As we know, scuba diving comprises of many different parts of scuba gear and equipment. Each serves its fundamental purpose in the sport. If you are ready to invest in a new Buoyancy control device (BCD) then there are a few things that you should look into before you do just that.
Knowing how a BCD works is one of the primary things you should know before investing in your first BCD. But seconding, every part of a scuba BCD serves a function, do you know what all their functions are? If you don’t, this is another thing you should learn.
As a diver, knowing where everything is on a BCD and how to use them is essential knowledge. The BCD is what gives you balance underwater and at the surface, so handling the BCD properly also means a better dive.
Components of a Scuba BCD
Below we have put together a simple overview of the different basic parts of a scuba BCD. This will help you when choosing the best BCD for your choice of diving.
If you already know your BCD components, it’s always a good idea to scroll down for quick memory exercise on all the different functions of a BCD. Remember, different types of BCDs may have additional features, we have tried to cover the basics found on most BCDs.
1. Air Bladder
The most important aspect of a scuba BCD is the air bladder. The air bladder is like a sack that holds air. How much air is inside the air bladder influences how buoyant you are. In other words, whether you float up or sink further down depends on how much air is inside the bladder. Learn how to master your buoyancy here.
Increasing the air inside your bladder creates a greater upward force so you rise up or float. Decreasing the air inside your bladder increases the downward force which makes you sink down. The precise spot of the air bladder depends on the type of BCD. The air bladders are usually located around the waist of the diver or on their back.
2. Power Inflator and Manual Inflator
You increase the amount of air inside the air bladder using the inflator. Most BCDs have two inflators; a power inflator and a manual inflator.
A power inflator pushes air from the pressurized air tank into the air bladder with a simple press the button.
A manual inflator requires you to blow air into the bladder using the mouthpiece so it is generally only used as a backup.
The deflator releases air from the air bladder, also with the press of a button. This is what you use when you want to sink further underwater.
4. Dump Valves
The dump valves are an alternative to the deflator, this also lets air out of the bladder. The dump valves are usually fitted with a string that you pull to release the air.
5. Pressure Release Valve
There is yet another valve on a scuba BCD; the pressure release valve. The pressure release valve is a safety precaution. You don’t control the pressure release valve yourself. It automatically releases air when it registers that your air bladder is overinflated.
6. Weigh Pockets
Not all scuba BCD have weight pockets. The ones that do are said to have a weight integrated system. Weight pockets are just what the name suggests; pockets inside the BCD for carrying weights.
This is an alternative for weight belts.
Weight pockets allow divers to quickly remove the weight in case they need to rise up in an emergency. It is faster to remove weights from a pocket than it is to remove a weight belt.
7. Straps and Cumberbund
A BCD is designed like a vest with straps over the shoulders and around the waist. The strap around the waist is called a cumberbund strap. The straps are there to create a tight and comfortable fit. Most straps have buckles, clasps or velcro that are adjustable.
8. Back Plate
The back plate is the sturdy piece of plastic or lightweight metal worn on the back of the diver. This gives the BCD structure but also creates a barrier between the dive tank and the diver.
In most types of BCD, the back plate is where the pressurized air tank is attached to. There are straps, belts, and buckles on the back plate that attach to the air tank.
9. Extra Pockets
Many BCD models have additional pockets along with the straps or waistband. These are for storing diving gear like a dive knife etc.
A BCD designed for professional divers likely has more pockets than for example a travel BCD. This is to cater to the needs of each individual diver.
Some BCD designs also have rings or have rings instead of pockets. Like the additional pockets, these are for storing gear during the dive. When you want to bring dive gear with you and you only have rings then you will have to secure the gear with straps.
Removing dive gear from rings takes longer than opening a pocket so it is better to use the rings for dive gear you don’t have to handle with your hands. For example, attach a dive light to a shoulder height ring for clear vision but place your dive knife in a pocket so it is easier to pull out.
Summary of the Basic Parts of a Scuba BCD
These ten things are all the basic parts of a scuba BCD. They are the essentials for a safe dive so familiarize yourself with each function and where they are placed on your BCD.
Of course, more advanced dive BCD may have additional parts to them.