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Publication numberUS20060120808 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/164,315
Publication dateJun 8, 2006
Filing dateNov 17, 2005
Priority dateDec 7, 2004
Publication number11164315, 164315, US 2006/0120808 A1, US 2006/120808 A1, US 20060120808 A1, US 20060120808A1, US 2006120808 A1, US 2006120808A1, US-A1-20060120808, US-A1-2006120808, US2006/0120808A1, US2006/120808A1, US20060120808 A1, US20060120808A1, US2006120808 A1, US2006120808A1
InventorsTrevor Roseborough
Original AssigneeRoseborough Trevor E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Controlled volume buoyancy compensating device
US 20060120808 A1
Abstract
A controlled volume buoyancy compensating device for providing the underwater control of buoyancy that is independent of changes in depth or dive position. The inventive device includes an adjustable air chamber, air source, and a demand regulator. The air chamber is a rigid shell with a volume adjustable by some means and sealed to keep water separate from air. The regulator is a two way demand regulator to provide or exhaust air at the ambient pressure and is essentially the same as a SCUBA diver's breathing regulator. The typical air source is a compressed air tank with pressure reducing valve to deliver air at about 140 psi above the ambient pressure.
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Claims(6)
1. An underwater buoyancy control device for use by divers or attached to submersible equipment or vehicles, comprising;
a rigid air chamber with a movable part fitted and sealed to keep water out of the chamber,
a demand regulator to supply air at the ambient water pressure to the said air chamber,
a check valve to exhaust air from the said air chamber to the surrounding water at the ambient pressure,
a source of intermediate pressure air in the range of 140 psi above the ambient,
a mechanical means to variably adjust the said movable part and the amount of buoyant air that the said air chamber contains.
2. The buoyancy control device defined in claim 1, where the said rigid air chamber is a cylinder and the said movable part is a piston.
3. The buoyancy control device defined in claim 1, where the said means to adjust the said movable part has a means to lock the said movable part in place by friction or mechanical engagement, after an adjustment is made and while underwater.
4. The buoyancy control device defined in claim 1, where the said means to adjust the said movable part is a connecting rod fastened to the movable part on one end and fastened at the other end to a means to make variable adjustment.
5. The buoyancy control device defined in claim 1, where the said demand regulator has a hose connector to supply ambient pressure air to other equipment.
6. The buoyancy control device defined in claim 5, where the hose connector incorporates an orifice valve to limit the flow of air from the said demand regulator.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to buoyancy compensators and more specifically it relates to a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device for providing the underwater control of buoyancy that is independent of changes in depth or dive position.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

It can be appreciated that buoyancy compensators have been in use for years. Typically, buoyancy compensators are comprised of buoyancy compensating devices (BCDs) usually made of a synthetic fabric vest with an internal inflatable rubber bladder, straps and a tank mount tray. When used in conjunction with lead weights a diver can operate valves to add or release air to adjust buoyancy between positive and negative. Also, a diver in colder water can wear a drysuit with valves to add or release air from the suit to adjust the buoyancy. Rigid tank BCDs have been designed that produce constant buoyancy by adjusting the proportion of air to water in the tank but are not in common use today. The air and buoyancy related equipment a diver currently uses are: a primary demand regulator, a back up demand regulator, an inflatable bladder buoyancy compensating device (BCD) with a power air inflator, a tank pressure and depth gauge, a weight belt, and a wet or drysuit.

The main problem with conventional buoyancy compensators is that the buoyancy produced by a given amount of air changes with the depth of the diver. Water pressure increases as you get deeper and this reduces the volume and buoyancy of air in a diver's BCD and drysuit. To maintain neutral buoyancy during a dive the diver must be attentive and make careful corrections as needed. Another problem is with the difficulty of exhausting the buoyancy producing air when the diver is in the inverted or head down position. Exhaust valves are generally located on the upper part of a BCD or drysuit, as worn by a non-inverted diver. Inability to dump excess air to the surrounding water can quickly lead to a rapid and dangerous buoyant ascent. Also, another problem is that, particularly in the case of a rigid tank BCD, the buoyancy producing air is free to move within the buoyancy chamber and produce undesirable forces when the diver moves about.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of buoyancy compensators now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new controlled volume buoyancy compensating device construction wherein the same can be utilized for providing the underwater control of buoyancy that is independent of changes in depth or dive position.

To attain this, the present invention generally comprises an adjustable air chamber, air source, and a demand regulator. The air chamber is a rigid shell with a volume adjustable by some means and sealed to keep water separate from air. The regulator is a two-way demand regulator to provide or exhaust air at the ambient pressure. It is essentially the same as a SCUBA diver's breathing regulator. The typical air source is a compressed air tank with pressure reducing valve to deliver air at about 140 psi above the ambient pressure.

Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed here are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting.

A primary object of the present invention is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that will overcome the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

An object of the present invention is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device for providing the underwater control of buoyancy that is independent of changes in depth or dive position.

Another object is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that can produce an adjustable amount of buoyancy that remains constant at different depths for SCUBA divers and submersible equipment or vehicles.

Another object is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that can produce an adjustable amount of buoyancy regardless of the position of a diver.

Another object is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that can supply air to a diver's drysuit to automatically keep its buoyancy constant at any depth.

Another object is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that will simplify the operation of buoyancy control under water.

Another object is to provide a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device that will allow a diver to move without the effects of shifting air and water in the buoyancy chamber.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side view showing the configuration of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view, in section, of the preferred embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the regulator in the preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a diver with the current art. (PRIOR ART)

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of a diver with the current art and the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a plan view, in section, of a second embodiment of the air chamber.

FIG. 7 is a plan view, in section, of a third embodiment of the air chamber.

FIG. 8 is a top view of a different embodiment of the demand regulator.

FIG. 9 is a plan view, in section, of a second embodiment of the air chamber with an alternative means of adjustment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate a controlled volume buoyancy compensating device, which comprises an adjustable air chamber, air source, and a demand regulator. The air chamber is a rigid shell with a volume adjustable by some means and sealed to keep water separate from air. The regulator is a two way demand regulator to provide or exhaust air at the ambient pressure. It is essentially the same as a SCUBA diver's breathing regulator. The typical air source is a compressed air tank with pressure reducing valve to deliver air at about 140 psi above the ambient pressure. In FIG. 4, the air and buoyancy related equipment a diver currently uses are: a primary demand regulator 81, a back up demand regulator 82, an inflatable bladder buoyancy compensating device (BCD) 80 with a power air inflator 84, a tank pressure and depth gauge 85, a weight belt 83, and a wetsuit or drysuit 88.

The air chamber is a rigid shell with a volume adjustable by some means and sealed to keep water separate from air. As shown in FIG. 2, the air chamber 40 is comprised of a rigid shell made of plastic or metal, a movable piston 41 that can be adjusted by a connecting rod 42. The connecting rod 42 is made of a flexible material, such as nylon, with suitable stiffness and can move freely in a curved plastic tube 44 that is wide enough to allow air to pass freely between the air chamber 40 and the air port 31. The tube 44 terminates at the waterproof seal 30 that allows the connecting rod 42 to slide through to the outside or water side of the seal 30. On the other side of the seal 30 the tube 44 is extended with a similar tube 46 that has a slot 63 to allow the adjustment handle 60 to move back and forth. The end of tube 46 is terminated with a suitable quick-connect fastener 64 with a mechanism 65 to prevent accidental release. In this case the fastener 64 is a snap hook that connects with a ring 96, as shown in FIG. 5, mounted to a standard BCD 80. The chamber 40 shown in FIG. 2 is in the shape of a cylinder. The movable part is a piston 41 closely fitted, lubricated, and sealed to move with minimal resistance inside the cylinder chamber 40. The piston 41 is attached by pin 43 to connecting rod 42. The connecting rod 42 terminates at the other end and is fastened to the handle mount 61, which is complete with a friction or locking mechanism 62. The friction or locking mechanism 62 prevents the diver from accidentally moving the handle without first activating it with a particular action (i.e.: push, pull, squeeze or twist).

As shown in FIG. 6, a functional variation of the air chamber 58 is comprised of a rigid shell and a piston or platter 48 connected with a moveable rod 49 that is sealed with a rubber diaphragm 47 to achieve an adjustable volume air chamber. When the air volume is increased, water in the chamber 58 is exhausted at ambient pressure through ports 45 and replaced with air at equal pressure, through the port or hose connection 57, from a demand regulator. Due to the ambient pressure maintained by the demand regulator, the diaphragm is free of forces that could move or distort it and change the volume of air behind it.

As shown in FIG. 7, we have another variation of the air chamber 59 and movable vane 54 surrounded with a suitable seal 56 that can be used to produce the same results, where the vane 54 sweeps out a volume of air when it is attached to an axle 55 and turned by some means. When the air volume is increased, water in the chamber 59 is exhausted at ambient pressure through ports 45 and replaced with air at equal pressure from a demand regulator through the port or hose connection 57. These variations in air chambers lend themselves to ergonomic designs and different methods of performing adjustments as well as integration into existing BCDs.

The regulator is a two way demand regulator to provide or exhaust air at the ambient pressure. It is essentially the same as a SCUBA diver's breathing regulator. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the demand regulator 20 is illustrated here is to show its basic operation. The demand regulator 20 including the exhaust check valve 29 maintains the air pressure within the regulator 20 almost equal to the ambient water pressure. The demand regulator is comprised of the following parts. A threaded hose connector 15 supplying intermediate pressure air to the ambient pressure valve port 21 that comes into variable contact with the rubber valve seat 22 mounted on lever 24. Lever 24 pivots at hinge 23 and is normally pushed by spring 28 to close the ambient pressure valve port 21 and seat 22. When the external air or water pressure is a little greater than the internal pressure in the regulator 20 the rigid plate imbedded rubber diaphragm 26 pushes on friction reducing wheel 25 to open the valve port 21 and seat 22 until the pressure is equalized by the inflowing air. The diaphragm 26 is saved from external damage by the protective cover 27. When the internal pressure is greater than the external pressure in the regulator 20 the rubber exhaust check valve 29 opens to release air until the pressure is equalized. The air in regulator 20 can move back and forth to the air chamber by passing through port 31 and inside the tube 44. Regulator 20 is attached firmly to tube 44 by a suitable mount 32. An additional feature of the regulator 20 is to provide ambient pressure air to drysuit users by way of an air hose quick-connect and shut-off valve 33 and orifice valve 34. As shown in FIG. 5, check valves 95 are placed on the upper shoulder area and ankles of a drysuit 88 to exhaust air when the diver enters the water and during the dive. Ambient pressure air enters the drysuit through the hose connector 94 as needed to maintain a constant air volume and buoyancy. The drysuit hose connector 94 is connected to hose 93 which is connected to the quick-release valve 33 and orifice valve 34 on regulator 20. The orifice valve 34 serves to limit the supply of air to the drysuit 88. Without the orifice valve 34, or alternatively a narrow inside diameter hose 93, when a diver extends a limb enough air may be drawn into the drysuit to substantially change the buoyancy before the air can be exhausted through the check valves 95 and wasted. Also, inverted divers with their feet high enough above the regulator 20 will continuously exhaust air through their ankle check valves 95 due to the difference of pressure at the regulator 20 and ankle valve 95. This flow is minimized to save air by restricting the flow with the orifice valve 34.

As an alternative, FIG. 8 shows a modified demand regulator, such as the primary regulator 81 or back-up regulator 82 in FIG. 4, that a diver could breathe from. An extra check valve 36 is added to supply ambient pressure air to the mouth port 37 for the diver to breathe from and is placed before the exhaust check valve 29. A quick-connect hose connector 35 is also added to supply ambient pressure air from the regulator by a hose to an adjustable air chamber.

The typical air source is a compressed air tank with pressure reducing valve to deliver air at about 140 psi above the ambient pressure. As shown in FIG. 2, the air source is comprised of a compressed air tank 10 with its control valve 11, a pressure reducing regulator 12 to deliver an intermediate air pressure of about 140 psi, and a hose 14 connected to regulator 12 with a threaded hose connector 13. The tank 10, regulator 12, and hose 14 are standard SCUBA diving equipment. The pressure reducing regulator 12 can have multiple high and intermediate pressure ports to supply the items shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, such as, pressure gauges 85, breathing regulators 81 and 82, and BCD inflators 84.

Alternatively, the air source can be a shared tank 10 and regulator 12 that supplies air to the other SCUBA equipment or it could be a separate tank 10 and regulator 12 that is dedicated to the task of controlling buoyancy. Also, the air source could be replaced by an air compressor on shore or on the deck of a boat that supplies the same intermediate pressure air.

The air source connects to the demand regulator 20 by a standard SCUBA intermediate pressure hose 14 with threaded connectors 13 and 15. The cylindrical air chamber 40 is mounted to the side of tank 10, which is mounted to the tray on the back of a standard buoyancy compensator 80. This allows for the gentle bend of the connecting tube 44 and rod 42 to curve over the diver's shoulder and down the front on one side. The tube 44 is firmly connected to the regulator 20 by a strong mount 32 that keeps the port 31 open and free of leaks. The bottom of the unit with the handle 60 and snap-hook 64 are anchored to a belt or the bottom of a standard BCD 80 by a ring 96 so the unit will remain close to the diver's body during all phases of the dive. The alternative diaphragm air chamber in FIG. 6 can be placed anywhere on the diver and then connected by hose to the demand regulator 20 or a modified regulator such as shown in FIG. 8. This would allow integration into a standard BCD 80. The vane style air chamber shown in FIG. 7 is also connected by tube or hose to the demand regulator 20 or a modified regulator shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 1 shows the arrangement of the components of the invention with the cylindrical air chamber 40 mounted besides the compressed air tank 10 in such a way that the air hose and connecting tube come over the shoulder and down the front of a diver to an anchor point on a standard BCD or a special purpose belt. The volume of the air chamber is approximately one gallon producing eight to ten pounds of adjustable buoyancy. While the device can be used alone, I suggest it be used with or integrated into a standard BCD 80 (FIG. 5). This would allow the standard BCD 80 to work as a back up, provide greater buoyant lift under water if needed, and allow the diver to rest on the surface without effort.

In operation, the diver would prepare to enter the water by first making sure the air source is on, then inflate the standard BCD 80, and then raise the adjustable handle 60 for maximum buoyancy from the air chamber. This action will ensure no air is trapped on the water side of the piston 41 (FIG. 2). After entering the water, the diver proceeds to remove all the air from within the bladder of the standard BCD 80 by opening its top exhaust port and allowing the water pressure to empty it completely. In normal use the standard BCD 80 will remain empty from this point on and until the dive is finished. The diver will have already experimented and adjusted the weights on the weight belt 83 so that when the handle 60 is moved to the bottom position, and all the buoyancy producing air in the chamber 40 is exhausted out of the check valve 29, the diver becomes negatively buoyant and sinks below the surface. To stop the descent the diver will move the handle 60 upward, thereby drawing air from the demand regulator 20 into the air chamber 40, until neutral buoyancy is achieved. Small air bubbles in the protective neoprene rubber wetsuit or drysuit that the diver may wear and air still trapped in the standard BCD 80 will compress as the diver goes deeper. This small reduction in volume will make the diver more negatively buoyant than at the surface and can be countered by moving the handle 60 further upwards on the diver's chest. As the compressed air in the tank 10 is depleted the diver becomes more buoyant, and the diver can remain neutrally buoyant by moving the handle 60 downwards.

If the diver is wearing a drysuit 88 with the exhaust check valves 95 and intake port 94 connected to regulator 20 by a hose 93 and connector 33, then the air inside the suit will remain constant during the dive. Once in the water, air is squeezed out through the check valves 95 and if more air is added it will also exit through these valves 95. As the diver descends, the check valves 95 prevent water from coming into the suit and so the air would normally be compressed. However, ambient pressure air is supplied from regulator 20 through orifice valve 34 so that the air volume and buoyancy of the suit do not change. The small hole orifice valve 34 limits the rate of air flow so that enough air is added to the suit during descents but quick arm and leg movements do not stretch the suit and fill it with excess air. With this equipment a diver can make corrections to buoyancy in any position underwater.

In this way the buoyant effect of air in the diver's lungs, buoyancy chamber, and drysuit remain constant while changing depth because they are all supplied with ambient pressure air from demand regulators, thereby making buoyancy control a minimal task underwater.

FIG. 9 shows an adjustable air chamber as shown in FIG. 6 connected directly to a similar but smaller fixed air volume chamber 70 by a rigid mount 71 and connecting rod 72. Ambient pressure water can enter the movable side of both chambers through ports 45. At the surface the air in chamber 70 is a its maximum volume and is compressed as the unit descends. This pulls the connecting rod 72 and draws a greater volume of ambient pressure air into the adjustable air chamber producing more buoyancy as the unit descends. By correctly adjusting the buoyancy of an underwater device this unit would allow it to stop at a given depth and remain there.

As to a further discussion of the manner of usage and operation of the present invention, the same should be apparent from the above description. Accordingly, no further discussion relating to the manner of usage and operation will be provided.

With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7854568 *Feb 15, 2007Dec 21, 2010Nihon UniversityDiving equipment
US8152413Jun 29, 2009Apr 10, 2012Lloyd A. MarksMethod of and apparatus for bouyancy compensation for divers
US8834069 *Jul 3, 2012Sep 16, 2014Aequus, L.L.C.Buoyancy compensation apparatus
US20110091286 *Oct 13, 2010Apr 21, 2011Van Atta Colby FScuba diving trim and position control device and method of use
WO2012045420A1 *Sep 30, 2011Apr 12, 2012Robert Bosch GmbhBlow-off system of a diving equipment
Classifications
U.S. Classification405/186, 441/88, 405/185
International ClassificationB63C9/08, B63C11/00
Cooperative ClassificationB63C11/2245
European ClassificationB63C11/22D