US 3798629 A
A floatable alarm device is normally restrained to the housing of a diver carried control. The control includes means for sensing respiration rate and causes release of the alarm if respiration rate substantially deviates from normal.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Waited States Patent [191 de La Taillade et all.
[451 Mar. 19, 1974 ALARM SYSTEM FOR DIVERS Inventors: .Ieande La Taillade; ,l a cg u es Degraves, both of 1 Oustalet, Terron Superieur, 06 Nice, France Filed: Feb. 11, 1972 Appl. No.: 225,562
Foreign Application Priority Data Feb. 11, 1972 France 72.05444 U.S. Cl 340/279, 128/208, 128/145 R Int. Cl. G081) 23/00 Field of Search 340/279; 128/208, 142.2;
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1949 Tobias 340/279 r *1 1/ ZIMOUTHPIECEI 3,253,810 5/1966 Penn 325/116 X 3,414,896 12/1968 Glick 340/279 X 3,566,387 2/1971 Schoener.... 340/279 2,470,783 5/1949 Mead 325/116 UN X 3,432,755 3/1969 Moreno 325/116 X Primary Examiner-John W. Caldwell Assistant Examiner-Scott F. Partridge 14 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures JLALARM: |SYSTEM I i I l i i l J PATENIEDMAR 1 9 1974 SHEET 2 [IF 2 BALLOON AMPOULE SPARKLET Wm 65 (MANOMETER) BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION l. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to enhancing the safety of individuals engaged in underwater activities. More specifically, this invention is directed to a manually or automatically operated device which provides an indication at the surface of the water of the position of a diver having mechanical or physiological difficulities. Accordingly, the general objects of the invention are to provide novel and improved methods and apparatus of such character.
2- Description Q298219; An.
In the prior a r divers have had no means at their disposal which could be employed to indicate at the surface their position and the need for assistance in the case of severe or sudden uneasiness or physical or mechanical trouble. In the case of sudden uneasiness it is especially important that the diver be easily located so that proper assistance can be brought to him. Other than employment of a buddy system, the best technique available in the prior art for monitoring diving activity comprised the visual observance, from a patrol vessel, of the divers exhaust air bubble stream. When a number of divers were operating simultaneously the sudden disappearance of one of these air bubble streams at most revealed to the observers that an accident had happened to one of the divers. However, in addition to the obvious possibility of human error, monitoring of the air bubble stream provided no indication of the nature of the divers trouble, very inexact information with respect to location of the diver and no informaton of the time which had elapsed since the problem or accident occured. In the case where a single diver was exploring a large zone, air bubble monitoring necessarily results in too great a time elapsing between an accident and its detection to enable adequate assistance to be brought to the diver.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention overcomes the above discussed and other deficiencies of the prior art by providing apparatus for indicating at the water surface the precise position ofa diver experiencing some difficulty. Apparatus in accordance with the invention is carried by the diver and is operated automatically should the diver encounter a mechanical or physiological problem. Apparatus in accordance with the invention may also be operated manually by the diver.
The present invention comprises a floatable alarm device which is normally held in or on a control device carried by the diver. Retention of the alarm device with the diver carried control is accomplished electrically by a circuit which is responsive to the divers respiration rate. This circuit is adjusted whereby a preselected deviation from normal respiration rate will cause release of the floatable alarm.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The present invention may be better understood and its numerous objects and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art by reference to the accompanying drawing wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements in the several figures and in which:
FIG. 1 is a schematic showing, partly in functional form, of a preferred embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a graphical representation of the operating sequence of the device shown in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a detailed schematic of a preferred embodiment of the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT With reference to FIG. 1, it is envisioned that the invention may, for example, be mounted on a normal divers helmet of commercial size. A small auxilary attachment indicated generally at 1 is connected between the outlet of an intermediate pressure reducer 2 and a flexible hose 3 which leads either directly to the divers mouthpiece 4 or to the mouthpiece via a further low pressure reducer. Accordingly, air at reduced pressure flows through the attachment 1 to the diver as the diver breathes. The attachment 1 comprise a movable flap 5 which is rotatable about a shaft and which is held in a first position against an air port 19 by a compression spring 6. With each inhalation of the diver, the movable flap 5 is shifted by the air flow and in the direction of such flow; i.e., toward the mouthpiece 4. Flap 5 will include a conductive element which is in turn electrically connected to a conductive portion of attachment 1. It will be understood that all of the conductive elements of the invention are suitably insulated from the aqueous environment in which 7 the invention is utilized. The movement of flap 5 during inhalation caused the flap to assume a second position wherein it is in contact with an electrical contact 5. The connection established between flap 5 and contact 5 will complete an electrical circuit indicated generally at 27. The flap 5 will stay in the second position with circuit 27 completed during the entire inhalation portion of the divers breathing cycle. When the diver exhales the air flow to the mouthpiece 4 is interrupted and spring 6 moves flap 5 back to its first position against port 19.
During the period of time that flap 5 is in its second position; i.e., with circuit 27 completed; current from a first direct current source 7 will flow through series connected resistor 9 and coil 10 ofa relay 12. With current flowing through the circuit a capacitor 8 will charge to a level determined by the size of resistor 9. The contacts 13 of relay 12 are connected in a second circuit, indicated generally at 11, which includes a second direct current source 14 and series connected solenoid 15. When energized, solenoid 15 holds a mechanical latch or retaining device 16 against a release spring 18 and thereby prevents liberation of the floatable alarm system 17. Alarm system 17 will be described in detail below in the course of the discussion of FIG. 3. As noted, the force provided by energized solenoid 15 is greater than that of tension spring 18. Upon deenergization of solenoid 15, and after a predetermined time lapse, the force of spring 18 will move the retaining means 16 out of its latching position thereby releasing alarm system 17 which ascends to the surface of the water due to its buoyancy.
Operation of the invention may be better understood from the joint consideration of the FIGS. 1 and 2. FIG. 2 depicts the charge on capacitor 8 as a function of time and the divers breathing rhythm. After a first period of time 20-21, which may be considered as the start time, a period of normal breathing 21-22 follows.
A single breathing cycle 24-26 comprises inhalation time 24-25 and exhalation time 25-26. During inhalation time 24-25 movable flap 5 assumes its second position and completes the electrical circuit 27. Accordingly, during time period 24-25 the voltage across capacitor 8 and also the voltage across coil 10 of relay 12 will increase from level X to level Y. During exhalation period 25-26 the movable flap 5 is returned to its first position and circuit 27 is open. Accordingly, during time period 25-26 the voltage across capacitor 8 will decrease from level Y to level X. During this exhalation period the charge stored in capacitor 8 maintains the voltage across the coil 10 of relay 12. Thus, it may be seen that the voltage across capacitor 8 and coil 10 cycles during normal breathing between maximum and minimum levels which are dependent upon the divers respiration rate and the size of capacitor 8 and resistor 9. The size of the components comprising circuit 27 are selected so that during the exhalation portions of the diver s breathing cycle the voltage across capacitor 8 will, under normal conditions, always exceed a preselected level indicated as Z-Z. The selection of the value of the components of the circuit 27 should further permit non-breathing of the diver during a period of time extending over several normal breathing cycles without triggering the alarm system. The voltage level Z-Z represents the minimum voltage required for energization of relay 12 to hold contacts 13 of circuit 11 in the closed position to thereby keep solenoid 15 energized. Below voltage level Z-Z' the contacts 13 of relay 12 will be opened thus de-energizing solenoid 15 and permitting spring 18 to release the floatable alarm system 17.
At the time indicated at 22 in FIG. 2 the normal breathing of the diver has stopped. Thus, beginning from time 22, capacitor 8 will discharge through coil 10 and at time 23 the charge on capacitor 8 will be insufficient to hold relay 12 closed and contacts 13 will open thereby tie-energizing solenoid 15, through the opening of circuit 11, and permitting release of floatable alarm 17.
As will be obvious to those skilled in the art, in order to reduce the size and weight of the invention the relay 12 may be replaced by an electronic switch. Use of an electronic switch, of course, will also reduce the system power requirements thereby permitting employment of a smaller battery 7 and a smaller capacitor 8.
It is also to be noted that in the FIG. 1 scheme, should compression spring 6 break the movable flap 5 would stay in its second position whereby circuit 27 would be permanently completed and the automatic control loop would be rendered ineffective. If deemed desirable this problem may be obviated by including the spring 6 as an integral part of the conductive path of circuit 27.
Referring now to FIG. 3, the preferred embodiment of apparatus in accordance with the present invention is shown schematically. The apparatus comprises two major subsystems; the floatable alarm system 17 and control circuitry located within housing 35.. As discussed above the invention includes means for connecting alarm system 17 to housing 35 and means for manually or automatically liberating the alarm system from the housing.
In FIG. 3 alarm system 17 is retained on housing 35 by means of a pin 37 corresponding to retaining device 16 of FIG. 1, which is received in an aperture 38 in an extension of the alarm system housing; the alarm system housing extension being received in a channel in the control loop housing.
In its normal position pin 37 engages aperture 38 thus preventing the release of the buoyant alarm system. In case of emergency, pin 37 is retracted, either automatically or manually, from aperture 38. Upon retraction of pin 37 a compression spring 39 will assist in the separation of the alarm system from the control loop housing. As described above in the discussion of FIGS. 1 and 2, a solenoid 15 energized through the action of the automatic control circuit acts on the retaining means 37 and is opposed by a spring 18.
The embodiment of FIG. 3 includes a third control circuit 42 which comprises a main three position switch 43 and a series connected push button type switch 44. Series connected switches 43 and 44 select the mode of operation of the apparatus and, in so doing, completes a circuit between one of the terminals of battery 7 of FIG. 1 and the remainder of circuit 27. Accordingly, the energy supply to circuit 27 is switched on or off by third control circuit 42. The main switch 43 is operated by hand through the intermediary of lever means 45 whereby the movable contact arm of switch 43 may be cause to assume a first position 46, a second position 47 or a third position 48. In position 46, indicated by a broken line, switch 43 will open the electrical control circuit 42 thereby de-energizing circuit 27 and placing the automatic control loop out of service. However, with switch 43 in first position 46 the pin 37 is mechanically locked against solenoid 15 and the floatable alarm system 17 cannot be released. Position 46 of switch 43 is employed when the safety apparatus is not used.
In its second position, indicated by the solid line 47, switch 43 closes third control circuit 42 thereby energizing automatic control circuit 27 and placing it in normal operation.
In its third position 48, also indicated by a broken line, switch 43 opens third control circuit 42 and deenergizes control circuit 27. However, unlike first posi tion 46, in position 48 of switch 43 the retaining means 16 is not mechanically blocked against solenoid 15 and the alarm will be released through the operation of spring 18. Position 48 of switch 43 thus constitutes a manually operable alarm release.
The push button type switch 44 may also be employed to de-energize the automatic control circuit 27. With switch 43 in position 47 the operation of the switch 44 for a sufficient time period, for example a time period equivalent to period 22-23 of FIG. 2, will result in the release of the alarm. Accordingly, it may be seen that switch 44 is included as a second manually operable emergency alarm release device.
A further manually operable alarm release device may be included in the invention. This further or third emergency device comprises a handle 49 and a line 50 which is connected directly to pin 37. Except when switch 43 is in its first position 46, the diver may release alarm system 17 by pulling pin 37 out of engagement with aperture 38 manually via line 50.
The alarm system 17, in its most basic version, is comprised of a floatable body comprised of a material which is distinctively colored and easily visable. Alarm system 17 may further comprise a reel 28 which is mounted on a shaft 29 and which serves as a storage medium for a line 30. The first end of line 30 is connected to reel 28 and the other end of line 30 is con nected to control loop housing 35 at point 31. Line 30 may be graduated in feet whereby the divers depth may be immediately ascertained when the alarm device 17 reaches the surface from visible observation of the unwound line remaining on reel 28. However, rather 5 than graduating line 30, a counter 32 may be added to the alarm system; counter 32 will be driven by reel 38 as line 30 is unwound.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention the floatable alarm system 17 further comprises an inflatable balloon 33 which will be inflated by a sparklet 34. The sparklet 34 is retained in its normal position by a safty pin 51. Pin 51 will be withdrawn through the intermediary of a spring 52 if alarm system 17 becomes separated from control loop housing 35. Upon withdrawal of pin 51 a furnther spring 53 pushes the sparklet 34 against a striker 54 and gas under reduced pressure flows through tube 55 and inflates balloon 33. Balloon 33 will, of course, be chosen of a material having a color which is easily visible against the surface of the water.
The alarm system 17 may also comprise an ampoule 56 containing a concentrated liquid dye. The ampoule 56 is broken by a small hammer 57 activated by a spring 58 when alarm device 17 separates from control loop housing 35. The liquid from ampoule 56 is released from the housing of alarm system 17 via small openings and will dye the water.
A bathymetric recorder 59 may also be mounted on alarm system 17. Recorder 59 is driven, for example, by and electric motor 60 energized by a battery 61 and is switched onby switch 62. Switch 62 is connected to the operating device or lever means 45 of switch 43. Pressure readings are provided to recorder 59 by a spring loaded manometer 63. When energized, the recorder 59 gives useful information about the different periods of time the diver has stayed at different depth levels where by decompression procedures for the diver can, if necessary, later be determined.
While a preferred embodiment has been shown and described, various modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustration and not limitation.
What is claimed is:
1. A divers safety applicance comprising:
means responsive to the divers respiration rate for generating an electrical signal commensurate therewith; 50
a housing carried by a diver;
floatable alarm means;
latch means attached to said housing for releasably retaining said alarm means on said housing;
solenoid means for operating said latch means in a first direction with respect to said alarm means; resilient means operating in opposition to said solenoid means for operating said latch means in a second direction with respect to said alarm means; and means responsive to said respiration rate signal for changing the state of energization of said solenoid means whereby said latch means will be operated to release said alarm means from said housing upon disruption of the divers normal respiration rate.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising:
means for manually separating said alarm means from said housing.
3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said respiration rate signal generating means comprises:
a direct current source; first switch means, said first switch means including a movable member responsive to the delivery of air to the diver, said first switch means movable member being operated in response to the divers respiration rate to complete and interrupt a current path through said first switch means, said first switch means being connected in series with said current source; capacitor means connected in parallel with said current source and first switch means; and second switch means connected in parallel with said capacitor means, said second switch means controlling the operation of said solenoid means. 4. The apparatus of claim 3 further comprising: means for manually separating said alarm means from said housing. 5. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said respiration rate signal generating means comprises:
a direct current source; switch means, said switch means including a movable member situated in the path through which air is delivered to the diver, said switch means movable member being operated in response to the divers respiration rate to complete and interrupt a current path through said switch means, said switch means being connected in series with said current source; capacitor means connected in parallel with said current source and switch means; and relay means connected in parallel with said capacitor means, said relay means controlling the energization of said solenoid means. 6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said alarm means comprises:
a buoyant container; means mounted on said buoyant container for releasably storing a line, a first end of the line being connected to said storing means; and means connecting the second end of the line to said housing whereby said line will be pulled from said storage means upon separation of said alarm means from said housing. 7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said alarm means comprises:
a buoyant container; means mounted on said buoyant container for releasably storing a line, a first end of the line being connected to said storing means; and means connecting the second end of the line to said housing whereby said line will be pulled from said storage means upon separation of said alarm means from said housing. 8. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said alarm means comprises:
a buoyant container; means mounted on said buoyant container for releasably storing a line, a first end of the line being connected to said storing means; and means connecting the second end of the line to said housing whereby said line will be pulled from said storage means upon separation of said alarm means from said housing. 9. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said alarm means further comprises:
means responsive to the separation of said buoyant container from said housing for enhancing the visibility of said container when it reaches the water surface.
10. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said alarm means further comprises:
means responsive to the separation of said buoyant container from said housing for enhancing the visibily of said container when it reaches the water surface.
11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said alarm means comprises:
a buoyant container; and
extendable means connecting said container to said housing, said extendable means providing an indication at the water surface of the divers depth.
12. A divers safety appliance comprising:
means responsive to the divers respiration rate for generating an electrical signal commensurate therewith;
a housing carried by the diver;
a buoyant container;
extendable means connecting said container to said housing, said extendable means providing an indication at the water surface of the divers depth;
releasable retaining means positioned within said housing, said retaining means normally engaging said buoyant container to prevent the surfacing thereof;
10 tion rate signal generating means comprises;
a direct current source;
switch means, said switch means including a movable member responsive to the delivery of air to the diver, said switch means movable member being operated in response to the divers respiration rate to complete and interrupt a current path through said switch means, said switch means being connected in series with said current source;
capacitor means connected in parailel with said current source and switch means; and
actuator means connected in parallel with said ca pacitor means and responsive to the potential thereacross for controlling the Operation of said holding means.
14. The apparatus of claim 13 further comprising:
means for manually overriding said holding means to thereby release said container from said housing.