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OMS Vega V191 Dive Light March 28, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
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I was at the dive shop last night and one of the instructors who is now working as a paramedic was selling off some of his excess materials and gear. I got a good deal on a couple of lights, one of which was this nice little OMS backup light.

oms-lightThe construction is pretty much solid metal, except for the lens and the bulb, and a hard plastic insulator at the base of the head where the positive end of the top battery connects. I haven’t removed the lens which requires a special tool (which could easily enough be home-made) so whatever is between the reflector and base of the head hasn’t been looked at.

The light runs on CR123A photo batteries. For a primary light, I’d definitely consider this a negative as these batteries are quite expensive. As a backup light though, the long shelf life and good temperature characteristics mean that is probably a good thing. The burn time for the two batteries wired in series (like most lights) is only 3 hours. At $6 each retail that’s a fairly high price to pay, but the use by dates I just saw in the building supply store was 2017 – so great for standby applications. I saw these batteries for $1-1.50 from web retailers. They’re also the same batteries that the sensors use in my home alarm system, so I usually have some around. They last for years. I’ve had some for more than 10 years, although about half have been replaced once.

OMS recommends their own brand of battery, which is actually just a Power One battery. Their literature says that these batteries have 1550 mah (milliamp hours) rating and others you can buy have less. While they’re absolutely correct in the statement, you can get 1550 mah CR123 batteries from plenty of suppliers, like Panasonic and Duracell. I had to search around a bit to find the spec on the Energizer version, it was 1500 mah – not so much difference as you would notice but not something they’d want to advertise. Energizer has better spec sheets than Duracell, and I found the operating range of the battery was -40C (-40F) to +60C (+140F). Hopefully that will cover everyone’s diving needs!

oms-light-disassembledThe light is constructed similarly to most, with the head that screws into the handle. There are two o-rings that fit into slots on the head, just after the threads. The o-rings need to be lubricated occasionally as you would with any light, and kept free of debris.

The “manual” (1 page in length) says that an anti-seize compound must be used on the threads. While OMS says to order it from them or buy at your dive shop, there are plenty of suppliers. I think I might check out a marine supply store for something that is designed for marine (salt-water) use. Many of these compounds have very high (more than 1000C) temperature ratings which is not needed for this application.

To turn the light on, you twist the head somewhat less than 3/4 of a turn. You are warned against twisting more than 3/4 of a turn in case of leaks. The light is rated to 100 metres (330 feet). It’s interesting to compare that to my UK light (more on that another time) which is rated to 500 feet with a plastic case and a single o-ring.

Output of the light is 80 lumens. OMS introduced a new model of the Vega, the K2, in 2009 and claims its new LED technology has “graded high colour temperature” and is much brighter at 180 lumens. This with the same batteries and battery life. I actually sent them an email asking how they did it, but haven’t received a reply. It’s quite an advance if I’m reading the specs right. The V191 was also described as graded high colour temperature and reviews have said it has a stunning light output – so if the K2 has more than doubled it without drawing more current from the batteries it is an incredible achievement.

One review I read criticised the light because it can come on during a dive as a result of the increased pressure. I suppose that I will have to make sure that it is twisted a little further than necessary on the surface before descending with it.

I might get to try it in the pool next weekend but failing that, I’ll use it on the Oriskany when I’m down in Pensacola in a few weeks.

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Comments»

1. Dive lights and Battery Life « Chronicle of an older diver - March 29, 2009

[…] Chronicle of an older diver Never too old to go diving « OMS V191 Dive Light […]

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2. deepstop - March 30, 2009

OMS confirmed that the new load indeed is more than twice as efficient when it comes to light output. Wow. OMS also said that output improves 10-20% per year. It can’t do that forever, of course.

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3. Diving the Oriskany - Day 2 « Chronicle of an older diver - April 24, 2009

[…] a great experience. Despite the expense, long drive, seasickness, sore toe, and lost gear (a hat, a dive light and a library book), it was well worth the while and a real adventure. Living the dream, man. […]

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