The buddy system just got smarter.
Created by Tim O’Brien of New Zealand-based Aquacoustics, the amigo is a navigation aid for recreational SCUBA divers. Unlike other devices on the market today, the amigo is primarily designed to operate between dive buddies to assist in maintaining buddy contact, particularly in low visibility. The AVR based unit will also prove useful in both return path navigation and missing diver search.
After review of dive accidents, it has been found that buddy separation is one of, if not the, most frequent contributors to accidents, injuries and fatalities. Diving in buddy pairs not only enhances the recreational aspect of the activity, but more importantly, is an integral skill essential to ensuring the availability of an alternative air supply and someone to lend a hand in identifying and resolving problems — whether an equipment malfunction, cramping or entanglement.
However, maintaining buddy contact can be a difficult task, especially in moderate to poor visibility or in adverse lighting conditions — even for very experienced divers. This can be compounded by currents, the limited field of view provided by your mask, any restriction of movement due to your exposure suit, hood and cylinder, and a change in the perception of sound under water. And so, the amigo was conceived.
The amigo was designed to overcome the challenges of deep sea diving with an immediate, clear visual indication of a buddy’s whereabouts with just a single press of the mode switch and a simple 360 search. The easy-to-use device is comprised of a miniaturized low-powered 40 kHz ultrasonic transceiver, and is based on an ATmega8, which is tasked with battery management, channel control, updating the background noise measurements, recording key operating parameters, managing operating timing cycles to enhance your safety, detecting whether the device is submerged, as well as providing functionality to the user operated mode switch.
“In transmit mode, it sends ultrasonic pulses that radiate away from the unit, much like the surface ripples that spread from a stone dropped into a still pond. In receive mode, your amigo provides directionally sensitive detection of received ultrasonic pulses, selectively amplifies these, and extracts valid transmission signals from background noise using real-time digital signal processing. Valid signal information is further processed to provide linear range and directional information on the LED display,” O’Brien writes.
According to the Maker, the device’s battery life has been measured at more than 50 hours of actual dive time from a single charge. The internal battery is rated for at least 300 charge/discharge cycles, while recharging takes just about two hours via USB or AC charger provided. Furthermore, when the amigo is turned off, it consumes virtually no power and has a shelf life of at least 12 months from a fully-charged condition subject to ambient storage temperature.
Want to learn more? Dive into the details here.