While this computer is not new in the market, I have only recently been “forced” to upgrade my trusty Petrel 2. I started using the Petrel 3 in October 2023 so I now have some idea how it compares. For those who are interested in closed circuit rebreathers, are existing users, or are thinking about upgrading, this might be interesting for you.
This summer, while travelling in Europe my CCR monitor flooded! I was diving along and the screen started to flicker and then seemed to ‘reboot’. This was a bit of a non-event, we were already exiting the cave, I switched to open circuit and continued to exit. This is the standard procedure known as “bailing out”, if a CCR diver can’t see the monitoring device they don’t know what mix they are breathing.
After bailing out, I had plenty of gas on me, and was with two other divers. We got up to the first deco tank we had staged the day before, a nitrox 50%. I picked it up, followed the procedure and switched to nitrox 50. Once I had done this, I changed over my stand alone computer and we continued toward the exit to pick up the O2 tank we had also staged close to the cave entry.
I again switched my deco gases and we waited for our deco to slowly tick over. Upon surfacing it was not clear what the issue was with my handset, but I tried putting in a new battery with no change to the seemingly dead computer. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow another one from a friend, so I didn’t miss out on any diving during the trip.
After sending the computer back for repairs with the awesome guys at DiveTronix I got the diagnosis and news about my computer. Water had entered through the sealed gland where the cable connects to the computer and had flooded it. Now I am very careful about how I store and transport my CCR monitor, I always have it clipped to a D ring and use a Shearwater case to protect it. Unfortunately, the time had come for my computer as it had completely flooded. I was given the option to repair it (requiring the replacement of most parts) or upgrade to the newer model.
As I had been looking at the new model for a while I decided to go for the upgrade. And I am very happy with the Petrel 3!
While on first appearance there is not much difference, once you turn on the computer the changes start to show! The screen is much brighter which is nice when teaching rebreathers in shallow, sun filled cenotes! As soon as the computer turns on, another new feature becomes apparent. The Petrel 3 has a vibration alarm. This is a pretty nice feature, as a rebreather diver while I would never rely solely on this, having an additional safety feature is great. The computer will vibrate both forcefully and noisily when the oxygen levels are below or above safe levels. Diving in shallow caves and doing exploration dives with limited visibility, as well as extreme task loading could accidentally lead to a diver failing to monitor their O2 levels closely enough, having an additional safety feature for this is great.
The biggest change, but the one I have used the least, is the ability for the Petrel to connect to up to four wireless transmitters for tank pressures. This is something I am looking forward to playing with in 2024! Having four transmitters would be perfect for my deep diving configuration and will allow for easy monitoring of gas pressures. As for day to day diving, a transmitter on my oxygen first stage will allow for easy monitoring of this precious resource in a way that doesn’t get in the way.
While it was a big hassle to have my computer flood, it definitely has a silver lining. It is always nice to know that the emergency procedures we practise and teach do work very well in real life cave diving situations. I did bailout and exit the cave from depth, with a decompression obligation, and through training and planning it was a non-event. Now I have a moderately shiny (it’s already gotten a few scratches!) Petrel 3 and really enjoy it!