Title:
Combined digital depth control and rate of ascent control device for scubadiving
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A combined digital depth control and rate of ascent control device to be used by scuba divers. The device would automatically prevent the diver from exceeding a predetermined depth and prevent the diver from ascending at an excessively high rate. The device comprises a sealed housing attachable to the apparatus so as to be submerged in the water with the diver. The housing has an inlet connectable to the pressurized gas tank, an outlet connected to the inflatable buoyancy jacket, a control passageway between the inlet and outlet, being automatically displaced to open the passageway upon sensing the predetermined depth.



Inventors:
Biran, Daniel (Gival Ada, IL)
Goldenberg, Gerghon (Carcoor, IL)
Spenser, Benjamin (Zihron Yaakov, IL)
Application Number:
10/138244
Publication Date:
09/12/2002
Filing Date:
05/06/2002
Assignee:
BIRAN DANIEL
GOLDENBERG GERGHON
SPENSER BENJAMIN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
405/185, 114/80
International Classes:
B63C11/02; B63C11/32; (IPC1-7): B63C11/02; B63B3/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MAYO-PINNOCK, TARA LEIGH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A combined depth and rate of ascent control device to be used with a “Self-Contained Underwater-Breathing Apparatus”, for sensing the depth of a diver and for automatically increasing the buoyancy of a buoyancy compensator when the diver is submerged at a predetermined depth in the water, to thereby prevent the diver from exceeding said predetermined depth, and automatically to decrease or terminate ascent when it exceeds a predetermined rate, said control device includes a housing having an inlet connectable to a pressurized gas tank, an outlet connected to an inflatable buoyancy jacket, controlled passageways between said inlet and outlet, said passageways being automatically controlled by a central control unit, controlling valves which are actuated by means of solenoids.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said control unit is adopted to control the solenoids.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said housing further includes a power source.

4. The apparatus according to claim 3 wherein said power source is a battery.

5. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said device further includes a manual actuator.

6. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus further includes an inflator tube permitting the diver to blow air into said buoyancy compensator.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a device to be used in SCUBA (derived from “Self-Contained Underwater-Breathing Apparatus”) diving apparatus, and particularly to digital device which automatically prevents the diver using it, from exceeding a predetermined depth, and a rate of ascent control to prevent the diver from ascending at an excessively high rate which may be harmful to the diver.

[0002] SCUBA diving apparatus generally includes a buoyancy compensator attachable to the diver to enable the diver to operate at any desired depth. In one type of such diving apparatus, the buoyancy compensator is an inflatable device, e.g., a jacket or vest worn by the diver or a pillow attached to the diver, such that the change in volume of the buoyancy compensator changes the buoyancy of the diver. Another type of buoyancy compensator includes a constant volume tank into which water is admitted or expelled to change the buoyancy of the diver. In both types of devices, there is a danger that the diver may unwillingly exceed a predetermined depth such as to result in a serious danger to the divers health or safety.

[0003] In the conventional apparatus, the inflation or deflation of the buoyancy compensator is manually controlled by the diver. However, in such apparatus, there is a danger that the diver may unwillingly ascend at an unduly high rate such as may cause the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood, a disorder called “bends”, which can be extremely painful and even fatal.

OBJECTS AND BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] An object of the present invention is to provide SCUBA divers with a device which minimizes the foregoing dangers.

[0005] According to the present invention, there is provided SCUBA diving apparatus comprising: a buoyancy compensator attachable to a diver, and a combined digital depth control and a rate of ascent control device for sensing the depth, and rate of ascent of the diver and for automatically increasing the buoyancy of the buoyancy compensator when the diver is submerged at a predetermined depth in the water, or when the rate of ascent exceeds a predetermined value to thereby prevent the diver from exceeding the predetermined depth.

[0006] The invention is particularly useful in the type of diving apparatus including an inflatable buoyancy device, particularly an inflatable buoyancy jacket, and is therefore described below with respect to this application.

[0007] According to further features in the described preferred embodiments, the apparatus further includes a pressurized gas tank, attachable to the diver, and a conduit between the inflatable buoyancy jacket and the pressurized gas tank and controlled by the depth control device to automatically introduce gas into the inflatable buoyancy jacket, and thereby to further inflate it, when the diver is at the predetermined depth.

[0008] The rate of ascent control device automatically vents the interior of the inflatable device to the outside water when the rate of ascent exceeds a predetermined value.

[0009] According to further features in the described preferred embodiments, the combined digital depth and rate of ascent control device includes a sealed housing attachable to the apparatus so as to be submerged in the water with the diver. The housing has an inlet connectable to the pressurized gas tank, an outlet connected to the inflatable buoyancy jacket, a control passageway between the inlet and outlet, being automatically displaced to open the passageway upon sensing the predetermined depth.

[0010] It will thus be seen that apparatus constructed in accordance with the foregoing features automatically prevents the diver from ascending at a rate exceeding a predetermined value which might be harmful to the diver. Thus, as soon as this predetermined rate of ascent is sensed, the interior of the inflatable buoyancy compensator is automatically vented to the outside water, thereby immediately decreasing the rate of ascent.

[0011] According to still further preferred features, the housing further includes a manual actuator for manually moving the displaceable member against the force of the spring to open the passageway.

[0012] Within the housing there are further provided batteries supplying electrical power to the various components including a controller, and solenoids adapted to open and close the various passageways, inlets and outlets.

[0013] Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0015] FIG. 1 illustrates the well known form of SCUBA diving apparatus;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a perspective illustration of the new device incorporated in the diving apparatus;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a cross section of the control device; and

[0018] FIG. 4 is a top illustration of the control device.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0019] Overall Construction (FIG. 1, prior art)

[0020] The SCUBA diving apparatus illustrated in FIG. 1 comprises a buoyancy compensator in the form of a buoyancy jacket BJ which is to be worn by the diver. It includes inflatable chambers to adjust the buoyancy of the diver, and thereby to permit the diver to operate at different depths. Attached to the buoyancy jacket BJ is a pressurized air tank PT which supplies air to inflate the buoyancy jacket BJ via a pressure regulator PR and conduits 2 and 3. The latter conduits include a depth control device DC provided with manual controls 4, 5 and an inflator tube IT permitting the diver to manually control the degree of inflation of the buoyancy jacket. Manual control 4 is a button which is manually depressed by the diver in order to introduce air into the inflatable buoyancy jacket BJ, and manual control 5 is a second button depressed by the diver in order to discharge air from the buoyancy jacket BJ, or to inflate it by blowing through inflator tube IT.

[0021] The depth control unit DC, including the inflator tube IT and the manual controls 4 and 5.

[0022] The pressure tank PT also supplies breathing air to the diver via a conduit 6, demand regulator DR, and mouthpiece MP. A pressure gauge PG connected to the pressure tank PT via the pressure regulator PR enables the diver to observe the pressure state of the tank. The pressure gauge PG also carries a depth gauge DG enabling the diver to observe the depth of the diver.

[0023] The buoyancy jacket BJ illustrated in FIG. 1 further includes a manual valve MV which may be operated by the diver by pulling a pull cord 8 in order to discharge air from the buoyancy jacket.

[0024] The depth control device DC in FIG. 1 is constructed to sense the depth of the diver, and automatically to control the air introduced from the pressure tank PT into the buoyancy jacket BJ in order to increase the buoyancy of the diver when the diver reaches a predetermined depth, thereby preventing the diver from exceeding the predetermined depth which may represent a hazard to the diver's health or safety. The control unit is adopted, for automatically increasing the buoyancy of the diver when at the predetermined maximum depth, the inflator tube IT enables the diver to blow air into the buoyancy jacket in order to increase its buoyancy.

[0025] The buoyancy compensator, in this case the inflatable buoyancy jacket BJ, is provided with a rate of ascent control device ROA which is effective to sense the rate of ascent of the diver and automatically to decrease or terminate the ascent when it exceeds a predetermined rate which may be harmful to the diver. This is done by automatically venting the interior of the buoyancy jacket BJ to the atmosphere in order to discharge a quantity of air from the jacket to thereby reduce the buoyancy of the diver.

[0026] The diving equipment insofar as described above is well known, and therefore further details of its construction and operation are not set forth herein.

[0027] The Depth Control and Rate of Ascent Unit

[0028] The combined depth control and rate of ascent unit includes a housing 10 formed with an inlet 11 connectable to the pressure tank PT via the pressure regulator PR and conduit 2. Housing 10 further includes an outlet 12 connectable to the buoyancy jacket BJ via conduit 3. A solenoid controlled valve 13 within housing 10 connects the inlet 11 to the outlet 12. Valve 13 is controlled by a solenoid 14. Button 4 may also be depressed to open the passageway to further inflate the buoyancy jacket. Button 5, on the other hand, may be manually depressed to deflate the buoyancy jacket, or to permit the diver to blow air into the buoyancy jacket via inflator tube IT, which would carry a mouthpiece MP for this purpose.

[0029] A second solenoid 15 controls release valve 16 mounted on conduit 3. A controller unit 18 empowered by batteries 19 controls both solenoids and consequently valves 13 and 16.

[0030] Before diving the diver would plan the dive and insert the data into controller 18 accordingly. The controller 18 is adopted to perform the following:

[0031] a. measure the actual depth in which the diver is in real time,

[0032] b. measure the rate of ascent of the diver,

[0033] c. could be adjusted for the maximum depth into which the diver is planning to dive,

[0034] d. programmed to control the rate of ascent.

[0035] In the event the diver exceeds the depth which was planned valve 13 would open, compressed air would enter the buoyancy compensator which would cause the slowing or stopping of the descent of the diver.

[0036] In the event the ascent of the diver is too fast valve 16 would open by means of solenoid 15 which would cause the release of air from the buoyancy compensator which would stop the fast ascenting of the diver.

[0037] The pressure at the inlet 11 connected to the pressure reducer PR (FIG. 1) is the reduced pressure from the pressure tank PT plus the water pressure at the depth of the diver. So long as the diver is above the predetermined maximum depth, the pressure at inlet 11 will be insufficient, relative to the pressure in the buoyancy jacket BJ. However, should the diver reach the predetermined maximum depth, the pressure at the inlet 11 will be sufficient to activate solenoid 14, whereby a quantity of air flow from the pressure tank PT into the buoyancy jacket BJ via inlet 11, valve seat 21, passageway 13. This flow of air into the buoyancy jacket BJ will further inflate the buoyancy jacket, and thereby prevent the diver from exceeding the predetermined depth. The descent of the diver may also be controlled by manual button 5.