Well, there comes a time when you have to spend a bit of money to enhance safety and create redundancy. As a divemaster, I use a computer to keep track of just about everything (while keeping tables in case of emergency) because you’re allowed to in recreational diving. As a commercial diver, I can’t use it for more than a depth gauge and bottom timer. I already have and love a Suunto D4, which has reliably served me for nearly 200 dives and never given me any issue. Unfortunately like many other divers, I’ve not exactly rolling in cash. So when I started hunting around for a back up computer for work and play, my choices weren’t exactly numerous. There are numerous computers out there in the $200 range; but quality, accuracy and reliability come into question the lower you go. It came down to the Mares Puck and the Oceanic B.U.D., and after some research and a talk with my supervisor about the merits of them; I opted for the Oceanic. After a brief browse around my favourite online shop, I found it on special (normally it’s in the $299 range) and days later it was in the mail and on route!
This is not a complex computer by any stretch of the imagination. It is controlled via a single button on the side, and simply clips onto your gear or gets dropped in a pocket. Here’s a run down of the pros and cons:
- small and relatively unobtrusive
- low price
- uses Oceanic’s Dual Algorithm system: DSAT or Z+ (Buhlmann ZHL-16C)
- has a “Conservative Factor” setting to hedge your bets even more
- imperial or metric units
- large display for easy reading
- user changeable batteries
- NitrOx setting to 50%
- single button interface is not too intuitive
- only holds 10 dives in memory, and only displays the last dive completed
- no backlight for night use
- plastic clip for gear could be more robust
- manual is not too helpful, must go to Oceanic site for the full one
Now… my experience with it has largely been good. There are two things that bothered me though. On day one, it was twitchy. The numbers weren’t fully displaying and it stopped paying attention to depth and time between 11m and 15m. On day two, it stopped doing this, but I discovered it does not like a rapid descent. For the first dive of the day, it was off by 1m to 1.5m. I contacted the shop I’d gotten it from and they said that they’d never heard of this before. Ever the optimist, I let it dry out and took it out for some more dives; where it worked flawlessly. I’m not sure why it was odd the first few times, but it has since smartened up and is now a reliable piece of equipment. Set to Z+, diving on the computer would be very safe, it dislikes rapid ascent and lets you know! Once you get it down, the single button isn’t too bad, but I wish I could look at other dives.
Over all, I give the Oceanic B.U.D. 3.5/5 as a dive computer. It is exactly what it is designed to be. A safe backup computer that can be used as a primary in a pinch. It’s low price is very attractive, and the multiple settings available make it appropriate for most types of diving. If you’re looking for a decent, affordable computer, you could do much worse than the Oceanic B.U.D.!