Dive computers are commonly used by Scuba Divers today. Dive computers provide and record large amounts of information during your dive. Each manufacturer and every dive computer provides different kinds of information. The most common information is depth, time of day, bottom time, water temperature, date, maximum depth, ascent warning, log mode, as well as many others. There are generally two types of computers, stand-alone and air-integrated.
Stand-alone computers are independent of your other dive gear. It does not monitor the amount of air in your cylinder. Stand-alone computers can be wrist mounted or in a console with your pressure gauge. Stand-alone computers are easy to transfer or use with other diving configurations and are generally on the lower end of a manufacturer’s model line.
Air-integrated computers or gas-integrated computers connect to your regulator via the high-pressure port. They replace the standard analog pressure gauge because they are responsible for measuring the amount of air in your cylinder. This type of computer is more complicated and relies on electronics to monitor the air supply in your cylinder, depth, bottom time, etc. Basically, it’s an all-in-one package, meaning less to carry, but if the batteries fail or something else fails with the unit, your dive is over, maybe for the whole day or trip.
Most computers today are nitrox compatible, meaning that they will accept a different gas mixture than standard air. Nitrox mixtures contain more oxygen and less nitrogen, so your no-decompression limits differ when diving nitrox. Nitrox computers require you to set the oxygen percentage you are diving, which mean they can be a little more complicated. For details on diving nitrox, refer to the nitrox section of this website.
More and more computers allow you to program more than one diving gas into the computer. There are a number of two-gas model computers on the market today. Two-gas model computers allow you to program a primary dive gas and a secondary dive gas for one dive. Many times, the secondary dive gas is used for decompression, which means you’re exceeding no-decompression limits. Make sure you have the proper training before conducting decompression dives.
Computers provide you a lot of information about your dive, which is stored in a log in the memory of the computer. This log can be reviewed later or downloaded to a computer for storage or for building your logbook. The log function can be very valuable, especially when planning future dives to the same area, because you can look up things like maximum depth, water temperature, bottom times, etc. This information can make dive planning much easier.
When looking to buy a dive computer, don’t rush out and buy the first one you see. Shop around and do some research about the features and functions they offer. Talk to active divers who use computers and found out what they use, how they like their computer, or what they would want if they purchased another computer. Because there are so many on the market, deciding how to spend your money can be confusing. Shop around and ask for help so that your purchase is a valuable one.
Cost: $250 to $1500
Bottom timers provide depth, dive time, temperature, and maximum depth. They are not computers, meaning they don’t track nitrogen or oxygen exposure. Bottom timers are used often by technical divers when using decompression software to cut dive tables.