How to best use a computer to be a good diver

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GDHLEWIS

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Learn the basics from the manual, then each subsequent dive try a new feature with the computer. Review how it went, repeat if needed or move on to another option. How Im learning my new computer
 

Belzelbub

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I think @boulderjohn covered it nicely.

Main thing is to know how to use the computer. That includes knowing how to set the gas, as well as being able to understand what it is trying to tell you during the dive. Asking other divers what ”V10L” means after the dive is a little too late.

Now, how you do that depends largely on the computer. For some, the manual is well written and is all you’ll need to get going. For others, the manual may only serve to confuse. In that case, the internet may help.

If your computer has configurable fields, set them up so that it’s clear what you are looking at. You don’t want to confuse temperature for NDL, for example.

I just added a Garmin as a backup to my Perdix. First thing I did was read through the manual, at least the sections I needed. I made sure I knew how to update the gas settings, then set up the GFs to match. I then started looking at the data screens. I saw temperature was on the main screen. I don’t need the temp to be constantly displayed, so I made some changes. I saw that Surf GF was an option, so I swapped it for temp. Temp is on the next screen. I currently have 3 screens available. All 3 have NDL, Depth, and Dive time displayed.
 

BlueTrin

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@boulderjohn pretty much answered your question.

I’d add that if you have a smartphone, it is worth saving the manual, some manuals come as PDF, you can save them for offline use, which can come handy on a trip.
 

cd228

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As everyone has mentioned read and UNDERSTAND the manual, I've found it's easy to glaze over the more technical portions and it might be wise to understand how your computer models. Also, google the terms in the manual you don't understand. Also, before you dive, take a minute or two to use the planning function on the computer, It makes you think about how deep you are going to go and how long you are planning to stay down.

During the dive monitor the computer, but check it against your gauges. All the functions dept, air use, etc. I've found very useful. I use the SAC calculation to remind myself to monitor stroke, body position and breathing.

After the dive, download the data and actually review your dive profile. I've learned alot about my air usage an bouyancy by reviewing the charts my computer produces.
 

Scratch_Monkey

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This advice is good for really any technical gadget you may get (camera, cell phone, dive computer, etc...)... First, read the manual enough to learn how to use your dive computer and learn the basic functions and what it is capable of doing. Then use your computer to dive. But after you've used it a few times, get the manual back out and re-read it.

Often reading a manual can be mind boggling because there is so much information and for a lot of people who may be new, it can be overwhelming. So learn how to use your computer but, after you feel some comfort level with it, go back and re-read the manual. Things that didn't make sense will start to make sense or at least maybe you can decide how important certain features are. Those advanced features may start sounding useful!

Plus repetition is the best way to learn so read, use, then re-read (and repeat!).
 

BlueTrin

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This advice is good for really any technical gadget you may get (camera, cell phone, dive computer, etc...)... First, read the manual enough to learn how to use your dive computer and learn the basic functions and what it is capable of doing. Then use your computer to dive. But after you've used it a few times, get the manual back out and re-read it.

Often reading a manual can be mind boggling because there is so much information and for a lot of people who may be new, it can be overwhelming. So learn how to use your computer but, after you feel some comfort level with it, go back and re-read the manual. Things that didn't make sense will start to make sense or at least maybe you can decide how important certain features are. Those advanced features may start sounding useful!

Plus repetition is the best way to learn so read, use, then re-read (and repeat!).
That’s good advice.

I find that during a dive you realise you are unsure of something you read in the manual when using a new computer.
 

Belzelbub

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I find that during a dive you realise you are unsure of something you read in the manual when using a new computer.
Yeah, and that's the trouble with dive computers. You can't really access dive mode(s) unless actually on a dive. So, while you may read the manual, and think you understand it, the first time you can really see what happens is during that first dive with the computer.

A demo of some sort would be helpful. Either a demo mode on the computer itself, or videos of the screen while doing a demo dive would be often much better than pages in a manual, though a well written manual and intuitive UI can bridge that gap remarkably well.
 

Esprise Me

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I personally didn't find it necessary to read the manual for my Shearwater, as the interface was completely intuitive. I needed a good manual for my Cressi but didn't have one; it read like something fed through an older AI translator like Altavista's Babelfish (remember that? Did anyone else while away a lazy afternoon translating song lyrics to Mandarin and back to see what a mess they could make of it? Just me?)

Anyway, it's certainly important to understand how to use the computer, however you get there. It's also important to look at your computer often enough to do something with that information. How often it's necessary to check will depend on the dive, as well as certain personal factors like your innate sense of time. I've known people who can say, "I just need five more minutes to finish this task," and then four minutes and fifty-five seconds later they either say, "OK, I'm done, let's go," or "forget it, this is taking longer than I thought," but either way they somehow knew that five minutes had elapsed without looking at a clock. I can't do that. If my NDL is getting anywhere close to five minutes, I'd prefer to just start my ascent; if not, I need to keep checking compulsively. Know your computer, but also know yourself.
 

EFX

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What I recommend all NDL divers do is set an alarm on your computer to notify you when your NDL is under 5 minutes. You can do this on the Perdix. A visual reminder is good but in addition a vibrating warning is best if you get distracted and don't look at your computer.
 

Joneill

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What I recommend all NDL divers do is set an alarm on your computer to notify you when your NDL is under 5 minutes. You can do this on the Perdix. A visual reminder is good but in addition a vibrating warning is best if you get distracted and don't look at your computer.
You’ll need a Perdix 2 for that last part!
 

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