Guide to Buying and Using Dive Computers
Diving without dive computers can be a bit tricky. You need a depth gauge, a timing device like a watch, and you need to plan your dive carefully using a recreational dive planner prior to the dive, and adhere to your plans while diving. I’ve done over a thousand dives without one, its doable, but ones I used my 1st dive computer, there was no turning back
Basic features most dive computers provide:
1.An accurate, digitally displayed depth gauge.
2. A timing device.
3. Most modern dive computers can calculate accurate ascent rate. Exceeding maximum ascent rate by ascending faster than 9m/30 ft per second can cause serious injuries, increasing chances to for decompression sickness. While without dive computers divers are required to monitor ascent rate and count seconds, wearing dive computers divers can simply ascend slowly, watching the surrounding, occasionally checking the dive computers display, which will beep and warn should they accidentally exceeded that limit.
4. Most importantly, dive computers provide a real time, accurate dive plan. Dive computers are designed to start their magic right upon descent. They can calculate, using formulas based on the recreational dive planner, the exact allowable bottom time left for you at the specific depth you’re at. There’s no rounding up, and multilevel diving is easily done.
Once out of the water, dive computers start calculating surface interval automatically, and some can also estimate next dives bottom time at maximum depth.
Other features dive computers offer:
1. Calculating allowable bottom time using enriched air with different air blends.
2. Warning upon reaching desired depth limits or bottom time.
3. Displaying water temperature.
4. Calculating time before flights are allowed.
5. Saving dives data and act as you digital log book that can be downloaded to your own PC.
6. Some advanced dive computers offer digital compasses.
7. Adding a transmitter based on your regulators 1st stage, and even on your buddy’s 1st stage, you can monitor air usage directly through your dive computers, having all your diving data showed on a one simple display.
Dive computers tips:
1. Dive computers are very reliable, but using one still requires you to plan your dive. Know how to plan a dive using recreational dive planner guidelines, dive your plan, and allow your computer to calculate the actual allowable bottom time accounting for changes in desired depth and time spent there.
2. Dive computers will not stop you from diving a saw-tooth profile, where you ascend, descend and ascend again throughout the dive. This kind of dive profile is risky. Avoid doing so.
3. Most dive computers do not monitor your air supply, keep monitoring air supply and allow enough air for a slow, safe ascent and a long safety stop.
4. As dive computers calculate individual time, depths and limits, never share a dive computer.
5. If a computer malfunctions during a dive abort the dive, slowly ascend to 5m/15ft and make a long as possible safety stop.
6. Carry back up devices such as dive watch, depth gauge and pressure gauge.
7. Read manufacturers guidelines and follow carefully. Know your computers feature before you go diving.
Buying dive computers:
Dive Computers come in two styles- wrist mounted or as part of the console, both work the same, but I personally prefer the wrist mounted dive computers, that can also be used for other purposes, can be stored somewhere safe away from bulky equipment as your regulator and are nicer to use while diving.
Simple, older designs dive computers can be fairly inexpensive; though don’t provide most features listed previously. They are good for the basic functions and for a beginner diver can be enough to start with.
The more experienced we get, the more we explore. Enriched air diving- Nitrox or Tec diving are major trends in diving. If you’re hooked on diving you wont miss trying those, instead on saving money on a cheap dive computer now, spend a bit more and get one that will appeal for you tomorrow.
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