It’s been a long time since I have held strong feelings about AI. Well, depending on your definition, anyway. If we’re talking about Skynet or Ultron I have very strong feelings indeed. But for wireless “air-integration” I’ve been less intransigent. Years ago it always seemed like a bit of a silly frill. Expensive. Unreliable. Short battery lives. Would lose connectivity if you were within eyeshot of an iron shipwreck. An SPG as backup was an absolute necessity, especially if diving in some sort of overhead. Exposed. Easy to break. And on and on and on. The list of reasons against them were (and in some cases, still are) long. And the benefit… You could tell the DM that you had 1347psi left. (NOTE: Do not ever communicate your pressure to the single digit. Your gauge isn’t that accurate and no one cares. It’s like counting out pennies in front of a long line at the supermarket. So don’t.) All that said, over the last few years, I’ve grown less suspicious of them. Technology marches on. Transmitters and receivers are getting more reliable. And under certain circumstances I can see the argument for them. I prefer students to use SPGs both to get them in the habit of light discipline and to get them to calculate and confirm pressures rather than to just rely on their gauges to surprise them with whatever they find they have left. But, as I started by saying, when they go off to dive in the wild I have no strong feelings one way or the other about how they monitor their gas. Today, however, I was given practical and immediate reason to meditate on circumstances and arguments in favour of AI. I’ve had a friendly debate with a couple of folks from one of the local dive coteries who have been advocating not only the convenience of, but rather the increased safety of AI for sidemount. Somewhat locked in habituated thinking about these things, I’ve been skeptical. With the transmitters pointed down along the tanks, protected in your armpit, the group’s logic goes, the transmitter is almost completely safe from harm. One less hose to get wrapped in bungees and throw your tanks off-torque. The failure points are reduced from three (one port o-ring and two HP spool o-rings - the latter being one of the most common all-around failures) to one. And since there isn’t a constant bending of a 6” hose to confirm your pressure, that is pretty well eliminated as a failure point, too. “Yeah,” goes the counter-argument to which I am simply accustomed, “But brass-and-glass is more reliable.” At which point they wordlessly stare at me, waiting for me to remember the dozens upon dozens of times over the years I’ve had a gauge shatter, or flood, or simply point to 5000psi for no reason whatsoever. We got in the water for our second dive today, when I notice that the pressure gauge on one of my tanks is zero. “Weird,” I think, “I could have sworn I pressurised it.” Which I did again. And watched the needle drop quickly to zero. Lowering the tank into the water to figure out where the leak is, I get sprayed in the face. The HP hose is catastrophically failing. Spraying gas out of a dozen holes that are rapidly getting worse and worse, a large bubble building at the crimp. I turned off the tank, I’m guessing, within seconds of the hose exploding. So… that was fun. And not the first time I’ve seen that happen. It’s not the second time I’ve seen that happen. Which is why I was furious at myself to not found a spare 6” HP hose in my save-a-dive kit like there should be. Because the last one got used and didn’t get replaced. Though I do have dozens of 003 o-rings in there for all the times HP spools go bad, as they so frequently do (especially on SM with all the manipulation of the SPG). Still, this meant the end of the dive day. And at least it happened getting in the water instead of the maximum point of penetration (where I have seen this exact same problem manifest). My mind has been changed. I’m saving up for an AI computer and two transmitters for SM. To hell with 6” hoses. I am keeping my brass and glass for backmount, though. Still can’t see the positives outweighing the potential negatives there. I only need to check that gauge approximately once a financial quarter anyway.
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