Subsurface 3.1.1 User Manual

Subsurface 4 user manual

Scope of this document is the usage of the program. For instructions on how to build the software and (if needed) its dependencies please consult the README file which is included with the source code.

Audience: Fun Divers, Tec Divers, Professional Divers

1. Introduction:

Subsurface is an open source divelog program that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

With Subsurface the user can download dive information directly from a large number of supported dive computers. Alternatively dives can be imported from a number of other divelog programs of web services. Dives can also be manually entered.

Subsurface is able to track single- and multi-tank dives using air, Nitrox or TriMix. It displays a dive profile with all related information including air consumption and alarms. It also allows logging of information like weights and exposure protection used, dive masters and dive buddies and enables the user to rate dives and provide additional dive notes.

With Subsurface the user can track dive locations including GPS coordinates (which can also be conveniently entered using a map interface). Subsurface calculates a wide variety of statistics of the user’s diving and keeps track of information like the user’s SAC rate, partial pressures of O2, N2 and He, calculated deco information, and many more.

Subsurface allows the user to print out a detailed log book including dive profiles and other relevant information. The program is localized in more than a dozen languages and well supported by an active developer community.

While the list of supported dive computers is very long, in this manual the Suunto Vyper will be used for most examples.

2. Requirements

Before you are able to import information from your dive computer into Subsurface, you need some preparation. Do you have the following:

  1. Your Dive Computer -- compatible with libdivecomputer (see list in Appendix A)
  2. Communication interface -- usually that means a cable to connect your dive computer to your PC/Laptop/Netbook; some dive computers use IRDA or Bluetooth as well
  3. Working installation of Subsurface
  4. If needed, the manual of your dive computer

Alternatively you can import your divelogs from a couple of other divelog applications (JDiveLog, MacDive, Suunto Dive Manager, as well as any application that can export to UDDF). However, native download from dive computer directly to Subsurface is recommended.

3. Start Using the Program

When you start the program for the first time, it shows no information at all. This is because the program doesn’t have any information available. If you have used the program before and saved the data, the program will automatically load the already available divelog files.

There is a menu, containing File, Log, View, Filter, Planner and Help.

The screen is divided in 3 area’s (shown below with test dives loaded):

  • Area with 4 tabs: Dive Notes, Equipment, Dive Info, and Stats
  • Area next to the 4 tabs which will contain the dive profile
  • Area with the dives (usually called dive list) which can be sorted by number, date, etc.


3.1. Dive Profile and Included information

The dive profile shown on the main screen is loaded with information. However, great effort was taken to keep the profile simple, yet informative.

The main information of the dive profile is the depth graph. On top of the obvious information of the depth it also shows the ascent and descent rate compared to the recommended speed of going up or down in the water column. This information is given using different colors. Dark red means ascent faster than 18m/60ft per minute or decent faster than 30m/100ft per minute. Orange implies an ascent speed range between 9m and 18m (between 30 and 60ft) per minute (or descent between 18m and 30m (60ft -- 100ft) per minute). Yellow and light green represent even slower speeds and dark green represents reasonably stable situations where the vertical speed is between +/- 1.5m or 5ft per minute.

The depth graph also includes depth readings for the peaks in the graph. Thus you should see the depth of the deepest point and other peaks. Average depth is marked with a horizontal red line.

The air consumption graph displays the tank pressure and its change during the dive. The air consumption takes depth into account so that even when manually entering the start and end pressures the graph is not a straight line. Similarly to the depth graph the tank pressure gives you information about the momentary SAC rate (Surface Air Consumption -- often also called RMV -- Respiratory Minute Volume) when using an air integrated dive computer. Here the color coding is not relative to some absolute values but relative to the average normalized air consumption during the dive. So areas that are red or orange indicate times of increased normalized air consumption while dark green reflects times when the diver was using less gas than average. Please note that the color coding is obviously only possible when a tank sensor is connected and tank pressure readings during the dive are available.

Water temperature is displayed with its own blue line with degree markings placed adjacent to significant changes.

It is possible to zoom into the profile graph. This is done either by using the scroll wheel / scroll gesture of your mouse or trackpad or by holding down the left mouse button; the zoom area can be changed by moving the mouse around the profile. There is also a toggle zoom under the Log menu that changes the scale of the dive to fill the whole area, useful especially for free divers. By default Subsurface always shows a profile area large enough for at least 30 minutes and 30m (100ft) -- this way short or shallow dives are intuitively recognizable; something that free divers clearly won’t care about.

3.2. Tec Information in Dive Profile

The dive profile can include further information that is typically more interesting for tec divers. Enabling these is described in chapter Setting up Preferences. Basically you can include graphs of the partial pressures O2, N2, and He during the dive as well as a calculated and dive computer reported deco ceilings (only visible for deep, long, or repetitive dives).

The partial pressure graphs are added below the profile data, the calculated ceiling is shown as a green overlay on top of the dive profile. Above the profile the currently used gradient factors are shown (e.g. GF 35/75). Please note that these are NOT the gradient factors in use by the dive computer in question, but the gradient factors used by Subsurface to calculate deco obligations during the dive.

The graph can also include the dive computer reported ceiling (or more precisely, the first deco stop that the dive computer recorded -- note that not all dive computers record this information and make it available for download; for example all of the Suunto dive computers fail to make this very useful data available to divelog software). Because of the differences in used algorithms and amount of data available (and taken into consideration) at the time of the calculation it is unlikely that both of these are the same; this can be true even if the same algorithm and gradient factors are used. It is also quite common that Subsurface calculates a ceiling for non-decompression dives when the dive computer stayed in non-deco mode during the whole dive. This is caused by the fact that Subsurface’s calculations describe the deco obligation at that point in time during a dive, while dive computers usually take the upcoming ascent into account. During the ascent some excess Nitrogen (and possibly Helium) are already breathed off so even though the diver technically encountered a ceiling at depth, the dive still does not require an explicit deco stop. This feature allows dive computers to offer longer non-stop bottom time.

3.3. Dive List

Information in the dive list is taken from different sources. Either through imports from other diving log software or a dive computer or manually entered. Additional columns can be added through preferences. Existing data can be manually edited, too.

Because of the inaccuracy of depth gauge of diving computers depth >20m are shown rounded to the next meter. Despite this the provided depth is kept in the logfile. Users of imperial system aren’t affected by this.

An innovative feature in Subsurface is the ability to group dives by “trips”. What this means is that multiple dives can be categorized together under a common header. Typically this is used by divers who travel for a limited time to a dive destination -- the location in the trip header can then be used for the destination information (“Phillippines, Puerto Galera”), while the location in the individual dive can describe the actual dive site (“Hole in the wall”).

Subsurface usually does a very good job detecting and grouping dive trips together. To use this feature simply enable the “Autogroup” option in the “Log” menu entry. Alternatively, you can select multiple dives in the dive list and use the context menu (right click on one of the selected dives) to create a trip. The context menu contains several additional options to allow manipulation of trips -- these should be self-explanatory.

4. Import New Dives from your Dive Computer

Note Some dive computers consume more power when they are in their PC-Communication mode. This could drain your battery. We therefore recommend that you check if your dive computer is recharging when connected to the USB port of a PC. The Suunto Vyper for example does not recharge through the USB connection. Please consult the manual of your dive computer if you are unsure if it will recharge or drain its batteries while connected to the USB port.

Now it is time to hook up your dive computer to your PC:

  • Make sure that your OS has the required drivers installed
    • On Linux this means you need to have the correct kernel module loaded. Most distributions will do this automatically for you. Make sure you have read/write permissions to that port. On Ubuntu that could mean you should run the command following command in a terminal window:
      sudo adduser [your_username] dialout
    • On Windows, the OS should offer to download the correct driver when you connect your dive computer to the USB port.
    • On a Mac you at times have to manually hunt for the correct driver. For example the correct driver for the Mares Puck devices can be found as at (see further hints in Appendix B)
  • Connect your interface cable to a free USB port (or setup the Infrared or Bluetooth connection as described later in this manual)
  • Put your dive computer into PC Communication mode. (For Suunto Vyper, press Mode -- 1 Memory -- 3 TR-PC) (You should consult the manual of your specific dive computer for your brand and type)
  • In Subsurface go to Log -- Download From Dive Computer
    • Using the two drop down lists, choose your vendor and product. Here we choose Suunto and Vyper as is shown on the screenshot below.
    • If the device name drop down list is enabled, select the device name under which your interface is connected from the drop down list.
    • Click the OK button.


  • Now watch how your data is retrieved from your dive computer! Depending on your type of computer and/or number of dives, this could take some time. Please be patient.

4.1. Import New Dives from a Uemis Zurich

Things are very similar when downloading dives from a Uemis Zurich dive computer (which certainly is one of the ones that DO recharge when connected to the USB port). The main difference is that you don’t enter a device name, but instead the location where the UEMISSDA file system is mounted once you connect the dive computer.

On Windows this is a drive letter (often E: or F:), on a Mac this is /Volumes/UEMISSDA and on Linux systems this differs depending on the distribution that you use. On Fedora it usually is /var/run/media/<your_username>/UEMISSDA. In all cases Subsurface should suggest the correct location in the drop down list.

Once you have selected this as device name you can download the dives from the Uemis Zurich. One technical issue with the Uemis Zurich download implementation (this is a firmware limitation, not a Subsurface issue) is that you cannot download more than about 40-50 dives without running out of memory on the SDA. This will usually only happen the very first time you download dives from the Uemis Zurich -- normally when downloading at the end of a day or even after a dive trip, the capacity is sufficient. If Subsurface displays and error that the dive computer ran out of space the solution is straight forward. Disconnect the SDA, turn it off and on again, and reconnect it. You can now retry (or start a new download session) and the download will continue where it stopped the last time you tried. You may have to do this more than once, depending on how many dives you have stored on your dive computer.

At this point Subsurface downloads most of the information that is stored on the SDA, including information about dive spots and equipment. Buddy information is not yet downloaded.

4.2. How to Find the Device Name for USB devices

When you connect your dive computer by using an USB connector, usually Subsurface will either propose a drop down list that contains the correct device name (or mount point for the Uemis Zurich), or it will disable the device select drop down is now device name is needed at all. In the rare cases where this doesn’t work here are some instructions on ways to find out what your dive name is:

On Windows:
Simply try COM1, COM2, etc. The drop down list should contain all connected COM devices.

On MacOS:
The drop down box should find all connected dive computers.

On Linux:
Try the following:

  • Disconnect your USB cable of your dive computer
  • Open a terminal
  • Type the command: dmesg and press enter
  • Plug in your USB cable of your dive computer
  • Type the command: dmesg and press enter

Within your terminal you should see a message similar to this one:

        usb 2-1.1: new full speed USB device number 14 using ehci_hcd
        usbcore: registered new interface driver usbserial
        USB Serial support registered for generic
        usbcore: registered new interface driver usbserial_generic
        usbserial: USB Serial Driver core
        USB Serial support registered for FTDI USB Serial Device
        ftdi_sio 2-1.1:1.0: FTDI USB Serial Device converter detected
        usb 2-1.1: Detected FT232BM
        usb 2-1.1: Number of endpoints 2
        usb 2-1.1: Endpoint 1 MaxPacketSize 64
        usb 2-1.1: Endpoint 2 MaxPacketSize 64
        usb 2-1.1: Setting MaxPacketSize 64
        usb 2-1.1: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB3
        usbcore: registered new interface driver ftdi_sio
        ftdi_sio: v1.6.0:USB FTDI Serial Converters Driver

You see that in the third line from the bottom, the USB adapter is detected and is connected to ttyUSB3. Now you use this information in the import settings as /dev/ttyUSB3. Your dive computer interface is connected and you should be able to import your dives.

4.3. Setting up bluetooth enabled devices

For dive computers communicating through bluetooth like the Heinrichs Weikamp Frog or the Shearwater Predator and Petrel there is a different procedure to get the devices name to communicate with subsurface. In general it consists of these steps:

  • enable bluetooth on your computer
  • pairing the device

Please do not forget to set your divecomputer in Bluetooth or upload mode before Paring and Downloading logs. If you use a Shearwater Predator/Petrel just select Dive Log+Upload Log and wait until you see the Wait PC message.

On Windows:
Bluetooth is most likely already enabled. For pairing the device choose Control Panel→Bluetooth Devices→Add Wireless Device This should bring up a dialog showing your dive computer (in Bluetooth mode) and allowing to pair it. Choose “0000″ as PIN set in your dive computer should work in most cases, if not, refer to the manufacturer of your dive computer. The dive computer should then show up in the list of Bluetooth devices and you may then right click on it and choose Properties→COM Ports to get known of the ports used for your dive computer. If there are several ports listed, use the one saying “Outgoing” instead of “Incoming”.


Downloading in Subsurface, the drop down list should contain this COM port already, if not enter it manually.

Note: If you have issues downloading from your dive computer in other software afterwards try to remove the pairing to get it working again (proven to work for Shearwater Desktop).

On MacOS:
Click on the Bluetooth symbol in the menu bar and select Set up Bluetooth Device…. Make sure that your dive computer is in upload mode; it should then show up in the list of devices. Select it and go through the pairing process. This step should only be needed once for initial setup.

Once the pairing is completed the correct device will be shown in the Device or Mount Point drop down in the Subsurface Download dialog.

On Linux
Please make sure you have Bluetooth enabled on your computer running Subsurface. On most common distributions this should be true out of the box, if not then depending on your system running initd or systemd this might be different and also involve loading modules specific to your hardware. In case your system is running systemd manually run sudo systemctl start bluetooth.service to enable it, in case of initd run something like sudo rc.config start bluetoothd or sudo /etc/init.d/buetooth start.

Pairing should be straight forward. Using Gnome3 for instance will show a Bluetooth icon in the upper right corner of your desktop where you select Set up New Device. This should show you a dialog where you are able to select your dive computer (in Bluetooth mode) and pair it. If you have issues with PIN setting try manually setting 0000.

You may also use a manual approach by using such commands:

  • sudo hciconfig -- shows the bluetooth devices available on your computer (not dive computer), most likely you will see a hci0, if not try sudo hcitool -a to see inactive devices and try to run sudo hciconfig hci0 up to bring them up
  • sudo hcitool scanning- use this to get a list of Bluetooth enabled client devices, watch out for your dive computer and remember the MAC address shown there
  • sudo bluez-simple-agent hci0 10:00:E8:C4:BE:C4 -- this will pair your dive computer with the Bluetooth stack of your computer, copy/paste the MAC address from the output of hcitool scanning

Unfortunately on Linux binding to a communication device has to be done manually by running:

  • sudo rfcomm bind /dev/rfcomm0 10:00:E8:C4:BE:C4 -- bind the dive computer to a communication device in your computer, in case rfcomm is already taken just use rfcomm1 or up, please copy/paste the MAC address from the output of hcitool scanning, the MAC shown in here will not work for you :-).

For downloading dives in subsurface you have then to specify /dev/rfcomm0 as device name to use.

4.4. Troubleshooting


Using Bluetooth for downloading from dive computers on Linux seems to be tricky some times. If you have issues please have a look to the following notes. Using a Shearwater Predator you may be able to pair but then encounter issues when downloading, showing errors like “Slip RX: unexp. SLIP END” on the Predator. This might also be seen, when using other dive log software and operating systems than Linux. We have no detailed idea about the source and how to fix this, but it is reported to be solved sometimes by one of these steps:

  • use the Bluetooth dongle which came with the Shearwater Predator instead of the built-in one of your computer
  • switch to different Bluetooth drivers for your hardware
  • switch off WiFi while using Bluetooth

Please report issues and nonworking environments at our bugtracker or send an email to our mailing list. It usually makes sense to include the output of subsurface --version in that email.

On Windows this involves starting subsurface.exe --version from a console windows and redirecting the output to a file. Usually starting cmd.exe and then starting \Program Files\Subsurface\subsurface.exe --version > subsurface.out should do the trick. Adjust the path depending on your install location.

On a Mac you can run /Applications/ --version > subsurface.out


It is somewhat common that Modem Manager (or some other application) interferes with dive computers when using a USB serial connection. You might see errors similar to the following:

ERROR: Device or resource busy (16) [in serial_posix.c:107 (serial_open)]

This often means that another application has opened the serial port in exclusive mode and should be disabled prior to connecting the dive computer.

sudo /etc/init.d/modemmanager stop

If you really need Modem Manager (highly doubtful -- it is unclear why any distribution would enable this by default) then you could also add a blacklist entry for your dive computer. The details of doing this go beyond what reasonably can be explained in the context of this manual (and are somewhat distribution specific). Usually you would need to add / edit a file with udev rules for Modem Manager. The file should be named something like


And contain something like this (with the correct data for idVendor and idProduct filled in for your dive computer -- that data can be found using lsusb)

        ACTION!="add|change", GOTO="mm_usb_device_blacklist_end"
        SUBSYSTEM!="usb", GOTO="mm_usb_device_blacklist_end"
        ENV{DEVTYPE}!="usb_device",  GOTO="mm_usb_device_blacklist_end"

        # std ftdi serial port adapter
        ATTRS{idVendor}=="0403", ATTRS{idProduct}=="6001",


Getting debug logs

Getting debug logs or full memory dump of the dive computer might be needed to solve the issue. This can be don with libdivecomputer’s universal application (you can compile it yourself or download from libdivecomputer’s web page -- select the operating system of your choice and download the universal binary from there). Debug log can be obtained with the following command (change the DC name and model appropriately):

./universal -l output.log -d output.xml -n "Oceanic Geo 2.0" -v /dev/ttyUSB0

This will produce an output.log that you should send to our mailing list.

A full memory dump can be obtained similarly:

./universal -l output.log -m output.bin -n "Oceanic Geo 2.0" -v /dev/ttyUSB0
Note you can get a short help of the universal application along with a list of supported devices by running it without parameters.

5. Viewing and Completing Your Logs

When all data from your dive computer is transferred, you will see a listing of your dives in the dive list on the bottom of the Subsurface window. The columns shown as well as the units used in some of the columns depend on preference settings. The example below uses metric units and has some of the more commonly enabled columns explained.

An example:

On Sunday Oct 23, 2011 you made a dive. In the log line of this dive, you see the following information:

Header Value Description of field
Dive number
Sun, Oct 23, 2011 10:50
Date and time of your dive
Your rating (none at this time)
Your maximum depth in meters
Your dive-time in minutes and seconds
Deg. C
Lowest water temperature during your dive (or with some dive computers the temperature at maximum depth)
Weight carried (none at this time)
Exposure protection suit worn (none at this time)
Your used cylinder (none at this time)
What type of gas you used on the dive
SAC (none at this time)
Where you performed your dive (empty)

As you can see, some information is already there because it is retrieved from your dive computer. Some information is waiting for you to be added.

Note In order to edit the dive information, you need to either double-click on this dive in the dive list, right-click on the dive in the dive list and select “Edit Dive” from the context menu, or select multiple dives in the dive list, right click on one of them and then select “Edit Dives” from the context menu. The last option is especially useful if you want to edit multiple dives that you just downloaded at the same time in order to set common attributes (like dive master or buddy).

As mentioned, the different types of information shown in this list may differ depending on the settings. More about that in Setting up Preferences. Also, the fields that are filled or empty differ from dive computer to dive computer. Basic dive computers are less likely to provide a lot of information, whereas some more advanced once will provide all of the information listed here (assuming it was correctly entered on the dive computer).

5.1. Edit the Dive Info

When you double click on the divelog line as described in Viewing and Completing Your Logs, an editor window opens as shown in this screenshot:


The purpose of the fields is described in the table below:

Field Description of field
Dive number, date and time
A button with dive number and date that gives a dialog to edit date/time/depth and average depth when clicked
An input where you can enter your new location, or you can choose with the pull-down previous locations
GPS (WGS84 or GPS format)
An input where you can enter geographic coordinates of the dive site
Pick on map
A button you can click on to display an interactive map on which you can select the location of the dive site
Dive Master
An input where you can enter the name of your Dive Master, or you can choose with the pull-down a previous name
An input where you can enter the name of you Buddy, or you can choose with the pull-down a previous name
A pull-down where you can rate your dive
An input where you can track the exposure protection suit you were wearing
A pull-down where you can rate the visibility underwater
Air Temp in deg. C/F
An input where you can enter the air temperature
Dive Tags
Check boxes allowing you to describe the dive (e.g. shore & wreck)
A free input where you can enter information about your dive. What you’ve seen, etc.

Now you can add information that is missing. Let’s start with completing the example:

In this example we use the following information:

Oostvoornse Meer
Dive Master
S. de Vries
S. de Vries
3 stars
7mm wet
First dive here. Good visibility. Did see the concrete poles, some crab and fish. Very nice and easy dive.
Made movie with headcam.

Now don’t press OK yet!

5.2. Edit Equipment Info

You also want to edit your Cylinder information and in the previous chapter, this was not edited. There is still another item to edit in the Dive Info screen: Cylinder

Field Description of field
A double-click field set. Here you can edit your Cylinder information

So, when you double click on the cylinder info or press the Edit button, you get another pop-up.


This pop-up window contains the following information:

Field Description of field
Pull-down where you can choose your Cylinder, or add your own
The volume if not ‘filled’
The maximum pressure of this Cylinder
Start Pressure (optional)
What was the pressure starting the dive
End Pressure (optional)
What was the pressure ending the dive
Gasmix (optional)
What was the percentage O2 and He of the blend

Now we are going to enter the data:

Cylinder Size Pressure
15.0 l

Now tick the option for Start & End pressure and enter the pressures:

Start Pressure End Pressure

Press OK.

In very much the same way you can enter the weight you were carrying on the dive. Subsurface tracks the following:

Field Description of field
Specific type of weight system, like weight belt, integrated pockets
Amount of weight (by default in kg, but can be switched to use lbs)

Enter the following data:

Type Weight

Press OK.

Now your dive information for this dive is complete. You can now press OK in the Dive Info screen and view the results.

5.3. Edit Events and Gas Changes

Depending on your dive computer and the specific dive that you are looking at, a number of events may be indicated by small yellow triangles within the dive profile. Hovering the mouse pointer over such an event will show a short explanation of the event in the tooltip window. On some dive computers few or no events are shows, other dive computers create these events rather agressively. At times you may want to remove some of these events, either because they were created in error (an accidental marker or bookmark set during a dive) or because the information provided is not useful to you.

You can either do this by filtering out these events (as explained in the Filter Menu section), or by outright deleting these events from the XML file. In order to do that, point at the event-triangle with your mouse (it is actually sufficient to have the mouse point at the point in time when the event happened) and right-click. A context menu will allow you to remove the event from the dive.

In the same way (by picking the correct time with the mouse pointer), certain events can be added to a dive profile from the right-click context menu. At this point only bookmark events and gas change events can be added. The latter ones are especially useful when diving with multiple tanks but with a dive computer that only supports one gas, or when forgetting to switch the dive computer to a different tank during the dive.

Please note that the gas that you want to switch to must have already been added to the Equipment list before it can be used here. See the previous section on Editing Equipment Info for reference.

6. View Dive Info & Stats

After adding all the information, you can use the tab Dive Info and the Stats tab. These tabs will provide you with lots of (statistical and calculated) information regarding your dive.

The information contains:

Dive Info:

Field Description of field
Date and time of your dive
Dive Time
Duration of your dive
Surf Intv
Interval between previous dive and this dive
Max Depth
Maximum depth of this dive
Avg Depth
The average depth of this dive
The visibility under water
Water Temp
Lowest temperature of the water
Air Temp
The temperature of the air at the surface
Air Press
The air pressure at the surface
The amount of Surface Air Consumption in liters per minute (this only works if an average depth for the dive is provided (either manually or when data is downloaded from a dive computer))
The Oxygen Toxicity Units of this dive
Amount of Oxygen/Helium
Gas Used
The total volume of gas used during this dive


Field Description of field
Number of dives covered (usually one, unless you select more dives)
Max/Min/Avg Temp
Corresponding temperature of the dives covered
Total time
Total time of the covered dives together, calculated
Avg/Long/Short Time
The average / longest / shortest dive time of the covered dives, calculated
Max/Min/Avg Depth
The maximum / minimum / average depth of the covered dives
Max/Min/Avg SAC
Highest / lowest / average Surface Air Consumption of your covered dives

Since the statistics cover all selected dives this feature can be used to do some more selective analysis of your dives. You can sort your dives based on one of the columns and then easily select all the dives with a certain value in that column (for example, all dives in a dry suit). Or you can use the Filter→Select Tags… menu to only display dives that include a certain tag, select some or all of those dives and now see statistics for those dives.

There is also a yearly statistics option that is reachable from the menu Log -- Yearly Statistics. These statistics show you information on how many dives you have done per year and how long you spent below surface in total (during each year). You can also dig into a monthly level displaying the same information on monthly basis. Following information is given for each year (and month when expanded):

Field Description of field
Year > Month
Year and month that is shown
Amount of dives during the year (or month) in question
Duration Total
Duration of all dives added together
Average duration of a dive
Duration of the shortest dive
Duration of the longest dive
Depth Average
Average depth of the dives
This is the maximum depth of the shallowest dive
Greatest maximum depth of the deepest
SAC Average
Average air consumption
Minimum air consumption on a single dive
Maximum air consumption on a single dive
Temperature Average
The average temperature of the recorded minimum temperatures of the dives
The minimum temperature of the dives
The maximum (minimum) temperature of the recorded dives

7. Setting up Preferences

Subsurface has the ability to modify the preferences you want. By using menu File -- Preferences you will be presented a pop-up. The pop-up has two tabs: General Settings and Tec Settings as shown below.


The General Settings allow you to select units, columns to be shown, the font used for the dive list and the default file that contains the dive data. It is also possible to choose from a number of map providers.

The Tec Settings offer extra columns to show, settings for more graphs and information to be shown in the dive profile and settings for GFlow and GFhigh.

In General Settings you are free to choose what your preference are for the units to be displayed. You are not restricted to use all Metric or all Imperial, any combination is fine.

You can set the following options with Units:

Field Units to be displayed
Your diving depth in Meters or Feet
The pressure of your tank(s) in Bar/Ato or PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)
The volume of your tank(s) in Liter (at sea level) or CuFt (Cubic Feet) (at working pressure)
The temperature of the water in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit
The weight of your weight system in kg or lbs

As mentioned earlier when discussing the information visible in the dive list at the bottom of the main Subsurface window, you can enable or disable some of the columns that can be shown there:

Column type Description
Shows the temperature of your dive
Shows the cylinder(s) of your dive
Shows the O2% of your dive
Shows the SAC of your dive (Surface Air Consumption)
Shows the total weight carried
Shows the suit you were wearing

With Divelist Font, you can change the font used in the dive list,

And you can use Default XML Data File to specify which file contains the data the program will use by default (the program tries to pick a reasonable default on all three supported operating systems.

The other tab holds the Tec Settings You can select more columns to be shown with Show Columns:

Column type Description
The number of Oxygen Toxicity Units
The maximum Central Nervous System oxygen toxicity

The Profile Setting allow you to show extra information in the dive profile:

Setting Description
Show pO2 graph
Show a graph of the oxygen partial pressure (with a threshold, default 1.6)
Show pN2 graph
Show a graph of the nitrogen partial pressure (with a threshold, default 4.0)
Show pHe graph
Show a graph of the helium partial pressure (with a threshold, default 13.0)
Show MOD
Show the Maximum Operating Depth of the used gas-mix (for the given max. ppO2, default 1.6)
Show Equivalent Air Depth (considering N2 and O2 narcotic), Equivalent Nitrogen Depth (considering just N2 narcotic) and Equivalent Air Density Depth
Show dc reported ceiling in red
Show the ceiling as reported by the dive computer
Show calculated ceiling
Show the ceiling as calculated by Subsurface
3m increments for calculated ceiling
The calculated ceiling is not continuous, but increments in 3m steps
Set the Low Gradient Factor (default 30)
Set the High Gradient Factor (default 75)

I will give an example here:

I am a diver in The Netherlands, using the Metric System. Therefor, I go to the menu File, choose Preferences here. In the Units section, I use the following:

  • Depth: Meter
  • Pressure: Bar
  • Volume: Liter
  • Temperature: Celsius
  • Weight: kg

I would like to see the:

  • Temperature
  • Show Cyl
  • Show O2%
  • Show SAC

Clicking OK on the dialog stores these settings.

8. Importing Divelogs from other Software

Subsurface will import divelogs from a couple of other log software. We support currently XML exports from DivingLog, and Suunto DiveManager. Native format of JDiveLog and MacDive are imported as well.

When importing dives subsurface tries to detect multiple records for the same dive and merges the information as best as it can. So as long as there are no time zone issues (or other reasons that would cause the beginning time of the dives to be substantially different) subsurface will not create duplicate entries.

8.1. Importing Dives from JDiveLog

Maybe you have been using JDiveLog and you have a lot of dives logged in this program. You don’t have to type all information by hand into Subsurface, because you can import your divelogs from JDiveLog.

JDiveLog stores its information into files with the extension of .jlb. These .jlb contain all the information that has been stored, except your images in XML format.

By using the menu File -- Import File(s) you get a popup asking for the file name. To import your JDiveLog file(s) do the following:

  • Open File -- Import File(s) on the menu
  • Browse your directories to the location where your *.jlb file is
  • Select your existing *.jlb file and click open
  • Click the OK button in the popup

After a few moments, you see your existing logs in Subsurface. Now you can edit your dives like explained in chapter Editing the Dive Info.

Information that is imported from JDiveLog into the location field:

  • Extended dive location information

Information that is merged into the location or notes field:

  • Used amount of weight
  • Used type of suit
  • Used type of gloves
  • Type of dive
  • Dive activity

Alternatively, you can start subsurface with the --import command line which will have the same effect:

subsurface MyDives.xml --import JDiveLogDives.jlb

will open your divelog (assuming that’s called MyDives.xml) and then import the dives from JdivelogDives.jlb. You can now save the combined divelog back as MyDives.xml.

8.2. Importing dives from Suunto Divemanager 3.*

Before you can start importing dives from Suunto Divemanager, you first have to export the dives you want to import. Subsurface does not import directly from the Suunto Divemanager log files. The following procedures unpacking instructions for Linux and Windows.

8.2.1. Export from Suunto Divemanager

  • Start Suunto Divemanager and login with the name containing the logs
  • Do not start the import wizard to import dives from your computer.
  • In the navigation tree on the left side of the program-window, select your dives.
  • Within the list of dives, select the dives you would like to import later:
    • To select certain dives: hold ctrl and point & click the dive
    • To select all dives: Select the first dive, hold down shift and select the last dive
  • With the dives marked, use the program menu File -- Export
  • The export pop-up will show
  • Within this pop-up, there is one field called Export Path.
    • Click the button browse next to the field Export Path
      • A file-manager like window pops up
      • Navigate to the directory where you want to store the Divelog.SDE file
      • Optional change the name of the file you want to save
      • Click Save
    • You are back in the Export pop-up. Press the button Export
  • Your dives are now exported to the file Divelogs.SDE.

8.2.2. Reading Suunto Divemanager Export in Subsurface

The file Divelogs.SDE can now be opened (or imported) in Subsurface. Different from earlier versions of Subsurface, no manual unpacking of the .SDE file is needed anymore.

8.3. Importing dives from Suunto DM4

To import divelog from Suunto DM4, you need to locate the DM4 database where the dives are stored. You can either look for the original database or take a backup of the dives. Both methods are described here.

8.3.1. Locating the Suunto DM4 database

  • Start Suunto DM4
  • Select Help -- About
  • Click Copy after text Copy log folder path to clipboard
  • Now open Windows Explorer
  • Paste the address to the path box at the top of the File Explorer
  • The database is called DM4.db

8.3.2. Backing up Suunto DM4

  • Start Suunto DM4
  • Select File -- Create backup
  • From the file menu select the location and name for the backup, we’ll use DM4 in here with the default suffix .bak
  • Click Save
  • Your dives are now exported to the file DM4.bak

8.3.3. Reading Suunto DM4 backup in Subsurface

Importing the logs from DM4 does not require any special steps. You just do the following:

  • Open the following menu File -- Import File(s)
  • Browse your directories to the location where your DM4 backup is stored
  • Select the backup file you want to import and click Open

It is also possible to do the importing from command line just like with JDiveLog (see chapter Importing Dives from JDiveLog):

subsurface MyDives.xml --import DM4.bak

8.4. Importing Dives from MacDive

Importing logs from MacDive is as easy as it gets. Do the following steps in Subsurface:

  • Open the following menu File -- Import File(s)
  • Browse your directories to the location where your MacDive logs are stored
  • Select the log file(s) you want to import and click open
  • Click the OK button in the popup

After a few moments, you see your existing logs in Subsurface. Now you can edit your dives like explained in chapter Editing the Dive Info.

We currently attempt to import all the relevant dive information excluding the used equipment and diver name.

It is also possible to do the importing from command line just like with JDiveLog (see chapter Importing Dives from JDiveLog):

subsurface MyDives.xml --import MacDiveDives.xml

8.5. Importing Dives from

Before you can start importing dives from, you first have to export the dives you want to import. The exported DLD file can be imported to Subsurface either from command line or from GUI.

8.5.1. Export from

  • Login to with your account
  • Go to the Export Logbook page
  • Choose DLD Export of your logbook and save the resulting yourUserName.DLD file

8.5.2. Import to Subsurface

The import works similarly as importing any other divelogs. Just do the following steps on Subsurface:

  • Open the following menu File -- Import File(s)
  • Browse your directories to the location where yourUserName.DLD is
  • Select the log file and click OK

After a few moments, you see your existing logs in Subsurface. Now you can edit your dives like explained in chapter Editing the Dive Info.

The fields that are currently not imported are: weather, visibility and boat.

It is also possible to do the importing from command line just like with JDiveLog (see chapter Importing Dives from JDiveLog):

subsurface MyDives.xml --import yourUserName.DLD

8.6. Importing Dives from DivingLog 5.0

Before you can start importing dives from DivingLog you first have to export those dives. Unfortunately DivingLog XML files give us no indication on the preferences set on your system. So in order for Subsurface to be able to successfully import XML files from DivingLog you first need to make sure that your copy of DivingLog is configured to use the Metric system (you can easily change this in File -- Preferences -- Units and Language by clicking the Metric button). Then do the following:

  • Open the File -- Export -- XML menu
  • Select the dives that you want to export
  • Click on the export button and select the filename
  • Rename the backup file to extension .db

This file can now be opened in Subsurface (as described in the previous sections).

8.7. Importing Dives from kenozooid

kenozooid is using UDDF to store dives and is tested to work together with Subsurface. Make sure you are not using compressed files when importing to Subsurface or uncompress them manually before).

8.8. Importing Dives from DR5

The Heinrichs Weikamp DR5 will save a single UDDF file for every dive which is available through the filesystem when mounted as USB drive. Mark all the dives you’d like to import or open, Subsurface is tested to work with DR5. Note: The DR5 does not seem to store gradient factors nor deco information, so for Subsurface it is not possible to display them. Use the inbuilt deco overlay in Subsurface to get deco displayed but please note that the deco calculated by Subsurface will most likely differ from the one display at the DR5. Adjust the gradient factors in the Tec Settings in Subsurface.

8.9. Importing UDDF Dives

Subsurface is supporting UDDF as import format in general. It may happen that single attributes inside your file will not get processed properly.

Please report your findings for UDDF data from different sources than described in this document at our bugtracker or send an email to our mailing list.

9. Exporting dives from Subsurface

We currently support exporting the divelog to UDDF format and directly uploading to

9.1. Uploading Dives to

Subsurface supports uploading dives directly to You’ll need to provide a valid user name and password for which can be created from a web browser at You can upload either selected dives or all the dives (duplicate dives that are already recorded at will be skipped). When selecting to upload, you are presented a simple dialog for user name and password.

Note The password is stored in the configuration file / registry in clear-text. Please do not use this feature if you have security concerns with this. Also note that when running Subsurface on Windows at this point the connection to is established through an http link, so your login credentials and uploaded data can easily be captured by other people on the same network.


Note that uploading dives to requires Internet connectivity and cannot be done off-line.

Uploading selected dives to
Mark the dives to be uploaded in the dive list. Click right mouse button on one of the selected dives and select the menu Upload dive(s) to

Uploading all dives to
You can of course mark all the dives and upload them using the right mouse button menu. However, you can also select menu File -- Upload to…

9.2. Exporting dives to UDDF

When you select dives and choose the exporting option from right click menu, you get a dialog asking where to save the file. Similarly when you select the menu File -- Export UDDF you can export all the dives to UDDF file of your choosing.

10. Planning Dives

Subsurface includes a still rather experimental dive planning feature that allows the creation of dive plans for both recreational scuba equipment (open circuit) and rebreathers (closed circuit equipment). This allows users to experiment with different plans and see the effects of changing various parameters of the dives.

Warning Deco calculations are done using a new implementation of the Buhlmann ZH-L16 algorithm with gradient factors. Since the planner and our implementation of the decompression algorithms are new and have received only a limited amount of testing:

When you start the planner, a dialog appears as shown in the following screen capture:


In order to plan a dive some basic information needs to be entered:

  • planned start time of the dive
  • air consumption
  • planned depths
  • planned segment times

Additionally there is an option to plan the last deco stop at 6m/20ft instead of the otherwise used final stop at 3m/10ft.

There is also other information available for those who are familiar with dive planning or use closed circuit rebreathers.

Dive starts
Start time of the dive; +60:00 means that the dive is 60 minutes in the future
Surface Pressure
Air pressure on surface, default 1013 should suffice for most
SAC during dive
Air consumption during the dive, use conservative value based on your own air consumption e.g. 20l/min
SAC during decostop
Air consumption during decompression stop, e.g. 17 l/min
Gradient factor low value affects the ceiling calculation, leave to default if you are not familiar with GF
Gradient factor high value affects the ceiling calculation, leave to default if you are not familiar GF
Ending Depth
Depth where current segment ends; a different depth from the previous segment creates a transition segment for ascent or descent, keeping the same depth creates a segment at the given depth. By default the planner uses the measurement for length set in the preferences (meters for most users) -- this can be overridden by explicitly specifying m or ft.
Segment Time
Enter time in minutes; segment duration / relative time can be indicated by an optional +: +3 or +3:00 creates a segment that lasts 3 minutes, add an at sign like @7 for a segment that ends 7 minutes after the start of the dive.
Gas Used
Breathing gas mix used; the parser is reasonably flexible and understands terms like AIR, EAN32, 36% or 15/50 (compressed air, 32% nitrox, 36% nitrox or 15% O₂ / 50% He trimix, respectively); leaving this field empty indicates continued use of the previous gas, air by default
CC SetPoint
SetPoint when diving with a closed circuit rebreather. Leave empty for open circuit dives with standard scuba equipment

The last four elements are repeated for each segment of a planned dive. To illustrate the functionality let’s plan a dive to 20 meters lasting 20 minutes at that depth and another 10 minutes at 10 meters. We’ll only concentrate on the dive profile here filling the segments.

Ending Depth Segment Time Gas Used

So we define the ending depth for the first segment to be 20 meters (assuming metric preferences, you can also define the depth explicitly to m or ft). We will take it easy and descent takes 3 minutes from surface to the planned depth. Then we spend 20 minutes at 20m breathing the same gas mixture as the previous step (used gas is left empty).

Ascent to 10 meters will take one and half minutes that is slower than the fastest recommendation. However, as you can see in Subsurface’s calculations it is still marked with yellow, meaning somewhat conservative speed (green would be conservative and red on the fast side). After the defined 10 minutes at a constant depth of 10 meters we let Subsurface calculate how we will surface.

If decompression is required these stops are taken into account and can be easily visualized by setting the first depth to e.g. 40 meters (somewhat dependent on the GF settings). For the ascent phase of the dive calculation Subsurface assumes a typical 9m/min (30ft/min) ascent speed.

If needed more segments can be added by clicking Add waypoint.

To add the dive to the divelist simply click OK. Double-clicking on the planned dive will show the details, including a written diveplan in the Notes.

The dive we defined earlier will present itself like this:

  Subsurface dive plan
  based on GFlow = 30 and GFhigh = 80                          

  Transition to 20 m in 3:00 min - runtime 3:00 on air         
  Stay at 20 m for 20:00 min - runtime 23:00 on air            
  Transition to 10.0 m in 1:30 min - runtime 24:30 on air
  Stay at 10.0 m for 10:00 min - runtime 34:30 on air
  Transition to 0.0 m in 1:06 min - runtime 35:36 on air       
  Gas consumption:
  1849l of air                                                 
  1. This shows the values used for GFlow and GFhigh
  2. A transition is a change in depth in a certain amount of time
  3. A stay is a constant depth for a specified amount of time
  4. Note that the planner assumes you always want to end the dive at the surface. The final segment to 0m with a sane ascent rate is automatically added.
  5. The planner tries to estimate the needed amount of gas based on the plan and SAC

Following image shows the resulting profile along with a glimpse of the aforementioned dive plan:


11. Web Service and Companion App

This part of Subsurface is a bit of work in progress. We are developing a companion application for Android that allows you to track dive sites from your GPS-enabled Android device.

The Subsurface app is available for free in the Google Play store (and sources are available from our git server). A server side webservice is running on our infrastructure to capture and store the data transmitted by the application. An interested user could also run their own web service (the sources for the web service are also available).

The Android companion app allows you to store the GPS location and name of specific dive sites as their name is entered into the application. It can also operate as a background service and record positions at regular intervals (this is especially useful when on a dive boat).

After downloading your dives from your dive computer (or manually adding them in the Subsurface desktop application) you can then use this menu item to connect to our back-end server and download the related location data (and dive site names). Enter your userid (you got this when registering with the web service) and click Download. If the data was successfully downloaded you can click apply and Subsurface will match the time stamps of the downloaded location and site name information with the dives in your log and will add the GPS locations and dive site names to your dives.

Note At this point you can not use the Android Subsurface companion app to enter dives and then download these dives into the desktop application. The companion up and webservice can only be used to add GPS location (and dive site name) to an existing dive in the dive log.

12. The Menu and Sub-Menus

Within Subsurface, there are several menu and sub-menu options. All of those will be described here with their function.

12.1. The File Menu

The file menu is used for the following menu options:

  • New:: Close your current divelog (saving if necessary) and start a new empty dive list
  • Open:: Open your saved Subsurface xml file(s)
  • Save:: Save your current divelogs or changes you made to your divelogs
  • Save As:: Save your current divelogs or changes you made to your divelogs under a different name
  • Close:: Close your current divelog, saving as necessary
  • Import File(s):: Import your dives from files exported by other divelogs
  • Export UDDF:: Export all dives to UDDF format
  • Upload to Upload all dives to (requires Internet connectivity)
  • Print:: Print your current divelog profiles and information about the dive
  • Preferences:: Set your preferences as described in chapter Setting up Preferences
  • Quit:: Quit the program

12.2. The Log Menu

Within the Log menu, you will find the following sub-items:

  • Download From Dive Computer:: Allows you to download dive information from your dive computer
  • Download From Web Service:: Allows you to download dive information from the webservice (see chapter Web Service and Companion App)
  • Edit Device Names:: Allows you to add device nicknames to dive computers
  • Add Dive:: Manually add a dive that you cannot download from an existing computer
  • Renumber:: This option provides you with a pop-up. Within this pop-up you can choose what the first number of your dives should be for this set of dives.
  • Autogroup:: Toggle the auto group setting (see the discussion in the chapter Setting up Preferences)
  • Toggle Zoom:: The dive profile tries to convey some first glance information about the depth of a dive -- so the vertical scaling of the profile always show a minimum of 30m / 90ft. This can be changed to be only 10m / 30ft.
  • Yearly Statistics:: Contrary to the Statistics in the main display, these are purely calendar based
  • Dives Locations:: Show an interactive map with locations of the logged dives with GPS coordinates

12.3. The View Menu

The view menu allows you to choose between the following representations:

  • List:: Show only the list of dives you have made
  • Profile:: Show only the dive profile of the selected dive
  • Info:: Show only the 3 tab information screen
  • Three:: Show the default 3 screen setup
  • Prev DC Switch to the previous dive computer
  • Next DC Switch to the next dive computer

12.4. The Filter Menu

The filter menu gives you two very different filter selections.

The first one allows you to create a global filter for certain kind of events that you no longer want to see displayed in the dive profile view. Normally all events are represented by small yellow triangles, but some dive computers create a large number of events that the user may or may not want to see in the profile (some dive computers for example are very aggressively creating “ascend speed warnings” that can clutter the profile). Selecting this menu will open a dialog that allows you to select which events should be globally disabled (they will still be stored in the XML file).

Subsurface also allows you to delete specific events from a dive profile (see section Edit Events and Gas Changes). As a reminder, his can be done by right-clicking on the specific event that you want to remove in the dive profile window. Events that are deleted like this will actually be removed from the XML file as well.

The second entry in the filter menu allows you to display only a subset of your dives in the dive list, based on specific tags that are selected in a dialog. This is especially useful when used in connection with the statistics features of Subsurface.

12.5. The Planner Menu

This menu opens up a dive planning dialog. The dive planning is described in chapter Planning Dives.

12.6. The Help Menu

The Help menu contains the About entry which displays the version and author information as well as links to the full license under which Subsurface is developed and to the Subsurface website.

The second entry in the help menu opens the latest online version of this manual in the default web browser.

13. Appendix A: Supported Dive Computers

The use of libdivecomputer provides the support for dive computers. Within the File -- import dialog box you will see a list of dive computer vendors and respective products. This list is covering a compatible set. Please check your users manual to check if your computer will be supported.

Supported dive computers
Atomics Aquatics
  • Cobalt
Cressi / Zeagle / Mares
  • Edy, Nemo Sport
  • N2iTiON3
  • Leonardo
  • Nemo, Nemo Excel, Nemo Apneist, …
  • Puck, Puck Air, Nemo Air, Nemo Wide, …
  • Darwin, Darwin Air, M1, M2, Airlab
  • Icon HD, Icon HD Net Ready, Nemo Wide 2
Oceanic / Aeris / Sherwood / Hollis / Genesis / Seemann / Tusa (Pelagic)
  • VT Pro, Versa Pro, Pro Plus 2, Wisdom, Atmos 2, Atmos AI, Atmos Elite, …
  • Veo 250, XP5, Veo 180Nx, XR2, React Pro, React Pro White, DG02, Insight, …
  • Atom 2.0, VT3, Datamask, Geo, Geo 2.0, Veo 2.0, Veo 3.0, Pro Plus 2.1, Pro Plus 3, Compumask, Elite T3, Epic, Manta, IQ-900 (Zen), IQ-950 (Zen Air), IQ-750 (Element II), …
Heinrichs Weikamp
  • Frog
  • Sensus
  • Sensus Pro
  • Sensus Ultra
  • Predator, Petrel
  • Solution
  • Eon, Solution Alpha and Solution Nitrox/Vario
  • Vyper, Cobra, Vytec, Vytec DS, D3, Spyder, Gekko, Mosquito, Stinger, Zoop
  • Vyper2, Cobra2, Cobra3, Vyper Air and HelO2
  • DX, D9, D6, D4, D9tx, D6i and D4i
  • Zurich
  • Aladin
  • Memo Mouse
  • Smart, Galileo (infraread)
  • N2iTiON 3

14. Appendix B: Mac OSX Driver Installation

Working out which driver to use for a Mac when using a particular dive computer can require some experimentation. The libdivecomputer website provides a useful point from which to start: It lists a number of sites for manufacturers of the serial to USB chips which provide the necessary conversions.

Here you have two alternatives. Either you try each of the major drivers in turn until you find the right one, or you follow some further steps to try and identify the right driver up front. To determine the required driver up front, first attach the USB download cable for your dive computer. Next open a terminal window and run the command:

system_profiler SPUSBDataType > usb.txt

You should end up with a file (usb.txt in this example) which contains the VID/PID information which can then be used with the URL above to narrow the field. Just open the text file and compare the information with the table in the drivers section of the web page. This should point you to the relevant driver manufacturer. Typically, you then need to navigate to the relevant sub page for “drivers” and then the one for “VCP drivers.” VCP stands for Virtual Com Port. You want VCP rather than D2XX drivers, for example. Make sure to download the correct version for your particular version of OS X.

Downloaded that driver to your Mac and install it in the usual way. Details on how to install on OS X 10.8 differ from earlier versions due to the new security functions. Put simply, unless the driver has been digitally signed in an approved way OS X will block the installation. You can either make some changes to your system security settings or manually override the block. The latter seems more sensible and only involves control-clicking the installation package and answering some standard dialogs. The sequence goes like this:

  • download the driver .dmg package to your downloads folder
  • right click the downloads folder and navigate to the new dmg package
  • control-click the package: a dialog will open stating that the package has not been signed and is from an unknown developer and asking whether you really want to proceed
  • if happy, you accept the dialog and the package opens and may show you one or more versions
  • select the relevant version, click the package installer and that should be it.

You can find a high-level explanation of the new security features from apple here:

Until you have the correct driver installed, subsurface will not be able to connect to your dive computer. If you try one VCP driver and it still doesn’t work, try the next manufacturer until it does. If you run out of drivers and still can’t get things working perhaps it is time to contact us via the subsurface mail lists.