As Fast as the Speed of Sound: Divesoft Analyzers
Every diver has their own preferences on which equipment accompanies them on their diving excursions. From depth gauge devices and dive computers to protective wetsuits and O-ring kits, the list of necessary gear is extensive, and only seems to be growing. And with dive technology constantly improving, it’s no wonder that divers, novice and experienced alike, have their pulse on the latest and greatest in diving gear. For instance, gas analyzers from Divesoft are a good example of diving gear worth taking note of.
Advances in Analyzer Technology
As divers already know, a good analyzer can save your life. With risks such as oxygen poisoning and hypoxia, an accurate measure of O2 levels (or He content) with a reliable analyzer is important, if not crucial. With many options on the market from various manufacturers and countries of origin, divers today need the reassurance that they can rely on their tools.
It’s with this conviction for quality in mind that dive equipment developer and co-founder of the Divesoft company, Aleš Procháska, first began working on an analyzer. “My primary goal was to make a gas analyzer that was simple, more accurate, and more reliable. With nearly every manufacturer using galvanic oxygen sensors, my primary focus was on the principle of measuring helium,” described Aleš, recalling his initial objectives. Up to this point, helium had only been measured via thermal conductivity (a two-chamber system, one sealed as a reference gas and the other open to the sample gas). It’s the result of Aleš’s work that has become known as “The Speed of Sound Principle”, a new technology at the time which the Divesoft company has since patented.
How It Works
With Aleš behind the development of this method, his description of how it functions is likely the most accurate: “The Speed of Sound Principle works by emitting a small clicking sound through the diver’s gas mixture, reaching from one end to the other. The sound comes from a speaker and it passes through a small maze (which helps prolong the sound`s path), until it is picked up by a microphone at the other end. From there, the system’s electronics are able to measure the delay between the time that the clicking sound was sent to when it was picked up. Depending on the gas mixture, the times will differ. In other words, the more helium in the mixture, the faster the sound travels to the microphone.”
With this clever technology in hand, Aleš has succeeded in countless dives. As a co-founder of the Divesoft company, he strives to gain as much hands-on experience as possible using his own devices. It was actually the importance of checking and rechecking his gas mixtures that first motivated him to make some changes in the world of analyzers. To illustrate just how things can go wrong, Aleš often recalls a story of his own.
A Cautionary Tale
The story begins with a friend of Aleš`s returning a bottle he had borrowed, used, and then refilled. That very same day, Aleš had a dive scheduled near the Czech town of Slapy. In his own words, he recounted the day: “Since I had a large oxygen bottle, I calibrated the sensors in my rebreather from this bottle without even thinking to analyze the mixture in the bottle returned from my friend. Looking back, I’m lucky I didn’t use it for my calibrations. Once I was under the water, my rebreather was able to continuously supply me with oxygen, but I wasn’t ever able to reach the set point. With this concern in mind, I decided to cut my dive short.”
As Aleš already stated, he was quite fortunate to avoid any issues with oxygen poisoning while underwater. This is a very serious concern for technical divers, as a simple mix-up like this one could cost you your life. And adding to what could have made matters worse, Aleš recalls getting out of the water and receiving a frantic call from his friend. He was concerned if Aleš had already used the bottle as he had just learned that the oxygen cylinder had been accidentally filled with nitrox 60! Fortunately, Aleš was able to relay that he had cut his dive short because of problems he was having with the bottle.
Aleš`s personal experience highlights the necessity of always checking your mixtures with an accurate and reliable analyzer. In his own words, Aleš said, “The one thing that would have turned this silly mishap into an actual tragic story is if I had used the bad bottle to calibrate my oxygen sensors. Of course, most likely I would have recognized the issue when my voltage came in too low, but regardless, mistakes like this could still be fatal.” Aleš also went on to remind us of the dangers of neglecting to analyze bottles because of the labeling. “Just because the analysis is written on the bottle, doesn’t always mean it’s accurate. It’s always better to check everything yourself. Ever since this incident, I have made a point to analyze not only my diluent and bailout, but also my oxygen each and every time.”
Safety and Reliability Always First
With so many analyzers on the market to choose from, it is worth checking out what Divesoft has to offer. Not only do their analyzers have a simplified measurement process, they also provide faster results and continuous measurement. One of the greatest advantages of the Diversoft analyzer is that divers no longer need to constantly fill the chamber with test gas, analyze it, and then continuously repeat the process before starting a dive. This is to the credit of Divesoft’s “Speed of Sound Principle”, the patented technology not found in any other analyzer which also frees up the need of ever having to replace the helium sensor. With all this in mind, however, the most important takeaway is to remember to use your analyzer, inspecting every bottle you take with you underwater. Because as Aleš reminds us, “It could literally save your life.”
Divesoft currently produces two types of analyzers. The first is the classic Trimix gas analyzer with three-point calibration. The He/O2 analyzer is perfect for dive shops or blenders as its aluminium case makes it suitable for heavy use. The device can be connected to a compressor so divers can watch the values during a continuous filling (it’s possible to set limit values which trigger an alarm). It offers both He and O2 concentration measurements ranging from 0 to 100%, with possible temperature measurements ranging from 0 to +40 °C. The built-in calculator can compute alternative gas mixes which is the perfect feature for blenders. Moreover, thanks to the ohm and voltmeter plugs, the Analyzer He/O2 provides updates on the scooter battery and torch status.
The second device, called the SOLO analyzer, is a great fit for field use. Due to its polymer case, this analyzer is about 300 grams lighter than the classic trimix analyzer (mentioned above) and weighs only 420 grams making it comfortable to hold. The oxygen cell is easy to replace and can last for 2 years.
Divesoft’s analyzers accomplish measuring in just a few seconds and moreover, the display also shows the gas temperature, as well as the maximum operating depth (MOD) and the equivalent narcotic depth (END) for a diver’s particular gas mixture. Analyzers can be used for continuous monitoring when blending a mixture by simply connecting it with a compressor; this means gas adjustments can be made in real time which significantly simplifies and accelerates the blending process.
Overall, the analyzer is extremely easy-to-use and provides divers with a new level of confidence when exploring depths.