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March 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Battery-Eating Uwatec Computers

from the March, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

“The Uwatec Aladin Prime and Aladin Tec ‘hockey puck’ computers eat batteries like pigs eating corn,” says Steve Giles of Carlsbad, CA. Giles, who runs the Sheriff’s Department Aviation/Search and Rescue Unit, purchased 15 of these console model computers. Since he acquired them three years ago, factory-supplied batteries began failing as quickly as 60 to 90 days after some of the computers were put into service.

This is serious business to Giles, due to the nature of his unit’s work. “We have 15 scuba-certified crew chiefs who are trained to deploy from a helicopter for drowning incidents,” Giles points out. “If we have to splash a rescue diver, his gear has to be reliable. Getting ready to enter the water in an emergency situation with a computer that will not activate due to the battery being ‘eaten up’ is unacceptable.” In one training session, seven computers failed to activate due to dead batteries.

Originally, Giles was able to return the faulty computers to his dive shop, but the replacements that Scubapro/Uwatec sent back performed no better. His dive shop proprietor indicated that this was a familiar problem with the Prime and Tec computers. “Now that the warranties have expired, seven of the 15 have developed a voracious appetite for batteries,” Giles says. “To keep them operating, batteries have to be changed out every 30 to 45 days; even then, there is no guarantee that the units will activate when needed.”

Cynthia Georgeson, vice-president of Johnson Outdoors, the parent of Scubapro and Uwatec, told Undercurrent this problem was confined to a small number of Aladin computers shipped around the time Giles ordered his units. “A faulty infrared display board supplied by an outside vendor caused the batteries to drain in a limited number of units. Uwatec switched vendors, and has not experienced the problem since. We made a spot check of Uwatec dealers around the country, and did not hear of similar problems elsewhere.”

Although it’s not possible to trace which serial numbers might carry the faulty component, Georgeson assured Undercurrent they are covered under Uwatec’s warranty. She advises any diver who gets a low battery warning to take the computer to an authorized dealer for a new battery. If the battery drains again, Uwatec will replace the entire computer. Although that didn’t work for Steve Giles, it should work for you.

- - Larry Clinton, Jr.

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