Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) has released version four of DecoPlanner, their dive-planning software. It is available as an app for iOS and Android, and has desktop versions for Mac and PC.
Modern dive computers are fantastic tools, which are getting still easier to use, with clear and nicely designed interfaces that are easy to read and intuitive to use. Many of the later models are also great-looking wearable tech and sleek enough to pass for a fancy wristwatch. But wouldn’t it sometimes be nice to have a closer look at what is behind those shifting digits and the mechanics of decompression calculations?
Enter decompression software, such as DecoPlanner, which provides the user with precisely such a window into how dive profiles and decompression are calculated.
By saying that one can “toy” around with this software and try all sorts of settings to see what happens, I do not mean to imply that this is a toy. Because it certainly is not one; but, it is a valuable tool and a great aid in planning a dive, in particular when decompression and change of gases are required.
It is a tool that will display, in the form of graphs, how depths and dive time can be matched with various choices of gases and tank sizes while, say, visualising how various tissue compartments on-gas and off-gas during the dive. In doing so, risks get highlighted so one can easily mitigate them by making better and safer choices.
Let’s look at some simple examples. Say, I plan on visiting a wreck resting at 30m. I will use 32% nitrox on the bottom (staying for 25 minutes) and 50% from 18m where I plan a 10-minute stop before ascending. Since I am a right wuss, I want to keep a wide berth around any significant tissue loading, and I do not want to carry heavy tanks. This software shows me that I can do away with using my 2 x 7-litre twinset for the bottom gas and an Alu40 (5.7-litre) sling tank for the ascent, and have some gas to spare.
Another dive to 45m for 50 minutes, on the other hand, would require the use of 2 x 18-litre twin tanks and an Alu80 (11 litres) with 50% nitrox for accelerated decompression. Decompression will also result in an ascent time of 59 minutes and 119 minutes of total dive time. This dive is outlined on the graph on the right (below), but with a different display.
These oversimplified examples are just scraping the surface of what this software is capable of doing, as we have not even made a mention of trimix or open circuit, which is where its strengths come to the fore. There is also a long list of options for setting parameters and preferences, which can be seen on the right side of the screenshot above.
But you can explore it for yourself, as you can now get a free 15-day trial license here, so you can try it out before deciding to buy.
DecoPlanner 4 is a complete rewrite of previous versions, and now includes convenient features such as:
- CCR and OC planning
- Graphical comparison of dive profiles, such as CCR vs. OC and/or ZH-L16 vs. VPM-B
- Improved tissue pressure graphs
- Easy self-updates when a new version is available