. It should also be a balanced rig, at least I would guess you could swim up 6 lb of weight. As someone said above, a plate is a plate, and a harness is a harness. The plate I picked up used for $25 works just as well as the plate that I bought new. The only think I would be picky on is the wing, but only because of size. You won't need a 40 lb wing unless you're diving heavy steels, but at that point you should have an aluminum plate and likely a source of redundant lift (drysuit). I dive a 28 lb wing for singles and it works well. Regarding science diving, if you think you need more lift to carry equipment, you should be carrying that equipment with a lift bag.
  10. RJChen

    RJChen Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oahu, Hawaii
    The Zeagle Ranger LTD has a ~45 lb horseshoe, which is pretty unwieldy with a single tank. However, it has come in handy at times. Once on a shallow shore dive, I used it as an improvised lift bag to remove about ~200 lbs of ghost net (maybe not the safest thing, but it was a calm day and maybe like 100 m from shore). So I would like to maintain as close to similar performance out of my next BC. I also help a variety of different labs, so my equipment load can vary. Plus, since I can get a discount on Apeks, the price difference between the 30/40 and non-PSD/PSD bladders is fairly minimal.

    I was curious about the bent corners, I hear conflicting things. Some say it really helps, some say it doesn't really. For you, how does it make it more comfortable? I'm getting the Apeks plate, which doesn't have those bent corners, since I get a discount and for guaranteed compatibility with everything else, but I'm open to getting other plates if it does make a significant difference. Some of my dives have almost hit the 120 minute mark, but average closer to 90-100. The Zeagle is like diving in a cloud since it is extremely well padded.

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