A dive computer can be mounted on the diver’s body gear or worn on the wrist. These devices provide an easy to read digital readout of diving conditions. They can also measure the dive depth and aid the diver in order to prevent decompression sickness. These devices include a wide range of important critical information in one small instrument. Consumers can choose from a variety of models from basic to advanced options.
The Buyer’s Guide for Dive Computers
Most divers rely on dive computers that work by continuously recalculating air supply and dive depth. They can also allow the user to remain underwater for a longer period of time while completing multiple level dives. These devices provide the diver with confidence and security and the freedom to change the dive plan at will, without the need of consulting diving tables.
Several years ago the diver was required to preplan and manually calculate the dive using dive tables. The diver would need to come back up whenever the table indicated. A decompression table helped to reduce the likelihood of nitrogen gas bubbles forming in the body, causing damage to the diver’s soft tissues including the organs and the brain. What causes these dangerous gas bubbles is a change in water pressure. The diving table provided the diver with a schedule to allow gaseous elimination during the ascent by reducing pressure. However, these tables weren’t always reliable.
A dive computer has the ability to quickly react to rapidly changing conditions, which allows the diver to move away from complicated plans and complex calculations. When used correctly, the dive computer will provide more security and increased dive times for the user.
The model you choose should be based on personal preferences. These devices are watch-sized and utilize wireless technology to monitor air consumption and tank pressure.
All models will alert the diver to their decompression status, which is definitely the most important function. Some information recorded is meant to be viewed at a later time, so computer software programs are usually included as part of the package.
An air integration system will allow the user to monitor air amount and quality in addition to decompression data. The system is designed to examine the user’s breathing rate based on the depth and how fast the user is using up the air supply. An air integration system is called so because it integrates air data into calculations, which will allow the user to learn how long they have before they reach the surface. This type of software program is also helpful because it works to learn the habits of the diver under a variety of water conditions and can adjust to allow the diver to remain under the water for a longer period of time.
A diver will most commonly use nitrox or standard air. Nitrox is an enriched air generally used by advanced divers. Purchasing a dive computer that can monitor these types of air is a good idea because it allows you to have more variety concerning the types of water you can dive in. Some models are even compatible with a wide variety of enriched air types and are also able to monitor standard air.
To aid in navigation, some models also feature a geographical compass. The compass will show a three axis geographical display, which includes the exact location and numerical bearing. The measurements will include both maximum depth and current depth.
Many models will only use one decompression algorithm while higher-end models offer dual algorithms. The ability to choose an algorithm allows the diver to plan a dive that will provide them with less or more time under the water.
Dive time is an essential feature because the diver needs to know how much dive time remains and how much time has elapsed.
Without an easy to read display a dive computer is pretty much useless. Because of this most manufacturers have made every effort to include a clear, large and easy to read display, in addition to intuitive controls for easy operation and programming. Extra features like graphs and charts allow the diver to easily monitor their progress.
You should choose a model that’s rated to operate at the depth level that’s suited to the areas you normally dive in, especially if you dive in deep and cold waters.
Some dive computers will allow you to record stats from each dive that can be stored on your personal computer for viewing at a later time. The log book will record important information about the dive conditions every time. This will allow you to analyze your dive in order to improve future dives.
If you’re a beginner we recommend purchasing a model that features safety alarms. These alarms will alert the diver using a loud buzzer and LED lights in the event of dangerous water conditions. Other alarms will alert the diver to maximum depth, too fast ascent rate and toxicity warnings.
In high altitude conditions, the schedule for decompression is different. In high altitude, the diver will need to ascend more slowly. Some models are enabled to automatically adjust the rate of ascent for high altitude dives.
Consumers who are searching for the right model should know that most models will carry out the basic functions of diver safety. Since most models will measure and monitor underwater conditions reliably, the consumer will be free to focus on which extra features they prefer. Keep your eye out for a model with a clear display and easy to navigate user interface. The ability to easily switch between menus and view critical information will allow you to get the most out of each dive, safely. Illumination systems and backlights will enable the diver to clearly read the dive computer even in poor lighting conditions.
The dive computer’s main goal is to prevent decompression sickness, but it shouldn’t replace experience and proper training. The computer is designed to aid a diver, however, you shouldn’t become dependent on this device. The latest dive computer will aid in providing the diver with more freedom to swim in a variety of underwater environments.