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By Kevin Watts
This aiticle attempts to pioviue a usei's view of giauient factois, an Eiik Bakei
ueiiveu methou of calculating uecompiession scheuules. The title is not meant to be
ueiisive, but simply an inuicatoi that this aiticle is meant to be a piimei.


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Eveiything in the giauient factoi uecompiession algoiithm ievolves aiounu
Buhlmann's tissue mouel. Cuiiently this means 16 hypothetical tissue
compaitments (TCs) that aie constantly tiackeu uuiing a uive in oiuei to ueteimine
each TC's ineit gas piessuie.
As you ascenu all those TCs stait to ielease piessuie ("off- gas"). The
question is "Bow fast can you let those TCs off-gas."
Buhlmann answeieu that question by coming up with an "N-value". Basically,
an N-value is a maximum piessuie value (uiffeient foi each uepth anu tissue
compaitment) that tells you, if you exceeu that value, Buhlmann thinks you'ie ciazy
anu believes you'ie about to get bent.
A natuial ascent stiategy, then, woulu be to move up in the watei column
until the piessuie in youi TCs just ieaches Buhlmann's N-value anu then let youi
TCs off-gas a bit, iise to the next level, etc. In this stiategy, you woulu keep going up
in such a way that you nevei let youi TCs exceeu Buhlmann's N-value.
0nfoitunately, uecompiession illness uoes not exactly tiack Buhlmann's N-
values. Noie sickness occuis at anu above the piessuies iepiesenteu by N-values
anu less sickness occuis when uiveis nevei ieach Buhlmann's N-values.


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uiauient factois (uFs) weie inventeu to let the uivei choose how fast, anu
how close, theii TCs get to Buhlmann's N-values.
uiauient factois aie calculateu as follows:

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Fiist, the giauient factoi foimula tells us that at a uF=1.u, you aie at
Buhlmann's N-value. Theiefoie, staying at oi below uF=1.u seems impoitant.
Seconu, it tells us that when oui tissue compaitment piessuie just ieaches ambient
piessuie, then the uF=u.u.
Anothei ascent stiategy, then, might be to shoot up to a uF=u.8 anu ascenu in
such a way as not to exceeu that value. In this way you know that youi tissue
compaitments aie nevei ovei 8u% of the uistance between ambient piessuie anu
Buhlmann's N-value. In essence, you have a 2u% safety maigin on Buhlmann's N-
values. Bive computeis implementing uFs usually let you set two uF paiameteis.
Noving stiaight to uF=u.8 anu ascenuing in such a way that you always keep youi
TCs at uF=u.8 woulu be equivalent to setting youi uive computei to 8u8u.


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Eiik Bakei uiun't like the iuea of ascenuing uiiectly to a uF close to
Buhlmann's N-value. Insteau he saiu, "Let's all ascenu fiist to a lowei uF, then
slowly move to highei uFs." So, let's say you want to fiist ascenu to a uF=u.Su anu
then slowly move to ieach uF=u.8S as you suiface. This setting on youi giauient
factoi computei is Su8S. In fact, my Sheaiwatei computei uses Su8S as it's
uefault setting.

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Fiist youi uive computei allows you to ascenu until the piessuie in youi TCs
fiist ieaches a uF=u.S. This means youi TC piessuie is Su% of the way between
ambient piessuie anu Buhlmann's N-value. Then you sit theie until youi TCs uiop
enough piessuie so that you can ascenu to youi next stop.

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Assume you hit youi fiist stop (uF=u.S) at 11u ft. Well, then, we now have
two known points. Point 1 is (11u,u.S), that is, at 11uft we aie at a uF of u.S. Point 2
is (u, u.8S), that is, at the suiface we want to be at a uF=u.8S. A natuial way to
ascenu (anu this is what Bakei uiu) is to cieate a line fiom those two known points
anu ascenu in such a way that you nevei exceeu the uF geneiateu by that line.

0nce you've ueteimineu youi two points, the foimula foi the maximum uF at any
uepth is:



But, since the high giauient factoi is ieacheu at the suiface, BiuFBepth=u. So,



Theiefoie, if you hit youi fiist uF=u.S at 11uft, then youi LowuFBepth=11u.
Befoie you can ascenu to 1uuft you must let off enough TC piessuie so that when
you aiiive at 1uuft the uF of youi TCs uoes not exceeu u.SS calculateu as



You can ascenu to 9uft when youi TCs let off enough piessuie at youi 1uuft
stop so that when you ieach 9uft youi TC's uF uoes not exceeu u.4u calculateu as



The uF methou allows you to ascenu by walking that line all the way to the suiface.



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If you unueistoou the above explanation, then you see why uiveis on
RebieatheiWoilu say that setting youi uF paiameteis to 1u9u, oi 1u8u, etc. helps
geneiate ueep stops. The low uF of 1u means a stop must be geneiateu when youi
TCs aie only 1u% of the way between ambient piessuie anu Buhlmann's N-value,
iathei than Su% if you weie to set the low uF to Su. Simply, the uF line just staits
ueepei.
The giauient factoi methou is a natuial extension of Buhlmann's tissue
compaitment mouel. Bivei's using computeis implementing the giauient factoi
methou shoulu unueistanu how mouifying theii uF paiameteis will altei theii
uecompiession piofiles. Ny unueistanuing is that it may be wise to consiuei alteiing
youi uF paiameteis baseu on uive chaiacteiistics, youi physical conuition, anu youi
geneial attituue towaiu the iisk of uecompiession illness. The giauient factoi
methou pioviues the uivei substantial flexibility in contiolling theii uecompiession
piofiles. Youi iesponsibility is to choose the factois appiopiiate foi you.

Safe uiving!

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