There are many clear benefits of using a dive computer, but now you have one read our tips for using it.
Dive Computers © Janne8086
- Read the manual.
I can’t say this often enough or loud enough. A dive computer only works if you can correctly interpret what the display is telling you. Apart from tracking your dive time, current and maximum depth, and no decompression limit it will give you information on ascent speed, safety stop, decompression stops, oxygen exposure, surface interval time and no fly time. Understanding the display and how to set it for different gas mixes, alarms, conservatism, and your altitude is fundamental to using a computer safely.
Most dive computers turn on when they hit the water and turn off after a certain amount of time out of the water yet they still keep tracking your nitrogen loads. Most. But. Not. All.
- Be Prudent
Remember that a computer is applying a theoretical mathematical model to determine your no decompression limit. It does not track anything physical in your body. There is conservatism built into the algorithms they use, but it would be foolish to push these limits. Multiple days of repetitive diving increase your risk of decompression sickness and remember it’s all too easy not to be hydrated enough particularly in tropical climates. Go easy and stay well within the limits of the computer. In some models you can set your computer for increased conservatism; consider this if you are diving in very cold water, have a strenuous dive or have any other factors that could increase your risk of decompression sickness.
- Battery and failures
Check your battery, the last thing you want is a failure. Remember that some models need to be sent away for battery changing, you want to make sure you get it back in time for your dive trip. In cases where your computer fails, most recommendations advise staying out of the water for 24 hours before resuming diving with a fresh computer. This time allows a huge margin of conservatism for off-gassing.
- Don’t share
Your dive computer tracks your dives. If you allow someone else to use your computer during a trip, it won’t give either of you an accurate reading. Further, each diver should have their own computer because even though you dive as a team, you will not have precisely the same profile.
- Everyone is different.
Dive computers do not all operate on the same algorithm, and your buddy may have a computer that is more conservative than yours. As a buddy team, you would always determine your dive based on the most conservative computer.
- Follow established protocols
A dive computer is not going to stop you diving a saw tooth profile; it will even track it. However, basic decompression theory tells you this is not recommended so don’t do it just because your computer doesn’t seem to care! The same applies to making your deepest dive the first of the day and always making a safety stop.
- Refresh your basic knowledge
Even though you have a computer, it’s a very good idea to refresh your knowledge of dive tables. Computers can fail, and they can go haywire, having an idea of your limits at a given depth adds the common sense back up that will be invaluable in this situation.
Consider for a moment diving with an air integrated computer, and it fails. If you don’t have an SPG, depth gauge or dive watch you are in a rather unfortunate position. You will have to end your dive, and you are going to feel somewhat anxious during your ascent. If you have backups and a clear understanding of your limits, depending on the situation, it’s possible for you to continue diving.