Getting in shape for Belize, Part 1

I say that, but getting in shape has more meaning then one. I guess many peoples first thought would be to get in physical shape? I say hey… Round is a shape, and I leave it at that.

However, when I say getting into shape, I am meaning getting all my photo gear and dive get into shape.

I actually started back in April, by taking my regulators and BCD (Buoyancy Compensation Device). Good news after more then 20 years of just my regulators still check out. On the other hand my BCD didn’t pass the grade. They are beyond repair and in the rubbish bin they went, both of them.

I am now onto my next piece of equipment to get in shape. The last time I use a Ikelite dive housing was in 1998. My entire U/W Kit was stolen out of my truck, and It has taken me almost 16 years to replace the entire U/W Kit. Back in 1998 I was shooting a Nikon 8008s (Film Camera) remember those? Well I was just getting use to the whole camera thing under water when… poof the whole kit and kabootal was gone.

Below are some images of the “NEW” Ikelite Housing. It’s actually used gear, but it looked brand new. Since I owned a Ikelite housing before I still remembered what to look for when inspecting the housing. Below is a description of my inspection, leak test and pressure test process.

First, I did a visual inspection of all surfaces and bulk heads. bulk heads are the parts that are permanently attached through the housing and don’t move. Those are permanently sealed and shouldn’t leak. However, I did a very careful inspection looking for cracks in the thick lexan case and around the seals. I recommend that you do the inspection with nice bright flashlight and a magnifying glass. Any cracks in the lexan or permanent seals, can doom your camera gear if the housing floods under pressure.

Second, I did a visual inspection of all the flexible seals. I am not sure what the technical term is for these seals, but they are the replaceable o-rings and seals that are on all the controls that move in and out and back and forth. Most of these seal are easy to get to like the two main seals, the port seal and rear plate seal. I pull those off and run them lightly through my fingers. I also visually inspect the seal surface for debris and nicks or scratch to the lexan surface that make contact with these o-rings. The last step in this process is put a little o-ring lube on the o-rings that require lube, and replace the o-rings to seal the housing up.

Lastly, it’s time to take it to the dunk tank. I actually used my brothers pool for this stage. A pool is nice because you can have all your tools on the pool deck next to you. Also, I can put my dive mask on and actually see what is going on when did the 360º underwater inspection.

At this point everything appears to be sealed. Now I press all the buttons and check all the levers. This dose a few things, like loosen anything that might be stuck with debris i.e. salt, sand or small sea creatures. I also do this because if the housing wasn’t soak properly after being used in salt water, this gets fresh clean water into those hard to reach places.

If you look at the images below the housing is resting on the pool bottom and it’s empty. Don’t leak test your new housing for the first time with you camera and lens inside. If the housing floods you can kiss all that expensive camera good-bye. I don’t have my camera inside so the housing is very positively buoyant. I used two Scuba ankle weighs to hold the Ikelite housing down.

I took the housing to the bottom of the pool, which is on 8 ft. deep but that is deep enough to pressure test it before I put my camera in it. As you can see everything turned out perfect.

Next U/W test is to connect all the arms strobe cords and strobes with the camera in the housing and take some test shots in the pools. This will test for functionality for wheels, gears, and buttons. Plus test strobe distance.

The images were taken with my iPhone 4s in a LifeProof case/housing.

If you are ready for part two click here: Getting in Shape for Belize, Part 2

 

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