|Dräger Panorama Nova Dive|
|Faceplate/visor||molded, flat visor|
|opaque nose and side sections|
|Mask frame/soft body||opaque|
|Respiration||nose and mouth|
|Head harness/spider||5 straps|
|Quick removal||big, easy to grab handles|
|Pressure equalization||nose clips, operated from the outside|
|Defogging||same as half mask|
|Purging||separate purge valve|
|Surface valve||replaced by Dräger P quick release connector system|
|2nd stage||quick release can be operated at any time, even under water |
Apeks TX100 or Dräger Shark
|Redundancy||yes, regulator switch possible at any time due to quick release connector system|
|1st stage||Apeks XTX100, TX100, DS4 or Dräger 1st stage|
|Dräger Panorama Nova Dive (back view).|
Please note: no nose obstructions.
The Dräger Panorama Nova Dive can't deny its heritage. If you ever donned a Dräger full face respiratory protection mask you will already know what the wearing comfort of this diving mask cousin is. You may say about Dräger what you like, yet, in general, the wearing comfort of Dräger full face masks is excellent.
In contrast to its sisters from the respiratory protection department, the Panorama Nova Dive (or PND for short) comes with the necessary planar visor front. (Just for the records: Dräger once used to sell a special visor that provided true 1:1 sight, but that seem to have failed miserably on the market.) Fortunately, SCUBA diving environments are usually much more pleasant than those places where respiratory protection is necessary, so diving the PND is a real pleasure.
And not to forget one of the properties setting this mask really apart from the rest of the market: the annoying nose block found with so many professional full face masks is missing here. So you literally get a free breath.
Like many others at first I asked myself seriously: «can a manufacturer of gas masks design good diving full face masks after all?» After diving the PND for quiet some time now I can testify: Dräger does, and it did a damned good job. Their design has convinced me.
Visor and Mask Body
The Dräger Panorama Nova Dive features the typical (almost classic) design for full face masks. The molded faceplate/visor is made of polycarbonate and has a planar (flat) front. The nose and side sections are opaque to avoid annoying or distracting reflections. Yet, you still can see shadows. This has proven to be quite convenient to keep an (indirect) eye on your buddy. Most buddies were surprised to see that I reacted to their hand waving while being a half sideways and half in front of them.
In contrast to full face mask designs with a completely planar, tempered glass visor the Dräger builds small. In direct comparison, the Dräger is 5cm (2in) smaller than the Scubapro full face mask. Yet, the sight through the PND visor is some magnitudes better compared to the Scubapro. And best of all, the overall mask volume is still comparable low, so mask buoyancy is quite okay.
My experience: I really like the sight through the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive visor. I don't need to dive with a half mask anymore, even be it Big Eyes or similar masks with big glasses. With the PND I can notice buddies or their lights in the side sections without any annoying or distracting reflections. If you don't like this, then you can simply blacken the side sections using tape or special paint. So far I never experienced any distracting or annoying reflections when diving with the PND. Even night dives were without any flawless.
Again, the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive follows the classic design: an inner mask separated mouth and nose from the other mask volume. The second stage is plugged into the middle Dräger quick/release connector so you can breathe through the inner mask with minimized dead space. Only this configuration is certified to stay within required CO2 limits. However, the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive does not separate ingress and egress gas flows in this configuration.
As the Dräger design uses nose clips for pressure equalization that are operated from the outside there are no obstacles in your mask. No nose blocks, no nose sanitary pads. A really pleasant design.
Head Harness and Quick Removal
Yet another aspect where Dräger positively differs in design. Of course, you still find the usual 5-straps spider head harness with buckles. Simple and plain, proven for a long time. But what makes the Dräger so special are the big and easy to grab handles on both sides of the full face mask. These quick mask removal handles are connected to the top and bottom straps (don't know what you are thinking right now, but it may be wrong) to open their buckles.
The handles are easy to grab, even when wearing thick gloves. Just grab them and pull them forwards: the buckles open automatically and you can remove the mask facing forward.
My suggestion: even when re-donning the full face mask under water the handles come in, well, handy. After I have placed the mask over my face, I first grab one and then the other handle and slightly pull it sideways: this ensures that there are no straps sneaking in below the face seal and that the face seal properly lays flat on my hood or face. Really useful.This quick removal system works so good, other systems seem to appear cumbersome in comparison. You don't need to train any panic handling because the mask is so easy and quickly to remove from your face even when in real stress. That's how a safe full face mask design is supposed to be.
My opinion: I don't get that SCUBA diving magazines explain that full face mask specialty training required to train a special panic handling. At least for the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive you don't need to train special panic handling. The PND is always easy to remove, quickly.
|Difficult to show in a photo, as it is so dead simple:|
pressure equalization with Dräger PND.
(In the Sauerkraut, Diver's Aufkirchen, BY/D)
Of course, you need to regularly check and maintain this system once a year. Otherwise you may get in trouble one day. However, you need to correctly maintain full face masks in any case. If you don't plan to do so, don't get one in the first place.
But back to Dräger: ... well, it surely looks uber-cool when you simply use the levers to easily do pressure equalization.
But somehow the Dräger designers seem to have rather special noses ... or my face is too small. Fresh from the factory I could just painfully squeeze my nose. But after some adjustments, such as careful shortening and a little bit of cautious bending the clips were in a proper position for pressure equalization. Now, pressure equalization is fun. When adjusting please remember to wear your thick hood ... otherwise you may end up having shortened the clips too much.
It seems that due to using quick disconnect/connect regs the Panorama Nova design cannot separate fresh and dry ingress gas from misty egress gas flows. Other masks have special means to guide dry gas first across the visor in order to defog it. However, this either requires additional valves or complete ingress and egress valve separation that cause other issues, such as increased breathing resistance or free flows in certain positions as with the Ocean Reef full face masks.
At least divers using the Dräger full face mask are in good company with Kirby Morgan EXO-BR divers: Kirby Morgan simply suggests in their mask manuals to simply use liquid soap with good results. You just need a simple mask defogging liquid, no need for the Dräger one. The only annoying thing: since you are now breathing through your nose, try to get a scentless defogging liquid...
For me, spittle isn't sufficient. And don't flood your full face mask after you applied the defogging solution, otherwise you will experience diving in bad sight and regular mask cleaning while under water. Fortunately, the latter is simple to carry out: with your head slightly up, slightly pull off the crown of your mask and let a small amount of water leak into your mask. Let the water rinse across the visor and purge it from the mask by simply breathing out.
My experience: I'm donning my mask already before entering water. This way I avoid to accidentally clean off the defogging film on the inside of the visor. In addition, I can easily check that the mask seal properly lays flat on my hood (no gloves on my hands yet).
My experience: The missing automatic mask defogging is more than compensated with the massive increase in safety as I'm able to switch regs and gas supply even under water during a dive. In addition, I can now dive sidemount configurations. Otherwise I already experienced above water conditions where the Dräger fogged like hell even with defogging solution, yet when under water it immediately turned clear (even without cleaning). So automatic defogging is not really a requirement (albeit useful).
Purging water from the Dräger Panorama Nove Dive is easy: the mask has a separate purge valve just below the middle quick connector. Normally, a well-defined spring keeps the purge valve closed so that you are exhaling through your reg as usual. It is useful to slightly turn your head up when purging mask water to ensure that the purge valve is at the lowest position of the mask volume. Nothing more to add, simply try it and you'll see.
It is important to note that the Dräger design is different from the Ocean Reef design: the Dräger valve is for purging only and has a well-defined spring. In contrast, Ocean Reef uses the valve in a similar mask place for normal gas exhale, with the problem that the mask may free flow in head down position.
1st and 2nd Stages
|Apeks TX100 first and second stages,|
with Dräger P quick release connector.
Thanks to the Dräger P quick release connector system you can remove and replace your second stage at any time, even during a dive. Of course, you should train this a few times first, so you are confident in the procedure. However, I still have to experience such a simple to use system with another full face mask: it is fun to use even in cold water. Remember that full face masks usually don't flood, so a reg switch is no hassle. Just remember not to breathe in or turn your head around while you are switching regs.
ATTENTION! Always check after insertion that your reg has properly locked into place! Drill this check process after a reg pull and plug so you are doing it automatically after some time.Besides those stages made by Dräger itself you can also use Apeks stages with the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive:
- 1st stage: Apeks XTX100 or TX100,
- 2nd stage: Apeks TX100 with patented Dräger P quick release connector.
Note: My first TX100 regulator set from Aqualung was delivered including a hose-integrated quick connector. This turned out to be quite useless to me as the connector is locked under pressure for some safety reasons. Luckily, there are those Aqualung-approved Miflex hoses. Just get than slightly longer than normal as you need a few more inches to compensate for the slightly longer reg size. Otherwise, you may it find to be inconvenient to fully turn your head to the left (if your hose comes from the right). Thus, I then got my backup XTX100/TX100 reg set without any quick connector.
My experience: When diving in a configuration with a single tank with double connectors I'm using an 85cm long hose for my primary reg. For my backup reg I'm using an 100cm long hose. Some DIR experts may want to kill me now: but remember that the reg is a slightly more away from my face due to the mask and connector, and that requires slightly increased hose lengths. This is real practice and not DIR textbook theory. And I'm not going to discuss whether a full face mask can be used for cave diving ... I don't have this problem.
Thanks to the Dräger quick release connectors gas supply redundancy is no more a problem when diving with a full face mask: you simply need a second regulator set with the proper Dräger connector. While under water you simply unlock your primary reg, pull it off your mask, and then plug in your backup reg, ensuring that it properly locks into place.
If you are interested, you may want to watch my Kraut Dread video that shows how to dive safety-aware with a full face mask.
You can also dive the Dräger full face mask with two bottles for your gas supply in sidemount configuration. During the dive you switch regs as you are doing when diving with a half mask.
In contrast to several other full face masks, the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive has no surface valve. Due to the mask design, it is not required after all. You either leave out your reg and breathe through the main port, or you pull a plug from a side port. But don't loose the plug, otherwise you will be dry diving this day.
Of course, you can get suitable under water communications equipment for the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive. An advantage here is that you simply plug the microphone into one of the side Dräger P quick connector ports, so you don't need to affix the micro somehow inside the mask.