Thursday, 29 September 2011


Suunto D9tx

The Suunto D9tx Is the new top of the range watch style dive computer from Suunto. It brings together the technology from its predecessor the Suunto D9 and the trimix algorithms of the Suunto HelO2 dive computers and puts it into an upgraded package that considerably improves on both the D9 and the HelO2. I have previously owned a Suunto D9 and I currently use and hold in high regard the Suunto HelO2. I am therefore well placed to look and see how the new D9tx compares.
In 2008 I reviewed the Suunto HelO2 and you can find my report here If you read this it will go into depth re trimix and how the computer works. The D9tx works in an identical fashion re the trimix algorithms, so to discuss it again would just be to repeat myself. That said I will cover key features and upgrades in this review.
Three years ago when I reviewed the HelO2 I missed the inbuilt compass available with other Suunto models. Suunto advised me that at that time it was just not possible to fit the compass into the HelO2. Those 3 years have seen technology move on and now the compass along with the trimix algorithms are included in the Suunto D9tx. This is amazing in its own right, for all this technology to be encased in a computer not much bigger than a standard dive watch.
D9tx V HelO2
Some divers like the watch style computer and others like the standard size unit and choice will come down to the diver’s preference. I found only 2 things that for me really improved this unit over the HelO2. Firstly as already mentioned the compass is a feature of the D9tx, I am happy to say. Secondly and perhaps more importantly in the Dive Mode menu the D9tx has a “dive air” category as well as mixed gas and gauge mode. The beauty of this is that you can utilise the air dive mode for your air dives, without having to adjust or delete your gas mixes. With the HelO2 you only have mixed gas and gauge options and diving on air requires the user to delete gas mix 1 whatever it may be, say a rich trimix mix and substitute it with 21% O2. This requires discipline from the user. It’s unlikely that a diver would forget to imput their trimix mix into the HelO2. Dives are planned on the pc and the info is transferred from the pc directly to the HelO2 populating the gas fields. If not uploaded directly from a pc the trimix diver will enter their gases into the HelO2 after analysing their gas mixes. The trouble comes when the gas diver dumps his twinset and decides to go for a wee air dive, where potentially half way through the dive they will note the computer is not set up for an air dive at all. The diver if diving purely on air with a HelO2 would have to turn all the travel gases and deco gases stored on the unit to off. (For Info. - Gases have 3 states-primary, Secondary and Off. Full description in my HelO2 report). So the D9tx is much less time consuming and diver friendly for an air diver.
What are the advantages of the HelO2 over the D9tx- well all I can say is the HelO2 has a user replaceable battery and also a larger viewing screen. Both are superb dive computers for open circuit trimix and choice of style is likely to be the deciding factor between the 2 computers.
D9 V D9tx
Firstly the addition of the trimix algorithm makes this a full trimix open circuit dive computer. I found the D9tx easy to use and read. (The screen is smaller than the HelO2 but it is extremely clear.) It works identically to the HelO2 underwater, Secondly the Compass has been improved to a 3D tilt compensated compass. I found it worked well and was easy to utilise. I found on my test unit that North was a bit off. I checked this against my buddies D9tx and a traditional compass which confirmed my unit was a bit out. Thirdly and this is not a minor point the strap has been changed on the D9tx (Elastomer style). This is far more pliable and therefore comfortable to wear than the D9 strap. Once the test unit arrived it was constantly on my wrist and there were no comfort issues, which was great! I found this a vast improvement. A bracelet style strap is also available. Lastly the bling of the D9 has been toned down and the gun metal titanium casing of the D9tx is a little less in your face but very smart and presentable for daily use.
Other improvements that you may not notice immediately are that the D9tx has new internal electronics that improve memory in relation to information storage and accuracy when compared to the D9. The front glass has also been replaced with sapphire glass which is much more resistant to scratching than standard glass.
Advantages of D9 over D9tx – Nil
In all this is a superb dive computer that has improved on its predecessors. It is diver friendly and easy to use for trimix dives in the UK (Gloves and all). One other thing just in case you are worried about the smaller face of the display. For my diving I found the unit clear and easy to read. Fields such as Gas mix’s and tank pressure have to be accessed by pushing a button to display the desired field (as with the HelO2).
Price for the D9tx is around £900 and the optional integrated gas transmitter is around £200. All Dive Planning software and the PC connection are included in the price of the computer.
Things I didn’t like
Well not much to tell the truth. The compass played up a little but this was confirmed to be the test unit I was using. Otherwise it works beautifully. The thing that concerned me the most was wearing this beautiful piece of kit on your wrist and cursing every time it takes a knock. It’s a very tough little unit but if you want to keep it looking pristine make sure you invest in a screen guard.
Mike Clark

Sunday, 25 September 2011

New images of the shipwreck SS. Exmouth

Hi All,
Here are my images from a recent trip to the deep wreck SS Exmouth lying in the Firth of Forth.
I hope you like them.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011



The JMD L7 Mini Led Lantern is a beautiful little torch to look at. I was sent one to review and I decided to use it on my shore dives and shallow wreck dives in place of my usual torch. Here is how I got on:-
The first thing that struck me about this torch was its build quality. The main body is made from Aluminium 6082 and is coated with a black finish with the JMD Sports Ltd logo in silver on its side. A 316 stainless steel lantern style handle rises out of this. Six mm toughened, heat resistant glass covers the LEDs at the front of the torch. The quality of the exterior of this torch is therefore excellent and the finish is very pleasing on the eye. How long the torch will stay in this condition is up to how the diver treats it. Dings and scratches are inevitable but the test unit dealt well with the treatment I dished out to it on my test dives. At present JMD do not provide a neoprene protective cover, but if you wish to keep the torch in pristine condition, you need to get one. This neoprene may also offset the negative buoyancy of the torch underwater.
This is the baby torch of the JMD range and its dimensions are neat at only 15.5 cm long and the cylinder of the torch is 6cm in diameter, excluding the handle. Weight out of the water is 1KG but underwater this is halved to 1/2KG. This torch is therefore negatively buoyant underwater.
Rear operational switches
At the rear of the torch there is a magnetic on/off switch, which is a rotating knob with a locking screw. This was very easy to operate underwater. I found I had to pay special attention to this after use and rinse it well with fresh water to stop the switch ceasing up and getting stiff. Also found at the rear of the torch is the charging point. This is covered by a knurled knob which is removed and replaced by hand. It is sealed by a double “O” ring and is very easy to use and maintain.
The battery in this torch is a Nickel Metal Hydride 16.8 volt, 1.5 Ah rechargeable cells. This means there are no worries re the battery forming a memory. This unit can be recharged at any time without loss of performance of the battery. The stated burn time with this torch is 2hrs 18 minutes and on my dives I found this to be the case. The torch easily dealt with 2 or 3 dives in a day. Light intensity does not fade as the battery nears the end of its power as the LED’s are driven by a microprocessor which manages and draws the power from the battery ensuring constant even lighting until the battery is exhausted. The L7 Mini is supplied with a fast charger that fully recharges the battery in 3 hours from empty. The charger has a red led which turns to green when the torch is charged, so there is no guesswork wondering when the torch is charged.
The battery unit powers 7 1W LEDs providing 840 lumins of light burning at a temperature of 6000 Kelvin. The torch produces a very even, narrow beam of light, with no central hotspot or peripheral halo effect around the main beam. In use underwater I found this torch punched out a narrow beam of pale blue/white light for a considerable distance. I found this perfectly acceptable for the shore dives and shallow wreck dives. On anything more technical or dark I would personally prefer the torch to have a hotter light as I did feel like the light from the L7 mini was being absorbed into the water column (but that is why the rest of the JMD range of torches is there). The narrow beam meant that I had to manoeuvre the torch about more than normal to see into holes and view larger subjects. I found this a little strange as I was not used to the lantern style handle as my current torches are either umbilical or pistol grip styles. The narrow beam did perform well in poor visibility with no flare or backscatter being illuminated.
The JMD L7 Mini with universal fast charger retails at £235
This is a beautifully constructed torch made with high quality materials. The battery and the fast charger with the single easily accessible charging point make this torch very user friendly. Performance was very good bearing in mind that this is the baby torch in the JMD range. I would have preferred a slightly broader hotter beam where peripheral light would pick out subjects rather than the narrow beam which requires the user to move the torch to the best position to view subjects in the best light. (Although part of this was me getting used to the lantern handle.)
For general sports diving whether scenic or shallow wrecks this small torch will certainly brighten up your dives.

Mike Clark

Sunday, 18 September 2011

New images on Photobox topside gallery

Hi All,
Just to let you know i have just added the best of my Topside images to my photobox site. Click either the link to my prints on my homepage or follow this link my prints. Then just click on the topside gallery and enjoy. Images range from Birds to Butterflies and Steam Trains to fast jets. If you like it why not take a peek at my underwater gallery too. I have added lots of printing options should you see something you like. If you have any questions just ask

Saturday, 17 September 2011

St. Abbs and Eyemouth clean up dive

Last Wednesday i headed down the coast to Eyemouth. to take photos of divers completing an underwater clean up dive. Weather blew out the proposed site and we ended up on the President wreck. The divers did really well and raised loads of rubbish from the site. Well done to all who took part. Iain Easingwood provided use of his boat Jacob George for the operation.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Upgraded Led Lenser Torch Review

Well for those of you who have already read my review on this little torch, you will know how much i liked it. For those of you who haven't seen that review here is the link.

Now this torch has been given an upgrade. The new model looks to be identical from its predecessor in every way apart from the serial number on the side of the torch. Internally there are differences. The torch now burns twice as bright producing 150 lumins. This torch is only powered by 4 AA batteries but has a burn time of 20 hours. this is half that of the old torch, but hey 20 hours on a set of batteries is magnificent.
How did i find the light well i can confirm it is even brighter underwater than the older model.
Here is an image comparing the beams of the old and new models. The new torch is on the left and you can note an improvement in brightness.
This torch also has a new cooling system so that it can be used out of water as well.
These new torches are distributed by Seascooter UK Ltd but they have asked me to mention that these torches being advertised on ebay from China or the far east are copies.
My finding is that this impressive little torch has been improved upon. Brighter light but at the cost of less burn time (But this is 20 hours, so its no problem at all). Price remains the same. Only thing i could say would be the same as my last review would be to have a notched section on the torch body or another attachment point to secure the torch to a mask or a camera.
Conclusion an excellent product.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

St. Abbs and Eyemouth Splash in 2011

The Splash in underwater photography event, held at St. Abbs and Eyemouth every August, Is something i have enjoyed and supported for the best part of 20 years.Im a regular visitor to the Marine reserve here and the place means a lot to me. the splash in itself is a great way to meet up with fellow underwater photographers and catch up. This year there were very few entries from serious underwater photographers. Still i did bump into a few palls and had a good chat. Conditions over the weekend were challenging to say the least but i managed to bag some really nice shots despite this. I also spent most of my time between and after dives mucking about to Get my most humorous shot set up, with Nessie visiting St. Abbs.
Anyway the marine reserve staff did a great job and i enjoyed watching the entries of the images submitted. I think the overall winner of the competition was Martin Davies and he did well with his images of pollack on the wreck of the Glanmire and that shot deserved to win. Just like last year when Clare Jubb's fantastic Shanny image scooped first place also deservedly. Thankfully the audience voting system does provide a clear vote for the overall winner. The only other placed images that  caught my eye was a shot of a lobster in a pot captured by Neil Lilly Nice one and Colin Samuels humorous shot winner pulling the plug which was v good, especially considering the day he had.
For me none of the Other placed entries stood out but there were some really nice unplaced images. 
Here are the 3 images i entered to the competition and you will soon see the competition winners on the St. Abbs website in the splash in section. here is the link 2011 splash in winners

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Another successful underwater photo course

Last Friday,
I ran another photo course at loch Long. it was another successful and very worthwhile day out. My Student for the Day was Mark and he took on my message very well. Even on the course he produced some outstanding results. He even managed to get a great pic of me with all my camera gear, which is a novelty for me as im always on the other side of the camera.
I will be running further courses throughout the winter and i can tailor make the courses to meet your underwater photography needs. If you are interested please do get in touch for details.
I am also thinking about starting an u/w photography club such as BSOUP in Scotland. I plan to organise and run some photo competitions as well. if you are interested in this please let me know.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

Hi All,
On Sunday evening i did a bit more topside photography. I captured some nice pics of the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks. here are a few of my shots. I hope you like them.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I Had my first dives with the JMD L7 MINI LED DIVING TORCH at the splash in weekend as well. Initial impressions were very good. for a small unit it packs a very bright punch. This torch is certainly a thing of beauty and i think JMD should make it compulsory to use it with a neoprene sleeve for protection. I tested the brightness and output against a past favourite torch the Aquasun E LED (for a review on that torch follow this link. )Results were favourable but more research needs to be done.  A full review along with a review of my upgraded JMD 5060 torch to a 21w LED set up will follow very shortly to.


Well i had my first dives with the new SUUNTO D9TX DIVE COMPUTER. I was using it for dives using air while taking part in the St.Abbs and Eyemouth Splash in Photo event (More on that may follow). Needless to say the D9TX performed well and was a dream to use. Straight away i noted advancements on the D9 computer and the HelO2 computer which i have already reviewed and rate very highly. To see that full review please follow this link. . Little things like the new strap make the D9TX so much more comfortable to wear on your wrist than the D9.
All i need to do now is put the D9TX through a few deep trimix dives and i will be ready to report fully on my findings. Its so far so good though