How long should my battery charge last?The Cobalt’s battery should hold sufficient power when fully charged to allow for 30 to 60 hours of actual diving time and discharge at approximately 1 to 2 percent per day, during standby time. Recharging a fully discharged battery will take just over two hours using the wall charger, and about twice as long when charging from a USB source.
The biggest factor in battery charge life is the brightness level of the display- at its brightest setting it uses almost twice the power as at a mid-range setting. You can increase battery duration by dimming the display underwater (where typically full brightness is not needed) by cycling through brightness levels using the DOWN button.
The Cobalt is always sampling ambient pressure in the background, so it is never completely off. It is normal for the battery to drop by 1-2% per day when idle. A rapidly discharging battery, either when diving or in standby mode, may indicate a problem and should be checked by an authorized Atomic Aquatics service technician.
What if I see the Low Battery Alert during a dive?
The Low Battery Alert comes on if the battery level drops below 15% charge. Unless there is some other problem, this will still provide several hours of diving time. Charge the battery as soon as practical.
I plugged in my Cobalt to charge, and I see a message that says “charge stopped.”
The charge stopped message indicates that the charging circuitry believes that the battery is in a condition where it should not be charged. The most common reason for this would be that the battery is outside acceptable temperature range, either too hot or too cold. If your Cobalt has been sitting in hot sun and become very warm, or left out in very cold conditions, allow it to reach a comfortable room temperature before attempting to charge.
If you see this message while the Cobalt is neither unusually hot nor cold, it may indicate a failure in the battery, or possibly the charging circuitry. You should contact Atomic Aquatics or your Atomic Aquatics dealer who can help determine if there is a problem.
What should I do if my battery is completely discharged (Cobalt will not wake)?
If the Cobalt battery is completely discharged, and the computer will not wake, it is important to start the Cobalt using the A/C adapter rather than USB. A USB connection, while it will charge the battery, will not generate the “reset” signal needed to start the Cobalt when it has lost all power.
If battery charge was completely depleted the Cobalt will wake and display the Set Time and Date screen. On reset the Cobalt goes back to the date and time of the last dive. You should set the time and date. However, no dive data or other memory is lost.
My battery ran down- what should I do?
If your Cobalt was stored for several months, or was at a low state of charge when it was put away, it may have run the battery down naturally. The Cobalt is never completely “off,” even when asleep. It samples the ambient pressure periodically- just in case you might decide to jump in the water without turning it on first.
If the Cobalt is completely dead, charge it by plugging in the A/C adapter–not the USB adapter. Charging by USB will not generate the reset pulse needed to wake the Cobalt. The Cobalt should come up to the Set Time and Date screen shortly after plugging in the adapter. After setting the time and date you can go to the Main Menu screen, and monitor the state of charge.
If your Cobalt’s battery seems to have run down very rapidly it could be an indication of a more serious problem, such as a leak or a damaged battery. It is recommended that you have the Cobalt checked out by an Atomic Aquatics dealer.
Do I need to be concerned about battery memory?
No. The Lithium-ion battery type in the Cobalt can be charged and discharged without developing “memory.” As with other rechargeable batteries, it is best not to leave the charger plugged in for long periods of time after the battery is fully charged (don’t leave it plugged in for weeks between trips).
When will I need to replace the battery?
The Lithium-ion battery in the Cobalt should be good for 500- 700 charge/ discharge cycles before gradually losing capacity. For most users it will never need replacement. If it does, this service can be performed at an authorized Atomic Aquatics dealer, who can also check O-rings and seals.
Why does the charging adapter have two sides?
The adapter has two sides, AC charging and USB, Because USB charging is limited to 500 mA. USB charging is limited to 500mA to protect the source electronics (your laptop, PC,etc.) and is part of the USB standard. We wanted to provide a faster (1000 mA) charge capability with the wall adapter, but we have to make certain that you cannot plug in the AC adapter and also have the USB connected you your laptop or PC. The simplest way to do this was to physically isolate the two sides of the adapter, so they are in fact two distinct adapters in one housing. It also provides a "stand" to support the Cobalt when connected to a PC for downloads.
How accurate is the Cobalt's compass?
The Cobalt’s digital compass is fully tilt compensated, and offers the advantage over a traditional analog compass that it will read accurately regardless of the orientation of the screen- so long as there is a detectable direction the compass is pointing relative to the earth’s magnetic field (not straight up) it will continue to show the heading.
All compasses, digital and analog, are subject to deflection by ferrous metals and magnetic fields in the environment. Metal clips, rings and retractors attached to the Cobalt will affect the compass. Also, it may not be accurate within or around metal ships or wrecks, and can be affected by being held very close to metal objects like a steel scuba tank.
The digital compass in the Cobalt is accurate to a level appropriate for underwater direction finding, but is not intended for precision navigation.
Why should I calibrate the compass? How do I calibrate the compass?
Any time the Cobalt is moved a significant distance on the earth- and by that we mean hundreds or thousands of miles, not just a few- the compass calibration should be redone. Instructions are on Page 8 of the Cobalt manual, which can be downloaded here.
How well the compass performs is very much dependent on calibration accuracy- even a couple of degrees off from a true 180° rotation or a 180° flip to upside-down will have an effect, so doing it very carefully is important. If you do not have the original box, as shown in the instructions, fastening the Cobalt inside a small rectangular box can help the calibration be more accurate. It is possible to do the calibration “freehand”, but since the Cobalt case does not provide straight surfaces it is necessary to be very careful to rotate as close to 180° as possible.
Problems with Compass Calibration: Most calibration problems are caused by being too close to ferrous metals. Ferrous metals can be hidden in table tops, metal supports, reinforcements in concrete surfaces, or nearby electric motors. If you experience problems with calibration vary the spot where you do the calibration.
In very rare instances, environmental conditions (mainly exposure to strong magnetic fields) might possibly require the underlying initial factory calibration to be redone. This is a service procedure that can be carried out by a qualified dealer, or by Atomic Aquatics. If careful calibration attempts fail, contact your Atomic Aquatics dealer.
If I hold the Cobalt, in compass mode, parallel to the ground and then slowly raise it up, numbers quickly proclaim some significant changes.
First, these compass chips are not highly accurate- within 5° or so is about what to expect. That's about as close as you could get with a conventional analog compass (at least one small enough for diving), and no one can swim a course that accurately, so in practical terms this is fine. As far as the 3D compensation, it really should work well- if you are rotating the Cobalt accurately, say inside a frame against a reference line, then you might see that there is a small variation as you pass from horizontal to vertical, but it should read with reasonable accuracy in any orientation. However, if you are gradually raising the compass towards vertical, the magnetic vector the compass sees will diminish rapidly. You are moving the Cobalt closer and closer to being parallel to the angle it is attempting to measure. Depending on your location, you might reach a point well before vertical where the direction you are pointing the Cobalt becomes so close to parallel to the flux lines that tiny variations in how you hold the compass become huge swings in direction- it's impossible to hold it accurately enough by hand to keep a consistent heading. The magnetic flux is not parallel to the earth's surface, but varies with location (it is inclined 69°23' where we are, you can visit this site to calculate for your area). That's why the compass needs to be calibrated in your area, and can't be set at the factory. This would be true of any digital compass, and conventional analog compasses can't, of course, be tilted much at all. Additionally, the compensation put in by the accelerometer depends on measuring an angle- if that angle is moving (you are moving the compass) it will be less accurate. The compass response is dampened for relatively slow underwater motions; readings that come from rapid motions are discarded, so moving more quickly topside will make the compass less accurate.
The other big factor is calibration accuracy, and just a few degrees off from a true 180° rotation will make a still useable, but less accurate compass.
It's probably better to think of the 3D feature as allowing you to view the screen from any angle- held vertical, sideways, or upside-down. It's still going to be important that the long axis of the computer be roughly in the horizontal plane. The closer it gets to vertical (referenced to the flux lines), the more difficulty it has determining a heading.
Why did my dive not require a safety stop?
Safety stops in the Cobalt are determined by the algorithm. If your maximum depth is shallower than 40ft / 12.2m you will not see a safety stop. You will also not see a safety stop if your dive is extremely short- a momentary descent. This is designed to avoid the repetitive safety stop alarms some computers are prone to when the diver goes up and down within a zone.
Can I set the duration of safety stops?
Not at this time. Safety stops will be either two or three minutes, depending on the algorithm calculations.
Are safety stops mandatory? Will I be penalized if I don’t complete a safety stop?
If you miss a safety stop, the Cobalt will alarm and tell you to go down for one minute. If you do not descend the alarm will go away. The Cobalt will not log a violation for a missed safety stop (safety stops are on top of the slowed ascent or any stops required by the algorithm). All safety stops in the Cobalt algorithm are "voluntary"- though strongly recommended. If, on the other hand, you fail to complete a required deco stop- which is always labeled as such- a prominent violation message will persist in the display for 24 hours. Cobalt Guide: Diving: Decompression: Violations
My temperature reading doesn’t agree with my other computer or my buddy’s computer.
The Cobalt temperature sensor is a part of the depth sensor, and it's located fairly deep inside the unit, so it may not respond as quickly as some other computers. But whenever we have checked the Cobalt sensors against good thermometers, they have been very accurate. Based on our experience, trust the Cobalt.
Why doesn’t my Gas pressure update faster?
There is a delay (buffer) built into the gas display, to smooth out minor variations and provide stable readings. Since gas pressure typically doesn't change too rapidly and the system is accurate to only about 10 psi, we felt that providing a stable number to look at was preferable to a display with the last digit changing rapidly. The buffer could result in a two second delay in registering a sudden change in pressure.
I came up to the surface to look for the boat, and when I went back down the Cobalt said I was on a new dive–why?
The algorithm in the Cobalt allows for 2 min. at the surface before beginning a new dive. Less than 2 minutes and the dive will be continued. Over 2 minutes and your next descent will be treated as a second, repetitive dive.
On any given dive, the Cobalt is able to track up to three gas mixes for decompression calculations. The gas mixtures can be between 21% and 99% O2 and must be set up before beginning the dive. If gas switching is anticipated, a gas switch alert must be set prior to beginning the dive.
How can Cobalt switch gases underwater with only one hose?
The Cobalt’s gas switching is for decompression calculations only. Gas time remaining calculations can only be done for the primary mix (defined as the one on your hose). When you switch to a secondary gas mix, the pressure reading and the Gas Time Remaining are “grayed out” to indicate that the primary mix is not being used.
What is meant by Primary Mix?
The Primary Mix is the tank that is attached to your Cobalt’s hose, connected to the pressure sensor. When the primary mix is selected, gas time remaining calculations will be made and displayed. When other mixes are active, Gas Time Remaining and Gas Pressure will be grayed out to indicate they do not apply to the currently selected gas mix.
I pressed the UP button to initiate gas switching on my dive and nothing happened.
In order to initiate gas switching manually, a Gas Switch Alert must be programmed in the Defined Gas Mixes screen, prior to the dive. This limitation is placed on the Cobalt to keep gas switch dialogs from accidentally appearing when divers are not in fact using multiple mixes. Gas Switch Alerts will “clear” between dives, and must be set again for each dive when gas switching is expected.
Once any Gas Switch Alert is set, manually initiating the Gas Switch dialog with the UP button will show all programmed gas mixes for which the diver is shallower than the MOD.
General questions about RGBM
What is the difference between Atomic Aquatics’ RGBM and the RGBM in others?
All RGBM implementations take into account methods to limit the formation of seed bubbles, microbubbles and silent bubbles by limiting ascent rates, repetitive dive times and multi-day diving. In addition, for deeper decompression dives Atomic Aquatics incorporates a “fully iterative” implementation of the RGBM algorithm.
What is meant by “full” or “iterative” RGBM?
The RGBM algorithm in its “full” or “iterative” version is very computationally intensive. It’s called iterative because the computations repeat with slight variations to hone in on a solution. At depths below 150 feet (45 m) the Cobalt computer uses a fully iterative implementation of the RGBM algorithm. At depths below 150 feet, it, like other RGBM computers, uses a “folded” RGBM implementation which incorporates Haldanian strategies modified in ways that will reduce bubble formation. Because the full RGBM algorithm is so computationally intensive, before the Cobalt it was not incorporated into any recreational dive computer.
Is Atomic Aquatics algorithm less conservative or more conservative than other computers?
There is no easy answer to this question. Many times, when people ask this they are asking, “how much bottom time will I have?” The Cobalt is middle of the pack compared to other dive computers when it comes to no stop times. It is neither the most liberal nor the most conservative in our testing. There are some variables that will alter no stop times. The age you have entered, the risk level, and the exertion level selected for a dive all will influence the conservatism of the algorithm. Repetitive or multi-day diving are risk factors for DCS and will lower no stop times. The Cobalt also uses an absolute pressure sensor for depth, so no stop times at altitude (or during storms) will reflect the lower atmospheric pressure and you will see shorter stop times.
When it comes to decompression diving this question becomes more complex. One computer might go into the decompression slightly before another or require a shorter decompression schedule. Another might give a longer decompression schedule but “clear” more rapidly if one spends time at shallower depths. The RGBM algorithm will, in general, require decompression stops that start deeper than other algorithms, but may require a shorter overall decompression schedule.
No-stop times are different: "On my first dive last week, our depth was between 42 and 47 feet. At 30 minutes into my dive and at 42 feet, my Cobalt registered 105 minutes of no deco time left. My other “RGBM” computer said 55 minutes. There are only three settings on each of these computers. I had both set in the middle. Why such a difference in time?"
Decompression algorithms are exponential functions. When you are in the 40 to 50 foot range, you are very close to a depth where all decompression algorithms would see your no decompression time as essentially unlimited. In fact, at 42 feet, if you had ascended just 9 more feet to 33, you no-stop time would have actually registered as unlimited. In that shallow range a very slight difference in the algorithm can translate into a large number of minutes difference in no decompression time. That makes the algorithms seem far more divergent than they actually are. Think of it as two lines that are not quite, but almost parallel to an axis of a graph indicating your no-deco limit. A very tiny- 1 or 2% difference in the slope of one will make a large difference in the point of intersection. That same 1 or 2% difference in slope would make very little difference in the point of intersection if the lines are more perpendicular to the graph axis, as they would be on a deeper dive with saturation increasing rapidly. If you were to take the two computers deeper you would begin to see the no decompression times converge. Some dive computers may be a bit more conservative than the Cobalt, but the difference would not be anything like as many minutes. This is of course assuming that the two computers have been on all the same dives.
Another thing to bear in mind is that even the concept of “no decompression” time is at root inaccurate. There is no such thing as a no decompression dive, it is an artificial distinction and a very fuzzy one at that. Both computers are going to expect you to do slow ascents and safety stops. If you crossed over the “no decompression” threshold on one, the stop that it would require would actually make a pretty small difference in the overall ascent rate. The deeper you go, and the further you get into decompression, the slower the ascent required to lessen the risk of DCS- but decompression is an analog phenomenon, and we express the need for it as if it were a binary switch.
So I guess what I'm saying overall is that while the difference between the two computers looks like a lot in terms of minutes, it's actually not all that great in terms of the way the algorithm calculates your tissue saturation. You can get a feel for this if you look at the no stop times each computer gives in its planner on the surface. The differences will still be there, but they will be less with increasing depth. All RGBM computers share the same basic algorithm. There are differences in the details of the implementation and in the overall level of conservatism, but in the broad scheme of things they are fairly similar.
How does the Cobalt calculate no-fly times?
The Cobalt follows the DAN recommendations for no-fly times. A single no-deco dive is 12 hours, a second dive in the same 24 hour period will generate a 24 hour recommended no-fly time, regardless of depth. Any decompression diving will generate a 24 hour no-fly time.
Cobalt Firmware updates:
Can the Cobalt be updated online?
Yes, we will be making firmware updates available regularly.
Updating software for both Windows PC and Macintosh computers is available on Atomic Aquatics website. Due to the challenges of keeping up with various computer operating systems, please make sure you have the latest program before updating. Instructions and help are available on Atomic Aquatics website.
I was attempting to update the firmware in my Cobalt, and I --pulled the cable out accidentally, lightning struck nearby, my power went out, my PC crashed, or something went wrong--. Now the Cobalt is black, and I can’t get it back!
OK, first, don’t panic. You haven’t damaged the Cobalt. We just need to get a program running in it again. In most cases, you can do this yourself by running the flash program again, using the recovery instructions provided on the website. Be sure to follow the appropriate instructions for Windows or Macintosh. Sometimes, if the updating failed after removing the internal firmware, it will be necessary to remove the battery in order to reinstall the firmware. This is something your dealer can help with, or contact Atomic Aquatics for assistance.
Why is there a dive in the Dive Log on my new computer?
This is an actual test dive done at the factory prior to shipment. Atomic Aquatics tests every computer in water prior to shipment on the dive that verifies the algorithm, the accuracy of the depth sensor, and the various functions and alerts.
Does my Cobalt hose and Quick Disconnect (QD) require Service?
Yes, you should have the Cobalt QD serviced when you have your regulators serviced. We recommend 2 years or 300 Dives.
My Hose is too long, too short, or just right. Can I change the QD fitting to a different hose?
The Cobalt QD fitting is transferable to any high pressure hose with standard fittings.
Will a wrist mount version be available?
Yes, we’re working on it.
Will you have a touchscreen interface?
It’s not likely. The means by which touchscreens operate makes them very problematic to use in wet environments. While there are some touchscreens on the market that can operate in wet environments or inside housings, adding the types of heavy gloves that divers frequently wear to the equation makes implementing a touchscreen virtually impossible.
The large, simple buttons on the Cobalt were designed specifically to be easy to operate with gloves and in a cold environment.
The power/USB adapter is strange. It has two sides that look almost identical. You plug it into the Cobalt using one side if you want to charge via AC power. You flip it over and connect it to the Cobalt if you want to use the USB cable. Why is an adapter required? The AC power device is fairly standard and so is the USB- why don’t you use standard connectors?
The short answer is that the standard USB and AC receptacles are neither waterproof or made of materials durable enough to be exposed, so they would have to be housed behind a removable door of some sort- and sealed by an O-ring- a door that would have to be removed every time you wanted to access the charger or USB functions. We felt that having an adapter was preferable to having a potential leak point (particularly since it would be opened and closed frequently, and would of necessity open directly to the electronics). We looked hard at using off the shelf connectors, but the size increase in the case required to accommodate them and the leak potential persuaded us the adapter was a stronger solution. The contacts on the Cobalt do perform multiple functions, one of which is sensing the presence of water, so at least some need to be exposed.
What’s the warranty on the Cobalt computer?
The Cobalt is warranted for 1 year. If you register your warranty online at the www.atomicaquatics.com website it will be extended to 2 years.
My Cobalt won’t wake up- what should I do?
It depends on the circumstances.
If it has been sitting for a long while, or was put away in a low charge condition, the battery may be dead. See the instructions for battery charging–charge it with the A/C adapter, not via USB.
If your Cobalt went dead during the firmware updating process (note: the screen will normally go blank while the firmware is being updated, but should return to the Set Time and Date screen), there may have been a power, cable, or other interruption to the process. See the instructions for recovery from a failed firmware update.
If your Cobalt goes blank under any other circumstances, contact Atomic Aquatics or your Atomic Aquatics dealer.