Scuba diving depends on a substantial set of gear, some of which must be assembled on-site and before each dive. The procedure for setting up the scuba kit isn't particularly complicated, but it has a number of necessary safety steps built in, so that the gear can be checked out before it hits the water. All scuba divers learn this procedure during their Open Water course, but sometimes rusty divers need a refresher.
Check the Cylinder
The assembly starts by standing your air cylinder up. Check the o-ring in the cylinder's valve for damage before proceeding. Also, if you are renting your gear, check to make sure the valve on your tank matches your regulator. There is the DIN valve format and the yoke valve format, with the latter being most popular among recreational divers and especially those divers outside of Europe. If you cannot remember what a DIN valve looks like, don't worry too much. You won't be able to mate a yoke regulator to a DIN valve, which is a pretty good sign of a mismatch. If you have the wrong cylinder valve, go get a new cylinder.
The first step in assembling your scuba gear is to put your buoyancy control device (BCD) onto your cylinder. Slide the ring-shaped canvas strap down the cylinder until the cylinder's valve is about level with the BCD's carrying handle or frame. That will put the top of the cylinder on about the same level as the back of your neck. Then take the first stage of your regulator and unscrew the clamp, flicking the dust cover out of the way with your finger. Set this over the air cylinder's valve and screw the clamp on. Then attach the hose for the BCD to the nozzle on the underside of the BCD's controller. Once the first stage is firmly attached, take the pressure gauges in your hand or underfoot and point the gauges away from you. That is a safety step in case the valves pop and break the glass on the gauges. Open the air cylinder's valve all the way.
Checking the Gear
Take both your primary mouthpiece and the emergency mouthpiece and draw a couple of breaths through them to see how they are working. If you are using rental gear, check the purge button on your main mouthpiece as well. Then check out your BCD, using the controller to inflate the BCD's air bladder with a little air from the cylinder. Deflate the BCD using either one of the emergency release valves or the manual inflation/deflation valve on the controller. Now that you have checked to see if everything is in working order, take a look at your air gauge to see if your cylinder is full. Then close the cylinder' valve, and let out whatever air is still in the hoses using one of the mouthpiece purge buttons.
Putting It Away
Unless you are doing a beach dive, you now need to stow your gear so it can be taken to the boat. Fold up all the hoses inside the BCD, and close the BCD up around them. Some divers like to tuck their fins inside the BCD as well. Your gear is now ready to be moved to the boat, so you can turn your attention to getting your wetsuit on.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.