Computer Delta P VR2

The casual reader of any British diving magazine might well be led to believe that most scuba-divers go in equipped with trimix and deco gas, weighed down with equipment, and dive to 90m as a matter of routine. This is not true.
     Most dives made today are by people wearing one tank on their back, breathing whichever gas the diving operation chooses to give them, wearing a minimal layer of thermal insulation by way of a suit, and planning their dive on the basis of their ongoing air-consumption.
     Kevin Gurr is one of the minority. He is even one of a minority within that minority. So when he decided that he wanted a computer that met his needs, it was naturally very comprehensive in what it could do, and necessarily complicated in how it did it.
     I think even he was surprised at the number of Delta P VR3 computers he has sold, but then, if everyone who bought a Ferrari needed to drive like Michael Schumacher, we would never see a prancing-horse badge on our roads. All manufacturers of consumer goods know that people want to own good stuff, but not necessarily to use it to the full.
     At up to £1000, the VR3 is an expensive item. Kevin has realised that there is untapped sales potential in that part of the market that wants to use state-of-the-art kit but probably never dives deeper than 50m, so he has introduced the VR2.
     The VR2 has a family likeness to the VR3, but is made of plastic rather than aluminium. Under water, it has a similar display. It runs on a similar single AA battery.
     Like its big brother, the VR2 applies deep-stops, and if you pass a stop depth it allows you one minute to get back down to it. I like the little-man-on-the-line display that indicates the possible range of continuous decompression.
     Its not all rosy. I found its knobbly shape incredibly uncomfortable at times on my wrist, and wondered why it had to be so. It has a set of instructions as difficult to grasp as those of the VR3, and a pair of buttons as frustrating to use. Once mastered, however, it can be configured for open-circuit scuba or closed-circuit rebreather with the option of the fourth cell connection. It can be configured for multiple gas switches - but only if you stick to nitrox.
     The VR2 is not intended for use with trimix, which effectively gives it a depth limit. It is limited to the maximum depth its user is prepared to go to while breathing nitrox 21 (air).
     That said, possibly the biggest future market for closed-circuit rebreathers includes those who intend to use air as a diluent and will never go deeper than 50m.
     Once I got it set up the way I wanted it, I expected the VR2 to be a joy to use. However, this proved not to be.
     Why If I had been diving a wreck, completed my photographic task and then given the VR2 all my attention as I ascended a line, there would have been no problems.
     In the calm still waters of the northern Red Sea, I found that I was able to take in my stride the deepwater stops the computer demanded. Coming up a reef after bottoming out at, say 35m, it seemed quite natural to spend time at, say, 18m as demanded.
     But once I found myself in the more turbulent waters of the Maldives in January, things proved quite different. On nearly every dive, to no more than 30m, I would get back to around 20m, still busy taking photographs, only to suddenly discover that the display was reading Missed Deco Stop - Use Tables, to which my reaction invariably was: I dont believe it!
     I was not diving dangerously. Seeing this information displayed so early on in a dive was rather depressing. I often dived for a further 40 minutes, guided by my alternative computers. The VR2 obviously did not enjoy the hurly-burly of the up and down currents in which I was diving. I was missing those deep-stops and the computer was abandoning me to my fate.
     To avoid this I would have needed to scrutinise the VR2 every minute, but with the requirements of an underwater camera this was unlikely to happen. Had I been relying on the VR2, I might have been left floundering without any knowledge of my deco-status. Other divers back on the boat kept asking me if I had bent my computer again!
     Before anyone writes to say that I was not diving properly, please be aware that big ocean currents have a will of their own when they strike a reef, and it is not always possible to keep within a precise 1m depth-range while being hurtled along. But that is what the VR2 expects you to do.
     I imagine the VR2 will be attractive to many divers who normally do square-profile dives, dive in a very disciplined way and appreciate such complex equipment. They will be the equivalent of Ferrari drivers rather than Ferrari racers.
     So if you want a VR3 but are never going to use trimix, and if ascending a shotline is always the normal final stage in your dive, this could be just the computer for you. If you are a multi-level underwater photographer - forget it!
The VR2 costs £499 in open-circuit mode and £549 for use with closed-circuit. It can be upgraded from one to the other later if necessary.

  • Delta P Technology 01202 624478, www.vr3.co.uk

  • Divernet
    + Easy to understand in the water
    + Multi-mix nitrox, open or closed-circuit options

    - Complicated to set up
    - Almost impossible to understand at first, before diving
    - Why the knobbly shape
    - Dumps you if you are not precise with deep-stops