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UTD Z-side mount with isolatable manifold

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by eelnoraa, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. eelnoraa

    eelnoraa DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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    Let me start by saying I am not side mount trained. I test dove this system over the weekend. I have to say the whole rig is high quality, well make, functional and comfortable. It is much better execuated than rigs like Hollis SMS50, and obviously more streamline than full size side mount setup. For single tank, I think the manifold is a very good idea. It retains long hose donatable feature of hogarthian style diving. Even for double tank, I think it is a nice idea. However, I also often heard seasoned side mount diver dislike the manifold implementation. I want to know in what aspect do you see this implementation has issue, and under what kind of failure mode would it fall apart. In other word, what is the downside here. I don't see it at all after the test dives.
     
  2. thebrain

    thebrain Nassau Grouper

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    I dove it this weekend with eelnora and thought the manifold made things very very easy ( I have done a bit of reading on cavediver where it is universally hated). Itis pretty nice to beable to walk around with all your hoses setup and just plug in the tanks when you're ready. also nice not to have to switchregs during the dive. It does add some complexity, and I am a little confused what happens if the ip of one of the first stages is less than the other. The manifold is definitely different than doubles in that it is after the first stages, which in my mind opens the system up to be more failure prone.

    the system as a whole was very streamlined and moved effortlessly in the water (I am a sidemount newbie too ). Getting rid of the backplate sure was nice.

    i still think that the xdeep system has the best weight solution and I have some concerns about the 20lb z wing in cold water diving, particularly if i wanted to use steel tanks and particularly at the surface during the beginning of the dive.

    the cost with the manifold is pretty rough though. I know it is USdesigned and made and that the manifold and qc6 stuff ain't cheap, it $1600-$1800 fora sidemount rig is tough to swallow when the common options are all in the $600-800 range. Admittedly, I think this is the ballpark price of the z system sans manifold.
     
  3. tracydr

    tracydr Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina, 3 miles from South Carolina
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    I don't dive sidemount but I'm looking at sidemount options because I'm starting to think about it for moving into doubles diving. My knees and neck will never allow me to lift, much less transport a double manifolded system.
    The biggest problem that I see with this system is that access to your on/off valves has been moved to behind your neck. Why do this when one of the nicest things about sidemount is having your valves right where you can see them?
    It also just looks like a lot of parts that could fail. Where-as, plain old regulators/SPGs used in sidemount are tried and true. Learning to switch regs can't be that hard, we've been taught to borrow an octo from our buddy since OW class. This just requires checking your air regularly, and changing regs what, very 250-500 psi? How hard is that?
    The BC itself seems very nice and from what I've heard, a lot of guys seem to like the BC. They just don't like the "Z" system.
     
  4. eelnoraa

    eelnoraa DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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    Yeah, the cost is definitely on the high side. But before that, I really want to know the why NOT.

    The on/off valve is NOT behind your neck, they are still on the tank. That is the isolation. If you close the isolation, it functions exactly as independent side mount where you need to switch 2nd stage. While I think switching 2nd stage is not an issue, my main concern is the donation part. Do you donate your breathing reg, or the no breathing reg. Are both sides with hose length setup to be donatable?
     
    tracydr likes this.
  5. mathauck0814

    mathauck0814 Assistant Instructor

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    Seen a number of these come through the area boats. The QC6 are fragile connections - too many failure points for me. Also the diving in California doesn't require it generally. If you're squeezing into tight spots on wrecks, maybe, otherwise just seems fragile and unnecessary to me. I'm not a huge fan of sidemount as a general diving practice, but that's just me. It has its place (great for streamlining bailout cylinders with a scooter or for making tight squeezes into small openings) but I just don't see it as a necessary compromise to a regular DIR kit for most divers. My $0.02.
     
  6. rongoodman

    rongoodman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Albany, NY
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    To borrow a phrase, I think it's a solution looking for a problem. Unless you're diving in mixed teams, sharing gas shouldn't be an issue, and if you are, a long hose bungeed on a tank works fine. If I recall, these are the guys who have rebreather divers coming off the loop just so they can offer a long hose from around their neck as in OC.
     
    DevonDiver, tracydr and mathauck0814 like this.
  7. thebrain

    thebrain Nassau Grouper

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    The way I understand it, with a traditional back mounted manifold, you have to have a problem at the the oring of the neck to valve seal for you to loose that gas. If you have a problem with the first stage, you can shut down that reg, but still have access to the gas. The likelihood of a problem at the tank neck/valve is pretty unlikely AFAIK. With the Z system if you have a problem with a first stage, the gas in that tank is gone because the manifold is occurring after the gas leaves the first stage. This is of course similar to normal sidemount diving. The Pro/Con of the Z system, is that by connecting the two tanks, you can breathe them both down equally, but if you have a problem in one first stage (unlikely I would think since it is visible) and don't notice it, it will affect your entire gas supply.

    I thought sidemount was pretty dumb for a long time for anything other than cave diving, I just thought it was a waste of the real estate your back offers for tanks. Now.... I don't know. It was pretty d**n comfortable in the water (moreso than a single tank BpW by a long shot). I also think it is silly to have to find/bring a table to mount a pair of doubles (like all those little foldy tables I see come out at Pt Lobos).

    In terms of sidemounts applicability to NorCal diving, I agree that it isn't overly necessary, but I fail to see how it is worse. I would think if you get knocked down with doubles on your exit at Monastery it would be nice to ditch you tanks if needed to exit. Also, and I know this is minor, it would be nice to have your valves protected so you aren't getting hung up on kelp.

    Finally and this is kind of off topic, but I think sidemounting is a tremendously better way to handle stage and deco bottles. My sidemounted AL80 was way more comfortable and unnoticeable than when I tried hanging a single al40 stage.
     
  8. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
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    I'm new to sidemount myself but after a few dives and a class with Steve Lewis (Doppler) I find that my reasons for getting into it are valid and found a few more besides once I actually got the rig on and started diving it. First of all I strongly suggest that if someone is going to do this that they take a class from an instructor that not only can teach the class but actually dives SM on a regular basis. There are numerous schools of thought on how to route and configure hoses, set up the bottles, the bungee system, set weighting, choose cylinders, and get it trimmed out. I was lucky in that I had no preconceived notions and even though I've watched Jill's video a few times and set my tanks up according to it, I went into the class with the idea that I knew nothing about it. I did have some of my wreck diving ideas and gas management ideas and they were ok. In fact I learned a new way to teach my gas management for diving double tanks period in the class and will use it in my Advanced and Intro to Tech classes.

    I had my own SM rig - a Dive Rite LT tech that I just got, a pair of LP 75.5 steel cylinders, and my HOG regs set up with the hoses I had on hand. After the class I changed the neck clips, got rid of the ring bungee system, and changed two hose lengths. I might have come to the same set up after a dozen dives or so. And maybe not. But the class allowed me to bypass those experimental dives trying to work things out on my own and gave me a real head start on a proper set up.

    Sidemount is not just for exploration and tech dives. And frankly the gas management is relatively simple for any reasonably intelligent person. And for the person who has been properly trained as a diver in general. That will unfortunately leave a bunch of people from the "be back with 500 psi" school needing some serious remediation. It does require to pay more attention to their diving than most vacation divers want to. But it can be done easily and successfully with a little practice to build muscle memory and get their thinking where it needs to be.

    But for those like Tracy who have back, neck, knee, shoulder, etc issues or strength issues it is a perfectly viable solution. You don't have to sling two 80's. Hell sling a couple 40's or steel 45's or 50's and you have a nice light compact, highly streamlined system. Set the bottles in the water or hang them on a line off the boat, get the harness on, jump in, clip on, and go. Surface unclip the bottles hand em up or clip to a line to be pulled up and all you are getting out of the water with is a harness.
     
    tracydr likes this.
  9. thebrain

    thebrain Nassau Grouper

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    Jim, you brought up something that I have been thinking about as well (and I know I am not unique in this idea): If you are diving with a single tank diver, it would be an absolute HOOT to dive with a pair of LP50's. It would really feel like you're flying naked!

    I also agree that there is enough setup and variation that a sidemount course or mentor is a great idea
     
  10. rongoodman

    rongoodman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I was on a boat last week with a diver who had LP 50s on his SMS100. They looked pretty slick.
     

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