Scuba Diving Equipment in Northern Virginia: Why Dive Use A Dive Computer?
For years scuba divers used special dive tables to tell them how long they could dive at certain depths. Today, the dive computer is fast replacing the dive table as the reference tool for safe scuba diving. Today we will look at the advantages of diving with a computer.
Dive Computers Offer Longer Bottom Times:
Dive tables calculate all dives as if the entire dive was conducted at a given depth. Since dive computers have a built in depth gauge and timer it can calculate exactly at what depth you are diving and can therefore give you credit for time spent at shallower depths. This results in being able to stay down on your dives much longer then you can if you are diving with the dive tables.
Increased Dive Safety:
Scuba diving with a dive computer is safer then scuba diving on the tables. In addition to the factors we just discussed when diving with dive tables you cannot change your dive plan underwater since your tables are usually not taken on the dive with you. That means even minor changes in your planned dive profile can drastically alter your overall dive plan. Dive computers keep track of the residual nitrogen that you have absorbed on prior dives so the information that the computer gives you is very accurate. Built in alarms will also warn you should you go deeper then planned or stay longer then allowed.
Dive Computers Save You Money By Giving You Longer Dive Times!
Dive computers are far more expensive then the dive tables but they will pay for themselves every time you use them. Lets say that a two tank boat dive costs you $75.00 and the tables might allow you 20 minutes on the first dive to 100 feet and 30 minutes at 60 feet on the second dive for a total of 50 minutes diving. By scuba diving with a dive computer you can work your way shallower on the dive and stay down longer. One hour dives are very common when diving with a computer. In this instance the same $75.00 boat fee would allow you up to two hours of bottom time or more. As you can see you can make back the cost of the computer very quickly.
Since most scuba divers today dive with a computer it is not unusual for a dive boat to require all divers to use a computer to avoid large differences in allowable dive times enabling all of the divers to return to the boat around the same time. It makes it easier for the boat to keep track of their divers.
Dive Computers Are Both Log Books and Dive Planners:
Since the dive computer tracks you recent past dive profiles they will accurately display how long you can stay down on a subsequent scuba dive. This is known as the Dive Planning Mode. If the time displayed is not long enough, simply relax a short while and check again. The longer surface interval will result in longer repetitive dives. This can also be accomplished with dive tables but requires calculations while the computer does it instantly.
Another nice feature of the dive computer is its Log Book Mode. It will keep track and electronically record your scuba dives. Many computers also allow you to download this information to your laptop computer in case you want a hard copy.
Know Your Computer:
There are many different brands and types of dive computers on the market. While they are very similar many have slightly different functions and controls. It is important to read your owners manual to make sure you know how to use your computer. Also remember the basic rules you were taught when learning the dive tables. The laws of physics do not change just because you have a computer. It is safer to complete your deeper dives prior to shallower dives. It is also safer and will allow longer dive times to start your dive with the deeper portion and to work your way shallower toward the end of the dives.
Many dive computer manufacturers like Aeris offer new computer purchasers a free video tutorial on how to use the computer. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors offers a Specialty Diver Course called Multi Level Diver, which covers the use of dive computers. This is a popular course at Aquatic Adventures Scuba Academy, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Dive Center in Alexandria, Virginia.