A dive computer is one of the additional things you should invest in if you want to take your safety up a notch when diving. Dive computers are designed to tell you crucial information such as the depth of water and the time you spent underwater. Using this crucial information, the dive computer will calculate and create an ascent plan and profile, so that you can avoid the possibility of decompression sickness. Decompression sickness comes from staying too long underwater.
The human body has certain limitations when exposed to high levels of pressure. Staying too long in deep water can lead to extreme fatigue, headache, clouded thinking, numbness and weakness of the extremities and even skin rashes.
Dive computers can help you enjoy your recreational activity without putting yourself at risk. There are a lot of reliable dive computers out there but their benefits are only as good as how you use them. If you don’t know how to utilize your dive computer properly, you might not be able to get the most of the features integrated in them.
In This Guide
Common Features of Dive Computers
The basic information you can get from dive computers includes the depth of water and time spent underwater. It can also include features such as calculate emergency decompression, remaining time for no stop time and ascent rate.
Many dive computers will also allow you to access your previous dive information. That can be useful in planning your future dives. You can also get information on Nitrox compatibility and limitations on no stop. All dive computers also give indications if the battery is low.
More than the features, you also need to consider the overall functionality of the dive computer when buying. Make sure the size is just right for you to take it underwater without it being too cumbersome to wear. The screen should be easy to read even when you have your mask on. A backlight is also a nifty feature especially for night divers as this will make it easier to see the dive computer underwater.
The features should also be compatible with the dive equipment you are using. It should also come with a comprehensive manual. You need to familiarize yourself with its features, otherwise, you can put yourself at risk.
Choosing the Right Algorithm for Your Dive Computer
One of the things you should do is pick the right algorithm for your dive computer. This is a mathematical formula that will be primarily used by the dive computer. It is what your dive computer will follow when it comes to taking measurements such as depth, time, gas mix and many more while you are underwater.
There are about 6 different algorithms used for the dive computers used today. It is more advisable for recreational divers to choose algorithms that are more conservative. These algorithms are more limiting when it comes to its dive time calculations, which can be helpful in preventing decompression syndrome for beginners or those who only dive recreationally. However, if you are a more experienced diver or you dive by profession and you want to maximize the time you spend underwater, going for a more liberal type of algorithm is the best option.
What type of algorithm you choose will also depend on a few factors such as age and your current physical condition. If you have issues with circulation or you are not conditioned enough, picking a more conservative algorithm is the best choice.
How to Prepare Your Dive Computer Before Going Underwater
To make sure that you are using your dive computer correctly, here are the things you need to do:
1. Active it first.
Just like cellphones, dive computers need to be activated first before it will work. Dive computers can be activated manually or using water activation methods. If you are using one that can be activated manually, simply find the button you need to press before diving. If it requires water activation, you need only to go underwater to have it activated. Since many users forget manual activation, dive computer manufacturers have come up with a solution, which is to automatically activate it the moment the diver goes underwater.
2. Set its functions up.
The next thing to do is to set its measuring units. For depth, set it to either feet or meters. For temperature, you can set it to either Celsius or Fahrenheit. Also set the date and time.
3. Set the nitrox.
You need to set the gas mixture you are using for diving. Recreational divers often use a 32-36% nitrox. Keep in mind though that many dive computers return to their original nitrox settings after 24 hours. So even if you have the same nitrox settings, you should still make it a point to change the settings on your dive computer.
4. Set the alarms.
This can be in the form of a visual or an audible alarm. These alarms will alert you when to check for depth, air and time. Set an alarm for depth but if you dive in nitrox, an alarm for air is important. It is easy to lose track of time underwater.
5. Check its safety stop.
Some of the dive computers today come with automatic settings for safety stops. But make sure you still check yours because you might have one of those that needs to be programmed.
How to Care For Your Dive Computer
After using, rinse your dive computer under fresh running water. Use a microfiber cloth or towel to dry it up and get rid of lingering salt water or sand. Use a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush to scrub out accumulated dirt from salt, skin products and perspiration.
Have your dive computer serviced. The manufacturer should have specifications on how often you should have your dive computer serviced. Have it checked or calibrated once a year or once every 2 years to make sure it is working well.
Keep your dive computer away from too much sunlight and chemical solutions. When not in use, keep it in a dry and properly-ventilated area. Do these things and you should be able to enjoy using your dive computer longer.
Check out our guide to the best dive computers here!