Having lived in Africa for the last 9 years, I met hundreds of divers with an astonishingly limited understanding of how their equipment works. Diving gear, including cylinders, regulators, and BCDs, plays a pivotal role in the safety and success of each dive. However, many divers seemed unaware of how their gear worked or how to properly maintain it.
I get it, not everyone is interested in how it works, but a lot of people are genuinely interested in the how, but openly admit that they don’t know where to look for information.
This is especially true in Africa, where for a lot of folks diving is not a matter of recreation, but their livelihood. Yet these very same people are condemned to using the same recreational SCUBA gear that dive tourists use, or better said used 40 years ago.
Tourists quite often have the newest and shiniest gear with all the bells and whistles, but the local population is using regulators from 30 to 40 years ago. Often these regulators have seen very little service and a lot of times have home-made parts in them to keep them running.
This is not a matter of choice, but availability. Manufacturers have long ignored the poorer parts in the world, as these markets are often less profitable.
Yet these very same regions naturally have people diving and they must use what they can get. Of course they would prefer to dive with the same “safe” equipment as is standard for the richer parts of the world, but budgets and availability often do not allow this.
Having seen the state of the equipment, I decided to teach basic equipment servicing skills whenever time permitted. If new gear was not an option I thought that old, well maintained gear could at least make things somewhat safer. This meant teaching basic principles of how SCUBA regulators and cylinder valves work, as well as how to read and use schematics.
And that brought me to my first problem. While I already had a fairly nice stash of manuals and schematics, I realized that a lot of the gear that was being used here in Africa was old, usually a lot older then the stuff I had information on.
Quite often I got a regulator or valve into my hands where the company had gone out of business a long time ago. There simply was not the option of contacting them or visiting their website to find schematics or service manuals.
This was when I decided to gather as many papers and information that I could find and sort them into a useful structure that I could share with the people I worked with.
The result is this website, containing a database of diving related papers, with the majority of them focusing on the technical, mechanical side. So far I have gathered over 7600 schematics and service manuals and another 900 files with standards, scientific papers or small handbooks.
These files come from hundreds of people, that sometimes hosted a couple of these files on their website or sent me their collections. I sorted all of these into what I believe is a nice and easily searchable form.
Having had this solid basis, I decided to integrate an upload function as to allow people from all over to expand this database.