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Gadgets go underwater for scuba attempt

Out to break the scuba endurance record, diver Richard Henry is taking along his MP3 player, a phone and some video games.

Richard Henry will attempt to break a scuba endurance record this summer--and along with his regulator and mask, he's taking some video games.

The 35-year-old diver, who will try to spend a solid seven days underneath the surface of Wisconsin's Lake Andrea this July, plans to bring a number of consumer electronics with him to pass the time. There's the waterproof MP3 player from H2O Audio, for instance, a push-to-talk phone, and a Palm handheld in an underwater enclosure that he will use to read books.

He will also bring video games.

"There are all sorts of cheap, plastic games. All you have to do is put them in a ziplock and you can play them," said Howard Cooley, who is helping Henry organize the dive.

Henry also hopes to take along a portable DVD player, but right now he needs someone to donate one.

"Support divers will load up a disc, close the lid on the Penguin Box (a waterproof container), turn it on and take it down to him," Cooley said. "We contacted Sony but haven't heard back from them."

The current record for staying underwater on scuba systems belongs to Jerry Hall of Tennessee, who stayed under for five days.

Henry's longest dive to date is 12 hours. The dive is being attempted to attract sponsors and donations to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin.

Electronic gadgets have become staples for outdoor adventure. In the late 1990s, a team of mountaineers shot live video from the top of Mount Everest. Last year, Intel integrated Wi-Fi into a surfboard. In Henry's case, however, the devices will provide a needed distraction. He will spend most of the time on a platform 15 feet underwater. Spying on walleye can only take one so far.

Dives like this require fairly extensive logistics. Support divers, working in shifts, will accompany Henry for the entire seven days. To communicate with the outside world, he will have a phone. A camera system will transmit video and sound from Henry that can be broadcast.

Exercise is a must. "You have to do a lot of yoga stretches. It is very similar to what astronauts went through before the space shuttle," Cooley said.

During the seven-day attempt, Henry will sleep as well, but the regulator can't fall out of his mouth because it's secured by a full-face mask.

"I spent a (practice) shift with him the other day, and he slept nearly the whole damn time," Cooley said.