Review Diving the Avelo System

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scubadada

Diver
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Location
Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
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The Avelo System is innovative diving equipment that allows you to dive differently than with traditional gear. The Avelo System consists of the Jetpack and the Hydrotank. The Jetpack is a backplate, harness, battery, and pump. The Hydrotank consists of a flexible bladder holding the gas and a rigid outer cylinder. Buoyancy is controlled by pumping water into the outer cylinder and decreasing the size of the bladder. There is no buoyancy compensator and the air bubble traditionally used to control buoyancy. The Avelo System is advertised as providing neutral buoyancy that is depth independent, less weight than traditional gear, and improved gas consumption. The technology is very well described on the Avelo website Avelo (diveavelo.com).

My wife and I recently returned from a two week trip to Bonaire, December 6-20, 2023. We took advantage of the fact that Avelo training and use is offered by Dive Friends on Bonaire. Training and use of the Avelo System is currently offered in just three locations, Bonaire, Catalina, California, and Sydney, Australia. Early in our stay, we took the one day, two dive Recreational Avelo Diver (RAD) course and on the second day did two additional guided dives. Later in our visit, we rented Avelo gear and did three independent dives in a day.

The Recreational Avelo Diver course starts with a well-designed eLearning exercise in three sections, concepts behind traditional and Avelo diving, components of the Avelo System, and procedures for use of the Avelo equipment. Open Water scuba certification is a prerequisite for RAD certification. The RAD course begins with a classroom review of the Avelo gear and its use. This is followed by the two certification dives. These were done as shore dives at Something Special, across the street from the Dive Friends Retail & Dive Shop. The first dive was mainly getting use to the Avelo System and included a weight check at the surface, using the equipment to achieve neutral buoyancy, and then swimming around at different depths. You do use a small amount of weight in the base of the Hydrotank to adjust your buoyancy at the surface, I used four pounds and my wife used three. The ease of achieving neutral buoyancy and the depth independence was startling. The second dive consisted mainly of skills, doffing and donning, simulated pump running by adding two extra pumps, simulated loss of ballast water by purging at depth, a shared gas ascent, and deploying the integrated SMB at the surface. The two simulated failures were easy to deal with. The extra weight of the excess pumps was not difficult to swim with and one could always open the purge valve. Loss of ballast water only resulted in minimal lightness and swimming was still not difficult. For either failure, one would calmly terminate the dive. After successfully completing the second dive, RAD certification was conferred. I’m extremely glad that we did the two additional guided dives on the second day. We did two more shore dives and became much more familiar with the Avelo System while enjoying the dives. Dive Friends requires four guided dives before you are allowed to rent gear for independent diving. Dive Friends was very efficient and organized in offering the RAD and additional guided dives. Our instructor and guide, Stephanie, was absolutely phenomenal. The 4 dives were done with a modified Scubapro G2 dive console that includes the Avelo Mode. It was extremely interesting to see our dive profiles along with gas consumption rates and where we fell in the optimal buoyancy range.

Towards the end of our stay on Bonaire, we rented Avelo gear for a 3 dive day. We picked up two Jetpacks, six Hydrotanks, and 4 batteries and off we went. Our initial setup was a bit slow, we improved with practice. The dives went well with excellent neutral buoyancy and depth controlled with breathing and gently swimming up and down. We appreciated the lighter weight of the equipment. My gas consumption is better than average. After only 7 dives with the Avelo System, I have not yet realized the improvement in gas consumption. Some of this may be gaining familiarity with the equipment as my gas consumption was improving over my three independent dives.

Is Avelo the diving of the future, I don’t know? Expansion of the number of training sites, wider availability of equipment, sale of equipment to individuals, and presence of the Avelo Mode on a number of popular computer platforms are some of the variables. Information recently released at the 2023 DEMA sheds some light on the future. Avelo is currently opening central dive shops in diving regions that, in addition to professional and recreational training, will serve as a hub for expansion. Several new Avelo Dive Centers will open in 2024. Avelo equipment will be available for sale in the second half of 2024 with prices announced by the Avelo Dive Centers.

Our experience with the Avelo System in Bonaire was interesting and enlightening. The RAD course and two additional guided dives cost $700 per person and the rental day cost $110 per person. I will give Avelo another try and hone my skills when I have the opportunity to return to Bonaire, maybe earlier.
 
The Avelo System is innovative diving equipment that allows you to dive differently than with traditional gear. The Avelo System consists of the Jetpack and the Hydrotank. The Jetpack is a backplate, harness, battery, and pump. The Hydrotank consists of a flexible bladder holding the gas and a rigid outer cylinder. Buoyancy is controlled by pumping water into the outer cylinder and decreasing the size of the bladder. There is no buoyancy compensator and the air bubble traditionally used to control buoyancy. The Avelo System is advertised as providing neutral buoyancy that is depth independent, less weight than traditional gear, and improved gas consumption. The technology is very well described on the Avelo website Avelo (diveavelo.com).

My wife and I recently returned from a two week trip to Bonaire, December 6-20, 2023. We took advantage of the fact that Avelo training and use is offered by Dive Friends on Bonaire. Training and use of the Avelo System is currently offered in just three locations, Bonaire, Catalina, California, and Sydney, Australia. Early in our stay, we took the one day, two dive Recreational Avelo Diver (RAD) course and on the second day did two additional guided dives. Later in our visit, we rented Avelo gear and did three independent dives in a day.

The Recreational Avelo Diver course starts with a well-designed eLearning exercise in three sections, concepts behind traditional and Avelo diving, components of the Avelo System, and procedures for use of the Avelo equipment. Open Water scuba certification is a prerequisite for RAD certification. The RAD course begins with a classroom review of the Avelo gear and its use. This is followed by the two certification dives. These were done as shore dives at Something Special, across the street from the Dive Friends Retail & Dive Shop. The first dive was mainly getting use to the Avelo System and included a weight check at the surface, using the equipment to achieve neutral buoyancy, and then swimming around at different depths. You do use a small amount of weight in the base of the Hydrotank to adjust your buoyancy at the surface, I used four pounds and my wife used three. The ease of achieving neutral buoyancy and the depth independence was startling. The second dive consisted mainly of skills, doffing and donning, simulated pump running by adding two extra pumps, simulated loss of ballast water by purging at depth, a shared gas ascent, and deploying the integrated SMB at the surface. The two simulated failures were easy to deal with. The extra weight of the excess pumps was not difficult to swim with and one could always open the purge valve. Loss of ballast water only resulted in minimal lightness and swimming was still not difficult. For either failure, one would calmly terminate the dive. After successfully completing the second dive, RAD certification was conferred. I’m extremely glad that we did the two additional guided dives on the second day. We did two more shore dives and became much more familiar with the Avelo System while enjoying the dives. Dive Friends requires four guided dives before you are allowed to rent gear for independent diving. Dive Friends was very efficient and organized in offering the RAD and additional guided dives. Our instructor and guide, Stephanie, was absolutely phenomenal. The 4 dives were done with a modified Scubapro G2 dive console that includes the Avelo Mode. It was extremely interesting to see our dive profiles along with gas consumption rates and where we fell in the optimal buoyancy range.

Towards the end of our stay on Bonaire, we rented Avelo gear for a 3 dive day. We picked up two Jetpacks, six Hydrotanks, and 4 batteries and off we went. Our initial setup was a bit slow, we improved with practice. The dives went well with excellent neutral buoyancy and depth controlled with breathing and gently swimming up and down. We appreciated the lighter weight of the equipment. My gas consumption is better than average. After only 7 dives with the Avelo System, I have not yet realized the improvement in gas consumption. Some of this may be gaining familiarity with the equipment as my gas consumption was improving over my three independent dives.

Is Avelo the diving of the future, I don’t know? Expansion of the number of training sites, wider availability of equipment, sale of equipment to individuals, and presence of the Avelo Mode on a number of popular computer platforms are some of the variables. Information recently released at the 2023 DEMA sheds some light on the future. Avelo is currently opening central dive shops in diving regions that, in addition to professional and recreational training, will serve as a hub for expansion. Several new Avelo Dive Centers will open in 2024. Avelo equipment will be available for sale in the second half of 2024 with prices announced by the Avelo Dive Centers.

Our experience with the Avelo System in Bonaire was interesting and enlightening. The RAD course and two additional guided dives cost $700 per person and the rental day cost $110 per person. I will give Avelo another try and hone my skills when I have the opportunity to return to Bonaire, maybe earlier.
So I would guess the computer linkage is required to monitor available gas volume since the pressure will fluctuate with depth/buoyancy needs?

Also, how does the tank size compare to a standard Al80?
 
Thanks for the writeup. It's not surprising that DF committed to the system, since it's got such a big footprint now; I'd think it would be daunting for a smalll shop already loaded up with rental gear. It'll take awhile (if ever) to be more than a novelty, but it sure has potential.
 
Loss of ballast water only resulted in minimal lightness and swimming was still not difficult
Do you recall the approximate tank pressure during this drill? If not, was it was early or late in the dive?

Would you please elaborate on the directions when setting the weight? (Was the air bladder full or near-empty, lung volume, ballast water level, surface/safety stop/max depth, etc.?) I'm just trying to understand their ideal/target condition since it functions in "reverse" of a traditional BC by reducing buoyancy.

ETA: that's my assumption, at least. I suppose you could fill to max ballast before the initial descent, but I'm not sure how that works with the potential failure modes.

Any idea of the maximum buoyancy swing of the compensator? (That was always a point of speculation in prior discussions.)
 
So I would guess the computer linkage is required to monitor available gas volume since the pressure will fluctuate with depth/buoyancy needs?

Also, how does the tank size compare to a standard Al80?
For the RAD course and the 2 guided dives, we used a hosed AI Scubapro G2 computer console running the Avelo Mode. It gave the remaining percentage of gas. For our independent dives, we used our own AI computers and the regulator set came with a SPG. It's pretty simple just to use percentages of the higher pressure after pumping to guide your gas use. They did have a wrist slate available with percentages calculated if you wanted to use it. The 300 bar DIN reg sets that were used during class, guided dives, and rental were Scubapro MK25/S600 or S620 Ti with a Scubapro octo that I didn't examine closely, a R195 or S270. Apparently, Avelo has development arrangements with Scubapro, Shearwater, and other computer manufacturers.

The standard Hydrotank, and the one we used, is 10 liters, rated at 300 bar/4350 psi. Depending on the fill pressure, this tank can contain more gas than an AL80. With the fill pressures we had, our tanks had nearly the same gas volume as an AL80. Avelo also has an 8 liter/300 bar tank. This tank would generally have less gas than an AL80.
 
Any pictures?
Sorry, I did not take any. There are many photos and diagrams on the Avelo website

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Do you recall the approximate tank pressure during this drill? If not, was it was early or late in the dive?

Would you please elaborate on the directions when setting the weight? (Was the air bladder full or near-empty, lung volume, ballast water level, surface/safety stop/max depth, etc.?) I'm just trying to understand their ideal/target condition since it functions in "reverse" of a traditional BC by reducing buoyancy.

ETA: that's my assumption, at least. I suppose you could fill to max ballast before the initial descent, but I'm not sure how that works with the potential failure modes.

Any idea of the maximum buoyancy swing of the compensator? (That was always a point of speculation in prior discussions.)
The loss of ballast water exercise was done toward the end of the dive, however, the dive was relatively short, around 45 minutes. I did not note the tank pressure just before or after the purge that released the water. After the purge, it was not difficult to stay down with modest swimming.

Avelo has a weight estimator that uses body weight and wetsuit specs to approximate the amount of weight to use. It appears that the goal is to be slightly positive on the surface so that a single pump/one minute will result in the ability to easily descend with neutral buoyancy. The surface check was to be head just partly above the water after exhaling. The estimator worked perfectly for my wife and me wearing 3 mm full suits. We had excellent neutral buoyancy after one full pump. I may be wrong, but believe I heard that the first full pump is about 2 lbs. of ballast. I'm not sure if subsequent pumps would give you the same increment with the pump working against an increasing pressure. The overweight/pump running exercise was done closer to the beginning of the dive when we were neutral after the one pump. We did two additional full pumps and ended up heavy, but not excessively so. This was remedied by purging the tank back to neutral. You could always purge the tank if the pump overran. I don't know the maximum buoyancy swing possible, it might also be affected by the initial fill pressure.

During our 3 independent dives, we achieved neutral buoyancy after the one full pump. About 35-40 min into the dive, I would do another couple of partial pumps to finish the dive neutral.

Clearly, we were using the system as a beginner would and were not stressing the system performance. It was made as easy as possible for us to quickly achieve neutral buoyancy and to maintain that for the dive. The neutral buoyancy was depth independent. For the Avelo dives, I only ventured down to about 70 feet, but also spent a fair amount stably swimming in very shallow water toward the end of our shore dives.
 

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