Diving Buddy aims to be your go-to app for dive planning, and does a pretty good job of it.
First things first: Diving Buddy isn’t a dive log. Diver and app developer Harry Richardson developed the app, first as a tool for his own use, next for his local diving club, and finally for the App Store. Most dive apps are, at least in part, dive logs, but this one aims to be your app of choice before a dive, assisting with planning such variables as the maximum time at your desired depth, your maximum operating depth or the weight you’ll require.
The app’s interface is clean and simple, maybe even Spartan in its design. The main menu consists simply of a text list divided into two headings, “Guides” and “Calculations.” All sub-menus are made up in the same way, with text lists under various headings. The design is consistent and simple, drawing attention to the functionality of the app. At the bottom of the app interface is a ribbon with four icons, Diving Buddy (which takes you to the home screen), Favorites, Recents and Settings.
Guides include basic tips on leading dives, dive safety, diving, altitude and flying. Most of the tips in this section are somewhat basic, and should be well known to any diver already. Of course, just because someone should know something doesn’t mean that he does, but the question is, if a diver isn’t motivated enough to learn these tips during their course, will he be motivated to read them in an app? The Guide section also contains a reference section, which consists of a visual guide to the Beaufort wind scale, which I’ve found very useful, and a guide to weight change when changing cylinders.
Calculations are obviously the meat of the app. There are a total of seven: minimum cylinder pressure for ascent, run time, maximum operating depth, weight required, weight of air in cylinder, BSAC oxygen toxicity and balancing air between cylinders. The first five are probably the most useful for the most divers, while the remaining two are more applicable to advanced diving.
Minimum cylinder pressure for ascent lets you know when you should start your ascent, based on tank size, depth, ascent rate and more.
Run time lets you know the maximum length of your dive, based on depth, ascent time, tank size, air-consumption rate and more.
Maximum operating depth tells you the maximum depth that you should dive to, based on safe oxygen partial pressure and the type of mix you use (air/nitrox only).
Weight required calculates the amount of weight you should wear, based on your weight, tank type, suit type, etc.
Weight of air in cylinder lets you calculate how much the air in your cylinder weighs. While this can seem a bit arbitrary, it is actually quite useful if you need to bring weight to compensate for a near-empty tank at the end of a shallow dive. A standard tank can hold 6lbs/3kg of air, which can mean significant weight shift when you get down to the minimum amount for a dive.
BSAC oxygen toxicity is a fairly advanced calculator using the British Sub-Aqua Club’s standards for calculating oxygen-toxicity load on the system, both for single dives and repetitive dives.
And finally, balancing air between cylinders is intended for double-tank divers who find themselves with differing amounts of air or gas in each cylinder, and need to balance it out by moving air from the tank with higher content to the one with lower content. The app will then equate the total operating pressure of the entire system.
Does it Work?
The calculators are by far the most useful components of the app, but are most useful for advanced dive planning. If your dive career consists mostly of guided dives with a divemaster or a group, then this app probably isn’t a good fit. But for divers who plan their own dives, the calculators will come in handy. And the calculations seem fairly accurate, with the weight required being the exception, but that’s not unusual for me. I entered the stats for a dive I did recently in the Red Sea, and the calculator told me I needed 13lbs/6kg, when in fact I completed the dive with no weight at all. But these calculations may be correct for you; I always use less weight than suggested.
Priced at $2.99, the app is fairly cheap, taking its contents into consideration. As mentioned earlier, it is perhaps a bit of overkill for novice divers, who participate mostly in guided dives. But for those diving independently, the calculators are very likely to come in handy.
Available in the App Store for iOS platforms.