We went to Czech Republic to clarify this question. The first "contact" was actually done via Internet; I spotted out a webpage where the pSCR "Satori" was mentioned. Thanks to google I found very quickly the proper homepage and analyzed the content very intensively. It was obviously that I had found an interesting web page, because the price of the unit was declared to be 2.000 EUR - which is a fantastic low price, compared to other "German self made pSCRs".
So I became very curious and called Jakub, who is the contact person mentioned at Satori's web page. We had a very nice phone chat and we both recognized that we were on the same wavelength. Consequently Ralf Lützenkirchen and I arranged a meeting in Ostrava where Satori’s head office is located. We put all our equipment together and went by car to Ostrava, which is 758 km far away from Munich. Actually 758 km are not a problem at all, but they become a problem if you leave Munich at 6:30pm and if you recognize that your navigation system does not know the street where your hotel is in place. O.k. – it is just the way how you manage such situations in the middle of the night - somewhere where nobody does speak your language or even English… but we were motivated and entered an OMV patrol station to buy a map! The OMV's personal was very friendly and helped us to locate our current position and our destination. After a while we had found the Hotel. Meanwhile it was around 4:00 o'clock in the morning.
After such a crazy ride we only had one chance to come to a happy end - and what would that be? Correct! Two beers each! The guy who had opened the hotel bar was really confused. “What the hell is wrong with that German guys; entering my hotel at nearly 4 o'clock in the morning and then ordering a beer?” Maybe he had complained, but he did not speak English, so we never goanna know what his thoughts were.
We arranged a meeting at 11:00 o'clock in the morning; the plan was to be picked up by Jakub. We decided to prepare my Rebreather meanwhile we were waiting. As we finished the photos and as the Rebreather was prepared Jakub arrived.
After a short small talk he guided us to the lake where we wanted to do some test dives with the Satori Rebreather. The lake itself is an old slate mine, with a depth of approx. 38 meters. The plan was to use a 50% Nitrox which limited our depth to 21m. Unfortunately the visibility was very bad and we were really fighting to find the way back - thanks to god that there was a cave line which guided us back. On the way back we crossed a diver’s monument who died there several years ago.
But now the interesting part: How does the Rebreather work? How is it designed? Is it equal to the RB80?
Well, let me put it in that way - the Satori is working properly and has compared to the AH-1 definitely no different behavior during operation under water. I dove both units, first the AH1 and secondly the Satori, the time between this two dives were only a few minutes, so that I had a direct and very good comparison.
Out of the water there are some minor visible differences between the RB80 clone and the Satori. A first difference which catches one's eye is the mouthpiece and the missing frame. This part would not fulfill my personal expectations. Further it is obviously that the head is different to the AH1 head. The Satori’s head has its own design but at least a small resemblance to the RON’s head. The shape of the whole unit looks very much like the typical pSCR design.
Once you going to disassemble the unit you will recognize that it is completely different manufactured compared to the RB80 or RON. Except the Water trap (which is made of Delrin) everything is made of PVC-U. This might be an advantage in terms of price; technically it will provide a nice isolation, reduces weight and avoids corrosion. A disadvantage regarding less condensation of exhaled gas could not be confirmed.
Further it is interesting how the exhaled gas is leaded to the counter lung. For that the exhaled gas will be lead through special channels which are ending up at the water trap construction. The scrubber itself is stored in a PVC-U canister as well, which does not fit exactly into the housing – as a result the exhaled gas does isolate the Scrubber from the cold water outside - this seems to be similar to the RON principle (except the channels). The counter lung itself is similar to that one I have.
I was very surprised, that the counter lung plate with its dump valve does exactly fit into the pipe, which it does not in my unit. However, it does not have negative effects to the breathing resistance.
During operation you can clearly hear the injectors and the leaving bubbles. The holes for the leaving gas are very small to avoid that things can fall into (like it could occur in caves or wrecks). An additional sieve was not installed.
During “closed circuit breathing” was no negative behavior noticed. During OC I noticed, that the mouthpiece will lead the bubbles right to the front of my mask, which I found uncomfortable which remembered me to some old Poseidon regulators. The change from OC to CC and reverse was done by the mouthpiece as well, but the switching was a little bit hard.
The unit can be dismantled for disinfection; of course the procedure is different to the procedure I know. Nevertheless a small disadvantage might be that for some dismantling you going to need screwdriver.
At the end of the day we were introduced to a powerful Rebreather which uses the pSCR principle – the behavior during closed circuit operation is similar to the AH1 and provides best breathing comfort for a typical pSCR Rebreather. On the other hand you can see that the developers concentrated on the requirement to keep the final price below a certain level. So at the end there is an unit which compromises acceptable quality and a low price. Of course there could be done more, but that would increase the price. Satori’s basic strategy is to minimize the price. Customers who want to have more can get a frame, another mouthpiece or another switch block.
If somebody would ask me I would recommend to do a test dive and to examine the unit. I would then change the mouthpiece and would buy a frame.
One thing became very clear to me, since I have been diving the unit I became very carefully by using the standard argument of all RB80 fans (and those who want to be like those) "Your life is more worth then the price difference". Of course I can not give a statement of how secure the unit is, but it is a fact, that it is working perfectly and that there have been some really exiting dives with the unit.
However, after the test dive we decided to have lunch, which was quite a good idea, because it was cold and raining at the lake’s site…
We had long discussions about the Satori (actually the whole Saturday night) and Jakub said it in a very easy and perfect telling way. In the Czech Republic was no chance to afford a pSCR for a suitable price. The RB clones are too expensive - so they decided to create an own Rebreather, which should meet the requirements regarding breathing comfort and safety. The most important requirement was to archive a market price around 2.000,00 EUR - and I have to say that they exceeded their targets.
At the end they made a unit which is that interesting, that they sold already hundreds of pieces all over the world. Finally it is difficult to give a clear recommendation, because Germans usually interpreting high prices with high quality, which is not always correct -- Just the same way as low prices, do not representing bad quality. However, nobody should buy such a unit without testing and touching it.
It was a really cool and exciting trip, Jakub, René (who is the developer and the "brain" behind the Satori) and their friends were absolutly o.k. and we have to continue our new friendship...
In diesem Sinne…