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kafkaland

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I have been circling around this strange attractor for a while, and really want to make the leap, but I’m not quite sure how to go about it. I’m a technical and cave diver (AN/DP, stage cave), with more of an interest in caves than open water technical dives. I live in Michigan and dive in the Great Lakes, but my heart is in the caves of Mexico (over 150 cave dives there). And now that we’re coming out of covid, I’m looking for a new stage in my diving. And learning rebreather diving seems to fit the bill. I did a one-day try session on a Meg, and while I was a bit embarrassed about stirring up that much silt, I liked it and think I was getting the hang of it.

Going forward, I’m quite convinced I want to get certified on a rebreather and eventually buy one. But I’m not sure what the the best order here is. Decide on a particular unit, and buy it together with the training? An der if so, do more trial dived beforehand deciding? Or do the training on a rental unit that seems reasonable, and then decide what to buy and do the crossover if needed?

And, what’s the best way to decide on a good unit for me? Everyone I talk to seems to love what they’re diving, but most have never tried anything else. A local shop is pushing the Prism hard, but from my OC experience I hate Hollis’ customer service. From some cave friends I have heard very good things about the JJ. Then there are good reports about the new chest mounted optima - I like how light it is and that it’s compatible with most sidemount setups. And my test dive on the Meg wasn’t bad. I imagine using it eventually mostly for shallower cave dives or easy cold water wreck dives, provided I can find buddies for that, but won’t rule out other uses as well if other opportunities present themselves.

So lots of good options (can’t go wrong no matter what I choose?), or is there more to this?
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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This might be an unpopular opinion based on past discussions, but I'd suggest getting an eCCR sidemount system if you wish to dive caves on CCR, like the Meg. Not sure about who else makes such systems, but I'm sure people who have far more knowledge than me will chime in.

While I just completed mod 1 on the Prism 2 (selected for a reason that likely doesn't apply to anyone else in the world), if I get into cave diving when I move to Greece, I'll get the Meg and have Leon train me and then go look for ancient shipwrecks.

I know that the KISS mCCR is quite popular, but honestly I'd rather let the latest technology to manage the ppO2. Sure the first electronics may have been unreliable, but technology has changed so dramatically in the past five to ten years. Now of course to many experienced divers, it is probably a simple task while it is a PITA for someone like me. I just don't get why I'd want to use my hands to control the ppO2. It is an important skill to practice, but for non-training dives, I'm letting the eCCR do its thing and monitor the O2 on a NERD2.

I never trained with the Hollis HUD. Again, experienced diver to count the blinks to know what the ppO2 is not a big deal, but when you see what the NERD2 provides, I don't see why anyone would want to do not use it. After my first dive, I was so happy for my decision.

For what you are doing, I wouldn't go with the Prism, despite that being what I dive. For my purposes it is a good unit, but I do have Leon's scrubber basket that was being discussed on the Prism 2 FB page, but it apparently was deleted for reasons I am not aware. Anyway, Marty Watson has been diving that for a long time now. Marty is doing other upgrades as well, such as protecting the electronics with resin. I believe that some of the wiring will be improved as well as the current one in the Prism 2 is rather thin. If I can get solid state sensor at $1400 a pop, I will spend $5400 on it.

I'm even going to buy a carbon fiber cover because the Hollis one is a plastic POS that Hollis should be embarressed. Now if I piss anyone off at Hollis for saying this, I would suggest talking to my instructor. Bob knows who that is.

For others going to chime in, please don't ask me why I didn't go with another unit. My reason doesn't apply to any of you.
 

rsingler

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If you're thinking JJ and Choptima, give Dan Dawson a call at Horizon Divers in Key Largo. He teaches JJ, and his right hand man teaches the Choptima. Both are good guys and their program is rigorous.
I did JJ Mod 1 + Helitrox with Dan, and am contemplating the chest mount toy for Truk for portability, so will likely do a crossover soon to get enough hours on both to compare whether it's worth the cost of lugging my wonderful JJ to the S. Pacific.
If those two CCR's are high on your list, I can tell you it was absolutely worth the effort of flying out from Calif for instruction. Horizon is the premiere tech shop in the Keys, and I can't speak highly enough of the s*** they put me through! Mod 2 next!
 

lostsheep

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My buddy and I were both in the same situation last year and it is a bit overwhelming. I went Choptima and he went JJ. My choice was driven by the modular nature of the unit, I like to tinker and the adaptability appealed to me. A year on and I do not regret my choice at all. My buddy chose the JJ because it’s a tried and true unit; I’m pretty sure he loves it.

I second Horizon if you go JJ. I was fun diving while my buddy did his JJ class and I can say Dan Dawson taught him thoroughly.

If you’re considering the Choptima I have to suggest you also reach out to @DiveTucson and give him the chance to earn your business.

I am not affiliated with either of these two but their teaching impressed me. If I can convince my buddy to loan me his JJ for a crossover I’m going back to Horizon. If he want to borrow mine I’d send him to paragon.
 

DiveTucson

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My buddy and I were both in the same situation last year and it is a bit overwhelming. I went Choptima and he went JJ. My choice was driven by the modular nature of the unit, I like to tinker and the adaptability appealed to me. A year on and I do not regret my choice at all. My buddy chose the JJ because it’s a tried and true unit; I’m pretty sure he loves it.

I second Horizon if you go JJ. I was fun diving while my buddy did his JJ class and I can say Dan Dawson taught him thoroughly.

If you’re considering the Choptima I have to suggest you also reach out to @DiveTucson and give him the chance to earn your business.

I am not affiliated with either of these two but their teaching impressed me. If I can convince my buddy to loan me his JJ for a crossover I’m going back to Horizon. If he want to borrow mine I’d send him to paragon.

Thanks for the recommendation. Happy to help and answer any questions I can. I just finished up teaching a MOD1 level Choptima course in Mexico and it was awesome!

Honestly you can’t go wrong with really any of the units you mentioned but the travel size, versatility, and eCCR makes the Choptima pretty hard to beat especially if you are already diving Sidemount. But it can be dove in so many different ways. Another strength of the unit.

Again happy to answer any questions you may have. A recent Scuba Board member wrote up a super detailed review of his experience with me, the good and the bad.

Here is that link:

My (lengthy) Review of my Helitrox Deco CCR Course on the Choptima
 

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rjack321

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The reality is you will eventually end up with 2 units. Lake Michigan wreck diving and MX caves have completely different demands and expectations. I would start with a backmounted unit well suited for the Great Lakes where you'll get the majority of your hours to start. Fathom, Meg, JJ would be my top 3 in no particular order.

Whatever you do, don't even think about a sidemount CCR as your first unit to dive off a boat in the Great Lakes
 

Wibble

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Rebreather diving takes time to master. It's the number of hours plus the number of ascents which count. Kind of fits into milestones: 10, 25, 50, 100... At each milestone you get better at controlling the unit and feeling more confident.

Thus if you've the time to make that commitment, do it. Choose a common rebreather for your first one, preferably one that you regularly see on your trips/boats. Once mastered then look at the esoteric rebreathers.

Personally I've loved my first year on the box. Such a nice way of diving albeit with a very different approach to kit fettling. It's great to get away from gas anxiety, breathe warm gas, dive in silence, enjoy cheap narcosis-free diving...

Have now done dives which I couldn't do on backmount without huge gas costs and masses of cylinders.

Go for it!
 

HeyCatfish!

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I was recently certified on the choptima with DiveTucson and had a great experience, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend training with them if you decide to go the Choptima route.

It is my first CCR and I am still a complete and total noob, but what sold me was the portability. Although I have taken it out to some local quarries here in Houston, I travel to Cozumel frequently and wanted something portable to travel with. The fact that it can be packed into a backpack/small carryon makes it really easy to justify. I had a similar thing where a lot of my local dive shops were pushing the Prism2, and while I'm sure it is a good and capable unit it makes sense why they push it. It is from a big name in the industry that many shops already have an affiliation with, so naturally it will be easier to sell than other brands so they don't have to set up other dealer relationships.

I'd start by taking a look at what you want from a CCR and what other people local to you are diving. As a new CCR diver (let me emphasize that again as I am by no means an expert and this is totally my newbie opinion) I found the choptima fairly easy to learn on (learn, not master by any means). It fit into my current gear setup that I'm already comfortable with, reducing another potential stress point in the learning process.

Whatever unit you choose, be sure to call a few different instructors and talk to them about their thoughts on the unit, their teaching style, etc. Be willing to travel for instruction with a good instructor who isn't just going to check off the boxes but will instead make sure you actually learn and become proficient on the unit.
 

kensuf

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While I own a choptima and SF2 with sidemount kit, I would not start with a sidemount unit as your first unit.

Also, be aware that instructors can only teach the units they are instructors on. For instance, I can't teach a Meg or JJ class. The impact to you is if there's a particular instructor you REALLY gel with, but he's not an instructor on the unit you select, sorry - and the converse too, if the only instructor for the unit you select is one you cannot stand...
 
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