The Cave Diving Website

Instrumentation

I is yet another area where it is easy to differentiate recreational divers from cave divers. Recreational divers tend to carry a minimum of a two-gauge console, with one gauge being a submersible pressure gauge (SPG) and the other a depth gauge or dive computer. Recreational consoles may also contain an underwater compass — something cave divers mount on slates and use only when surveying underwater caves.

Instrumentation

If a recreational diver’s computer is not part of his or her console, it will typically be mounted on the wrist. Recreational divers may also use a computer which communicates wirelessly with their regulator first stage, thus eliminating the need for a high-pressure hose and SPG. Cave divers tend to avoid these as the wireless signal may tend to “get confused” in caves, and report erroneous information.

As you have already read, a cave diver’s SPG will most likely be the only instrument found at the end of his or her high-pressure hose. It will not be a normal SPG, either — but rather an ultra-accurate, brass-encased, Bourdon tube model calibrated in 100 psi increments. The ability to read pressure in precise, 100-psi increments is critical when calculating turnaround points. As mentioned earlier, the cave diver’s high-pressure hose will typically be just 22 inches long — just long enough to reach the D-ring on his or her left hip. Clipped here it is less likely to become entangled than it would if clipped off to the front of the diver’s harness.

On a cave diver’s wrist, you will usually find either a multi-gas Nitrox or Trimix computer, or an instrument that functions as a combination digital depth gauge and bottom timer. This will further be backed up by a conventional dive watch or similar instrument. Most cave divers seem to rely primarily on multi-gas computers, not only for convenience, but for the fact only dive computers can account precisely for the multi-level nature of most cave dives. Some cave divers, however, prefer to rely on custom-generated dive tables, which require only the use of a depth gauge and timer. Even if cave divers rely primarily on computers, they should carry some form of dive table as a back up.

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