John 

THE GERMAN ANTARES BRAND OF LIGHTS was new to me when I saw it at the last London International Dive Show. The company later sent me the Conga 8 Tanksystem light to try. It is not unlike the Conga 8 Photolight, and I had a choice of heads to try, too.
I was informed that the Tanksystem was for professional use. Whenever I see the word professional associated with any product, I tend to assume that it is really for an amateur.
I guess that what Antares means is that its for technical divers, as this example has a separate lamp-head supplied with power from a battery-pack via a 75cm long umbilical connection, and its rated to go very deep.
The points at which this lead joined the unit looked very robust. The product is nicely constructed to a high quality in anodised aluminium. It has that uniquely German approach to some aspects of its design.

Light Source
Antares sent three different lamp-heads for me to try, each measuring around 7.5cm in diameter. One was a 50W halogen spot, another was a 50W halogen soft flood suitable for use with a camcorder, and the least powerful was a 20W halogen spot.
I opted for this last version, reasoning that 20W should be bright enough.
The back part of the lamp-head bayonets off complete with the power lead, and you plug this directly into the charging station. The head came already fitted with a generously sized Goodman-type handle that I could use comfortably, even though I was gripping my big camera housing in the same hand.

Power Source
A 16V, 4.7Ah rechargeable lithium battery-pack is contained within a pod for mounting on a tank camband, on the BC harness or any other suitably convenient webbing. This battery-pack measures around 195mm long by 50mm in diameter.
The cable can be disconnected from the lamp-head by splitting the lamp-head in two, allowing it to be mounted into the charging station, and the battery charged through the umbilical. This charging station can be used with any voltage supply from 100 to 240V AC.
The cable from the battery-pack can be disconnected too, by means of a wet connector. The battery-pack has an over-pressure valve to allow any gases that are a by-product of charging to escape.
There is a thermal-overload protection device, and full charging from flat can be done in up to 210 minutes. Three differently coloured lights indicate the state of charge, or if there is a fault.

Switching
Protected from accidental use by a little red detent switch, the lamp is operated using two buttons on top of the lamp-head.
Push one once and it switches on. Push again and it switches off. Push the other button once and it works at reduced power. Pushing it a second time switches it off.
Alternating the buttons reduces the intensity at which the lamp burns and increases the burntime available. You must be careful not to confuse these buttons with the nearby one that separates the head from its cable. A set of five coloured lights (one red) indicates how much burntime might be left.

Beam
I threaded the battery-pack loop through my BC sternum strap. The 20W version of the light gave optimum burntime, and the beam it produced had a very bright hot-spot, and quite an extensive peripheral beam that proved very useful as a diving lamp.
I only used it at full power if I wanted to get someones attention at night, or in daylight if I was competing with very bright sunshine in the shallows. You can use such a light to illuminate things in their natural colour rather than the blue light of sunshine filtered down through the water. I found it to be very effective, even on a shallow reef top in the Red Sea basking in the full glare of July sunshine. I could see its effect when it was as much as a couple of metres or more away.
I lent it to Robert Brown from Falkirk to use on his very first night dive. He later told me: It did a braw job in lighting up the reef. The handle was very natural to use, and there was no tendency to shine the lamp up into other divers faces.
It was much brighter than any other light being used, said Robert, and that included some other well-known European brands. The peripheral beam was very useful in illuminating the general area, and the centre part of the beam would deep-fry a Mars Bar in batter!
Of course, what with LEDs and HIDs, the tungsten head is a method of producing light that is fast going out of fashion. Antares also makes lamps with multiple high-output LEDs.
You can buy a diving lamp at a supermarket for a few pounds, so this one might seem rather dear. On the other hand, I often see divers equipped with more expensive hardware, so no doubt the Antares Conga 8 will find a market.
Its more a question of whether people will want to buy their kit direct from Germany, when other brands have the perceived back-up of a British distributor.

COMPARABLE LIGHTS TO CONSIDER:
Salvo 10W HID Umbilical, £595
Greenforce Xenophot 20 Umbilical, £308
Fa & Mi Multistar LED75 Umbilical, £457
Halcyon 18w HID, £875


Divernet Divernet
SPECS
PRICE £560
BATTERIES Rechargeable lithium-ion
BURNTIME 2hr 20min (20W)
EXTRAS Various handles
WEIGHT 700g
DEPTH-RATING 100m (tested to 200m)
CONTACT www.antares-technologies.de
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%