Unified Team Diving

I’m interested in sidemount diving but before I invest in the equipment, I have some questions:

- all the movies are made in nice hot water but I dive in cold water with a drysuit and a Weezle undersuit: how does the system work in cold water? What with the lead, do you need more lead?

- the Z-system is for 1 stagebottle. Is it possible to put a second stagebottle on the harness in the future?

- most of my dives would be as sidemounting but rarely I still want to dive as backmounting. Is it possible to install a divebottle on the back?

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Isabelle

The good news is we dive cold water and the system is designed to be used in cold water. However most of the cold water in this area is dirty so the video does not turn out well, so we shoot all the video in warm blue water. :). Of course, with the additional underwear and drysuit, you will need additional lead to compensate. We have a number of adaptable weighting systems to accomplish this.

We also regularly dive 2, 3 and even 4 stage/deco bottles, so again yes the system is designed for that. The best is, like you, we also like to occasional dive back-mount :) or have to switch to back mount because the nature of the dive requires it, so we have built that into the Delta/Z-system.

So my best suggestion for you is the Delta/Z-Plus system. This will allow you to switch the wing from back-mount to side-mount and back as you want. To back-mount you simply add a Single Tank Adapter.

Z-Plus - Single Tank System
http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=42_37&products_i...

Weighting Options
http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=42_37&products_i...
http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=31_41_12&product...

Back-mount Single Tank Adapter
http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=42_37&products_i...



Here is the full breakdown

Harness Options:

1. Z-Harness - True side-mount harness, soft, lightweight and super flexible. Great for side-mount diving and for travel. Works really well for both side mount and for back-mount diving, just add an STA (Single tank adpater) and off you go. Keep in mind that it is not weighted. So, you will need to add weight options. That could be a soft v-weight between the plates, that could be ditchable waist weight pockets or even a simple weight belt.

2. UTD/DIR STD Backplate - 6lbs/2.5 kgs or the 12lbs/5kgs version. You can use an existing SS backplate. This works well for side mount diving expect you loose the flexibility and lightweight travel of the Z Side-mount harness but you gain the additional weight you may need on your back. You will need a Z-manifold adapter to attach the Z-manifold to a backplate for sidemount. http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=42_37&products_i... . You will also need a Z-Trim Device adapter when attaching the Z-Side-mount wing. http://utdequipment.com/product_info.php?cPath=42_37&products_i...

Trim Device Options:

1. Z-Trim Device and Z-Plus. The design concepts were for "Side-Mount Diving" Only. The Z-trim device is designed with 20lbs/9kg of lift and is ample and great for side-mount single and double stage tank diving. If you feel that is not enough lift or you are diving steel stages or have a ton of excessive weight on then go for the Z-Plus wing which has upto 37lbs/17kgs of lift and will cover you for SS backplates, steel stages, extra weight and so on. I highly recommend Z-Plus for cold water environments.

2. Delta Wing/Z-Plus Trim Device. The design concepts behind "Delta" it that is a hybrid. You can go Side-Mount Diving or you can go back-mount diving. The Delta is cool because it is designed to be completely convertible. You can dive it Side-Mount (37lbs/17kgs of lift), you can even reverse the wing and reverse the elbow and OPV so you have the LP hose on the inside :) or you can dive it back-mount with an STA. I highly recommend this trim device for you.

Z-Manifold
The Z-manifold has 8 inter-connected LP ports that allow you to choose how many in's and out's you would prefer. The manifold fits the Z-Harness and/or any backplate (with the adapter). So you can put 1 or 2 in's with the QC6 Female and then distribute the gas to a Long Hose, a Necklace, a Wing LP, a Drysuit and needed. There is even provision to distribute gas to a side-mount rebreather wink wink :) It is solid piece of marine grade brass with 8 static ports (no moving parts) and sits 1"/2.5cm off the back of your neck, protected by the Z-Plus/Delta Trim Device or the Z-Manifold cover when using a Z-Trim Device. The chances of failure of this "distribution block" are essentially nill. Seriously failure of a First Stage is far higher than this.

As a side note: Divers have expressed concern that the Z-System has a single point of failure in the Z-manifold. This is true, but that is a risk that has an equivalent in back mount and that we have a protocol to handle. Let's discuss this point. We do have the same single point of failure when you dive a std UTD/DIR double tank system. That is the isolator knob. If we somehow damage the manifold isolator knob, we will be unable to shut down the knob and loose all the gas. Remember, it is high pressure, if you smack it and destroy it, it will be a catastrophic lose of gas. Secondly your "only" bailout is your teammate. With the Z-System, if you were able to damage the Z-manifold (much lower profile than the Isolator Knob on a set of doubles), it is low pressure, far less catastrophic than a high pressure failure, secondly your bailout is "Traditional Side Mount". Meaning that simply unplug the QC6's, and you now have independent double side mount tanks with a second stage attached to either the first stages of the cylinder. You can also have a second stage with QC6 female in your pocket and simply plug the QC6'ed onto each of the stages as needed. Keeping in mind a third option is your buddy (std UTD/DIR option.) SO in actually fact you have two (2) bailout options in Z-System whereas in UTD/DIR std back-mount you only have one option.

If I read your explanation, if I buy a UTD Z-Plus - Single System Complete (Rec. Side-Mount Version), then I have everything to dive sidemount and backmount.  Another question: can I put an OMS backplate on it for backmount diving?

Isabelle

The answer is yes if you buy a z-plus recreational system you have everything you need to dive side-mount and only need an extra STA to dive back mount. As far s compatibility with the OMS Backplate, there is no problem with using the Delta wings with any backplate including the OMS backplate.

Andrew
Hi Andrew, my motherlanguage is Dutch.  So I know my english but what is STA?
I already looked on youtube to the movies.  Am I correctly if I say that the harness pass/goes into the wing.  If that's the way.  I don't understand how you can use a backplate for backmounting.  Do you have to loosen the Z-harness from the wing?
Hi Isabelle,  We have an adapter for the Z-System that mounts the Z-Manifold to the backplate. So you unscrew the manifold from the Z-Harness and move it, complete with all the hoses, to the adapter, which then bolts onto the backplate.
Isabelle. We have a UTD Essentials of Sidemount class coming up very soon, to clarifiye all this and to give students a decent training in a lot more than all that (trim, buoyancy, ascents,...).  Already 2 subcriptions, feel free to be the 3rd teammate.
Isabella

HEre are two pictures of the Z-Plus system connected to a 12lbs/5kgs backplate. In other words the weight required for Drysuit cold water diving has being integrated into a standard backplate. In the photos you can see how the Z-Manifold is attached to the backplate through a small adapter plate. Also you see how low profile and streamline this system is, once assembled. Then of course you can single tank side mount or double tank side-mount. As a side note: Kevin also in the pictures loved the Z-Plus system as he likes to travel and dive doubles, but often can't find operates to rent him doubles. So he can simply use the Z-Plus system and plug in two standard aluminum 80's /11l tanks and voila. he has doubles.

Hope this clarifies some things.

Andrew
Attachments:
As a side note: Divers have expressed concern that the Z-System has a single point of failure in the Z-manifold. This is true, but that is a risk that has an equivalent in back mount and that we have a protocol to handle. Let's discuss this point. We do have the same single point of failure when you dive a std UTD/DIR double tank system. That is the isolator knob. If we somehow damage the manifold isolator knob, we will be unable to shut down the knob and loose all the gas. Remember, it is high pressure, if you smack it and destroy it, it will be a catastrophic lose of gas. Secondly your "only" bailout is your teammate. With the Z-System, if you were able to damage the Z-manifold (much lower profile than the Isolator Knob on a set of doubles), it is low pressure, far less catastrophic than a high pressure failure, secondly your bailout is "Traditional Side Mount". Meaning that simply unplug the QC6's, and you now have independent double side mount tanks with a second stage attached to either the first stages of the cylinder. You can also have a second stage with QC6 female in your pocket and simply plug the QC6'ed onto each of the stages as needed. Keeping in mind a third option is your buddy (std UTD/DIR option.) SO in actually fact you have two (2) bailout options in Z-System whereas in UTD/DIR std back-mount you only have one option.

I'm still a bit concerned about single point of failure when using z-manifold. I do realize that the block it self is very hard to break, but what about hoses? I have whiteness several hose breaks during my dives.

When we dive in gaves, we really need fully redundant setup, but is it accomplished with z-manifold? If we connect our long hose, necklace, wing and dry suite to the manifold and one of those hoses break we lose all of them. Ofcouse we can have additional second stage for breathing, but still we need to be able to add gas to wing/dry suite. With double tanks we can make things redundant.

Toni

While I appreciate your point of view, a single point of failure exists in all systems, from backmount DIR to rebreathers to Side-Mount. For example in backmount DIR (Double Tanks with Isolator Manifold) if you were to slam into the ceiling and shear the isolator knob off (High profile, high pressure, dynamic o-rings) on a set of doubles (That is a more reasonable scenario than breaking the z-manifold), you would first and foremost lose all you gas and all your diving functionality including breathing gas, bcd gas and drysuit inflation. Your bailout would be solely be your buddy.

In the Z-Side-mount system, we use the z-distribution block to "enhance" the functionality of the system and DO NOT RELY on for the dive. By distributing  the gas, one is able to enjoy all the benefits (Long hose, necklace, bcd and so on at all times) with far less risk than an isolator knob on a set of doubles (z-manifold is low profile, low pressure, static o-rings). If you have any issues such as you suggest, your first line of defense is bailout to side-mount and then ultimately your buddy. By bailing out to traditional side-mount you can simply unplug the cylinders and use a standard second stage to breath the gas, you can orally inflate the BCD. and obviously you are bailing out so you are heading home so drysuit inflation is unnecessary. I know..... I know, you gonna say but in a cave we may have to...........My answer would be "Like in any special circumstance, if you have to descend on the way home, you can put an extra LP hose on a cylinder, or wear a separate drysuit inflation bottle like we already do for technical and trimix." Point is, I could make a thousand and one arguments as to why the "typical" side-mount configuration will fail in a circumstance, if you lost this hose then this or that hose then that. Here is the crux of the matter. With the Z-Side-Mount System and the Z-Manifold Block (Distribution block) what I get is all the benefits (listed below) without increasing risk, in fact less than an isolator knob on a standard set of doubles manifold which I dove successfully for 20 years anyways. IMHO

Benefits of Z-Side-Mount System over Traditional Side-Mount 

Scalable - I use ONE system for all my diving... Single (1) Tank (Recreational), 2 tanks (Tech-reational), 3 tanks, 4 tanks. Deco bottles, Stages.... even my Rebreather (PSCR and mCCR) - One CANNOT do it this with traditional Side-mount. Imagine that you can now stage a cave with cylinders, and deco bottle, plug them into the system and always have donate-able long hose, necklace, bcd, drysuit and even rebreather function with any cylinder in the cave

Consistent - Within a UTD/DIR Team and all environments. Can easily dive wihin a mixed team (back-mount, rebreather and side-mount) and still have the donate-able long hose wrapped around your neck (NO MORE Stuffing the long hose)  Best of all you can ALWAYS DONATE FROM MY MOUTH - again something traditional Side-mount configuration does not offer. With Z-System we can even do better than with traditional UTD/DIR back-mount in that we even have donate-able long hose during DECO :)

Minimalist - Only take what we need. We don't need to configure every tank and/or stage bottle with two regualtors, drysuit hose and BCD hose. Again when staging a cave ( dropping stage and deco bottles) to do big pushes, we do not worry about the fact that the stage bottle only has a single regulator on it (traditional BAck-Mount and side-mount)  When we use to dive stages, we would use them first and drop them at 1500+200. Scary thing was when you came back to it, it only had a single regulator on it, NOW we has this ability plus we can pug it into the system and get FULL Functionality.

Integration - It integrates perfectly into our already established 20 years of UTD/DIR/Hogarthian system. The light is still on the right side, the argon is still worn on the left, the 7'/2m long hose still wraps around your neck and tucks under the light or knife, you are always breathing a donate-able hose, you still have a necklace regulator always ready to go, you still rock bottom gas management, you still use Ratio Deco... blah blah blah. Essentials it fully meets the 10 covenants of UTD.

This of course is a short list, but gives you the basic idea. Let me know if you have any questions.

Andrew

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