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A quick review

Discussion in 'Nautilus Lifeline' started by Celeus, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Celeus

    Celeus Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
    We (my Girlfriend and I) received two Nautilus Lifelines a bit over a week ago- they actually were brought down by our LDS to meet us in LAX for our flight out to Fiji, where we are diving for another week.

    I successfully registered both of them using a Mac running Lion. I found the Boat USA MMSI registration site and got us both MMSI's, and entered them in. The software _says_ the red button is now activated.

    The systems seem to be reliably waterproof and of very sturdy build quality. I was able to change the talk channel for the green button, but it reset itself from time to time (another user on the same trip experienced the same).

    We were able to communicate between the two systems, but we were very close to one another.

    Overall, it seems like a worthwhile and well constructed system, and that it will do the job if needed.

    However, there are several things that need improvement. Some of these never should have made it out of basic testing.

    The carry pouch or whatever they are called- the small packs that can be connected to a strap such as a tank strap have multiple design flaws. We are using them, but will find something better, and (demand) our money back for them once we return to the states. They are a waste of time and effort, and I strongly recommend against anyone purchasing them. The velcro closure is useless and will not stay closed. The lanyard from the pouch to the nautilus would appear to be very, very fragile. After a couple of dives with the lifleline trailing after us onto the boat (it seems to get dislodged the easiest while getting out of the water onto the boat) we figured out how to connect a little velcro strap meant for something else to the lifeline's clip, and that seems to keep it in the pouch. The pouch buckles to the tank strap rather than being sewn into a hoop to have the tank strap go through- easier to set up, but much less secure and something that almost certainly _will_ come undone at some point. I cannot say enough bad things about the carry pouch. It is an unmitigated design and manufacturing disaster.

    The manual, is ...... oh wait, there is no manual. There is a brief quick start guide. That is all. This is not reasonable given the large amount of time Nautilus has had while waiting for these things to ship. The FAQ on their website is not useful. The marketing for the system makes claims for features that are not documented and appear to be unavailable. There is no help or documentation for the software or options configured through it.

    There is no way to test the emergency red button, or to make sure the strobe works, or gauge how bright it is (and there is no documentation to evaluate this on). It is deeply unfortunate that the red button is shipped deactivated until an MMSI is populated and the product is registered. Since there is no way to test the red button, I only have the desktop softwares assurances that the red button is activated, and marketing literature to tell me that the strobe is a strobe and not just an LED.

    The GPS may be giving incorrect data, even with 10+ satellites in view. I will be double checking this against my iphones GPS coordinates.

    The GPS readout scrolls between Lat/Long too quickly for my taste. This should be user selectable, or holding the xmit button should lock the screen view, or something. Reading the lat/long while in rough seas would be difficult.

    The LCD screen is backlit, as it lights up when charging, but I don't see a way to get the backlight to come on during use. This would be handy- again, reading a GPS coordinate, while holding a flashlight to the unit in a pitching sea is not going to be easy,

    When connected to the Nautilus app, both units I bought made loud noises, appearing to be tuning channels. I have no idea why the unit should have to be listening to channels while being configured, but it seems to be the case.

    The micro-USB (maybe it is mini, not 100% sure of terminology) port has a rubber/plastic stopper over it. The stopper is not connected via a lanyard or similar, and will be trivial to lose.

    I hope to be able to do some drift dives with the operator we are with now in the next few days (if the weather cooperates). If so, I hope to be able to do some quick tests with them to verify how well the system works in real operation.

    I want to be clear- I think this is a great product, and I am thrilled to have one and that Nautilus made it. I think it will radically improve some areas of dive safety.

    I think Nautilus has dropped the ball repeatedly on communication of shipping delays, and didn't properly understand what it would take to ship such a product- I can give a pass on that since they are new to this sort of business.

    I also think Nautilus completely flubbed the documentation and support aspects of the product so far. A first gen product will have issues, but documentation should not have been one of them, particularly with the extra time from shipping delays- you don't have to include a manual, just put one on your website.

    Finally, the pouch is so horrible it calls into question the design decisions and capabilities of the company (Nautilus) that made it.

    These are, of course, all opinions, not facts (except for those that are objectively so), and should be taken with an appropriate grain of salt.
    Jax and reefduffer like this.
  2. knowone

    knowone Regular of the Pub

    Anyone got directions to the diving forum?
  3. reefduffer

    reefduffer ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Diego CA
    I'm not associated with Nautilus, just an interested likely customer. Thanks very much for the review. I'll be sure not to order the pouch :cool2:

    There is a manual on their website at Downloads
    I downloaded it yesterday, I don't know how long it's been posted there. It's 14 pages, not elaborately detailed, but more than a quick start guide (which is also on that downloads page). It did clarify several things for me. I got the impression from the manual that the downloadable PC configuration software, once you're in it, might make some other things clearer, but that may not be the case. I'd like more, but then I'm the guy who reads manuals for things he hasn't bought yet ...

    I'm looking forward to Nautilus Mike's response. A couple of your issues, like GPS display latency or backlight operation, can probably be easily addressed in firmware (if not already addressed but not obvious to the user).
  4. Nautilus Mike

    Nautilus Mike ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor


    Mike here from the Nautilus Lifeline. I just finished scribbling notes as I read through your comments and incredibly valuable feedback.
    Yes we are new to the manufacturing business and I apologize for any frustrations you are feeling on this.
    Easy stuff first
    We were incredibly disappointed when the pouches arrived from the contractor. The mass production units didn't match the final approved sample. If you can send me your contact info (by PM?? or email mike@nautiluslifeline.com) I will ship you replacement pouches at my expense when the next batch arrives. there should be a huge improvement. old ones to be discarded as you pls.

    We will update the firmware to increase the time interval between gps scrolling back and forth. Shouldn't take more than 2 weeks to have revised firmware tested, proven and on our website ready for firmware upload.

    Trying to decide whether to backlight or not was a huge design decision. That screen can be configured either way. In the end, we decided that the benefit of the longest possible battery endurance in an emergency situation - 30 minutes of transmit talk time and 24 hours of distress data transmission on a partially discharged battery - was a better tradeoff than burning battery power for the backlight. maybe I was wrong???

    Manual is now online. sorry for delay.

    FAQs are being reworked today. We have hired an extra person to answer phone inquiries and help with technical calls. We are busily shooting video demo segments explaining both varying functions and commonly asked questions.

    DSC distress button activation restrictions are mandated by ITU regulations (international telecommunication union). boy we wish it was easier and it will be soon. ITU passed a resolution in June 2011 to implement a single designated MMSI identification number for this kind of device. As soon as individual countries promulgate regulations implementing the resolution, we should be able to ship Lifelines with a pre-programmed MMSI number. A number that can be changed by individuals to suit. There is no legal way to test DSC buttons. I've looked at the DSC buttons on the radios on our diveboats many times and wondered if they really work!!! But no way to test them. I'll do more headscratching on that.

    I hate to say this but there was a design change to the unit after the website went up. the "strobe" is a very powerful LED with a lens. but it's not a strobe. we will change our info right away. Same problem as backlit screen. I figured best design tradeoff was to have strongest possible distress signal going out in groups of 5 pulses for 24 hours in favour of strobe. LED is very very powerful - it virtually blinds you if you look at it closely when it goes off without the plastic in front of you. But it's not a strobe.

    I can tell you that we have almost 20,000 hours of design, engineering and programming into the development of the Lifeline. I hope you like it. I hope I can make you happy. pls let me know what else we can do..

    ScubaMoMo, fisheater and Jax like this.
  5. Nautilus Mike

    Nautilus Mike ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    If you can give me 3 - 4 weeks, I'll have a beautiful new pouch for you!
    We are going to change the gps display latency and will have a firmware upgrade ready 2 weeks. Part of our design concept was to make the Lifeline a peripheral computing device to be able to make this precise kind of tweak.
    I welcome all comments and suggestions. the more the better. the issue on backlighting the LCD display is something that I am very open to. My feeling is that the longer, the better, that the unit will transmit in distress mode a number of years from now when the battery is no longer brand new.

    thank you.
  6. bankyf

    bankyf Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Fredericksburg, VA
    Can you address the issue of noises coming from the unit while plugged in to the usb port? I noticed that as well and it was very annoying.
  7. Nautilus Mike

    Nautilus Mike ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    We just figured out solution for this is a longer usb connector cable. 4 feet long will do it.

    Sorry for the annoyance.

    It's important that a replacement cable is marked "HTC" (which is a high quality cord designed for a blackberry). the annoying noise comes from RF interference from certain laptops. There is no RF interference - or noise - when plugged into a wall socket. During our design work and testing, we used long USB cords and didn't come across this problem. I will be ordering replacement cords from one of our suppliers but they are shipped from overseas and will take a while to get there unfortuntely.

  8. Karibelle

    Karibelle IDC Staff Instructor

    Does that apply for everyone? If you knew they weren't what you wanted, it seems odd that I was able to buy them (at $37 a pop) at DEMA. I have two, and I'd like to take you up on your offer if it applies to me as well.

    We are having trouble setting our units to the channel we want (03). Any advice? It starts at channel 08 and gives maybe 20 to choose from between 08 and 80 ish. Thoughts?

    thanks in advance,
  9. Celeus

    Celeus Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Thanks Mike- Just on the flight back from our trip and wanted to thank you for responding. I am glad to hear that you weren't happy with the pouches as well, and I'll e-mail you to take you up on your offer to replace them with better ones, I appreciate you taking care of this issue.

    I also want to reiterate that I am overall very happy with the system- I am an early adopter of many technologies in both my personal life and career, and first iteration devices always have issues- some large, some small. I appreciate that the lifeline is easily firmware updated and appears to have excellent build quality.

    I also want to verify that I indeed was able to get a GPS lock (I didn't know I did not have a lock before, due to not having a manual at the time) and got good GPS results. The manual you posted was good- I might re-read it and have some questions, but overall it was good, thanks for posting it.

    As for testing DSC- I appreciate the challenge. I wonder if I can find somebody with a faraday cage for RF isolation/testing- might be worth trying.

    I did find the menu option by pushing the two buttons (green/orange), I don't have a unit in front of me, and wouldn't turn it on in an airplane :), but I don't recall seeing an option for GPS polling, but did find one for something else that implied sending my location iirc. I enabled that and it did something on the LCD and briefly lit the LED- I guess that is a good way to find out how bright the LED is!

  10. illFisch

    illFisch Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hobart

    You may want to update your website with a bit more detail on what the lifeline is and what it does. I came to scuba board to find out information on what the lifeline does. The information on the website is press the red button.

    I assume that the device allows diver to boat comms based on what I've seen on here but there is nothing on your website that I can see which definitively says so.

    You need a basic description of what the device offers and why anyone would want one if you plan to sell them.

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