The chance to see large pelagic fish and colorful coral is always cool. But, more important than what you get to see when diving, is how safe you are when you are diving. Safety should always be your number one priority when thinking about each dive. This means you need to be fully prepared for each dive by going through pre-dive equipment checks. But, it also means you need to be packing the proper equipment.
This includes back up air sources, extra lights, and an underwater signaling device. We’re going to dig deeper into what underwater signaling devices are and why you need one. Then, we’ll go through what the best devices are.
What is an underwater signaling device?
If you’ve ever been on a group tour you have probably heard a clinking noise coming from one of the divemasters. Most likely, it instantly got your attention, which was its intended purpose.
This sound was coming from some type of underwater signaling device. There are a few different types of devices intended to get your attention underwater. Many underwater signaling devices are quite simple and utilize a metal tube with a metal ball in it. The sound travels well under the water.
Other types of devices are simple rods that can be struck against the tank to make noise. These are quite effective. Usually, they are not just underwater signaling devices but also pointers. These are used for poking around rocks and sand so you don’t accidentally touch something you shouldn’t. For this reason, many divemasters prefer a rod over other signaling devices.
One final type of signaling device is a tank banger. This is usually a rubber strap with a metal or plastic ball attached to it. Think of the rubber hair ties that people use to tie their hair off with. You strap this around your tank and when you need to signal someone simply pull the ball up and let it go.
We’re going to provide options for all of these different types of devices so you can find the best one for you. In some cases, it may make sense to have a combination of signaling devices such as a tank banger and a rod. You will have to examine your specific needs to decide which one, or combination, is best for you.
What should you look for in an underwater signaling device?
Underwater signaling devices are simple. You don’t need to worry about too many moving pieces or any complicated parts. Also, since they are not a part of your life support system, you don’t need to worry about extensive maintenance.
What should you look for though?
This is going to depend on which style you choose. If you go with a rod-style pointer and noisemaker, you want something that is easy to hold. It is important that it has a place for a carabiner to attach to a D-ring when not in use. It is also important that it is made from stainless steel so that it won’t rust over after the first few dives. You need to make sure that it will be long enough for your purposes. This means poking and prodding as well as reaching behind you and banging on your tank.
If you go for the shaker, the metal tube with the ball, the same holds true. It needs to be made from stainless steel so that it doesn’t rust over. As with the rod, there should also be some way to attach it to a D-ring on your BCD when not in use so that it doesn’t get lost. With shaker style signaling devices, you can also use them to bang your tank if you need to. So, make sure you get one that is long enough to reach your tank if you prefer.
The final signaling device type, the strap with the ball, should be strong and durable.
The weakest point with this type of signaling is going to be the strap. If the strap is weak or the design poor, it may break after only a few uses. Especially, if it hasn’t been designed properly and is too tense around your tank. So, the important thing to look at is how big the strap is and if it will fit around your tank without being too tight. Also, you want to make sure the ball is sturdy. Cheap plastic will eventually rip and break. These are usually the cheapest so it may be worth buying a few and keeping them in your bag. This way, you have replacements and also multiple signaling devices to put on each tank.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s take a look at the best underwater signaling devices.
What are the best underwater signaling devices?
- Underwater noise maker
- Constructed of corrosion resistant plastic
- Surgical rubber tubing
- Easy installation and use
- Slotted unbreakable oval ball provides easy grip.
Trident is a wholesaler of scuba diving equipment with over 35 years of experience. They’ve become one of the leading providers of equipment and a trusted name on the scuba scene. The Trident Tank Banger is a strap style signaling device that fits around your tank. As we mentioned above, the look is similar to a rubber hair tie with a solid plastic ball connecting the two ends. It fits around your tank allowing you to snap the ball down onto the tank to make noise.
- The main thing that we like about this style of signaling device is that it keeps your hands free. It also doesn’t use up any of your valuable D-rings on your BCD. Many of the other signaling devices both use up a D-ring and take up one of your free hands to use it. You will still need to use a hand to snap the ball. But, you won’t need to carry it around in your hand constantly.
- This is the cheapest type of underwater signaling device. If you are a budget-minded diver and don’t need anything too fancy, this is certainly the way to go.
- The rubber used to make the Trident Tank Banger is durable as well as the plastic ball. There are many types of tank banger devices that can be quite cheaply made. These can break after only a few uses so it is good to get one that is well constructed.
- The main drawback of the Trident Tank Banger is that it doesn’t produce as much noise as metal devices. If your dive buddy has hearing difficulties or if you are too far away from them, this may not do the trick. The solution to this is to have a backup underwater signaling device made from metal.
- Available colors: Green and Orange
- Cover included to prevent noises made when not in use
- Rattle sound can be easily heard underwater.
- Perfect for getting your diving buddy's attention underwater
- Rattle stick length: 4-3/4"
Scuba Choice is another wholesaler of scuba diving equipment. They’ve been around since 2011 and gained traction over the years. They are known for high-end equipment with great customer service and return policy. Their tank rattle stick is an underwater signaling device that uses a tube and ball to make noise. The nice thing is that this can also be used to bang on your tank if you need something a bit louder as it is a metal tube. Unlike the Trident Tank Banger, you will need to carry this one around. When not in use it can easily fit in your BCD pocket. But, it will tie up one of your hands when you need to use it.
- The entire Tank Rattle Stick is made from stainless steel so it is resistant to corrosion. Many cheaper pieces of scuba equipment tend to corrode quite quickly so it is a major plus that this won’t. The exception to this is the plastic cover cap which is made from a non-corrosive material.
- We really like that you can use this either as a rattle or to tap your tank. This specific underwater signaling device is quite short, only 12.06 cm (4.75in). So, make sure it is the right size for you if you also want to tap your tank. Otherwise, it will do the job just fine as a rattle.
- It comes with a plastic cap to keep it silenced when not in use. This is a handy feature as the last thing you want is a rattle making a bunch of noise and scaring off marine life. To use the rattle, you remove the cap and shake as you need.
- As with the Trident Tank Banger, this is not the loudest underwater signaling device. It does create a unique sound that is hard to miss. But, if your dive buddy is hard of hearing or too far away, they may have trouble hearing the rattle noise.
- Perfect for getting your diving buddy's attention underwater by banging it on the tank
- Lanyard included for easy access
- Tank Rattle measurement: 6.5" x 0.75"
- Country Of Origin : Taiwan
This is a slightly larger version of the Scuba Choice Tank Rattle Signal Stick listed above. This underwater signaling device measures in at 16.51cm (6.5in). As with the above signal device, it is made from stainless steel and resistant to corrosion. The primary difference is that this is lacking a cap to cover the end.
- The extra length of this tank rattle signal stick makes it much easier to use if you want to tap your tank. As we mentioned above, sometimes the rattles don’t make enough noise to hear from far away. Tapping them against the tank will make a much louder noise if your dive partner is too far for the rattle.
- This is made from high-quality materials. The entire shaker is stainless steel and the attached lanyard is a high-grade plastic. Both are resistant to corrosion common with metal diving equipment.
- The price for this is not much more than the shorter version. This makes it worthwhile to purchase the longer version. You will have better reach when tapping on your tank.
- The only drawback with this underwater signaling device is that it does not have a plastic cap. You may find that it makes noise when not in use. If this is the case, you can fashion your own cap to keep the device silent when not in use.
- XS Scuba Divemaster Pointer with Attachment Clip
- Perfect Tool to Point-Out Small Critters
- Great Teaching Aid
- Won't Disturb Critters
XS Scuba is a California based supplier of scuba diving gear. They run quality control tests which all their products must pass. Their Dive Master Pointer is no different and offers exceptional quality and durability. This is a pointer used for stirring sand and sediment as well as pointing out specific objects. As we noted above, this can serve a dual purpose in that it makes an excellent tool for banging against your tank. These are commonly carried by divemasters and dive instructors. But, they can be used by anyone who has a need for an underwater signaling device.
- We like that this is not just an underwater signaling device, but also a pointer. This means you are fulfilling two different needs with one piece of equipment. Anytime you can eliminate equipment and weight from your dive set up its a good thing. So, being able to carry one stainless steel pointer rather than a pointer and a rattler is a pro in our book.
- This can easily attach to your BCD via the clip at the end. We like that you don’t have to carry it around in your hand the same as you would the Scuba Choice Rattler above. This frees up your hands for more important activities such as underwater photography.
- One other positive is that this is a thick, stainless steel pointer. This means you can use it for anchoring yourself in strong currents. Or, for pushing off rocks in the event you get too close. It also means this won’t corrode like some cheaper pointers made of lesser quality materials.
- The only drawback with this is that you are using up one of your D-rings in order to carry this with you. If you need the space for other pieces of equipment we recommend you go with the Tank Banger strap instead.
- Uses a special magnetic system
- Magnet is located inside on either end of the shaker with a ball bearing in between
- Shaking the device moves the ball bearing, creating a loud echo sound underwater
- Great for underwater communication
- A useful underwater safety device
Mares is one of the leading manufacturers of scuba diving equipment in the world. They first started as a manufacturer of spearfishing equipment in Italy in 1949. Since then they have become an industry titan. They produce everything from recreational diving equipment to technical and commercial diving setups. You can use Mares equipment confident in the knowledge that it is going to hold up. Their Magnetic Shaker is no different. Unlike other underwater signaling devices, this shaker uses two magnets on either end.
- We really like the magnet system that this uses. One of the drawbacks of many other rattlers is that they move around and make noise when you don’t intend them to. With the magnet system, the ball bearings in the tube stay locked until you disengage them. When you are done using it, you simply engage the magnets by positioning the bearings. You will hear a slight click which confirms the bearings are set properly.
- As with the other rattlers on this list, you can use this to tap on your tank as well as for shaking. This comes in handy when your dive buddy is a little out of earshot for the shaker.
- This comes with a 2-year limited warranty from Mares. This is one of the things we like about Mares equipment over others. You can be confident that you aren’t going to be stuck with a defective product in the rare event you receive one.
- The only thing we did not like about this signaling device is there is no carabiner to clip it to your BCD. You will have to keep it in your BCD pocket and pull it out when you need it. The reason we don’t like this is there is always a chance it can slip from your hands and get lost. Especially, when in deep waters such as blackwater diving or technical diving.
- Uses chrome-plated brass couplings to attach to your power inflator
- Fits All Standard Inflators
- Uses a small amount of air from your SCUBA tank to make a piercingly loud sound (On Surface, or In...
- People have been able to hear a DiveAlert one mile away from diver in need
- Dive Safe
This one is a bit different than the other underwater signaling devices on this list. It is meant for use both above water and below. Instead of relying on a rattle or tapping against the tank to make noise, this is an air whistle. It connects to your inflator hose and uses a small amount of air to produce sound. As we mentioned, this is for use underwater but also an emergency signaling device on the surface. It is extremely loud on the surface so that a boat can hear you even at a distance.
- One major benefit of having this is that it connects to your inflator hose. This means you don’t need to use up D-rings nor do you need to have a lanyard constantly wrapped around your hands. It is discrete and won’t add much bulk to your BCD nor weight to your overall dive setup.
- This signaling device is easy to use with a simple on and off switch. When set to off, air will pass through the device and into your BCD as normal. When switched to on, some of the air will escape through the device making noise. You can easily control the switch position to engage it in an emergency.
- There are three separate models to fit the inflator hoses on different types of BCDs. You can find the exact match for your specific type of BCD. So, you don’t have to worry about whether or not this will work for you.
- The main drawback of this underwater signaling device is the price. This is the most expensive device on the list. It does do quite a bit more than the rest in terms of how loud and effective it is. But, if you need a cheap signaling device, we recommend the Mares Magnetic instead.
An underwater signaling device is something you should consider if you dive a lot. This is a critical piece of safety equipment and often overlooked by divers. It’s a great way to draw attention to yourself if you are ever in trouble and could even save your life one day.
Do you have any experience with the underwater signaling devices on this list?
Or, do you have recommendations for devices we didn’t cover?
Let us know below in the comments section.
We are always on the lookout for great product recommendations and tips. You never know when your advice might help out a fellow diver.
This page was last updated on 2022-01-16. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI