By Robert Trosset
Learning to dive was one of the great moments of my life. I had been snorkeling since I was old enough to talk but never had the opportunity to take the open water diver class. In high school they offered scuba diving as an add on to my science class, and I was so excited! I was finally able to breath underwater. I could stay at the bottom until I ran out of time on my dive tables. It took me awhile to “run the tables” and figure out how long I could stay at each depth but I was very careful to do it every time.
I managed to do a hundred dives before I tried my first dive computer. This small device will track your depth and time underwater do some math and calculate how long you have before you must go back to the surface. It was a huge advancement for my diving career. A dive computer will calculate your bottom time more accurately and when properly used can help to make your dive safer.
The newest dive computers can track your depth at least once per second. This allows them to calculate a multi-level dive profile that is constantly changing with your exact dive. I typically get a few more minutes under water with a dive computer than by hand calculating dive tables due to the multi-level profile it produces.
Some models will have a pressure transmitter attached to the tank to give you air pressure right on the screen. It can track your consumption rate of air and give a better estimate of your remaining air time. This feature is awesome because it is presented in a format that is easy to understand while underwater. When the tank starts to get low the computer can give you an audible beep to remind you it’s time to end your dive. Perfect for when you’re a little distracted following a big fish.
My absolute favorite feature of a dive computer is the ascent rate indicator. This is usually a bar on the screen that gives you your ascent rate. Making a slow safe ascent is one of the biggest factors in staying safe while diving. If a diver is going up to fast the computer will try to alert you to “Slow Down” keeping them safer.
Technology is ever evolving and dive computer prices keep going down. They are small and easy to take with you and should be an essential part of any scuba divers gear. Stop by Finz Dive Center for more information on purchasing dive computers or anything scuba or fishing related.