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Annotated Tekkie

How much kit does it take to safely explore the underwater world? We celebrate our innate gearheadedness with British photo phenom Jason Brown.

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Text by Michael Menduno, Annotations by Garry Dallas, Vladamir Dontsov, Symeon Delikaris Manias, Marcus Rose and Robert Thomas, Design by Amanda White, Photography by Jason Brown.

The idea for the annotated tekkie project grew out of my fascination with diving technology and how many individual pieces of specialized kit are required to conduct a technical dive safely, or any (compressed gas) dive really. Of course, the deeper and longer the dive, the more equipment and consumables are usually required. Breathing underwater is strictly a technological affair. Accordingly, we share a technology-based culture. Even our breath-hold brethren require a modicum of technology—mask, fins, snorkel, exposure suit—while breathy bearers of the DRD4-7R ‘explorer’ gene are already upping the ante with liquid goggles, freediving computers, timers and alarms, talking oximeters and even a bit of nitrox pre-breathe—watch this space.

My first attempts to illustrate the concept of technology in diving were during my early days at aquaCORPS, when we created a number of spreads annotating gear and configurations for the magazine. Scientific American even paid homage to the concept in its August 1995 issue that sported a cover story on decompression illness. An accompanying piece titled, “Deeper Into the Abyss—and Back Again,” by staff writer and diver Glen Zorpette, featured tech diving pioneer Capt. Billy Deans, dressed out in an annotated, open circuit tech diving rig replete with diapers and pre-Fourth Element thermal underwear.

Illustrated Wrecker from aquaCORPS #9 Wreckers JAN 1995

This year we decided to go BIG and teamed up with British photographer Jason Brown, featured in InDepth’s “Brown in Bardo” to capture the innate gearheadedness of our beloved sport. The idea was to identify every single piece of kit worn by actual tech divers down to pieces of cord placed beneath the wrist seals to equalize dry gloves, in a number of popular configurations—see the navigation tabs below. Our models, with few exceptions, were photographed wearing their own gear. It’s interesting to note that almost every piece of equipment shown below, whether it’s rebreathers, regulators, valves, diver propulsion vehicles, exposure suits, dive computers, p-valves, you name it, is made up of dozens to hundreds of individual components.  

As a result, we are literally a walking, err, swimming with a Rube Goldberg-esque galaxy of nuts and bolts; screws and wires, O-rings, hoses, circuit boards, chips, sensors, switches, displays, plastic fittings, fabrics, all attached to our bodies, and supported by a plethora of the requisite tools, accessories, and supplies needed to keep everything in working order. Small wonder that a typical tech diver submerges wearing a sports car’s worth of technology, and that’s before her cameras and housings! Ha!

Here then is InDepth’s celebration of our technology-based underwater culture. We hope you enjoy it. I want to thank our illustrious technology-centric sponsors—DAN Europe, Divesoft, Fourth Element, Halcyon and Shearwater for making this art feature possible. I also want to thank our models, annotators, and set providers (see below) for their participation. Note that in addition to the InDepth story featured here, we have created two downloadable Annotated Tekkie posters that you will be able to print. We will send it out via email to subscribers and providing a download link in this story. Better yet, you will also be able to request a full color printed version from your favorite sponsor shown below. Watch this space.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that as human divers on deadline, we have likely made errors and omissions, and/or failed to identify important items that our geeky readers will no doubt discover with some relish. Our apologies in advance. If you do find an errors, omissions, or needed tweaks, please let us know, and we will make the corrections—Michael Menduno/M2

Use the following navigation links to dive into your favorite configurations:

Open Circuit Tech Diver

Open Circuit Sidemount Cave Diver

Closed Circuit Tech Diver 

GUE-style Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Sidemount Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Supporting Technology

Diving Thermals

Tools of the Trade

Books


Open Circuit Tech Diver

The technical diving community has largely standardized its open circuit tech rig, though arguments over hose, light and computer placement persist. Here is tekkie Liam Colleran sporting the GUE open circuit configuration with verve. We’d like to extend our thanks to Ian Taylor at Skindeep Diving Charters Portland, Dorset for generously allowing us access to his 11-meter Catamaran dive vessel Skindeep.  

Open Circuit Sidemount Cave Diver

The British Cave Diving Group (CDG) has developed its own sidemount configurations for dealing with the UK’s sumpy caves. CDG diver Robert Thomas, founder of Young Divers International shows the kind of kit it takes to scoop serious booty. Thank you to Christopher Binding and Becca Burne at Wookey Hole Somerset, UK for kindly allowing access to Wookey’s beautiful show caves. 

Closed Circuit Tech Diver

An inspired TDI Instructor Trainer Toni Norton geeks out in full tech regalia in the yellow machine that fomented a revolution. 

GUE-Style Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Not surprising to anyone, GUE has developed its own closed circuit configuration. Here GUE instructor Marcus Rosewho serves as regional director for Project Baseline UK and GUE’s Community Director, demonstrates the fine points of a well-dressed (CCR) man. And check out the exploded view below, and realize that every piece of kit shown below is a assemblage of tens to hundreds of components. A massive thanks to Mary Harris at Old Harbour Dive Centre, Weymouth, Dorset for kindly allowing us to use X-Dream for the shoot.

FOR AN EXPLODED VIEW OF THE HALCYON HALO CLICK HERE

TO SEE AN EXPLODED VIEW OF THE  H-75p 1ST STAGE CLICK HERE

Tekkie

Sidemount Closed Circuit Tech Diver

Whether worn as a primary or as rebreather bailout, sidemount rebreathers are garnering users and applications. Here Sean Connery stunt double (just kidding) cum RAID Instructor Trainer Garry DallasSimply Sidemount embodies the proper sidemount style and ‘tude amidst the verdant English countryside.

Supporting Technology

Our tekkies conduct their pre and post dive activities using the appropriate supporting technologies. Special thanks to British explorer and educator Phil Short, Dark Water Exploration, for dropping in, err, down for the stealthy cameo.

Diving Thermals

Our dynamic duo isn’t skimping on skivvies—stay wet, stay warm! A big thank you to Amy and Martin Stanton of Vobster Quay Diving CentreSomerset, UK for allowing us to use their site. 

Tools of the Trade

The right tool for the right job! Oh yeah, there’s lots of jobs! And don’t forget to wee-wee.

Books

Here are a few in-depth volumes—both classics and newerbies—on tekkie bookshelves.


Here are your Annotated Tekkie posters

Connect With Jason Brown, BARDOCreative  here:

www.bardophotographic.com

www.facebook.com/bardocreative

www.instagram.com/bardophotographic

ANNOTATED TEKKIE IS SPONORED BY:

Art

Rock & Water

Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor evokes the sacred, populating underwater seascapes with corporeal objets d’art, meant to be assimilated by the sea.

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Text, photography and art courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor.

Crossing the Rubicon, Museo Atlántico, Lanzarote, Spain, Atlantic Ocean

“Museums are places of conservation, education, and about protecting something sacred. We need to assign those same values to our oceans.”

Nexus, Oslo Fjord, Norway
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico

As soon as we sink them, they belong to the sea.

The Rising Tide, River Thames, Vauxhall, London

“The Rising Tide was located within sight of the Houses of Parliament. The politician on a petroleum horse was an obvious metaphor for how fossil fuel companies are embedded into our politician system. I think we really have to start holding people accountable for what they are doing. And that needs to be documented in stone rather than in a few words in a newspaper column that disappears. There are a lot of people whose actions need to be immortalised.”

The Raft of Lampedusa, Museo Atlántico, Lanzarote, Spain, Atlantic Ocean
Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico
Nexus, Oslo Fjord, Norway
The Coral Greenhouse, John Brewer Reef, Australia, Pacific Ocean
The Silent Evolution, Museo Subacuático de Arte, Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico

“It is named a museum for a simple reason. Every day we dredge, pollute and overfish our oceans, while museums are places of preservation, of conservation, and of education. They are places where we keep objects that have great value to us. Our oceans are sacred.”

Check out www.underwatersculpture.com for a lot more amazing work!


Jason deCaires Taylor MRSS is an award winning sculptor, environmentalist and professional underwater photographer. For the past 16 years, Taylor has been creating underwater museums and sculpture parks beneath the waves, submerging over 1,100 living artworks throughout the world’s oceans and seas. Themes explored by these artistic installations include, among others, the climate emergency, environmental activism, and the regenerative attributes of nature. The sculptures create a habitat for marine life whilst illustrating humanity’s fragility and its relationship with the marine world. Taylor’s subjects mainly feature members of the local community, focussing on their connections with their own coastal environments.

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