How to Use Dive Computer: Learn the Basics in this Guide


A dive computer is a handy and vital piece of equipment divers should have. If you’re a diver, you wouldn’t know whether it’s safe to dive or not if you don’t have one of these. Before you buy one, it is essential that you know what kind of diving activity you are likely to do. That way, you would know which type of dive computer would be best for you.

The dive computer also serves as a safety device, as it allows you to manage your dive, as well as inform you if it would be safe to go a bit deeper or if you need to quickly return to the surface. In this post, we will be discussing everything you need to know about how to use a dive computer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to apply what you learn when you set out for a diving trip.

Advantages of Dive Computers over Dive Tables

  • Having a dive table has been proven to be more complicated, as you are going to need to remember how to read the columns and rows.
  • While both the computer and table are deemed useful for noting the nitrogen amount, the advantage of the dive computer is that you can get ahold of this information while you are diving.
  • While both the computer and table are deemed useful for noting the nitrogen amount, the advantage of the dive computer is that you can get ahold of this information while you are diving.
  • Lastly, dive computers record how fast you are ascending. It also can trigger an alarm, especially if you’re coming up a little fast.

Common User Mistakes

Dive computers may seem a bit complicated to use at first. However, through practice, we believe that you will be able to fully utilize it in your dives. Here are some of the common user mistakes often made by divers:

  • When knowing how to use dive computers, you should be aware that each unit is set for an individual diver. This would ultimately mean that you can not and should not allow others to use your own dive computer.
  • Avoid turning off your dive computer in between dives. You may risk losing all your previous dive data that are stored in your unit. Most importantly, you may lose all the information about the nitrogen amount that it left in your body.
  • In case the previous scenario happens, you may need to wait for all the nitrogen to exit before you may even start using your dive computer again.

How to Use Dive Computers


Two of the most crucial information that you need to be able to see in the dive computer clearly are the depth of your dive and the remaining bottom time. The display should be concise and well lit, and anything less would mean that you’ll be troubled reading very important information while you are underwater. In addition, the lighting is a very important factor, especially if you plan to dive during the nighttime or in low light conditions.


Probably the most important factor in learning how to use a dive computer lies on how easy and convenient it is to navigate its menu. With this, you never should have any kind of difficulty accessing the settings even when you are underwater. If you feel the need to consult the manual every time you use your dive computer, there is a possibility that you are using a complicated one.


Alarms are also very important, as they alert you on maximum depth, expiring dive time, as well as your rate of ascent and other significant warnings. With a reliable alarm system, you would not need to refer to your dive computer’s screen, allowing you to enjoy your dive more.

Gas mix

In case you don’t know, learning how to use a dive computer equates to learning about the various possible gas mixes. There is one that calculates dive around 21% oxygen. There is also one that does the same but has the capability to go up 40% nitrox mix, which is suitable for recreational divers. However, for gas mixes that are more than 40%, a more sophisticated unit might be more helpful, especially because it helps with decompression. In fact, higher end dive computers have features allowing you to switch among the gas mixes.

Air integration

Dive computers that are air-integrated come in two types. There is one that uses high-pressure hose connections, which measures tank pressure. There is also the wireless type, which uses a sensor to deliver data directly into the computer. Either air-integrated dive computers give you the capability to know how much breathing time is left, depending on the amount of gas that you already used.

There are also other extraordinary features that make dive computers worth getting. These would include changeable batteries, an electronic compass that can help you navigate your dives, and software upgrades that allow you for an advanced diving experience.

The Algorithm

Using your dive computer might seem a bit more complicated, especially when you add in the algorithms that essentially guides your dive equipment. However, it doesn’t have to be. Algorithms are the calculations that may prevent decompression sickness. It is vital to help you prevent “bends”.

If you are not yet familiar, these algorithms were based on experiments that were done by JBS Haldane during the 20th century. These experiments have proven that the different areas in a diver’s body have the capability to absorb, as well as release nitrogen, and at varying rates. However, not all of them indicate the same thing.

If you would notice, there are notable differences in terms of the decompression and the no-stop times among divers who participate in that exact same dive. There are also varying differences among divers, even though they share similar dive profiles. It should be noted that these algorithms are sometimes dependent on the model and type of dive computers they are using. Lastly, these handy and useful devices are often innovated to make way for allowances for liberal, as well as conservative decompression algorithms, which can be programmed into their units.


Knowing how to use a dive computer may seem very complicated at first, especially if you are just a beginner. However, repetitive use of its navigation, settings, as well as readings can help you realize that it’s very easy to use. You just need to take note of the common user mistakes, as well as the features, for you to be able to fully utilize your dive computer. In addition, these dive computers can keep you safe, especially if you have reached your ascension speed. Hopefully, this article has been of great help to you in using your dive computer.

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