Our most faithful friend under water
For several decades, computers have been used in diving, making the sport safer to enjoy. The first digital computers date from the 1970s, although it would not be until 1985, with the appearance of the Deco-Brain, that the first computer that truly met divers’ expectations became available. Although large and now outdated, the Deco-Brain allowed divers to keep track of their depth and diving time more precisely, and it provided quick ascent warnings. It was a new tool for better calculating exposure to nitrogen, thus competing directing against dive tables, where calculations were theoretical and more restrictive. Dive tables mainly originated with the American Navy of the 1940s and, despite their age, they are still in use, albeit to a lesser extent than computers, which are more efficient and easier to handle.
Such computers have made many advances in features. They are also much smaller, amounting to no more than wristwatches with attractive designs. The most economical models can be found starting at about 200-250 euros.
Today’s computers will give you precise information on immersion time, depth, water temperature, ascent speed, the immersion date, the accumulation and level of nitrogen in the body, the gas mix, and many more functions depending on how much you are ready to invest. For recreational diving, a standard model will do. But if you seek something more advanced, even with a digital compass, you can buy one starting at 350-400 euros.
You can start diving with computers in your first open water course, where you can rent one or get it included in the course, although we recommend learning to use the original dive tables in order to best understand the essence of the sport.
If you are going to dive more than 10 times a year, buying your own computer can be a worthwhile investment. After your first dive with a computer, you’ll never want to go underwater without one because of the extra element of safety, diving time and, yes, fun.
Lastly, you should always read the manual before using the computer. The manual is quite simple, but can also be quite a complex bit of gear to understand, depending on how you plan your immersions. You may not understand its recommendations, and you might end up breaking key safety rules. Plus, if you fail to heed some of its warnings, the computer might just lock up for 24 or 48 hours, during which you won’t be able to use it in your dives. As you can see, this is fairly serious. Dive in a safety-conscious and responsible manner.
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