Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home Contact Me Sydney Reef Dive Sites Sydney Shipwrecks NSW Dive Sites Australian Dive Sites Overseas Dive Sites Dive Accidents and Incidents Our Yachting Adventures 4WD Trips Weather Search 23 May 2017 03:27
Navigation
Home

General
About Me
My Diving
FAQ
Downloads
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
Our Dive Boat - Mak Cat
Our Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
Our Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about our yacht, Catlypso and our Our Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • Our Yachting Adventures.
  • Login
    Username

    Password



    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael and Kelly's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of our Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Current Kareela Weather
    A summary of the current weather conditions at our house at Kareela, Sydney, is below. Click here for more Detailed Diving Weather and Conditions. Weather from Michael McFadyen's Tempe Weather Station


    Conditions at
    23:49 on 23/1/17

     
    Temperature 25.6°C
    Humidity 65.0%
    Barometer 1003.4hPa
    Rate -0.3hPa/hr
    Wind Speed: 0 km/hr
    Wind Direction S
    Rainfall for Today 0.0mm
    Rainfall last hour 0.0 mm
    Rainfall last 24 hours 0.0 mm
    Rainfall at Start of Month 814.6 mm
    Rainfall this Year 827.0 mm
    Today's Extremes
    High Temperature 31.2°C at 15:48
    Low Temperature 20.9°C at 6:27
    Peak Wind Gust 0km/hr at 0:00
    Weather from Michael McFadyen's Kirrawee Weather Station
    Yesterday's Extremes
    High Temperature 27.5°C at 17:11
    Low Temperature 19.8°C at 6:29
    Rainfall at Start of Yesterday 827.0 mm
    Rainfall at End of Yesterday 827.0 mm
    Weather from Michael McFadyen's Tempe Weather Station
    Astronomical Data
    Sunrise 5:06
    Sunset 19:05
    Moonrise 1:09
    Moonset 15:04

    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "The Balcony is a shallow dive with huge fishlife"
    Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers - especially AirX and AirZ
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Aladin Dive Computers
    Aladin Air X ComputerAladin Air Z Computer
    Aladin Pro - OldAladin Sports - Old
    Aladin Pro - NewerAladin Air
    Uploading Aladin Computers to PCPalm Pilot Solutions
    MemoMouse Clone

    NOTE: WRITTEN A LONG TIME AGO

    Aladin Air X Computer

    If you ask me what piece of dive equipment I own has most disappointed me, I think that I would have to answer "My Aladin Air X dive computer". Why? Well, while it has some fantastic features, it appears to be badly made and prone to breaking down, either temporarily or permanently. Some explanation.

    In about 1990 I purchased an Aladin Pro dive computer. This served me perfectly well except for the occasional time when it kept running when left in a damp environment. This was a marked contrast to the previous Aladin computer which had a lot of problems. The only real problem I noticed with the Pro was that in some cases (mostly when used by a diver who did less than 50 dives a year), the battery warning did not work and instead the computer went haywire, showing a dive just completed as being done to an enormous depth (eg 96 metres). A new battery solved the problem. Even disconnecting and reconnecting the battery solved the problem temporarily (this was like rebooting a PC).

    In late 1994 my house was broken into and amongst other things, the Aladin Pro was stolen. I decided to use the insurance money (as well as a considerable amount of my own) to upgrade to an Aladin Air X. This cost, including DataTrak software and connecting cable, was about A$1300 (US$845 at the time). Even though I knew there had been a lot of problems with the early examples of this new computer (it had by then been out over a year), I thought that the bugs would have been ironed out. This was not to be the case. I got the computer in February 1995.

    My first use of the computer was in Papua New Guinea on my 804th dive. I had also purchased the software and downloading cable and my first attempt to use it failed miserably. Even phone calls to the Australian distributor failed to solve the problem so I lost all my data from that trip. The problem appeared to be that the software was incomplete or faulty. I should point out at this time that I work in the IT (computer) Division of a large NSW Government Department so I think I know what I am talking about when I say the software was faulty.

    When I arrived home, I called the distributor again and attempted to get the problem resolved. I convinced him to send me another copy of the software and once I got this, the download feature worked perfect (well almost, see my later comments about the limitations of this software).

    Over the next year and a bit it worked okay (see comments about when it did not). The computer's integration with the air pressure in my tank was a marvellous feature and very handy when doing deep decompression dives (which I do often). In addition, the lack of a normal pressure gauge and attached hose meant that there was less to get caught up on rocks and wrecks. The location of the pressure gauge on the computer meant that it was also a lot easier to keep track of your tank level as every time you look at the computer, you should see the amount of air left in your tank. In addition, the ability to download the dive data from the computer to a PC and print this out meant that I ended up with a good record of the dive (the software had limitations and even now it is not real good).

    However, every now and then the computer did not switch off after diving or it restarted diving by itself. At these times, it seemed to sometimes be caused by being kept in a damp environment (eg in a dive bin) but at other times there was no obvious reason for the action. When this occurred, it meant that you could not download the dive data nor could you use the computer with any degree of accuracy. When it did this, it nearly always went into altitude mode (you can tell this as the deco stops are at 2 metres rather than 3 metres) and the depth at the surface was about 1.4 metres. The computer kept running as if it was completing one huge dive and while you could use it on a dive, it meant that the computer was over conservative and cut your bottom time dramatically (since it thought you had already been diving for hundreds of minutes). Eventually, the computer would reset itself and work okay.

    In early June 1996 after exactly 150 dives (my 954th dive), the computer died totally and started leaking oil from the screen. The computer was replaced under warranty even though it was four months out of warranty. The replacement computer was exactly the same, it still occasionally kept running after the dive. It even did it first dive after I got the replacement!!

    In November 1997 when diving in Chuuk Lagoon, the computer started giving funny tank readings. I kept complaining that I was getting really poor air fills but I still seemed to be not using too much air. Finally, on one dive (my 1,130th dive) I noticed that even after I had been in the water for a considerable time (at 50 metres), the tank pressure was higher than I thought it should be. Even after more time, the pressure had not dropped too much more so I knew something was wrong. Luckily I am very good on my air and had plenty to spare. Despite this, I finished the dive (after a lot of extra deco) with the gauge showing 60 bar but the tank empty! A bit of a problem.

    As I normally do, I had a spare pressure gauge with me so for the rest of the trip I used both gauges. Eventually the Aladin Air X stopped showing the tank pressure.

    I should say that at this time I knew of at least six people who had at least two Air X computers after their first had failed. Some had had more than three replacements but this was the first transmitter I had heard of failing.

    Upon my return to Sydney, I took the computer to Uwatec. I was given a new transmitter for the sum of $90 (especially note this price for when you get later on in article) which was said to be the cost of a new battery.

    After this the computer did not have a major malfunction for two years and ten months (more about this later) but it had the altitude/diving problem at least seven times. In January 2000, it had the worst attack of the altitude problem yet. At 0309 on 1 January 2000, a friend rang my mobile phone to wish me a Happy New Year (thanks Maret!). My mobile was next to the Air X. The next morning, the dive computer was showing a depth of 1.4 metres. We went diving and the computer showed a reduced bottom time (since the computer had already been diving for over seven hours) than my buddy. The second dive was even worse, with the computer going into decompression well before it should have.

    Normally I would have expected the computer to fix itself by the next morning but it did not. On 2 January I went diving again, with a spare computer. The reaction from the Air X was similar to the day before, with reduced bottom times. After the first dive I cleared the deco but at the end of the second dive it still showed eight minutes at two metres. I declined to do this since I had already done a 10 minute safety stop! The computer did not surface but stayed at 1.4 metres and beeped like hell. It stopped after a few minutes.

    The next morning the computer had reset itself and appeared normal, with no alarm showing. We went diving again. As soon as I hit the bottom, the remaining bottom time was only 8 minutes whereas it should have been about 25 minutes. Funnily enough, it never got much worse and even at the end of the dive there was still an indicated 4 minutes bottom time. However, my buddies computer showed only 2 minutes. After the dive, the desaturation time was over 70 hours. Considering that even when diving the SS President Coolidge, doing two deep dives a day, I have never before got over about 30 hours. Before the next dive the "Attn" signal came on but I ignored it as I was not using it as a computer, just a pressure gauge. The next dive was similar, with a small bottom time at the start but not much change throughout the dive. The desaturation time was still around 70 hours.

    However, once I downloaded the computer, the graph for these two dives was totally different to that shown during the dive. The microbubble signal was at its maximum during both dives and on the second, it showed decompression of 56 minutes was required! However, this not signalled during the dive?

    The "Attn" alarm remained on the computer for the whole 70 hours desaturation and but then worked okay for the next nine months.

    On 16 September 2000 on the 508th dive using the replacement computer (my 1,466th dive), while diving at Barrens Hut in Sydney, I started my ascent. At about 10 metres, the computer suddenly went blank and then came up with "Err" appearing in the bottom left of the main screen. Almost two weeks later it had still not corrected itself and appeared to have died. It should be noted that the battery life was still between 30 and 40% so it should not be this causing the problem. On 29 September 2000 I again took it back to the Australian Uwatec distributor.

    After looking at the computer, an employee of the company explained to me that they did not actually do any repair work on the computers in Australia and that they are all sent back to Switzerland (this I already knew from other sources). He told me that since it could not be repaired here, Uwatec's policy (and I took this to mean the parent company's) was to provide a new computer for the cost of repair . He also told me that it was not an uncommon problem for Air X computers to fail, hence this policy. He then set about getting me a new computer and processing it. I was out of there in ten minutes or so, less A$195 (incl GST) and with a new computer. Not too bad I suppose considering the battery was less than 40% and the strap would have needed replacing soon. I first used it on dive 1471.

    On 6 July 2002 after a slight knock, the strap broke. The plastic ends where they join the main body are very flimsy and one of the segments broke along a joining pin. I took the computer to Abyss Diving in Sydney and they sent it off to be repaired. Imagine my surprise the next weekend when I went to collect and I found that it was repaired and there was no cost!

    On 20 April 2003, on my 1,861st dive, the transmitter suddenly failed during a dive after having worked earlier that morning. This meant that the transmitter had lasted 730 dives since it had been replaced about five and a half years earlier. The Operating Manual says that the battery in the transmitter should last about 8.5 years based on the average of 132 dives I have done each year since late 1997. Therefore I should have got about another three years service out of the transmitter. The distributor said that it was probably not the battery and that the transmitter had failed. After some discussion about the problems I have had with the computer and transmitter over the years, I got a free replacement transmitter. I did not use this at first as I had another one that a friend gave me when his dive computer died and he switched models. I used this till dive 1972 when it died (this lasted almost 10 years from new). I used the new one from dive 1,973. I now have a dead transmitter (as well as a functioning one) and I intend to attempt to open and replace the battery. I have nothing to lose.

    In late-May 2003 (after my 1,869th dive), almost almost three years (32 months actually) after my acquiring my third Air X I wrote that it appeared to be working okay. In fact, I had not had a problem with it at all on or after any of the dives I had done using it. At that time, the battery level was 61% (having dropped about 10% in the previous 10 months - 102 dives). Note that this was far better than the last computer which was less than 40% after 500 dives, so I was getting about 100 dives for 10% of battery (compared to 77 dives per 10% on the last computer). I had calculated that if I would get another 50% of the battery life out of it, I would get about another 500 dives or another 3.5 years or so. This would give a total of 900 dives from the computer and say six years ownership. This is marginally more than shown in the Operating Manual.

    However, on 16 May 2004, the computer died while diving Shiprock. Again, as 16 September 2000, the screen went blank and came up with "Err". This was my 1,986th dive, meaning it had lasted 514 dives (discounting one dive when I did not use), only six more than the last one. Once again I was forced to approach the Australian distributor, now owned by Scubapro but still run by the same person. However, this time I decided to bypass this person and spoke to two other people.

    Both advised me that the problem would be the battery was dead. I asked why then did the computer show that there was still over 50% battery and one person claimed that the battery level indicator did not actually show the remaining battery level, but recorded the usuage and deducted this from some amount.

    During discussions in April 2003 it became apparent to me that although the battery can be replaced in the computer (according to the manual), the distributor does not do this and the computers are sent back to Switzerland for repair/battery replacement/refurbishment (note that in 2007 they said that the Air-X could not be opened without breaking the case). Instead, they provide either a replacement Air X ($195) or a new Air Z ($395), although the first option is not always provided unless you insist. This was not offered to me, I only found this out later.

    At the time I understood that the reason the battery could not be replaced is that the insides of the computer are enclosed in some sort of "oil bath" and that the whole thing needs to be opened when enclosed in oil. Note what happened to my first Air X, it leaked oil (I had always wondered why this happened).

    In addition, although the battery in the transmitter can apparently be replaced, it is not done unless you insist and instead a new transmitter is supplied for $249. These represent extremely excessive costs, having risen over 100% in 2.5 years in the case of the computer (since the Air X option is not offered) and the replacement cost of the transmitter has risen over 170% over 5.5 years. I wish I could get a pay rise of 40% or 31% per annum.

    My latest transmitter appears to have died as of 1 July 2010. This meant it worked for just over seven years and about 1,040 dives, a good number compared to my previous ones. I will update this page with the price of replacing it once I have done this.

    As much as I hate the poor reliability of the computer, the inability to replace the battery, the poor customer relations, I am locked into the Aladin AirX/AirZ for one simple reason. To any other computer would cost me over $1,000 and up to $2,000. Reluctantly, I replaced it at that time.

    So far (as at 25 July 2007), after about 1,720 dives with the computer (and its three replacements and two replacement transmitters), it has cost me a total of A$2,119 ($1,300 purchase price, $90 replacement transmitter and $195 replacement Air- X and $395 replacement Air-Z and battery replacement for Air-Z $139). This works out at A$1.23 a dive. Consider that I used my Aladin Pro for exactly 500 dives before it was stolen and it cost me A$650 (purchase and a battery), $1.30 a dive. Of course, except for the thief, I would probably still be using the Pro which would work out at about $0.31 a dive (assuming another three battery changes done by myself) over the 2,235 dives since then. A bit expensive I think.

    NOTE: The US Divers' Monitor 4 is virtually identical to the Air X and is also made by Uwatec. It also appears to suffer from the same problems, but since there are far less around, the level of problems are not as easy to ascertain.

    Some comments on all this. Well, the computer certainly has its faults but it is also, when working correctly, fantastic. First, the pluses, then the minuses.

    Positive Points

  • The air integration means that you do not need a separate contents gauge hanging around getting caught/damaged on wrecks and rocks
  • The information (like all Aladin computers) is presented very simply and clear
  • There is no unnessary information (except perhaps the egg-timer display for remaining air)
  • The integration also means you look at the remaining air section more often than normal as you normally look each time you check your computer
  • The air integration means that the remaining amount of air in minutes is displayed and lets you easily know how long you have left to complete the planned dive (this is the main thing I look at when diving and do not normally look at remaining air pressure)
  • On decompression dives, the computer calculates how much air is needed for decompression and ascent and lets you know when to ascend with enough air for all stops and ascent
  • The variable ascent rate is great for deep divers, meaning a quicker ascent at depth
  • The ability to download data from the computer using a cable and various software is handy for keen divers
  • The ability to quickly find out the air consumption once you have downloaded the data is great
  • The ability to modify some aspects of the computer (metric/imperial, low air level etc) via a PC is also handy
  • A diver should never have any excuse for running out of air as you are always aware of how many minutes of air you have left
  • The ability to view the basic information of the last 19 dives (compared to 9 for the Aladin Pro)
  • The ability to query the computer for probable decompression times for various senarios (eg time and depth)
  • The ability to query the computer for no deco limits for various surface intervals for repetitive dives
  • The Air-Z appears to have a battery that can be replaced
  • Negative Points

  • Recent advice that I have received is that although the battery can be replaced in the computer (according to the manual), the distributor does not do this and instead provides either a replacement Air X ($195) or a new Air Z ($395), although this first option is not always provided unless you ask
  • Although the battery in the transmitter can be replaced, it is not done unless you insist and instead a new transmitter is supplied for $249
  • The replacement costs of the transmitter to get a new battery are excessive, having risen over 170% over 5.5 years
  • The very poor reliability of the AirX and their high failure rate (I have never met a person with an AirX who had not had more than one, two of my friends are on their fourth, another on his third and a dive shop owner I know had four before getting rid of it!!). My third has now died and I am on my fourth computer, an Air-Z.
  • The apparent poor reliability of the transmitter, having now had three in just over eight years (when I wrote this)
  • The problems with the computers going into altitude setting and diving while on the surface (although not once in my most recent computer)
  • The apparent susceptibility to mobile phone interference as experienced by me on 1/1/2000 and related to me by a number of people
  • The ability to only hold 200 minutes of dive data and sometimes even a lot less - for example, even on a weekend dive trip doing four 50 minute dives means you will lose data from the first dive and only have 150 minutes of data
  • The high cost of the cable to enable downloading to a PC (see later for cheaper methods).
  • The inability to download direct to MS Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT or XP using Uwatec software (note there are various software packages on the Internet that permits you to download to a PC running Windows 95, 98, NT or XP). See later in article.
  • The requirement to have to use MemoMouse to download to MS Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT or XP and to store more than 200 minutes of dive data when on a diving trip.
  • The high cost of the MemoMouse (see later for an alternative).
  • The need to modify (using DataTalk) standard settings relating to tank reserve (it is set too high) and breathing sensitivity (it can be far too sensitive and the beeping will drive you crazy)
  • The inability to modify standard settings without a cable and/or MemoMouse, software and a PC (ie why cannot you modify straight into computer)
  • The very poor functionality of the DOS and Windows versions of DataTrak (eg limited text, inability to modify pulldowns, inability to size and print to any paper other than A4)
  • The non-Y2K compatibility of the most common version of the Windows DataTrak (v1.0) supplied with computer interface
  • Inability to use Windows version of DataTalk without MemoMouse
  • The inability of DOS version of DataTalk with fast computers (the software can be modified by editing the software - see below)
  • The extreme sensitivity of the ascent alarm near the surface, very annoying in shallow water dive with a bit of a swell running
  • The very flimsy band is easily damaged
  • The fact that the battery is not user replaceable
  • The fact that the battery percentage mode is totally useless, and does not represent at all the state of the battery
  • SUMMARY

    Do the negatives outweigh the positives? A very hard question to answer, one that really should be a simple, yes. However, I still do not know. The problem is that the technology in the Air X was probably too advanced for 1994/5 when it was released. It apprears to have been released without sufficent testing in real diving situations. The longer my third computer lasted, the more my answer would have been yes. However, its death in May 2004 has made me say no. The death in July 2007 of the Air-Z did not increase my feeling about these computers (I wrote back in 2004 that " I do not expect anything better" and I was right).

    Aladin Air Computer

    Some time after the release of the Air X, Uwatec released the Air. This is virtually identical to the Air X except that instead of having a radio-linked contents gauge, the computer is connected by a normal high pressure hose to the first stage. Other that this, it has the same features as the Air X. I have a couple of friends who have these and they have not encountered any problems so far.

    Aladin Air Z Computer

    The Air X was replaced by the Air Z. One friend purchased one and did not have any problems. Another one got one to replace (his third) dead Air X. As far as I can see it is identical to the Air X except for minor visual design changes but I am told that it has had the bugs ironed out.

    As mentioned above, in May 2004 I got an Air Z to replace my dead Air X. The new Air-Z computer worked pretty well except that occasionally it went into Altitude mode when on the surface (when it was wet) but this always cleared. On 7 July 2007, before my 2,535th dive, the computer came up with ERR. Luckily for me, I had just returned from a diving holiday overseas where I would have been up a creek without a paddle had it expired there.

    This means that this computer, my 5th (I think, hard to keep up with it) had only lasted 548 dives and three years and two months. I hardly think that this is a good deal, a battery should last more than this and the manual states that considering the number of dives a year, it should last about 200 dives more. In addition, the battery % was still about 43% or more when I last dived a few weeks before.

    This time when I rang the distributor, I was told something similar to my last call. However, one big difference was that the battery in the Air-Z can actually be replaced. I was told that it was in an oil bath and they could replace it in Australia. The cost would be $145 (in fact it turned out to cost $139 at the dive shop that I went through). While this is far better than the price for the Air X (remember I was not offered a Air X as a replacement last time), it still means that the battery cost is about $40 per year. Considering that the old Aladin Pro battery can be purchased for $15 at Jaycar (see later) and my wife's Tusa computer battery costs about $8 for two years, this is a rip-off.

    Let's see how long this one lasts! (this is what I wrote at the time).

    Well, in September 2009, the computer started mucking up when I was in the Solomon Islands. What it started doing was the tank contents would not always work at the start of the dive and it was very difficult to download. I put a separate contents gauge on my regs. On returning to Sydney it started working okay, but it was still very hard to download. The computer still worked correctly in relation to depth and decompression, except it was sometimes slow in turning on when you entered the water.

    In December 2009 it got worse. For the whole month, it did not once show the air in my tank except for perhaps the last 10 to 20 minutes of some dives. In addition, I had to use a piece of wire to make the contacts work (to view different parts of the screen) and to download. Then I noticed that on night dives the backlight was on the whole time. This should only happen when you press the computer just below the screen and should go off after a few seconds. It seems that this is related as when the light goes out, the contents works okay.

    Due to this, I decided to buy another computer as I figured it is perhaps heading for a terminal end. I puchased on Ebay a more modern Uwatec Smart Pro. How stupid am I you must think after my problems with the AirX and AirZ?

    Anyway, on a night dive on 7 January 2010, the AirZ actually showed the tank contents for almost the whole dive. However, once I left the water, the light came on and it started flashing like a disco. The next day it was dead. On the Saturday I was doing a deep dive so I had to use the Smart Pro. This means that this computer lasted only two years and five months and under 400 dives.

    When sent to Uwatec, the battery was replaced for $180 (up almost 25% in 2.5 years - 10% per year). I spoke to the technician about the problems (he is nice bloke and very helpful) and found that the problem with the contacts may have been caused by the board in the computer shifting when it was dropped (and it has of course). He said he would fix it back up. He also said he would cut the wire that turns on the backlight when I indicated that I never used it. This will stop it using power unnecessarily.

    Aladin Pro - Old

    As I indicated above, my first computer was an Aladin Pro. It was a wrist mounted model and it gave me excellent service, without any problems other than the occasional time when it kept running when accidently left in a damp location (eg a dive bin) after a dive. This sometimes also occurred when salt built up on the connections. It was also prone to switching to altitude setting (deco stops are at two metres). In both cases, a soak in warm water normally fixed it.

    The computer featured a much smaller screen that the current computers but it still easily read underwater. It as possibly the simpliest display of any dive computer with a readout of current depth, maximum depth, dive time, available bottom time. When available bottom time is passed, it switches to decompression mode and shows the depth of stop, time at that stop and total ascent time. When a second depth for decompression is reached, it shows the depth of deepest stop and time required there as well as total ascent time. This is very handy for regular deep divers and the major feature that the Aladin Sports does not have. In addition, the computer works out the correct stop even if you do it deeper than recommended (eg 4 metres instead of 3 metres) and warns you of you get too shallow for the stop.

    There is also a 9 dive memory (maximum depth, bottom time and surface interval where relevant). You can also plan dives (repetitive and first) but it is very basic.

    It also shows if you are ascending too quick, although like the Air X it is way too sensitive. It only has one ascent rate so on deeper dives, if you ascend at the shown rate (10 metres per minute), you can gain a lot of extra deco at depth. I used to ignore this and ascend from 50 to 30 metres as quick as I could, ignoring the alarm. Most other divers I knew also did this, without any problems (it is roughly equal to the ascent rate of the Air X). It is also a little bit more lenient than the Air X and newer versions in bottom time (eg 51 minutes versus 49 minutes for 18 metres). Depending on how you look at it, it is a benefit or a problem. However, when doing multiple dives, it is more conservative than Air Xs and newer models.

    The battery lasts about 3 to 5 years, even with heavy use. With low use, a problem can occur with the computer showing stupid dives (eg 99.9 metres). This is invariably caused by low battery. A temporary solution is to open computer and disconnect battery (it is soldered) and reconnect (this is like rebooting a PC). You will need to purchase a new battery as soon as possible. Note that when at least three friends had this problem, the distribution company denied that this was related to battery. Funny how a new battery (or just unconnecting and reconnecting battery) solved the problem. You can also replace the battery yourself (despite what the distributor says - it costs $15 from JayCar in 2007).

    Although these are not now available, having been superceded twice, they are often available for sale second hand. They still represent good value and if you can pick up one for $50 or so, you will have a good bargain. I would recommend them for newer divers.

    Aladin Pro - Newer

    After the Air X had been out for a while, Uwatec released a new Aladin Pro. It featured the same decompression model as the Air X (ie a bit more conservative for first dives but less for repetitive), a bigger screen but other than this, it was much the same for most users.

    The screen readout was the same, the decompression section the same. The main feature outside the bigger screen was that it was downloadable to a PC. In this case, it was the same as the Air X except for air consumption of course. See the Air X article above.

    Again, these have been very reliable and I do not know any that have failed. These have now been superceded again. Now that a new model is out, you may be able to get one for $200.

    Aladin Sports - Old

    After I purchased my Air X and had the first problems with it, I purchased a second hand Aladin Sports to use as a back up to the Air X. Trusting, aren't I?

    This is almost identical to the Aladin Pro (old) as outlined above. The only differences are it does not have audible alarms for ascent rate/too shallow stop, the decompression stop depth is shown but the time you have to stay is not nor is the total ascent time. This applies for multiple deeper stops. It still calculates the stop required, no matter the depth and lets you know when you are clear to ascend.

    The same comments apply re ascent rates and no stop limits as to the Aladin Pro (old). The log book, planning and battery life are the same. The same problems of crazy readings when battery became low and the habit of keep running when damp apply. As for the older Pros, can also replace the battery yourself (despite what the distributor says - it costs $15 from JayCar).

    You may be able to pick up one of these second hand for $50, a good bargain. Recommended for divers who do not want to do decompression dives or only the occasional decompression dive. I still use it occasionally (well often!) when my Air X dies.

    Ways to Get Better and Cheaper PC Compatibility

    The following information explains the ability to download the computer to a PC and to view the data. I have also provided information about better and cheaper solutions to inferfacing your Aladin Computer (all newer types) to your PC. In addition, I have provide a solution to collecting information when away from your PC and which takes the place of the MemoMouse (and is far better).

    Cables

    The cable that is sold by Uwatec is very expensive, in excess of $200 the last time I checked (it may not even be available now). You can make one up for about $10 so long as you have a little understanding of electronics or are a bit handy. Diagrams exist all over the web but a specific location is Matthias Heinrichs' Web Site. I made a number and it was quite easy. Note that this most simple cable does not permit changes to the computer's settings. To do this, you need one of the Uwatec cables or you need to make one of the more complex cables. The plans are also on Mr Heinrich's web site.

    Uwatec Software

    The normal Windows version of Uwatec's software, DataTrak, is very basic and as supplied, cannot be used to import data from the computer without an expensive MemoMouse. These cost over $300. The software has its uses, mainly to check the deco status of a computer during a dive. The software is available free from Uwatec's Web Site.

    As mentioned above, there are some settings of your Aladin that can be modified from a PC using a piece of Uwatec software called DataTalk. These settings are metric v imperial (all), beeps (Pro and Air X), tank reserve air and breathing sensitivity (Air X). If you have an Air X or Air-Z, you will need to modify the tank reserve to 30 bar (the normal setting is too high) and reduce the breathing sensitivity (which can cause incessant beeping if you breathe too heavy or shallow). The DOS version is required unless you have a MemoMouse in which case you can use the Windows version. There is also a problem in that this DOS software will not run on a fast PC (that is, virtually all Pentium PCs) unless you modify the software. Basically the software runs too quickly for the cable and computer to handle the transfer. You need to modify the software as follows. First, make a copy of the file. Open the copy with hex editor and search for hex "F7 D0 F7 D2 B9 37" and replace 37 with 7E or FF. Finally, save and close.

    As far as I know there are no PC-based alternatives to DataTalk to modify the settings on the computer but there is a Palm Pilot way. See Palm Solutions below.

    The older DOS version of DataTrak as well as DOS DataTalk are available from Matthias Heinrichs' Web Site.

    Other Software

    Despite the information contained on the Uwatec Web Site (which says that you cannot download data from Aladin computers using Windows without the MemoMouse due to insurmountable problems), there are a number of privately built software available that will do this "impossible" feat. The best software for importing data from your computer into Windows 3.1, 95, 98, NT or XP and for viewing, recording and querying your dive data is Wlog available from Thomas Temesvari's Web Site. It is very good and uses pull down screens which remember the data previosuly entered for certain entry fields. It runs on Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 and XP. Its only drawback is that it does not show decompression detail. This used to be available free for use (with some minor limitations) or you could pay a fee for total and unfeted use but this has changed. Note that the most recent versions of this software only runs for two months before becoming unusable unless you pay Mr Temesvari 25 Euros. Unfortunately, there is no way for people like me to do this as he does not accept credit cards and you have to mail him the cash. Where am I going to get 25 Euros in Australia? Latest news, I went to Italy on holidays in late 2002 and brought back some Euros and mailed them off to him and got a registration number.

    Another piece of software is called ALDT. It is available from Jochen Van Waasen's Web Site. The enables you to import data direct into Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP without the memo mouse. There is also ADTK (or Dive Talk) software from Cern Scuba Club in Geneva. It is not too bad either and offers the ability to download the basic data to other formats (eg to Word or Excel) and also shows data in a lot of other formats. Works under Windows 95/98/NT/XP.

    Palm Pilot Solutions - MemoMouse Alternative

    As indicated above, the Aladin MemoMouse must be used to transfer data from the computer to the PC when using the Windows DataTrak software. It is also used to save data when on holidays away from your PC since the Aladin computers can hold only a maximum of 200 minutes of data (and in many cases, far less than this). The MemoMouse is an expensive solution (over A$300) and my friends and I have often resorted to taking a bulky laptop overseas with us to solve the problem.

    However, I now have a much cheaper and more practical solution, especially for people who already own a Palm Pilot. There is now a piece of software called Paladin (as of September 2003 latest version is 4.27) which runs on the Palm Pilot and lets you download your computer to the Palm easily. All you need are the normal Palm cable or cradle, a null-serial cable, two bender genders, a Uwatec cable and the software. All the details of this are at N. Hisashi's Web Site. It is really good software and enables you to download as much data as the Palm will hold from multiple computers. This is heaps more than you could ever use - even on the base Palm. It also emmulates the MemoMouse and enables uploading to Windows DataTrak and you can even upload to WLog. As well, there are diagrams and instructions for making the interface between DataTrak cable and Palm and software for converting existing DataTrak .log files to Palm format for viewing on the Palm. While this caused problems in an earlier version I tried, the latest version works perfectly.

    Palidin also permits you to view your profile and some of the basic information on your Palm (depth, average depth, start time, dive time, water temperature, initial water temperature as well as showing alarms and when you entered decompression). You can also add notes to the dive so when you get home you are able to remember the details of each dive. Finally, you can change the modifiable settings of your Aladin (instead of using DataTalk on a PC) such as metric v imperial, beeps, tank reserve air and breathing sensitivity for Air X. Fantastic!! Remember you need either the real Uwatec cable or the more complex home made cable (not the simple one).

    It also now interfaces with some other Palm software which means you can import the data into log books (see below).

    MemoMouse Clone

    As pointed out above, the Uwatec MemoMouse is very expensive solution to the problem of lack of memory when travelling on a dive trip. An alternative to the Palm solution above is to build your own clone MemoMouse. A Web Site has details of how to build your own mouse. If you are handy with electronics, I am sure that you could build one very easily and cheaply.

    Other Palm Solutions

    A dive log for Palm Pilots is available from Ken Hancock's Web Site. This lets you keep detailed info on you dives but is not linked to Aladin computers at all. It is pretty good.

    There are links to two other Palm software dive logs which can be accessed from N. Hisashi's Web Site. One of these is Ruiz Scuba Log which as at February 2002 is not finished but will have a link utilising Paladin data (I think this will be free) and another piece which costs money. The other is Aqua DiveLog by Stephan Viegl. It is not too bad but needs some work to make a bit more user friendly.

    Summary

    As I implied by this article, I would not buy another Aladin AirX (or an AirZ) if my current one was to be lost or stolen. I am not poor, so it is not the money. It is the fact that not only have I had problems, so many people I know have had so many problems with Air X computers.

    I would, however, consider the Aladin Air which is integrated but via a hose but the attitude of the distributor would still probably turn me off it.

    However, the other Aladin computers (except newest models which have only just been released) have proved to be very reliable and easy to use. In fact, of all the people I dive with (in excess of 50 people), virtually everyone has an Aladin computer of one sort or another. Apart from those with AirXs (six of us), they are all very happy with their computers.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2017
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded by Michael McFadyen
    without any help from the Australian Dive Industry since 1996!