John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.
REGULATOR OCEANIC EOS
LONG-HAUL AIR JOURNEYS in the cheap seats at the crowded back of the plane have left us all in fear of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. Will we get to go diving, or will our lifeless bodies be disembarked en-route? Oceanic is one of the few regulator manufacturer to have taken on the challenge of DVT, but in this case, it means 'Dry Valve Technology'. Under the leadership of diving pioneer Bob Hollis, Oceanic has never been afraid to innovate. It has produced a variety of regulators incorporating new ideas, some less successful that others. It's the brave man who leaves the well-trodden path of design: some stumble in the undergrowth while others find Machu Picchu. Oceanic regulators have earnt an enviable reputation worldwide, and probably deserve a better one in the UK. We have had some very good results from some of its products in our side-by-side regulator tests. The EOS is the company's latest offering.
First Stage The FDX10 first stage looks familiar. It's a muscular lump of metal with four medium-pressure and two high-pressure ports. The hp ports are angled conveniently downwards, so that there is no problem either fitting a computer transmitter or routeing a hose to a pressure gauge. In line with demand from those British divers who like to plunge into icy fresh water during the winter, it has a sealed-diaphragm design. It's encased in a rubber-like material to protect it from accidental knocks. A feature that will be of special interest to those divers lacking in finesse is the DVT, which stops water entering the first stage through the gas inlet when it is not fitted to a tank valve. This means that you can chuck it into the freshwater rinse tank with impunity. A little red ball is held in position by a spring, and this pulls out of the way when the intermediate pressure drops on inhalation. When I tried a regulator with DVT before, I was unsettled by the sound of this spring working - like someone tolling a bell. There was no sign of this sound effect with the EOS.
Second Stage The second stage is made mainly of plastics, apart from the metal trim, and it seemed quite deep from its mouthpiece to its front. The exhaust-T is well concealed yet reasonably wide, so exhaled bubbles don't obscure your view, especially if you are stationary. The breathing resistance control, which adjusts the amount of effort needed initially to crack open the valve, takes three full turns before it clicks out of gear, so to speak, and stops the user overdoing things. I've never been a great fan of these devices, because if I need less air, I simply inhale more gently. The person who had set this up for my use had been over-zealous in the pursuit of a low work of breathing, and had given me a valve with a tendency to free-flow slightly. I had to crank up the breathing effort in a bid to stop too much gas trickling out during my exhalations. There is also a venturi plus/minus adjustment that is easy to grip, even with a three-fingered mitt. This is set to the minus position in an effort to avoid exponential free-flows at the cusp between air and water. One very nice detail is the big omni-directional swivel that is the joint between second stage and hose. Such devices could once have lowered the performance of a regulator, but this one is over-sized and reminiscent of the one fitted to the superbly performing Atomic T2. It certainly routes the hose comfortably, and at no time did I think I needed to hold on tightly to the mouthpiece with my teeth. The actual rubber mouthpiece is not unlike an Atomic one, either.
Purge Control Surrounded by the big metal hoop that is the bright trim on the front of the second stage, one could hardly miss the purge control. It's big, soft and very progressive. When I unscrewed the front to take a look, I was confronted by a neat valve and lever arrangement.
Comfort Despite fearing that the regulator would be arriving at dive sites moments before I did, thanks to the way it projected forwards from my mouth, it proved supremely comfortable. Despite that annoying over-pressure effect from its poor set-up, there was always enough gas when I wanted it.
OTHER REGULATORS TO CONSIDER: Apeks XTX50, £350 Aqualung Kronos Supreme, £300 Scubapro MK17 G250V, £339
SPECS PRICE £395 FIRST STAGE Sealed diaphragm PORTS 4mp, 2hp SECOND STAGE ADJUSTMENTS Venturi, plus/minus and BRA CONTACT www.oceanicuk.com DIVER GUIDE