So you're thinking of making your own dive slate? As I talked about on my introductory page about diving slates, they really are a very simple and straightforward scuba diving accessory.
So why not make one yourself? No reason I can think of, so let's get started.
Make Your Own Diving Slate
We'll start out with the basic scuba slate. This is the one I use and is simply a piece of white plastic with a pencil attached. So the materials you will need are:
Most scuba diving slates come with a short golf type pencil. You know, the ones they give you when you play regular golf, miniature golf, bowling, etc. Other people have used mechanical pencils (ones where you push or twist the top so a piece of lead comes out) with success also.
Another idea I have seen which I think will work really well is a carpenter's pencil. Those are the ones that are bright orange and have 2 flat sides. The lead is thicker and will be harder to break and should stick into the tubing more securely. You could also sharpen this more easily than a golf pencil if you are using a knife.
Some type of rubber tubing is needed for your diy dive slate. It will attach the pencil to your slate. There are several options here. You could use medical tubing, surgical tubing, aquarium tubing - essentially any type of flexible tubing that has a hollow center small enough to hold your pencil securely. Alternatively, you could tie the pencil on with the tubing but that seems less secure to me.
Plastic Writing Surface
Now you just need something to write on. The basic dive slate is just a rectangular piece of rigid white plastic with a somewhat grainy surface.
I've seen lots of options out there for this component. Below are some of the ones I think will work pretty well. An added benefit is that many of them will make more than one diving slate.
Plastic license plate blanks: Just cut out the size you need.
Vinyl mini blinds: Cut them past the hold that holds them together-any length you want. You can have a few attached together so it's like pages. May have to run sandpaper over it to rough it up a bit.
Diskettes: Those old floppy disks you used to store data on from a computer. Take it apart and use the surface to write on. They're fairly small but you could always attach more than one.
Back of plastic "for sale" signs: Makes several scuba slates, just cut to desired size. Obviously you can use any type of similar sign.
White vinyl siding: Find a piece of scrap vinyl, cut to size and you have a DIY dive slate.
5 gallon plastic bucket: Again, just cut to size.
Fish cutting boards: Either flexible or semi-rigid. Can be found pretty cheaply in Walmart.
Now that you have the materials, it is easy to assemble.
Cut piece of plastic to desired size
Drill small hole in one corner
Put rubber tubing through hole and tie securely
Attach pencil to other end of tubing
If you are going to attach the dive slate to you BC, attach clip with the rubber tubing. Alternatively, you could also put a key ring through hole and attach clip to key ring.
Other Types of DIY Dive Slates
If you like the erasable magnetic type of dive slate, a cheaper alternative that gets high marks is the Magna-Doodle. Yes, those kids toys that come in different sizes and are available pretty cheaply at Walmart, Kmart, etc.
You just have to drill a small hole in the corner, put rubber tubing through that and attach the magnetic pencil that comes with the toy.
You could leave it attached as is but sometimes that plastic connection can be pretty flimsy. Try it out first.
One drawback I have read about is that when the writing surface is poked hard, it can cause dead spots on the surface. So try not to bang it around too much.
If you like the wrist mounted dive slates, one alternative is a piece of PVC pipe. Cut to desired length, sand the edges down so they are smooth and fit on your wrist.
I have read about people putting it in an oven to warm up and make it more flexible to fit but that seems a bit dangerous to me. A safer alternative would be to cut 4 holes on each corner and attach some type of flexible tubing so it stays on your forearm.
You could basically fashion a wrist mounted dive slate in the same way with any type of flexible white plastic. Some of those mentioned above could work as a wrist mounted alternative also. An additional idea I read about was a cut out from a white Clorox bottle.
I say if you want to make your own diving slate, go for it. You may save a few dollars and you will have something to talk about with the other divers (not that that is usually a problem on a dive boat).
For tips on cleaning your new slate, see my introductory page on dive slates.