Appeared in DIVER April 2006

LIGHT   Treble-Light Blackline D1c 4.0

LED LIGHTS HAVE BEEN GETTING A LOT OF SPACE on these pages recently. Thats because they give a bright white light combined with a long burntime from the battery pack.
However, we should not confuse LED with HID lights, which are king of the castle when it comes to output. HID stands for High Intensity Discharge, and the Welch-Allyn company in the USA invented them to meet the demands of surgeons in operating theatres.
I dont know about you, but Im not keen on the idea of a surgeon squinting under poor lighting while attempting to do something critical to a part of my body with a sharp scalpel.
The German company that makes Treble-Light lamps was probably the first to take HIDs under water. It now makes
a bewildering array of lights but sent me its Blackline D1c 4.0, an example of the super-trouper of its HID range.
For those who dont know, a super-trouper, as sung about by Abba, is the biggest and brightest of theatre spotlights.
HID lamps have a reputation for being expensive, and the bulbs are fragile, too. You must avoid switching them on and off repeatedly, or switching them off before they have had time to warm up. They also take time to get up to maximum light output once the current starts to flow. That said, once the light is up and running you can start cooking.
The main body of the lamp is a brute-like black anodised tube 25cm long, with a muscular handle attached. It also weighs a ton!
The rear end has a four-position switch that allows for three brightness settings (and off) and a five-LED indicator that tells you how much charge youve got left.
This indicator also works the other way when recharging the ni-mh battery and tells how much it has been charged. It takes around six hours to charge from flat. The burntime is around 70 minutes at the least bright setting of its 35W HID lamp.
Thats not very long, you say. Well, it is for those poor blighters who find their night dive turned into a daylight dive by the massive output of 4400K light (near to daylight colour) from the Treble-Light! Point it in their eyes and they will lose any semblance of night-vision for at least a week.

Glorious Technicolor
Lending it to another diver while I sat out one night dive at Bluff Point, it was easy to track where he was because the patch of light emitted was so bright.
I used it on a daylight dive on the deep wall at Ras Mohammed. I was at 50m and divers above me reported seeing the wall below lit up by the Treble-Light in glorious Technicolor, instead of the muted blues normally associated with deep water.
In fact a few of them were drawn down to join me, which did not auger well, considering that they were using nitrox 32.
Back in the pick-up boat, the Treble-Light HID was subject to the usual chaos of recovered divers and their kit. This raises the question of the resilience of an HID lamp and circuitry originally designed for the more serene surroundings of operating theatres.
Sad to say, after a week of typical Red Sea diving, the Treble-Light ceased to work. The HID bulb seemed to be intact but the LED indicator failed to light up even when on charge.
I put it down to the complicated circuitry not standing up to the hurly-burly of life on board a boat.
That was a disappointing experience, but I was wrong about the cause. When I got home, I found that it was simply the charger that had let me down. Had I known that, I could have probably improvised something. So I was just unlucky.
Owners of these big lights will probably be the type to recline their seats fully on cramped charter flights, stand on your kit when they climb back into the pick-up boat, and be occupying the aft-deck toilet when you are in desperate need of it. Or they will have a diffuser or wide-angle reflector fitted and be shooting video or digital stills and hogging the best wildlife subjects.
One thing is for sure - they will not be on a tight budget. The Treble-Light Blackline D1c 4.0 costs £589 and the charger costs £36 extra.

  • Snooba 0870 162 0767,

  • Divernet
    + One of the brightest lamps you can get

    - Expensive to buy
    - Expensive in terms of excess-baggage charges