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The Ridicularity of Gauge Mode

“Ridicularity: Noun meaning an example of ridiculousness. A blend of Ridiculous and Peculiarity.”

This is a picture of my ScubaPro HUD display. And it’s dumb. Not the computer, I love it. Well, except for one thing… gauge mode!

The Spartan Dive Team has been doing quite a bit of decompression diving lately, and while it’s been awesome, having different computers yelling deco instructions to you in the middle of your 170 foot dive is annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, the HUD has been one of the favorite pieces of dive gear I’ve ever owned, and I’d dare say an absolute necessity for diving in the sometimes extreme low visibility waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Like a little kid at Christmas, fall of 2019.

Great For Teaching!

Not just for low vis, but I’ve really enjoyed using the Galileo HUD while doing instructional dives. Imagine not having to take your eyes off of 8-12 guppy divers for more than a few seconds to check your depth, time, and current tank pressure! I know you’re thinking about it… trust me – LIFE CHANGING for instructors. 

But, while the HUD is excellent for recreational sport diving, it has some drawbacks when technical diving. Here are my issues.

Deco Algorithms

They’re slightly off.

While both the HUD and my primary dive computers use a version of Bühlmann ZH-L16 GF decompression algorithm, they’re just slightly off with a 16C version on my Shearwaters. Not to mention my head is typically 1-2 feet closer to the surface than either of my wrists.

Both of these factors lead to getting very different decompression requirements. And what’s the rule? Always dive to the most conservative computer. UGH!

My Genius Fix

Or so I thought!

“I really don’t need the decompression schedule from this, let me put it in gauge mode!”

The problem here is two fold.  First and foremost, once you switch it from SCUBA to gauge mode, that’s it: at least for 48 hours, anyway. Most computers only lock you in at 24 hours, a typical dive day reset. But not ScubaPro!

Second, and the primary reason I won’t dive it that way again is the one gauge I actually need, a compass, doesn’t work in gauge mode. Wait, what?! It’s a gauge!! 

When I’m in the pitch black of 150-170 FSW the last thing I want is to stop and pull out my analogue compass for a game of mental math, calculating my next heading. The HUD just makes navigation easy with the flick of an eye. 

So, for now I’m going to just keep diving the way I have been. Slow and steady, keeping to the most conservative of the decompression profiles shown, and hope for an update from ScubaPro soon. 

Let me know your thoughts about all of this in the comments below.

Until next time, bubble-blowers. Train hard, dive easy!

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Doc Strand

An eight year Marine Corps veteran, Dr. Strand discovered Chinese medicine as a last resort when recovering from a military related injury. He has since dedicated his life to the practice of medicine; a doctor to all - a healer to many. In recent years he has turned to SCUBA diving as a meditation aid in his quest for ultimate peace. The desire to share that gift led to the creation of Spartan Scuba. Doc’s experiences and travels abroad impact not only his writing style, but his passion for life, scuba, and medicine.

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