How to use a dive computer

A dive computer is an important piece of equipment for any diver to have. Without it, there is no way of being sure whether the dive is a safe one or not.

Before you buy a dive computer you may need to consider the kind of diving you are going to do and whether the type of dive computer is the best one for you. Dive computers are actually used to calculate the amount of nitrogen in your body during dives.

This equipment also comes with gauges and timers to help you manage your dive, and to know when it’s safe to go deeper or return to the surface.

What would happen if you do not know how to use your dive computer ?

You run the serious risk of decompression sickness or the “bends” as divers call it.

What is this sickness and why should you care about this?

Decompression sickness occurs when the diver’s body accumulates nitrogen underwater.

It’s important to understand that this problem can be avoided with the correct approach to diving.

To avoid decompression sickness, come up slowly toward the surface or stop at points during your ascent so that your body can release the build-up of nitrogen.

Dive planners or decompression tables and charts are often used to help with working out the safe ranges for getting rid of excess nitrogen. It is however common for dive computers to fill this role.

Advantages of using dive computers

When you use dive computers you are a step ahead of divers who rely only on dive tables.

Here’s why:

1.  With a dive table, you’ll have to remember and know how to read those rows and columns, which can be daunting for those of you who hate rows and columns! A dive computer eliminates the hassle by doing the work for you.

2.  A dive table and a dive computer are useful for charting the amount of nitrogen that is theoretically in your body. The advantage with dive computers is that you get information while you are actually diving.

3.  A dive computer also records any change in depth while you dive. You can depend on the accuracy of the dive computer’s records of each depth that you descend

4.  You cannot do accurate calculations of maximum depth for your dive with a dive table. With your dive computer, you’ll be able to produce accurate records the depth and duration of your dives.

5.  Dive computers also keep tabs on how fast you are ascending and will trigger an alarm if you are coming up too fast.

Avoiding user mistakes

Other things you need to know about how to use your dive computer is that each computer is set for the individual diver. This means you cannot allow other divers to use your dive computer.

That will mess things up big time!

Also, avoid turning your dive computer off between dives. While most brands of dive computers don’t allow you to turn it off anyway, removing the battery will cause you to lose all previous dive data stored in it. Most importantly, you’ll lose information about the amount of nitrogen left in your body.

In that case, you’ll need to wait for all the nitrogen to exit your system before using your dive computer again.

Safety tips

In learning how to use a zoop dive computer, or any other dive computer for that matter, there are a few safety tips to follow. See also why it’s vital that in learning how to use a wrist dive computer or a console dive computer you also observe strict safety precautions.

Safety stops are important!

Safety stops are pauses which you take during ascent which can last for around three minutes or more at depths of between three and six metres (or 10 to 20 feet).

Set your safety stops using your dive computer for certain depths to avoid rising too fast from a dive.

Think of setting mandatory safety stops if you’re diving below 30 metres or 100 feet. Also, don’t ignore the limits you have set on your recreational dive planner as you dive. It’s crucial to observe all time, depth, and surface interval limits for maximum safety during your dives.

Any misuse of your dive computer can easily spell disaster or even death!

One thing to remember also:

Your diving buddy cannot use your dive computer! Yes, this point was made before, but it’s worth repeating. No swapping of dive computers as each computer is accurate for the wearer it was programmed to monitor.

For safety’s sake, be conservative in your use of the dive computer’s estimates. This is not the time for stunts or experiments. Once your computer approaches its pre-programmed zone for safety or decompression stops, go with it.

One recommendation is to plan your strenuous or cold dives with a RPD setting that’s around four meters (or 10 feet) deeper than your actual dive. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dive Computer Features

How to use my dive computer instructions are not complete without a look at the typical features of dive computers and how they work.

So Here Goes:

1. Your display

The most important information you should be able to see clearly are the remaining bottom time and the depth of your dive. Are you able to see this information immediately on your dive computer?

Your display should also be concise, not cluttered, and well lit. Anything less means you’ll have trouble reading vital information underwater when you need it most.

If you wear glasses, it’s even more important to have large print display for easy reading. Also, the lighting of your dive computer should be appropriate for diving at nights or in low light conditions. You should still be able to see clearly what’s on screen.

Dive computers usually come with black on grey displays but you may also see the advantage of the new generation of bright OLED displays.

2.  The Menu

A key ingredient in learning how to use a zoop dive computer or any other wrist or console dive computer is how easy it is to navigate the menu.

You should not have any difficulty in changing the menu settings while underwater or on the surface. If you must consult your user manual for every menu action, you’re using a more complicated dive computer than you actually need.

3.  The alarm

Alarms you can hear are very important among the features of your dive computer. You should be able to program your dive compute to alert you on expiring dive time, maximum depth, your rate of ascent, and other warnings you really need. With a fully working alarm setting on your dive computer, you’re free to enjoy your dive without constantly referring to your screen.

4. The Gas mix

The kind of dive computer you’ll need depends on the kind of dives you are doing. Learning how to use a wrist dive computer or a console is also learning about the different gas mixes that are possible.

There is the simple air-only dive computer that calculates a dive at 21 per cent oxygen. The nitrox alternative does the same thing but can go up to 40 per cent nitrox mix, that’s ideal for recreational dives.

For mixes over 40 per cent, you’ll need a more sophisticated dive computer that allows you to make gas switches to help with decompression.

Sophisticated dive computers like the trimix and CCR versions carry features that allow you to also switch among gases. Such dive computers are for divers who go for more complicated and deeper dives.

5.  The air integration

Air-integrated dive computers come in two styles – ones that use high pressure hose connections to measure tank pressure, and the wireless type that uses a sensor to send information straight to the computer.

Each type of air integrated dive computer tells you how much breathing time you have left depending on the amount of gas you have used.

The dive computer algorithm

How to use your dive computer may seem a little complicated when you consider the algorithms that guide your device. It does not need to be.

Algorithms are calculations based on theory for the prevention of decompression sickness.

Simply put:

This vital set of calculations is what the dive computer uses to help you prevent the ‘bends’.

Dive computer algorithms are also based on experiments done during the early 20th Century by JBS Haldane. These experiments showed that different areas of a diver’s body absorb and release nitrogen at different rates.

But not every algorithm says the same thing.

You may see wide variations in the decompression and no-stop times among individuals participating in the same dive, or among persons sharing similar dive profiles. These variations often depend on the type and model of dive computers being used.

Dive computers nowadays make allowances for conservative or liberal decompression algorithms that can be programmed into them.

Extra features

You might be wondering what else do I need to know in how to use my dive computer? You might consider extra features that make your dive computer more appealing.

  •  Batteries users can change
  • Electronic compass to help with navigating your dives.
  • Software upgrades for a more advanced diving experience

These are a few of the extra features you can add to your dive computer whenever you choose.

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