29 Oct 2003 18:25:48
David Walker
Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

I've got to the point where I think I need a torch now - I keep finding
myself on dives thinking "i wonder what's in / under / behind there". I've
been thinking and looking for the last few weeks, and started at a 15
torch, then thought about a Kowalski 620, then Suunto 209's, Mares Phos's,
Green Force ones, and now i'm up to Fa&Mi torches.

I initially looked at Fa&Mi because of the 2002 Umbilical, which seemed very
cheap for an umbilical, while looking very bright, and having the features I
wanted (mainly external charging and a 'real' switch - not one of these
"unscrew the seal to turn it on" jobbies).
I've since been told about a couple of other Fa&Mi ones, which are both the
same price (to within 1 for what I want), so i'm a bit stuck now as to what
to go for.

The 2002 Umbilibal is a 20W Xenon, seemed very bright in the shop, and I
think I like the idea of the head being small so i would take it everywhere
with me - I think if I had a bigger torch that just hung around the BCD
somewhere I would end up leaving it in my bag for most dives.

The second option is the 2001 handheld - thats 50W, has a similar burntime,
and could get a 30W bulb and extend the burn time much more, and still in
theory be brighter than the 2002 umbilical. This one also has a huge range
of options for different heads, which I could make into an umbilical with a
more powerful lamp (like a HID) in the future without needing a new battery
pack. As it is now though, it would be fixed at a high power, and i'm not
really sure how big it is to have hanging around.

The third option is the Fa&Mi Superstar. For the same price I get 3 power
settings, ranging from 50-100 mins burn time, and dual LEDs which will kick
in when its on low power and last another 20 hours, even after the battery
is too flat to run the main bulb. That one does seem like the best option,
but I don't think its upgradeable.

All these are made to the same standard, charge in the same time (4 hours),
don't have to be opened up at all to charge them (they remain fully sealed
all the way through), cost 239 or 240, the weight is about the same for
them all, and the switches are all the same style of twisting a magnetic
collar, whcih can be locked in the off position too.... and thats all I can
think of. The prices are what I would pay, including the external charge
module where that's extra - i've already talked to the dive shop and
confirmed all that.

The main problem i've got in making a decision is the distinct lack of
information about any of the Fami stuff - their website has a very vague
outline of its features, and they don't seem to be very common in the UK so
finding information about them is hard. If anyone knows a source of info on
Fami torches (i've seen the review of the 2001 on divernet), for example a
manual / marketing sheet / leaflet, or anything really, that'd be really
useful.

If anyone has tried any of these three, or can make some sort of judgement
based on the limited amount I know and offer a bit of advice, i'd appreciate
it. I've never used an umbilical torch before, so although it seems like a
good idea to me now, would it be suitable for normal recreational diving -
ie teaching in Stoney, trips all around the UK to 35m, looking in wrecks,
night dives in both UK and in Egypt, that sort of thing. When people have
normal lantern type torches, do you usually take it with you on all dives,
or just night dives or ones where you think you may be doing wreck
penetration or caves and such like. The thing I want to avoid is buying
something, but then not using it because its too inconvenient to carry it
with me on a dive.

Any info and advice appreciated!

David




29 Oct 2003 18:57:00
Keith S.
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

David Walker wrote:
> I've got to the point where I think I need a torch now - I keep finding
> myself on dives thinking "i wonder what's in / under / behind there". I've
> been thinking and looking for the last few weeks, and started at a 15
> torch, then thought about a Kowalski 620, then Suunto 209's, Mares Phos's,
> Green Force ones, and now i'm up to Fa&Mi torches.

If they're the ones I think they are, then they look a bit flimsy.
With torches you get what you pay for, if it seems cheap, it's
because it is cheap. Paying a bit more will give you a torch
that should last for years.

Think about the following things before buying a (main) torch):

- do you want a rechargeable torch? They cost more, but
are going to cost you less in the long run. Backup
torches are good candidates for non-rechargeable
batteries though.

- are you going to use it primarily in the UK, or abroad?
If abroad, make sure you can get a dual voltage charger.

- what sort of burn time do you need from it? If you cannot
charge it between dives, for two dives a day you need a
burn time of a couple of hours if you are diving dark UK waters.

- are you likely to be doing dives where a torch is required
at all times (e.g in some of the rather darker UK waters)
or is it just for shining in holes?
If in the UK, an umbilical may be easier to handle and
can be fixed to your waist strap/backplate/tanks etc.

- do you want a HID? The light penetration underwater is
in a class of its own, and they have a long burn time
compared to filament bulbs.

- does the on-off switch require a seal or is it magnetically
operated? The switch is likely to be the main failure point
and anything mechanical will fail sooner or later.

- how reliable are the bulbs and what do they cost to replace?
HID bulbs are pretty expensive (and environmentally very
unfriendly as they contain mercury) but they last a while.

- how reliable are the batteries and what do they cost to replace?
Again, environmental issus - lead acid batteries and NiCads
are not great here, while lithium batteries are expensive.


- Keith



29 Oct 2003 19:00:12
Pete Melbourne
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 18:25:48 -0000, "David Walker"
<wbsdavenews@hotmail.com > wrote:

>The main problem i've got in making a decision is the distinct lack of
>information about any of the Fami stuff - their website has a very vague
>outline of its features, and they don't seem to be very common in the UK so
>finding information about them is hard. If anyone knows a source of info on
>Fami torches (i've seen the review of the 2001 on divernet), for example a
>manual / marketing sheet / leaflet, or anything really, that'd be really
>useful.

Denney Diving sell them and has a bit of info about each model, that
might help

http://www.divingdirectshop.co.uk/acatalog/FAMI.html



Pete
diving 'at' melbourne 'dot' me 'dot' uk


29 Oct 2003 19:19:03
Simon Kay
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 19:00:12 +0000, Pete Melbourne <psmvsl@yahoo.com >
wrote:

>On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 18:25:48 -0000, "David Walker"
><wbsdavenews@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>The main problem i've got in making a decision is the distinct lack of
>>information about any of the Fami stuff - their website has a very vague
>>outline of its features, and they don't seem to be very common in the UK so
>>finding information about them is hard. If anyone knows a source of info on
>>Fami torches (i've seen the review of the 2001 on divernet), for example a
>>manual / marketing sheet / leaflet, or anything really, that'd be really
>>useful.
>
>Denney Diving sell them and has a bit of info about each model, that
>might help
>
>http://www.divingdirectshop.co.uk/acatalog/FAMI.html
>
>
>
>Pete
>diving 'at' melbourne 'dot' me 'dot' uk


I had a look at them last time I was in Denneys. They seem solid and
well made.


SimonK


30 Oct 2003 01:34:50
David Walker
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

> >Denney Diving sell them and has a bit of info about each model, that
> >might help

> I had a look at them last time I was in Denneys. They seem solid and
> well made.

Yeah, thats where i've been looking at them. Denney is my local shop when
i'm at home, but i'm at Uni at the minute so can't get in to have a look at
them. I was talking to Chris Denney this afternoon though, and it was he
who said I should have a look at the 2001 and the Superstar - for the same
price get a more powerful torch, and in the case of the Superstar one which
will can be either much brighter, or have much longer burn times. Of
course, they aren't umbilical for that price, which is the thing i need to
decide - do i want a really good lantern type, or just a good umbilical.

Main problem with the website is most of the inforamtion is just straight
from the manufacturer - no independant comment / review. And the Superstar
doesn't actually say what power bulb it uses, either on Denney's website or
on Fami's own site.

David




30 Oct 2003 02:09:42
David Walker
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

> If they're the ones I think they are, then they look a bit flimsy.
> With torches you get what you pay for, if it seems cheap, it's
> because it is cheap. Paying a bit more will give you a torch
> that should last for years.

Really? I was under the impression they were very good torches - 240 for a
little shiny light thing seems like it should do something good!!! I did
get chance to have a look at the 2002 umbilical in Stoney shop last weekend,
and I definately liked that one, but Stoney don't / didn't have the others
so i couldn't look to compare. Didn't seem at all flimsy, so maybe
(hopefully) you're thinking of a different one...

> - do you want a rechargeable torch? They cost more, but
> are going to cost you less in the long run. Backup
> torches are good candidates for non-rechargeable
> batteries though.

Yep - want rechargeable. If I don't get rechargeable, i'll end up not using
it like I should because i'll constantly be thinking "this is costing me
money to turn it on, i'll not look in that hole". I can't afford new
batteries very often so i'd quickly make back the extra cost of
rechargeable.

> - are you going to use it primarily in the UK, or abroad?
> If abroad, make sure you can get a dual voltage charger.

Mostly Uk - i'll definately look into charger though.
Hmmm, it does say a 220V charger - i'd use it mostly in the UK, and on a
liveaboard in Egypt over Christmas this year. Not sure of the power on a
liveaboard, but i'd assume they use 230V too? Any other diving i'd do in
the short-medium term would all be Europe / Red Sea, so i'd have thought a
single 220v would be fine???

> - what sort of burn time do you need from it? If you cannot
> charge it between dives, for two dives a day you need a
> burn time of a couple of hours if you are diving dark UK waters.

At the minute most of the dives I do are up to around 45 minutes - done a
few around an hour, but that isn't the norm. Bearing in mind the usage and
the light levels of where I dive, i would probably do fine with an hour's
burn time, but obviously more is better. Its the same sort of diving i'd be
doing now without a torch, plus some night / evening dives and wreck
penetration which i've had to borrow peoples backup torches for in the past
and they've been far from ideal. Anyway, an hour would do, 2 would be
better, which is another reason i've considered the Superstar now as a
better alternative, and why i was looking at the Kowalski 620 before since
that could run on half power too.

> - are you likely to be doing dives where a torch is required
> at all times (e.g in some of the rather darker UK waters)
> or is it just for shining in holes?

Mostly shining in holes for its most frequent us, but quite a lot of the
dives i've done recently without a torch i've thought that it'd be nice to
have one. The deeper ones especially, and as i'll be doing more deep dives
(deep for me is ~30m) now i think it'll be more used. Our club is planning
on going somewhere different on one evening during the week for somewhere
different to Stoney, so they'll be mostly night / dark dives too.

> If in the UK, an umbilical may be easier to handle and
> can be fixed to your waist strap/backplate/tanks etc.

Yeah - I thought that. I'd never really considered them just on cost, but
this FaMi one is 240 and seems to be a good torch... I am still
considering the umbilical, because i like the idea of getting the bulk of
the torch strapped to the tank and just a small, useful bit to manage
infront of you. Also means it'll just clip to a shoulder d-ring or
something and not really be noticeable, where as a bigger torch might get in
the way hanging there.

> - do you want a HID? The light penetration underwater is
> in a class of its own, and they have a long burn time
> compared to filament bulbs.

Very nice, but very expensive, so no. I have seen them underwater, and they
are very impressive, but just can't afford quite that much. The only HID i
could afford would be the UK one, but I don't like the design of those
torches, and the rechargeable starts getting expensive, so i'll stick with
normal. Some of the ones i'm looking at are upgradeable with different
heads, so with the 2001 I could get a HID head in the future.

> - does the on-off switch require a seal or is it magnetically
> operated? The switch is likely to be the main failure point
> and anything mechanical will fail sooner or later.

They all have magnetic collars - nothing breaking through the torch body.
With all of them, the only time i'd ever have to break any seal would be to
change a bulb.

> - how reliable are the bulbs and what do they cost to replace?
> HID bulbs are pretty expensive (and environmentally very
> unfriendly as they contain mercury) but they last a while.

Yeah - can't afford HID bulbs, never mind the torch. Most seem to be 5-15
to replace, which is fine really.

> - how reliable are the batteries and what do they cost to replace?
> Again, environmental issus - lead acid batteries and NiCads
> are not great here, while lithium batteries are expensive.

All NiMH- except if i went back to the Kowalskis which are NiCad.

Thanks for the advice - a few things to consider, particualrly the overseas
voltages. Can someone confirm that a Red Sea liveabord would use 230V?

David




30 Oct 2003 07:54:44
Tricky
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals


"David Walker" <wbsdavenews@hotmail.com > wrote in message
news:bnp0n3$lhm$1@wisteria.csv.warwick.ac.uk...
> I've got to the point where I think I need a torch now - I keep finding
> myself on dives thinking "i wonder what's in / under / behind there".
I've
> been thinking and looking for the last few weeks, and started at a 15
> torch, then thought about a Kowalski 620, then Suunto 209's, Mares Phos's,
> Green Force ones, and now i'm up to Fa&Mi torches.
>
> I initially looked at Fa&Mi because of the 2002 Umbilical, which seemed
very
> cheap for an umbilical, while looking very bright, and having the features
I
> wanted (mainly external charging and a 'real' switch - not one of these
> "unscrew the seal to turn it on" jobbies).
> I've since been told about a couple of other Fa&Mi ones, which are both
the
> same price (to within 1 for what I want), so i'm a bit stuck now as to
what
> to go for.


I'd still go for a GF every time. I don't think I've yet heard of, or had
anyone return a GF torch where they had unscrewed the head too far and
flooded it.

Just my 2 cents. It's your money to spend.




30 Oct 2003 10:23:04
Steven Tolleneer
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

"David Walker" <wbsdavenews@hotmail.com > wrote:

>I've got to the point where I think I need a torch now - I keep finding
>myself on dives thinking "i wonder what's in / under / behind there". I've
>been thinking and looking for the last few weeks, and started at a £15
>torch, then thought about a Kowalski 620, then Suunto 209's, Mares Phos's,
>Green Force ones, and now i'm up to Fa&Mi torches.

snip

David,

Have you looked at the new range of treble-light umbilicals?

http://www.treble-light.com/en/produkt_lampenkoepfe.php?id=43

Based on Osram D2S with Auerswald ballast, these are the same bulbs
that you find in the newer luxury cars.

I don't know if you can buy them in the UK, but Treble does sell
directly to teh end user. Contact 'Manuel', he's the only one that
speaks English over there.

Steven

+------------------------------------------------+
| Please use steevke at hotmail dot com to reply |
+------------------------------------------------+
| Nunc Plaudite Manibus |
+------------------------------------------------+


30 Oct 2003 09:42:12
David Walker
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

> Have you looked at the new range of treble-light umbilicals?

They look expensive!
I've filled in their little form, so with any luck might get a price list
sent through - can't say i'm overly hopeful on being able to afford any of
them though.

David




30 Oct 2003 10:14:33
Lazarus X
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 18:25:48 -0000, "David Walker"
<wbsdavenews@hotmail.com > wrote:

>I've got to the point where I think I need a torch now - I keep finding
>myself on dives thinking "i wonder what's in / under / behind there". I've
>been thinking and looking for the last few weeks, and started at a 15
>torch, then thought about a Kowalski 620, then Suunto 209's, Mares Phos's,
>Green Force ones, and now i'm up to Fa&Mi torches.

<Snip >

Email reply bounced

Laz

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A foolproof method for sculpting an Elephant:
First, get a huge block of marble. Then, chip away
everything that doesn't look like an Elephant.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Change "nospam" to "ntlworld" to reply.


30 Oct 2003 10:27:36
David Walker
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

> Email reply bounced

Oooooh - yeah. I meant to change that! :o(
Try wbsdaveincoming at hotmail.com

David




30 Oct 2003 10:25:49
Lazarus X
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

On Thu, 30 Oct 2003 07:54:44 -0000, "Tricky"
<scubatricky@nospamyahoo.co.uk > wrote:

<Snip >

>I'd still go for a GF every time.

I have an Impact 100 and I am well pleased with it. I had a shit load
of trouble with it when I first got it and Lumb were absolutely
brilliant. It turned out to be the umbilical - it was one of those
bloody intermittent faults that you could never reproduce on the
surface.

> I don't think I've yet heard of, or had
>anyone return a GF torch where they had unscrewed the head too far and
>flooded it.

I have but the guy seems to be really dumb. After turning it for
about 30 seconds he still hadn't realised that he was unscrewing it
and then suddenly floop - it was flooded. As with most things you
can't account for stupidity in a design ;-)

Maybe he should put a sticker on it "clockwise - light, anticlockwise
- water"

>Just my 2 cents. It's your money to spend.

They are expensive but they are worth every penny and as I said above
the support from Lumb when it goes t**ts up is brilliant.

Laz

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A foolproof method for sculpting an Elephant:
First, get a huge block of marble. Then, chip away
everything that doesn't look like an Elephant.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Change "nospam" to "ntlworld" to reply.


30 Oct 2003 10:40:11
Keith S.
Re: Fa&Mi Torches, and Umbilicals

David Walker wrote:

>Really? I was under the impression they were very good torches - 240 for a
>little shiny light thing seems like it should do something good!!! I did
>get chance to have a look at the 2002 umbilical in Stoney shop last weekend,
>and I definately liked that one, but Stoney don't / didn't have the others
>so i couldn't look to compare. Didn't seem at all flimsy, so maybe
>(hopefully) you're thinking of a different one...
>
Maybe it's a different one to the one I'm thinking of then. Is it in a
sort of
blue aluminium case? However, 240 for an umbilical is cheap. I paid
nearly 500 for a Hartenberger, a Custom Divers 10W HID is a bit
cheaper but still over 400 IIRC.

>Mostly Uk - i'll definately look into charger though.
>Hmmm, it does say a 220V charger - i'd use it mostly in the UK, and on a
>liveaboard in Egypt over Christmas this year. Not sure of the power on a
>liveaboard, but i'd assume they use 230V too? Any other diving i'd do in
>the short-medium term would all be Europe / Red Sea, so i'd have thought a
>single 220v would be fine???
>
If you get one with a switch mode power supply it will run off any mains
supply,
from 110V 60Hz to 240V 50Hz.

>At the minute most of the dives I do are up to around 45 minutes - done a
>few around an hour, but that isn't the norm. Bearing in mind the usage and
>the light levels of where I dive, i would probably do fine with an hour's
>burn time, but obviously more is better.
>
I manag with an hour or so's burn time, but in some cases only because
I've been able to charge it between dives in the harbourmaster's office :)
Again this is where the HID really scores.

- Keith