Bottom Timer vs Dive Computer
If you’ve been diving for a few years, you might remember bottom timers. Nowadays, most scuba divers use a dive computer instead.
Yet, what are the differences between a dive computer and a bottom timer? Both measure dive depth and time. The dive computer does compute decompression stops and parameters which is not done by the bottom timer.
What would you want to use a bottom timer for? Check it out below when we take a closer look at what they are and where the differ from a dive computer!
What is a Dive Computer?
Using a dive computer makes diving more efficient, safer, and fun. They may be used to plan your next dives, monitor your NDL status, track your descent and air consumption, and provide information on safe resurfacing. Using a dive computer can also help you avoid costly insurance payouts.
There are several types of dive computers available. They may be handheld, worn on a regulator, or integrated into a diving mask. Each has different features and capabilities. It is important to determine your needs before purchasing a dive computer.
If you only dive once or twice a year on vacation, you may not need a lot of log memory in your computer. However, you should make sure your dive computer has a good backlight and clear graphics. It also should be comfortable to use.
There are many affordable and reliable dive computers available. Higher-end models feature wireless air integration and a compass.
If you are planning to go international, it is also a good idea to invest in a dive computer with international capability. There are plenty of models available for divers with modest budgets.
The best dive computers feature a 3D tilt-compensated digital compass. This eliminates the need for a standalone analog compass. They also have a few other features, such as a digital dive compass and a handy vibration alarm.
What is a Bottom Timer?
A bottom timer measures and records depth and time. It does not perform any decompression calculations.
A simple bottom timer is a dive watch that allows you to measure depth and time underwater. So, in short, any device that allows you to measure time (and depth) is considered a bottom timer.
If you, for example, use your dive computer in Gauge mode, then you have a bottom timer that you’re using. The gauge mode disables any decompression calculations and only measures depth and dive time.
When diving with a bottom timer only, you will need to compute your decompression times and stops yourself using dive tables. Using the tables, all you need is the dive time and depth to calculate your nitrogen loading.
Using dive tables in conjunction with a bottom timer is reasonably straightforward. It gets a little complex for multiple dives at multiple depths as you have to record times and depths for each period, keep a record of the time between dives and calculate the nitrogen concentration in your body yourself.
This is certainly all possible, but in today’s world, it’s easier to use a simple dive computer that’s geared for beginners to perform all those calculations for you. Even the simplest dive computer will keep exact records of your dive depth and times and provide you with the correct decompression information.
What are the Differences between a Bottom Timer and Dive Computer?
Bottom Timers were the device to use before there were dive computers. Nowadays, you will have a hard time to even finding a specific bottom timer for diving.
Yet, any dive watch with a depth gauge and dive timer will act as a bottom timer. A dive computer in gauge mode will do the same.
However, looking at the capabilities of even the cheapest dive computers, you have to wonder why you would want to use a bottom timer in the first place. Many dive computers today are cheaper than a good dive watch but offer you a lot more functions and features!
You could argue using a good dive watch as a backup for a dive computer in case it breaks during a dive. However, chances are slim that this will ever happen. In the worst case, you have your dive buddy also having a dive computer. The chances that both fail are pretty much zero!
The bottom timer, together with dive tables, does allow you to do the calculations that a dive computer does for you behind the scenes. Yet, where the dive computer lets you focus on your diving, the bottom timer and dive tables require you to compute your dive parameters.
It’s definitely easier to use a dive computer in today’s world. They are reliable and perform all the necessary decompression calculations even if you don’t pay attention to your dives.