- Because dive computers continually monitor your depth and time underwater, you generally get a more accurate reading but increased dive time and decreased surface interval between dives.
- Logbook and PC integration allow you to chart your dives
- Advances in dive computers allow you to monitor your depth, time and air time remaining through wireless sensors
A dive computer has become a vital source of information for the diver. It increases the underwater time, and reduces the surface interval between dives allowing for a more enjoyable and safer experience. Ten years ago manufacturers were making more analog gauges then computers, but times have changed and now the computer has become an essential piece of equipment for every diver. Though expensive 10 years ago, the prices today are very affordable and do the same calculations as the expensive models. Some have backlighting, audible alarms, temperature logbooks and integrate air, which all adds to the features of the dive computer. It is likened to a PC purchase.
The DC provides a more accurate continuous status to the diver during their dive. Unlike the dive table, the dive computer is continually calculating each foot of depth and each second of time while descending and ascending, constantly debiting and crediting your bottom time. Without getting into the complicated details, the dive computer is a based on a set of data known as an algorithm. This algorithm measures 9-12(depending on algorithm model) different body tissues in your body and their limits. Examples would be bone, muscle, brain etc. Dense material like bone matter would be on one end with a slow absorption rate and the other end like the brain would have a high absorption rate. If you're interested in learning more look through the US Navy Dive Manual which explains all this in detail. They work to provide you with the data to have a save and fun dive.
You just got certified and you are thinking you only need an air computer but you're not sure whether you should pursue the benefits of enriched air Nitrox. Fortunately, most manufacturers found it was cheaper to make the computers enriched air or nitrox ready, so that takes this feature out of the mix. On a basic entry level inexpensive computer you get the ability to switch to the benefits of enriched air or, nitrox. You must be certified to dive nitrox, but rest assured you will have the computer that benefits you right at hand when the time comes.
The biggest trend other than integrating enriched air into your dive computer, is taking a minimalist approach to your gauges. Integrating tank pressure into the computer screen is a great feature as it not only gives you your current pressure, but figures out based on your breathing rate at that time, and your nitrogen absorption limits, along with your total dive time remaining. Remember if you change your rate of breathing and/or ascend a few feet you will increase your total time remaining. This minimalist approach is achieved through a single glance at the screen of your computer.
Another big trend in minimization is taking the air integration concept one step further, hoseless wireless pressure gauge. Basically there are two parts to the gauge itself, and a small transmitter that screws into the first stage of the regulator high pressure port. You get the benefits of the air integration single glance concept without the hose! The newest full featured air integrated wireless units even can provide you the tank pressure of your buddy simultaneously. Imagine the freedom of having just two hoses, one for your regulator, and the second for your alternate air source integrated into the BCD. Therefore, there is no octopus hose and no tank pressure hose.
This information copyrighted by Chris Fuller.