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August 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Calculating a Healthy Ascent

there arenít any bad computers anymore

from the August, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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As you know, the core function of a dive computer is to monitor your likely nitrogen absorption as a function of depth and time, calculate what might be happening to a number of tissue models that might replicate the tissues of your own body and, by an algorithm, calculate the diver's remaining no-stop time, or mandated decompression stops, during a calculated ascent.

That's a lot of work. Thank goodness these computers all now use buttons instead of those wet finger contacts of yore when divers went slightly crazy trying to set up their instruments.

Most buyers of diving computers tend to take them out of the box, strap them on their wrists and go diving with the factory settings.

Back in the day, I had a lot of fun taking numerous computers on a single rig, diving past 165 feet and comparing how their different algorithms required different ascent behavior. The fun has now been taken out of it, mainly because Bruce Wienke, Ph.D., a program manager at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), with a serious interest in computational decompression and models, has sold a version of his RGBM adapted algorithm to many different manufacturers.

This means many computers now, for a typical leisure dive, perform in virtually the same way. Those manufacturers that have not gone the Wienke-way have adapted or adopted algorithms that give a similar effect, such as a derivation of the Buhlmann ZH-16 algorithm that has been the mainstay of many independent computer makers. These also include Oceanic and Scubapro. ...

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