Does analyzing a tank seem too complicated?
It’s actually pretty straight forward.
There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about the nitrox and a personal pet peeve of mine is misusing the analyzer.
As you learned in your Enriched Air Nitrox course, it is essential that divers KNOW what mix is in their tank. An analysis error could put the diver at risk of oxygen toxicity.
How it Works: inside your analyzer is a sensor. That sensor has an electrochemical compound that creates electricity in the presence of oxygen. The circuitry reads How much electricity is being generated and spits out a reading. The more O2 is present, the higher the electrical current, and therefore a higher the reading on the display. That’s it, not super complicated.
3 things will affect the electrochemical process and need to be accounted for when analyzing: temperature, humidity, and flow rate. Most of us analyze outside, on the beach or on the boat, so we have no control over temperature or humidity. To account for this variable, it is important to calibrate our analyzer before analyzing Enriched Air tanks. Refer to your course materials and analyzer user manual for how to calibrate it, but it’s usually done by first analyzing a known mix like air.
Our other variable is flow rate. To get a good reading, the amount of gas flowing over the sensor must be consistent. Different analyzers have different methods to keep the flow consistent. Our favorite type of analyzer plugs into your BC low pressure inflator hose. The regulator first stage will ensure a consistent flow no matter how much gas is in the cylinder or how much the cylinder valve is turned on.
Understanding how your analyzer works will help reduce the likelihood of errors. As a safe diver, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety in the water and you must know what mix you are breathing. Read the manual, I promise, it’s short.
One last thing as we close up. It never hurts to keep spare batteries, pens, and labels with your analyzer. You don’t want to miss out on a dive because of a dead AA battery.
Of course, all of this is covered in your Enriched Air Nitrox course, it’s just nice to have a little reminder from time to time.