Sunday, 26 November 2006

Farewell to the VR3

By Garf

The time to sell the VR3 has arrived. I always said I would keep it until DIR gave me a tool to enable me to dive without it, and Tech1 gave me those tools. To be honest, once you have learned all the shortcuts for calculating CNS, Minimum gas, and specifically Ratio Deco, and once you have plugged the numbers generated by ratio deco through a few pc programs to satisfy yourself it's sound, then the arguments for using computers do become a little weak.

That's not to say the VR3 is not a great tool. It has served me well for a couple of hundred dives, and without Ratio Deco, there is no way I would be selling it on. It has always worked flawlessly, and if truth be told, got me out of a few tricky spots, and I could never criticise the unit itself as it is a great piece of kit.

However, the simple truth is that the real strengths of the VR3 are somewhat undone by the DIR approach. The ability to program multiple gases, even whilst underwater, to cater for whatever mix you are diving becomes somewhat irrelevent if you dive using the same standard gas mixtures everytime. The facility for deep microbubble stops is not necessary if we start our deep stops at 80% of the average ATAS. Hell, there's even a fast calculation to work that out. The "time to surface" calculation that I loved with the VR3 is unecessary becuase at any point throughout the dive I can look at the dive time and know exactly how long it is to the surface anyway. If I choose to pad that out to make it more conservative, well there's no difference between padding out the VR3 and padding out Ratio deco, neither are going to do you any harm by making them more conservative.

What I never understood about Deco on the fly was that you only need to know your bottom time and the average depth, and away you go. There is no complicated calcuoations to perform in the water, and once you know how it all works it is a pretty appealing methodology, as there are three people in the water any one of whom is a complete backup for the deco, all of whom are checking to ensure nothing daft is being done. As long as you follow those protocols it's a great system.

So, the VR3 has gone on ebay. The sale was accelerated in the end by a need for some urgent cash after spending a ludicrous amount of money on Tech1, but it was definitely on the way out. There was nothing wrong with the VR3, I would never stand and critice one, or the owner of one, becuase they are a great piece of kit. The simple truth is that I simply cannot see a need for it anymore.