Scuba dive computers can be a divers best friend.
I remember when I bought my dive computer (which is now a dinosaur at over 15 years old - but it is still going strong), it was a whole new world. You have so much more bottom time it is unbelievable. I could never go back to tables.
Traditionally, divers needed a depth gauge, dive watch and dive tables to have a safe dive.
With the advent of dive computers, all this information can be seen at a glance while underwater.
If you plan on doing any significant amount of scuba diving, this is definitely one piece of scuba diving equipment you want to have so you can enjoy more time underwater.
(You may also find our free computer buyers guide helpful; it has a complete list of all our pages and information on computers including our recommendations for best dive computers to buy.)
Notwithstanding the above, however, divers still need to use their common sense and knowledge when utilizing scuba dive computers.
You still must understand the basics of diving and dive safety rules - all of which should have been learned in your certification course(s). Although the dive computer may tell you that you can descend too 150 feet after some shallow dives, it probably wouldn't be wise to do so.
Dive computers are not infallible either so they should be used in conjunction with tables when planning a dive. A diver should have an idea of how long is safe at a certain depth so if his dive computer is not functioning properly, he will recognize it. Common sense rules.
In addition, some scuba dive computers are more liberal with their calculations of residual nitrogen than other computers. The user needs to understand where his computer falls in this regard and take it into account in his dive profile.
It is pretty foolhardy to push most scuba dive computers to the limit.
Our dive computer is pretty liberal so we always adjust the amount of safe time remaining at a depth. No matter what the computer is telling us, we typically subtract at least 5 minutes from our safe time at that depth.
Obviously this is more critical at deeper depths since you have less time allowed. I would suggest doing research online or talking with the computer dealer or rep to see where your computer falls in this regard and make your own adjustments from there if necessary.
If you dive with a computer, you will be able to enjoy more time underwater than if you were diving just with tables.
With dive tables, the table assumes you were diving at your deepest depth for the whole length of the dive.
Of course, this isn't true as the diver descends, dives at max depth, dives a bit shallower, ascends, does safety stops, etc. Thus the tables present a more conservative dive profile and projects a higher level of nitrogen in the body than if the various depths the diver was at were taken into consideration.
Enter the dive computer. Scuba dive computers adjust for the depth and time of the dive as it calculates the level of nitrogen in the body.
The computers work on a mathematical algorithm to calculate gases in the body based on the diver's depth and time underwater. It thus allows the diver more bottom time compared to diving straight from the tables.
The diver is able to ascend to stay within the no decompression limits during the dive. While you can plan a multi-level dive with tables, execution is much easier and flexible with a computer.
Dive computers have made great advances over the years. You can buy dive computers to tell you just about everything it seems - including how long to cook your turkey!
But all dive computers will tell you at least the same following basic information:
Many basic computers will also tell you:
There is alot of additional information some scuba dive computers can tell you. You need to decide what information is important for you and what is appropriate for the type of diving you do.
What is right for one diver may be totally useless to another diver.
Here are some questions you should ask to help you choose the appropriate computer for you:
These are some of the things to consider before choosing between scuba dive computers.
It can be a sizable investment so you want to make sure the dive computer you buy is the best one for you. After all, if you are not going to use all the capabilities (such as uploading to a PC) there is no sense in paying for them. A little time spent now can pay off big in the future.
For more information, take a look at our other pages on dive computers:
Looking for other scuba equipment and accessories? Check out all our picks for best diving gear.
Have a safe dive!
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