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You can track your dives using dive tables, a depth gauge and dive watch, but most scuba divers use a dive computer – it’s easier. A dive computer provides the real-time dive information you need to dive well.
A dive computer takes depth and time information and applies it to a decompression model to track the dissolved nitrogen in your body during a dive. Your computer continuously tells you how much dive time you safely have remaining. Your computer combines a depth gauge, timer and sometimes a submersible pressure gauge (SPG) into a single, useful instrument. The majority of divers have a computer because it makes sense. Visit your PADI Dive Center or Resort to get more advice about dive computers.
Standard Dive Computer Features
- Easy-to-read display (sometimes in color) that provides the following information:
- No stop limits
- No stop time remaining
- Ascent rate
- Emergency decompression
- Previous dive information
- Low battery warning
- Enriched air compatible
Optional and Desirable Dive Computer Features
- Air integrated to display how much air is in your tank. Certain models connect via a hose to your regulator. Some have a quick disconnect. Others receive air supply information from a transmitter on the regulator first stage.
- Digital dive watch and computer in one small unit
- Automatic or manual adjustment for altitude diving
- Replaceable or rechargeable batteries
- Multiple gas computers for technical diving or some tec diving computers have a CCR (Closed-Circuit Rebreather) mode.
- Interface with your laptop/regular computer so you can download your dive data.
- Electronic compass or built-in thermometer.
- Self-adjusting decompression models
- Dot matrix screens with menus that allow you to play games to pass the time at safety or decompression stops
- Mask display that allows you to glance at critical dive information.
How to Choose Your Dive Computer
There are many dive computer choices and you can find the right one with a little help from a dive professional at your local PADI Dive Center or Resort.
- Ask yourself – What type of diving do I do now and plan to do in the future? and What dive computer works with my current equipment, or what complete equipment package includes the type of computer I want?
- Look at dive computers with features that match your dive style and equipment setup. Evaluate:
- Can you clearly read the data with your mask on?
- Does the data display make sense to you – do you prefer numbers, or do you like graphics or charts?
- Do you understand how to get the dive information you need?
- Don’t hesitate investing in a good dive computer. Get what you want now and go scuba diving – that’s the point.
Take Care of Your Dive Computer
- Start by reading the instruction booklet. Push all the buttons and check out each function. Set a few preferences, such as time and date, metric or imperial, fresh or salt water, etc.
- Rinse your dive computer in fresh water as soon as possible after each use. Keep it out of direct sunlight, especially the display. Protect it from being damaged or dropped. Store it in a cool, dry place.
- Change or recharge your dive computer’s battery as described by the manufacturer.