WO1986002613A1 - Diver scuba gear - Google Patents

Diver scuba gear

Info

Publication number
WO1986002613A1
WO1986002613A1 PCT/US1985/002106 US8502106W WO1986002613A1 WO 1986002613 A1 WO1986002613 A1 WO 1986002613A1 US 8502106 W US8502106 W US 8502106W WO 1986002613 A1 WO1986002613 A1 WO 1986002613A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
diver
buoyancy
means
backpack
compensator
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1985/002106
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
William Lee Courtney
Original Assignee
William Lee Courtney
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • B63C11/18Air supply
    • B63C11/22Air supply carried by diver
    • B63C11/2245With provisions for connection to a buoyancy compensator
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • B63C11/30Ballast
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/46Divers' sleds or like craft, i.e. craft on which man in diving-suit rides
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • B63C2011/026Diving harnesses, or the like, e.g. for carrying breathing air tanks
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • B63C2011/027Shells for diving equipment, i.e. substantially rigid housings or covers, e.g. streamlined shells
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63CLAUNCHING, HAULING-OUT, OR DRY-DOCKING OF VESSELS; LIFE-SAVING IN WATER; EQUIPMENT FOR DWELLING OR WORKING UNDER WATER; MEANS FOR SALVAGING OR SEARCHING FOR UNDERWATER OBJECTS
    • B63C11/00Equipment for dwelling or working underwater; Means for searching for underwater objects
    • B63C11/02Divers' equipment
    • B63C11/30Ballast
    • B63C2011/303Ballast integral with, or directly attached to buoyancy compensator vests or to spiders of diver's backpacks combined therewith

Abstract

A backpack (12), disclosed for use with scuba gear (12), includes a rigid housing (14) substantially enclosing an air tank (22), an interior chamber vented to the surrounding water for receiving an inflatable buoyancy compensator (24), and a channel (58) for securing an adjustable amount of retrievable ballast. A trim bladder (88) is separately inflatable by the diver and arranged between the backpack (10) and the diver for allowing the diver to adjust for variations in slack, particularly at different diving depths. In another embodiment, an inflatable transport raft (224), is secured to the tank (22) and held in compact and gathered form by releasable fasteners (228) in order to permit the raft to open in response to internal inflation pressure, the backpack (10) also permitting separation of the tank with the buoyancy compensator (222) remaining in place on the diver, and the transport raft providing flotation for the tank and transport for the diver on the surface of the water. In a further embodiment, a combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator (316) includes a backpack (324) for mounting a compressed air tank on the back of the diver.

Description

DIVER SCUBA GEAR

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to scuba gear and more particularly to improvements in scuba gear for facilitating a diver's use of the gear.

Background of the Invention

Numerous designs for scuba gear components have been disclosed in the prior art to facilitate its use by divers. It is of course important for the diver to be able to rapidly and effectively manipulate the scuba gear for maintaining a supply of air to support breathing, for regulating buoyancy under water and for returning to the surface, possibly under emergency conditions. In the event that the diver desires to return to the surface, particularly under emergency conditions, his safety is of course of primary importance. However, it is also desirable that he be able to either keep the relatively expensive scuba gear with him as he returns to the surface or to have the scuba gear return to the surface by itself. This capability is important not only to recover the scuba' gear but also for more positively conditioning the diver to release or jettison all or part of the scuba gear in the event of a potential emergency. In such situations, the knowledge by the diver that the scuba gear will not be lost enables him to more readily jettison the gear and therefore to more readily deal with emergency conditions under water. As is well known among those who commonly use such gear for underwater diving, the term "scuba" is an acronym for self-contained, underwater breathing apparatus. Scuba apparatus or gear commonly includes a tank containing compressed air in order to provide the diver with an underwater supply of air or oxygen. The tank is commonly mounted on the diver's upper torso or back by means of a suitable backpack. Scuba gear also commonly includes a buoyancy compensator which the diver wears and can selectively pressurize in order to adjust his buoyancy under water. Various combinations of components for scuba gear have been disclosed in the prior art. For example, it has been known in the prior art to employ a personal flotation - device containing two structurally and functionally independent chambers for assisting pilots and other passengers in helicopters and the like to escape after emergency landings at sea. A rebreathing tube was provided with the flotation device to permit the wearer to use the flotation device as an emergency air supply. It has also been known to use inflation apparatus with a quick release coupling for interconnecting a compressed air tank with a buoyancy compensator generally , in the form of an ' inner tube and commonly referred to as a "horse collar". Similar scuba gear has included an inflatable buoyancy compensator secured to the compressed air tank and mounted on the same backpack as the air tank. With this combination, the diver could adjust his effective underwater weight or buoyancy. Since it was not always possible to accurately predict the amount of extra weight a diver must wear in order to achieve" neutral or slightly negative buoyancy under water, the backpack provided a compartment for receiving a variable amount of ballast. At the same time, the buoyancy compensator could be inflated or deflated as necessary in order to maintain desired underwater buoyancy. In the combination described immediately above, the ballast was releasable through a door on the backpack to permit particles of ballast to escape and reduce the ballast carried by the diver. However, that system is believed to be susceptible to corrosion so that significant mechanical leverage may be required to release the ballast. After substantial periods of time, it might not even be possible for the diver to open the door and release the ballast. Also, after the ballast was released from the backpack, it was lost and not available for later use. Thus, the cost of replacing the ballast could interfere with judicious operation of the scuba equipment by the diver.

Other known prior art scuba systems have operated with unique ballast systems configured for specific applications so that the diver must transport duplicate ballast systems to the dive site if he anticipates different diving conditions, for example, free diving or "skin diving" before or after scuba diving.

Furthermore, current ballast systems other than weight belts have been located substantially above the divers normal center of gravity. This arrangement has compromised the ability of the diver to move out of the water, particularly during entry and exit through heavy surf which could much more easily upset the diver with substantial weight located above his normal center of gravity.

It is also desirable for a diver to be able to deal with or overcome difficulties in a variety of situations. One of the above prior art combinations, for example, provided adjustable buoyancy in a buoyancy compensator while permitting the diver to rapidly jettison all or part of his scuba gear. However, after being jettisoned or discarded under water, the scuba gear was not readily recoverable.

Furthermore, the generally bulky configuration of scuba gear tends to interfere with rapid and efficient underwater movement of the diver, particularly for divers operating in kelp, for example. At the same time, it is also apparent that scuba gear construction is relatively complex. Thus, the diver is required to perform numerous operations while under water in order to maintain the scuba gear in proper operating condition. For example, the diver must continually adjust the degree of inflation in his buoyancy compensator in order to maintain the desired degree of buoyancy at any depth. The diver's wet or dry suit also experiences increased compression due to greater pressures at increased underwater depths. Accordingly, as the diver descends into the water and later ascends out of the water, the varying compression of his diving suit tends to cause increased or decreased "slack" in straps which secure the scuba gear to the diver's body. Commonly, as the diver descends into the water and his suit becomes ' more compressed by greater pressure, it is necessary to take up some slack in the straps so that various components of his scuba gear remain firmly in place. Similarly, as the diver rises through the water after completing^a dive, his suit decompresses and it is necessary to increase slack in the straps so that they do not become overly binding on the diver. Certain prior art scuba gear designs have provided mechanical compensators in the straps to provide some • automatic adjustment in this regard. However, these designs have relied upon operation of mechanical tensioning components in which excess tension is generated mechanically before the dive in order to absorb slack developing during the dive as the diver's suit compresses. The effectiveness of these systems is limited in that the mechanism can generate only as much tension as the diver can tolerate on the surface of the water. Thus, their effectiveness is limited and they may not be able to satisfactorily absorb all slack developed in the diver's straps. Furthermore, there are numerous situations where it is important for the diver to have transport means available for removing himself from the water. For example, when a diving site is selected which is some distance from the shore or from a boat used by the diver, it is necessary for the diver to travel either along the surface of the water or under water to and from the diving site. Return trips of this type are sometimes difficult because the diver may be exhausted from swimming against * the current, or may be suffering from hypothermia or even 9 from injury resulting for example for a laceration by 3 coral, sea urchins or jelly fish or the like. In such

^ situations, it is desirable to provide transport means capable of supporting the diver out of the water, as well as to increase visibility in search and rescue efforts. Accordingly, there has been found to remain a need

Q for improved scuba gear capable of facilitating its use by q a diver under water while making it easier for the diver

10 to function under water and to assure the safe return of

11 the diver and his equipment to the surface when desired or

12 necessary. 13 14 Summary of the Invention 15 It is therefore an object of the invention to provide

1 Λ"7' improved scuba gear capable of overcoming one or more

18 problems of the type outlined above. 19 It is a further object of the invention to provide a 20 backpack for scuba gear, the backpack comprising a rigid 1 housing including means for receiving and securing an air 2 tank or the like, an interior chamber for containing an 3 inflatable buoyancy compensator and means for receiving 4 and securing ballast, preferably in the form of a standard 5 adjustable weight belt including a conventional quick 6 release coupling. 7 It is a related object of the invention to provide 8 such a backpack wherein the rigid housing has a smooth and 9 streamlined outer shell which is hydrodynamically designed 0 to facilitate underwater movement of the diver. 1 A further related object of the invention, either in 2 combination with the above noted backpack or with other 3 scuba gear, is the provision of a trim bladder arranged on 4 an inner surface of the backpack or other device worn by 5 the diver so that the trim bladder is positioned between 6 the backpack or device and the diver, means being provided 7 for coupling the trim bladder with a source of air or gas 8 under pressure in order to permit the diver to selectively inflate or deflate the trim bladder in order to increase or decrease slack in straps securing the scuba gear in place on the diver. It is yet a further object of the invention to provide scuba gear of a type including a buoyancy compensator and a separate life vest for the diver, a power inflator device being adapted for sequentially pressurizing the buoyancy compensator and life vest (and possibly a life raft as noted below) through a single control device operated by the diver. It is another object of the invention to provide an emergency marker device including fixed buoyancy means and optionally inflatable buoyancy means each capable of rising to the surface to perform a marking function. It is a more specific object of the invention to . provide such scuba gear including a compressed air tank for providing an underwater source of air to the diver, the scuba gear further comprising backpack means for securing the tank to the diver, an inflatable transport raft suitable for being gathered in compact form and secured to the tank, releasable means holding the raft in its compact gathered form on the tank to permit the raft to be a portion of the scuba gear during underwater use by the diver. The releasable means is preferably adapted for permitting the transport raft to open when the raft is inflated so that the raft provides a flotation means for the tank when the tank is separated from the diver, the raft also providing transport means for the diver on the surface of the water. The backpack means and a separate vest type buoyancy compensator are preferably adapted for separate connection to the back or upper torso of the diver. This combination is desirable so that the buoyancy compensator remains available to the diver even after he frees himself from the tank. With such a combination, the transport raft provides a flotation means for the tank while the diver continues to have a buoyancy compensator available for 1 assisting his return to the surface if necessary.

^ It is a still further object of the invention to

3 provide a combined life vest device and buoyancy

4 compensator for use by divers along with scuba gear -* including back pack means for mounting a compressed air " tank on the diver's back. The combined life vest device ' and buoyancy compensator comprises a garment worn by the

Q

° diver and includes buoyancy compensator means in the form

' of a first air-tight chamber formed in the garment closely 0 adjacent the location of the tank. With the buoyancy 1 compensator in this position, it tends to maintain the 2 diver's usual center of gravity while under water. The 3 garment also includes life vest means in the form of a 4 second chamber generally surrounding a portion of the 5 diver's torso. With this combination, pressure in the 6 buoyancy compensator chamber may readily be adjusted in 7 order to maintain desired buoyancy for the diver. At the 8 same time, the life vest chamber may be left uninflated to 9 provide greater freedom of movement for the diver. 0 In one embodiment of the invention, the buoyancy compensator chamber and life vest chamber are both formed 2 in complementary relation to each other in a single 3 garment. In another embodiment, the buoyancy compensator 4 chamber is separable from the life vest chamber in order 5 to remain with the tank when it is removed by the diver. 6 In that embodiment, a quick release coupling is provided 7 in the interconnection between the chambers to facilitate 8 separation as described above. 9 Additional objects and advantages of the invention 0 are made apparent in the following description having 1 reference to the accompanying drawings. 2 3 Brief Description of the Drawings 4 5 FIGURE 1 is an isometric view of a rigid backpack 6 forming an internal buoyancy compensator chamber and 7 ballast mounting means. 8 FIGURE 2 is a side view of a diver wearing both a life vest and the backpack of the invention with an air tank supported in place upon and within the backpack, internal features of the backpack being shown in phantom. FIGURE 3 is a view of the opposite side of the backpack from that shown in FIGURE 2, a portion of the backpack being broken away in FIGURE 3 to illustrate its internal construction and also to better illustrate the arrangement of a trim bladder with respect to the backpack. FIGURE 4 is a front view of the diver wearing the backpack of the invention, as viewed for example from the right side of FIGURE 2. FIGURE 5 is a back view of the diver also wearing the backpack of the invention, taken for example from the left side of FIGURE 2. FIGURE 6 is a view of the backpack from the rear and by itself to better illustrate its streamlined construction. FIGURE 7 is a pictorial representation of scuba gear constructed in accordance with another embodiment invention. FIGURE 8 is a similar pictorial representation of the scuba gear with the raft inflated and supporting both the air tank and diver. FIGURE 9 is a view of the air tank with the raft folded and secured in place. FIGURE 10 is another view of the buoyancy compensator of FIGURES 7 - 9. FIGURE 11 is a view of a combined life vest device a d buoyancy compensator of the present invention shown generally in developed or spread out fashion, with the outline of a diver being shown in broken lines to illustrate the construction of the device and the manner of its use by the diver. FIGURE 12 is a pictorial representation of a diver while under water with the buoyancy compensator portion or chamber of the device being inflated. FIGURE 13 is a similar pictorial representation of the diver at the surface and with the life vest portion also being inflated to provide additional flotation for the diver. FIGURE 14 is a side view of the diver with only the buoyancy compensator chamber being inflated, FIGURES 12 and 14 showing a different embodiment of the invention from FIGURES 11, 13 and 15. FIGURE 14a is an enlarged fragmentary view taken from FIGURE 14 as indicated. FIGURE 15 is similarly a side view of a diver with both the buoyancy compensator and life vest chambers of the device inflated. FIGURE 15a is an enlarged fragmentary view taken from FIGURE 15.

Description of the Preferred Embodiment

Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIGURE 1, a backpack 10 is illustrated for use with scuba gear indicated at 12. The backpack 10 of the invention includes, as a particularly important feature, a rigid housing 14 forming an internal chamber 16 vented to the surrounding water and ballast mounting means 18. As described in greater detail below, the backpack 10 also includes means 20 for receiving and securing an air tank 22 in place upon and within the backpack. The air tank and associated hoses are preferably substantially entirely enclosed with the backpack in order to provide even greater streamlining. The buoyancy compensator chamber 16 is internally formed within the rigid housing 14 for containing a flexible buoyancy compensator container 24 (see FIGURE 3). The backpack also forms ballast mounting means 18 as described in greater detail below. The backpack 10 offers a number of particularly important advantages for use with scuba gear. Initially, an outer shell 26 of the backpack or housing 14 is formed with a smooth and streamlined contour for minimizing drag 1 as the diver moves under water. At the same time, the hard

2 shell 26 of the housing provides greater puncture and tear

3 resistance for the buoyancy compensator container or

4 bladder 24. The rigid backpack 10 is preferably formed from

" structural foam or other low density material so that the

' backpack itself provides inherent fixed buoyancy for the

8 scuba gear. The inherent fixed buoyancy provided by the

° backpack can be in excess of the amount of negative 0 buoyancy for the entire backpack or scuba system less the ballast. Therefore, even upon failure of the first stage 2 regulator, referred to below and indicated at 98, interrupting operation of both high pressure and low 4 pressure systems of the scuba gear and preventing inflation of either the buoyancy compensator or trim " bladder referred to below, recovery or salvage of the 7 backpack would be assured. o For example, it is estimated that the above purpose ° could be accomplished by providing about 6 to 10 pounds of 0 fixed or inherent buoyancy in the backpack. With the 1 buoyancy compensator intact, the device could support 30 2 to 80 pounds of gear, for example. 3 Even further, the rigid backpack forms an ideal base 4 for mounting various attachments such as lights, motors, 5 marking devices, cameras, flashlights, etc. As noted 6 above, all of this equipment is preferably attached 7 directly to the backpack and would thus be assured of 8 salvage in case the scuba gear were jettisoned.

The manner in which the invention provides these advantages while also realizing additional functions and advantages is described in greater detail below.

Referring particularly to FIGURES 1-3, the backpack 10 is configured so that it can be comfortably mounted upon the diver's back. For this reason, an inwardly facing surface 28 has a generally free form shape designed to conform with contours of the diver's back. In 7 addition, projections 30 and 32 extend forwardly from lower lateral portions of the backpack generally adjacent the diver's hips. As may be best seen in FIGURES 2 and 4, a waist belt 34 is anchored at 36 and 38 to these projections. Especially with the waist belt 34 in place as illustrated in FIGURE 4, the projections 30 and 32 permit a portion of the weight of the backpack and associated scuba components to be carried upon the diver's hips generally in the manner of backpack designs used to carry large loads during hiking. Similarly, projections 40 and 42 extend forwardly from lateral upper portions of the backpack generally adjacent the diver's shoulders. Shoulder straps 44 are respectively anchored to these projections and extend downwardly for connection with the waist belt 34. The shoulder straps 44 as well as the waist belt 34 all include heavily padded portions 46 at least near the points of support on the diver to better distribute the weight of the backpack. Referring now to FIGURE 6, the air tank 22 is secured in place upon and within the backpack by means 20 including a centrally arranged, longitudinally extending recess 48 shaped to receive the air tank. With the air tank 22 arranged in the recess 48, it is held in place by straps 50 as may be best seen for example in FIGURES 2 and 5. Referring also to FIGURES 2 and 3, the internal chamber 16 for the buoyancy compensator container 24 extends into all available interior space of the backpack, about the air tank 22, including the sides of the recess 48 and transversely across an upper portion of the backpack above the recess 48. As may be best seen in FIGURE 3, the flexible buoyancy compensator container 24 generally conforms with while being slightly larger than the interior of the internal chamber 16 so that stress of inflation is transferred to the rigid backpack. A door 52 is preferably arranged in a portion of the backpack to provide access to the internal chamber 16, for example, to permit installation and replacement as necessary of the buoyancy compensator container 24, batteries for lights and motors, etc. As noted above, the rigid backpack 10 also forms the ballast mounting means 18 for receiving any desired amount of ballast on the backpack. The mounting means 18 also facilitates release of all or part of a segmented ballast arrangement under the influence of gravity as is described in greater detail below. The ballast mounting means 18 is preferably adapted for mounting ballast in the form of a conventional weight belt 54 having a quick release buckle 56 as normally used for securing such a weight belt in place about the diver's waist. Unlike prior art backpack ballast systems, the present design allows the diver to use the same ballast (or part of the ballast) even without the tank 22. It has sometimes been found difficult with prior art systems to use excessive amounts of ballast with a weight belt on the diver's waist because,of the increased weight and discomfort to the diver. As was also noted above, the weight belt has also presented a problem in the past because of the effect of substantial underwater pressures to compress the diving suit. Particularly with a relatively heavy ballast, the diver found it necessary to frequently adjust the weight belt in order to make sure that it was snugly secured about his waist without being either too loose or too tight, a procedure that can result in accidental loss of the ballast and premature termination of a dive, while also requiring continued attention of the diver. Arrangement of the weight belt 54 upon the ballast mounting means 18 avoids these problems while positioning the ballast near the diver's lower back in order to maintain a desired center of gravity for the diver and thereby facilitate movement of the diver in heavy surf or on land, for example. At the same time, the ballast mounting means 18 includes a channel 58 formed between flanges 60 and 62 on the rigid backpack for receiving the ballast or weight belt 54. Thus, after a diver has determined the amount of ballast that he desires for a 1 given dive, that amount of ballast may be placed on his

2 weight belt 54, the weight belt 54 being positioned in the

3 rigid channel 58 between the flanges 60 and 62. With the buckle 56 producing substantial tension to secure the

5 weight belt 54 about the channel 58 of the backpack, the

6 flanges prevent the weight belt 54 from moving or becoming ' disengaged from the backpack.

° Mounting the weight belt on the backpack also permits

° the use of significantly more weight than is normally 0 contemplated with conventional scuba gear. This excess 1 capacity may be useful for example to a diver using a dry 2 suit and requiring substantially increased ballast to 3 offset the increased buoyancy of the dry suit. 4 Additionally, the increased ballast is very useful in 5 other situations, even with the diver wearing a wet suit, 6 for example. When operating on the bottom of the ocean, 7 deflation of an oversized buoyancy compensator normally ° compensating for the increased ballast allows the diver to 9 remain more firmly in place on the ocean floor. This 0 provides stability against underwater current surges and 1 may prevent injury which would otherwise result from the 2 diver being swept against coral or sea urchins, for 3 example. In addition, the increased stability provided by 4 the present invention may similarly be useful in other 5 underwater activities such as photography, salvage or 6 search and recovery operations. 7 An emergency marker device 64 is also mounted on the 8 backpack generally adjacent the weight belt 54. 9 Generally, the marker device 64 includes fixed buoyancy means 66 normally in the form of closed cell foam which is 1 inherently buoyant. The device 64 also includes a 2 compressed gas canister 68 which is operable by the diver 3 for introducing compressed air or gas into an inflatable portion 70 of the device. The device 64 is coupled with 5 the weight belt 54 by means of a line 72, a substantial 6 portion of the line 72 being coiled within the device 64, 7 Preferably, the line 72 includes quick 8 release means so that, in non-emergency situations, the diver may uncouple the marker device from the weight belt and use it for other purposes, for example, to mark the location of found objects or the like. A number of hook elements 74 are integrally formed in the surface of the backpack (see FIGURES 1-3) to provide a convenient mounting point for various accessories such as flashlights, additional lines, cameras, etc. Referring particularly to FIGURES 2 and 5, motor driven propeller units 76 are mounted on both sides of the backpack for use by the diver to dramatically extend underwater mobility and range. The motor driven units 76 are powered for example by batteries (not shown) arranged within the backpack itself or contained in a battery pack attached by the quick release belt to the bottom of the backpack and operated for example by a rheostat-type switch 78. The backpack preferably comprises lighting units 80 and 82 which are particularly useful to the diver because of their location just above and behind his shoulders. The lights 80 and 82 preferably comprise a floodlight and strobe light respectively operated by the diver through an additional rheostat switch 84 and an on-off switch 86. The rheostat switches 78, 84 and 86 are all mounted on the lateral projection 32 near the diver's waist in order to be particularly convenient for use by the diver. A trim bladder 88 provides a particularly comfortable and effective means permitting the diver to adjust tension in the straps or belts securing the backpack in place as he is exposed to different underwater pressures while either descending or ascending under water. For this purpose, the trim bladder 88 is a flexible airtight cushion or container overlapping a substantial portion of the inwardly facing surface 28 adjacent the diver's back. Rather than requiring the diver to continually adjust the waist belt 34 or shoulder straps 44 in response to different underwater pressures and different degrees of compression, or relying on self-adjusting mechanical devices which may be susceptible to failure, the trim bladder 88 provides a particularly simple means for adjusting slack in all straps or mountings of the backpack by a valve control described in greater detail below. At the same time, the trim bladder 88 provides cushioning or padding which conforms with individual contours of the diver's back to make the backpack 10 even more comfortable.

The trim bladder provides an independently inflated device which can serve as an emergency back-up for the buoyancy compensator. Before describing the inflation devices of the invention, it is recommended that the diver also wear a life vest 90 in addition to the backpack 10. An inflatable device such as a raft 92 may also be secured to the air tank 22 by a strap 93. As noted in one of the copending references above, the raft 92 is releasa"bly secured to the air tank 22 and is selectively inflatable in order to carry the air tank 22 or salvage objects, for example, to the surface. At the same time, the inflatable raft 92 may be employed on the surface to provide safety and transport for the diver 12. In any event, additional scuba gear components associated with the backpack 10 include inflation devices for regulating pressure within the buoyancy compensator 24, the life vest 90 and the inflatable raft 92 as well as the trim bladder 88. Preferably, the inflation device of the present invention provides for sequential pressurization of the buoyancy compensator 24, the life vest 90 and the inflatable raft 92 in a sequential manner through a single control operated by the diver. Since it is commonly desirable for the diver to be able to simultaneously and independently adjust pressure in the buoyancy compensator 24 and in the trim bladder 88, a separate inflation control device is provided for the trim bladder 88 as described in greater detail below.

In accordance with conventional practice, and referring particularly to FIGURES 1 and 5, the air tank 22 is provided with conventional regulator apparatus 94 for admitting air under pressure from the tank into air lines 96 and 98. The air line 96 is coupled with a conventional second stage demand regulator including a breathing device for the diver (not otherwise shown). The other air line 98 is coupled with a conventional power and manual inflation device 100 and also with another air line 102 through a T-junction 104. The air line 98 is coupled with the buoyancy compensator compartment. The air line 102 is coupled to a pressure valve 106 for a purpose described further below. Continuing with reference to FIGURE 1, a single control valve 110 regulates admission of air pressure into the buoyancy compensator. Similarly, the diver can relieve air pressure from the buoyancy compensator by means of a manual dump valve means 112 which simultaneously operates high and low positioned dump valves to deflate the buoyancy compensator regardless of diver position. Most current life vests or buoyancy compensators separately worn by the diver are similar to the life vest 90 and can thus be used with the backpack of the present invention. This design allows the diver to operate the entire system including the life vest or buoyancy compensator through the single control valve 110. Normal operation of the buoyancy compensator 24 is carried out in a pressure range selected to permit maximum inflation and maximum buoyancy desired for the buoyancy compensator. The life vest 90 remains uninflated until the end of the dive or the occurrence of an emergency. With the life vest being uninflated, he maintains a more hydrodynamic configuration under water. Continued operation of the single control valve 110 beyond the maximum pressure selected for the buoyancy compensator initiates inflation of the life vest. For example, should the diver desire only about ten to fifteen pounds positive buoyancy, he can disconnect his life vest by the quick release coupling described below. In an emergency, he can continue to inflate the life vest to maximum buoyancy before disconnecting it. The same valve 110 can also be operated to develop pressure in the buoyancy compensator and life vest above a second preselected pressure whereupon a life raft can be inflated as described below. The life raft may be used, for example, on the surface to allow an injured diver or diver suffering from hypothermia to remove himself from the low temperature environment of the water. Referring also to FIGURE 2 and FIGURE 4, a relief valve 112 is coupled with the buoyancy compensator container 24 and with the life vest 90 by means of a quick release coupling 114. With the relief valve 112 coupled between the buoyancy compensator and the life vest, it is preferably set to open and communicate air pressure from the buoyancy compensator to the life vest when pressure in the buoyancy compensator exceeds a first predetermined pressure level, for example one pound per square inch (psi). At the same time, referring also to FIGURE 5, a relief valve 116 is provided for the inflatable raft 92. A second quick release coupling 118 is coupled with the buoyancy compensator. The second relief valve 116 is set to open at a second predetermined level, preferably higher than the first predetermined pressure level referred to above. For example, the second relief valve 116 may be 'set to open when pressure in the buoyancy compensator exceeds about two psi so that higher pressures in the buoyancy compensator pass through the second relief valve 116 to inflate the raft 92. If the diver is diving without a life raft, the second relief valve 116 functions as the final relief valve for both the buoyancy compensator 24 and the life vest 90. Should the diver be diving with a life raft as described above, a third pressure relief valve set for example at a still higher pressure, for example three psi, would then serve to protect the life raft as well as the buoyancy compensator 24 and life vest from overinflation . The air line 102 is in communication with the trim bladder 88 through the control valve 106 which is preferably mounted on the left hand projection 32 of the backpack (see FIGURE 3). A dump valve 122 for the trim bladder 88 is mounted adjacent the control valve 106 so that the diver may selectively increase or decrease pressure within the trim bladder 88 to either decrease or increase slack in the waist belt 34 and shoulder straps 44 holding the backpack 10 in place. The trim bladder is shown in a relatively deflated condition in FIGURE 2. This condition might be used for example when the diver is at the surface of the water preparing for an underwater dive. As the diver goes further and further under the surface and is exposed to greater pressures, his suit is relatively compressed as noted above so that the waist belt 34 and shoulder straps 44 holding the backpack 10 in place tend to become relatively slack. At such a time, the diver could merely increase pressure within the trim bladder 54 as illustrated in FIGURE 3 to take up some of the slack noted above. Increased buoyancy can also be compensated for by operating the relief or dump valve of the buoyancy compensator. Conversely, as the diver is ascending following a dive, pressure is gradually released from the trim bladder 88 through the dump valve 122 in order to similarly introduce additional slack in the waist belt 34 and shoulder straps 44. Referring now to FIGURE 7, a diver 212 is illustrated wearing scuba gear 214. The scuba gear 214 comprises a compressed air tank 216 which is adapted for attachment to the diver's back or torso 218 by means of a backpack generally indicated at 220. The backpack 220 is interrelated with a vest-type buoyancy compensator 222 so that both can be secured closely about the torso 218 of the diver. The backpack 220 and vest-type buoyancy compensator 222 are separate components, the backpack 220 serving to secure the tank 216 in place upon the diver while permitting the buoyancy compensator 222 to be inflated for conventional underwater use in order to adjust the buoyancy of the diver. At the same time, as will also be described in greater detail below, the diver can rapidly release the tank 216 and the backpack 220 by operation of quick release means described below. An inflatable transport raft 224 is secured to the tank 216 and backpack 220 by straps 226. In addition to being secured to the tank 216 by the straps 226, the transport raft 224 is maintained in compact and gathered form as illustrated in FIGURE 7 by additional releasable elements 228. Preferably, the elements 228 are a type including hook and loop fasteners (not shown) conventionally available under the trademark VELCRO from the Velcro Corporation. Thus, the elements 228 permit the raft 224 to open in response to internal pressure developed during inflation of the raft and otherwise maintain the raft as a streamlined package on the tank. An inflation device 230 permits the raft 224 to be inflated either from air pressure in the tank 216 or manually by the diver 212 blowing into a mouthpiece 232. Referring also to FIGURE 10 where portions of the backpack are illustrated in this regard, the backpack 220 includes elongated straps 234, 236 and 238 adapted for interconnection with separate quick release buckles also forming a portion of the backpack 220 and indicated respectively at 240, 242 and 244. One of the straps, for exarapled that indicated at 234 passes about the waist of the diver and is connected for example with the quick release buckle indicated at 240. The other two elongated straps 236 and 238 pass separately about the shoulders of the diver 212 for connection with the respective quick release buckles 242 and 244.

As may be best seen in FIGURE 10, the elongated shoulder straps 236 and 238 are threaded through slots or openings 246 and 248 formed toward the top of a back panel 250 of the buoyancy compensator 222. The waist strap 234 and the quick release buckles 240, 242 and 244 are threaded through larger openings 252 and 254 near the bottom of the back panel 250. The entire back panel of the buoyancy compensator could be open to facilitate passage of the straps and buckles as described above. However, the configuration shown here is preferred for structural integrity. The buoyancy compensator 222 also includes an inflation device 256 of the same type described above for the raft and indicated at 230. In addition to the back panel 250, the buoyancy compensator 222 also includes inflatable portions 258 adapted for arrangement adjacent the diver's waist, chest and shoulders as illustrated in FIGURE 1 in order to provide generally balanced buoyancy and support for the diver either under water or on the surface of the water. As is illustrated in FIGURES 7-9, the inflatable transport raft 224 is secured to the tank 216 opposite the diver 212 so that the raft does not interfere with the diver's use of the scuba gear while under water. The raft may include oar locks 260 in the form of nylon loops and paddles such as that indicated at 62 to further facilitate the diver's use of the raft in either traveling to or returning from a diving site. " Initially, as will be described in greater detail below, the diver 212 may use the raft 224 in order to reach a selected diving site if desired. In any event, once at the diving site, the scuba gear 214 is arranged in the configuration illustrated in FIGURE 7. Whether the diver swims to the diving site or uses the raft, it is contemplated that he will be wearing the buoyancy compensator 222. If the diver uses the raft 224 for reaching the diving site, he also deflates the raft 224 and gathers it together by folding or rolling for example into the compact configuration illustrated in FIGURES 7 and 9. Thereafter, the diver continues with an underwater dive. During such a dive, he can use the inflation device 256 for the buoyancy compensator 222 in a conventional manner for helping him regulate his underwater buoyancy. In the event that the diver wishes to return to the surface and particularly to do so unencumbered by most of the scuba gear 214, he may rapidly separate himself from the tank 216 by use of the quick release buckles 240-244. At the same time, the inflation device 256 preferably includes a quick release coupling (not shown) interconnected with the tank 216. Accordingly, before undoing the quick release buckles 240-244 or shortly thereafter, the diver may employ the inflation device 256 for developing a selected buoyancy within the compensator 222. The straps 234-238 and quick release buckles 240-244 are then separated from the buoyancy compensator through the openings 246, 248 and 252, 254. The diver can then inflate the rart by means of the inflation device 230 either by means of the tank 216 or an emergency compressed gas -source as noted above if desired. In response to development of inflation pressure within the raft, the quick release elements 228 release from each other and permit the raft to open by unfolding or unrolling. The raft 224 then serves as a flotation device for carrying the tank 216 to the surface of the water where it normally assumes the configuration illustrated in FIGURE 7. At the same time, the diver 212 retains the buoyancy compensator 222 for assisting him in arriving at the surface of the water, if necessary or desired. Once on the surface of the water, the diver may then enter the raft 224 so that he is supported out of the water, generally indicated at 264 in FIGURE 7. The diver may then use the paddle 262 in the manner described above for returning from the diving site. Referring now to FIGURES 13 and 15, a diver 312 is illustrated wearing scuba gear generally indicated at 314 which is constructed in accordance with the present invention. In Figure 11, a combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator 316 is shown in developed or spread out fashion to better illustrate its construction with the diver 312 being shown in broken lines. Another embodiment of the combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of the present invention is illustrated in Figures 12 and 14. The embodiment of Figures 12 and 14 includes substantially the same features arid components as the device of Figures 13 and 15 while employing a conventional wet suit 320 as an inner portion or shell of the device. In that embodiment, the wet suit provides the necessary fixed buoyancy referred to above. Accordingly, the combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator illustrated in Figures 12 and 14 along with the wet suit 320 is indicated at 316'. Fixed buoyancy is commonly provided by a closed cell foam available for example under the trademark NEOPRENE in the wet suit to develop a minimum buoyancy of, for example, 10 ± 0.5 pounds in the event of failure of all inflatable chambers. With the addition of the buoyancy from inflation of the life vest and buoyancy compensator chambers, total buoyancy approaches fifty to seventy pounds. Referring in combination to Figures 11 - 15, the scuba gear 314 comprises a compressed air tank 322 which is adapted for attachment to the diver's back or torso 318 by means of a backpack generally indicated at 324. Referring particularly to Figure 13, the backpack 324 is worn externally of the device 316 or 316' by the diver and includes straps 326 with quick release couplings 328 to facilitate removal of the tank by the diver when desired.

An inflatable transport raft 330 is preferably secured to the tank 322 and is usable both as a buoyancy device for carrying the tank 322 to the surface of the water and also to provide transport for the diver 312 on the surface of the water.

The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator 316 illustrated in Figures 11, 13 and 15 is preferably constructed as a single garment having an outer liner 332 providing abrasion resistance for the garment and an inner liner 334 positioned next to the diver's body. Referring momentarily to the other embodiment of the device indicated at 316' in Figures 12 and 14, the inner shell 334 is attached to a full wet suit 320 in the embodiment 316'. The garment may be designed for separation from the wet suit, for example, by means of zippers or fabric fasteners, to permit use of the device with different wet suits or to permit replacement of the wet suit for example if it were to wear out faster than the device 16'. On the other hand, the device may be formed as an entirely separate garment as illustrated for example at 316 in Figures 11, 13 and 15 so that it may be used either with or without a wet suit. As noted above, the wet suit provides a critical or minimum amount of fixed buoyancy. The following comments are directed toward the embodiment 316 of the combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator. However, it is to be noted that the other embodiment of the device as indicated at 316' includes all the same features. Accordingly, similar features in the device 316' are also indicated by similar primed numerals. Referring now particularly to Figure 11 , the device or garment 316 is formed with a first air-tight chamber or flexible container 336 forming a buoyancy compensator and arranged closely adjacent the air tank 322 when worn by the diver as best seen in Figures 14 and 15. A second air-tight chamber or flexible container 338 is also formed in the garment between the liners 332 and 334. The second chamber 338 is designed to wrap about at least a portion of the diver's torso 318 in order to provide an optional flotation device for the diver. As illustrated in Figure 11, the second chamber or flexible container 338 has a W-configuration with an elongated central element or portion 340 extending along the diver's back. Elongated lateral portions 342 of the second chamber or container- 338 are interconnected with the central portion 340 while being arranged to lie adjacent the diver's chest or the front of his torso as may be best seen in Figures 12, 14 and 15. The first chamber or container 336 has an inverted U- configuration so that it extends transversely behind the diver's neck and downwardly to surround the air tank 322. In addition, the U-configuration of the first chamber 336 complements and nests within the elements of the W- configuration for the second chamber or container 338 to provide greater comfort for the diver. The first chamber 336 also includes a central extension or projection 344 positioned just behind the diver's head to act as a cushion, for example, when the diver raises his head in a manner so that he may accidently bump the controls 346 on the air tank 322. The device 316 also includes straps or fasteners 348 adapted to secure the device 316 about the diver's waist. Straps 350 on the lateral portions 342 of the device pass over the diver's shoulders and engage quick release couplings 352 on additional straps 354. A power inflator 356 is connected to the first chamber 336 as indicated at 358 and may be connected with the tank 322 through the controls 346 in conventional fashion. The power inflator 356 includes a mouthpiece 362 and is generally of conventional construction as noted above. The power inflator 356 regulates pressure within the first buoyancy compensator chamber 336. Another power inflator 331 includes manual means as indicated at 399 for supplying air under pressure to the raft 330. Other features in the device 316 enabling it to function as contemplated in the present invention are described below. Initially, the second chamber 338 is preferably inflated by a means of an interconnection 364 arranged between the first and second chambers 336 and 338. The interconnection 364 includes a first one-way check valve 366 for releasing air through the interconnection 364 to inflate the second chamber 338 when pressure in the first chamber 336 exceeds a predetermined level, for example, about one pound per square inch (psi). Normal operation of the buoyancy compensator chamber 336 is possible within a pressure range beneath that level. Thus, the diver may employ the power inflator 356 to increase or decrease pressure and thus change buoyancy by means of the chamber 336 while underwater. Either at the time of returning to the surface or after reaching the surface, the diver may then operate the power inflator 356 so that pressure in the buoyancy compensator 336 exceeds that pressure level, causing airflow through the interconnection 364 for inflating the life vest chamber 338. In order to provide a warning to the diver that the life vest chamber 338 is about to be inflated, the interconnection 364 preferably includes a second one-way check valve 368 arranged adjacent the life vest chamber 338 and set at a somewhat higher pressure than the first check valve, for example, two psi. The space in the interconnection 364 between the two check valves comprises a transition space or tube 365 between the first and second chambers. An indicator for the diver such as a whistle indicated at 370 is arranged within the interconnection 364 between the first and second check valves 366 and 368. This feature avoids accidental inflation of the second chamber 338. The second life vest chamber 338 is also provided with a high pressure relief valve 372 of generally conventional construction and set for example to relieve a 1" pressure from the second chamber 338 when it exceeds a third (highest) predetermined pressure level, for example, three psi. A manually operated relief valve 374 is also provided in communication with the first chamber 336 at 358. Yet another manual relief valve 400 is provided for the transition tube 365. A rebreathing tube 376 is connected with the second chamber 38 and includes a mouthpiece 378 so that the diver or even a companion may rebreathe air from the second chamber 338 for a short period of time. Normally, a flap 380 is secured over the rebreathing tube 376 by means of a quick release cloth fastener 382. An emergency supply of air is provided by means of a compressed carbon dioxide (CO ) canister 384 for the first chamber 336. A similar emergency canister 386 is also provided for the second chamber 338. Both of the emergency canisters 384 and 386 include manual means 388 permitting the diver to use the canisters for respectively pressurizing the first chamber 336 or second chamber 338. In order to better adapt the second chamber 338 as a rebreathing source through the tube 376, the canister 386 is filled with oxygen. Preferably, the canister 384 is also filled with oxygen. As illustrated in Figure 11, the first and second chambers 336 and 338 are joined at a seam 390 formed by the garment or device 316. However, in another embodiment contemplated for the invention, the first chamber or container 336 is separable from the second chamber or container 338 to permit the first chamber 336 to remain with the air tank 322 and backpack 324 when they are removed by the diver. Thus, in such an embodiment, the -seam 390 could be formed by a quick release cloth fastening of the type also indicated at 382 for the flap 380. To further facilitate separation of the first chamber 336 from the second chamber 338, the interconnection 364 is preferably provided with a quick release coupling, formed for example, within the one-way check valve 366. The manner of operation and use of the device 316 or 316' by the diver 312 is believed readily apparent from the preceding description of the apparatus. However, a typical mode of operation is briefly described below in order to assure a complete understanding of the invention. Initially, with the tank 322, backpack 324 and combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator 316' arranged upon the diver as illustrated for example in Figure 14, the diver when he is under water operates the power inflator 356 to regulate pressure in the buoyancy compensator chamber 336. Operation in this manner is also illustrated in Figure 12. When the diver decides to return to the surface of the water, he initially removes the air tank 322 and backpack 24 by means of the quick release couplings 328 (see FIGURE 13). However, before removing the tank 322 or before allowing it to be returned to the surface by the inflatable raft 330, he may employ the power inflator 356 to raise the pressure in the first chamber 336 so that it first opens the check valve 366 and actuates the whistle 364. Continued operation of the power inflator 356 opens the second check valve 368 and permits inflation of the second chamber 338. The diver may also choose to inflate the raft 330 by means of the manual control 399 on the power inflator (see FIGURE 12), thereafter allowing the raft 330 to carry the tank 322 and backpack 324 to the surface as illustrated in FIGURE 13. With the second chamber 338 being inflated, it provides buoyancy for the diver to assist him in returning to the surface and/or provides flotation for the diver at the surface as illustrated in FIGURE 13. While the diver is returning to the surface, he may use the air or oxygen in the second chamber 338 through the rebreathing tube 376 under emergency conditions. Accordingly, there has been described a particularly novel backpack for use by scuba divers and the like including a number of particularly novel features. Numerous modifications and variations are believed apparent from the preceding description. Thus, the scope of the invention is defined only by the following appended claims.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A backpack of a type used by divers with scuba gear including a compressed air tank to provide an underwater source of air and quick release means for securing the backpack on the diver while permitting the diver to rapidly free himself from the backpack, comprising a rigid housing structure, means formed by the housing structure for receiving and securing the air tank in place, an interior chamber formed by the rigid housing structure and arranged adjacent the receiving and securing means for the air tank to contain an inflatable buoyancy compensator, and mounting means also formed by the rigid housing structure for receiving and securing ballast means.
2. The backpack of Claim 1 wherein the mounting means opens outwardly to facilitate separation of the ballast means from the backpack under the influence of gravity, the mounting means being formed around the interior chamber of the backpack and generally adjacent the diver's lower back.
3. The backpack of Claim 2 wherein the mounting means comprises a channel formed between flanges for maintaining the ballast means in engagement with the mounting means.
4. The backpack of Claim 1 wherein the rigid housing structure is formed with low density means to provide a predetermined amount of fixed buoyancy.
5. The backpack of Claim 1 wherein the rigid housing structure of the backpack has a generally smooth and streamlined outer shell to facilitate movement of the diver underwater.
6. The backpack of Claim 5 being further configured to substantially enclose the air tank.
7. The backpack of Claim 1 wherein an inwardly facing surface of the rigid housing structure is configured to generally conform to the diver's back.
8. The backpack of Claim 7 further comprising means projecting forwardly from upper portions of the rigid housing structure for partially supporting weight of the backpack on the diver's shoulders.
9. The backpack of Claim 8 further comprising shoulder straps for the diver secured respectively to the rigid housing structure adjacent the upper projecting means.
10. The backpack of Claim 1 further comprising a flexible trim bladder arranged upon an inwardly facing surface of the rigid housing structure so that it is positioned between the backpack and the diver in use and means for coupling the trim bladder with an -inflator means to permit the diver to independently and selectively inflate and deflate the trim bladder.
11. The backpack of Claim 1 further comprising emergency marker means arranged on the rigid housing structure and adapted to function automatically upon release of the ballast means from the backpack, the emergency marker means also being separable from the ballast means for selective use by the diver.
12. The backpack of Claim 11 wherein the emergency marker means comprises both fixed and inflatable buoyancy means.
13. The backpack of Claim 1 further comprising a flexible inflatable buoyancy compensator arranged in the interior chamber of the rigid housing structure, the backpack further being adapted to substantially enclose inflator means connected with the air tank and operated by the diver, the inflator means being coupled with the buoyancy compensator, the buoyancy compensator comprising outlet relief valve means adapted for communication with an inflatable life vest worn by the diver after pressure in the buoyancy compensator is raised above a first predetermined level.
14. The backpack of Claim 13 further comprising an inflatable transport raft normally deflated and secured to the air tank, an outlet- valve from the buoyancy compensator being interconnected with the inflatable transport raft for inflating .the raft when pressure in the buoyancy compensator exceeds a second predetermined pressure level whereby the diver may selectively pressurize the buoyancy compensator, the life vest and the inflatable transport raft by a single control device in the inflator means.
15. The backpack of Claim 14 wherein the outlet relief valve means in communication with the buoyancy compensator is adapted for use with conventional buoyancy compensators and life vests of conventional design to permit their use with the backpack.
16. The backpack of Claim 13 further comprising a flexible trim bladder arranged upon an inwardly exposed surface of the rigid housing structure, the trim bladder being operated by a separate and independent inflation control device permitting the diver to selectively inflate and deflate the trim bladder and allowing the trim bladder to serve as an emergency backup system for the buoyancy compensator and left vest.
17. In scuba gear of a type used by divers and including a source of compressed gas and a device mounted 1 upon the diver by flexible strap means surrounding a portion of the diver's body, the combination comprising a
3 flexible trim bladder arranged upon an inwardly facing
4 surface of the device so that it is positioned between the
5 device and the diver in use, and means for coupling the
6 trim bladder with the source of compressed gas, the
7 coupling means further comprising control means permitting the diver to independently and selectively inflate and
9 deflate the trim bladder in order to compensate for 0 increased and decreased slack in the flexible strap means 1 during dives. 2 3
18. The scuba gear of Claim 17 wherein the source of 4 compressed gas is an air tank also adapted for supporting 5 breathing of the diver underwater. 6 7
19. The scuba gear of Claim 18 wherein the device 8 worn by the diver is a backpack adapted for mounting the 9 air tank. 0 1
20. A power inflator device for use in scuba gear of 2 a type including an air tank mounted upon the diver's b.ack 3 by means of a backpack, a buoyancy compensator for 4 selectively overcoming negative buoyancy of the air tank 5 and other portions of the scuba gear, a life vest worn by 6 the diver and an inflatable device mounted upon the air 7 tank, the power inflator device comprising single control 8 means operatively coupled between the air tank and the 9 buoyancy compensator for allowing the diver to selectively 0 pressurize the buoyancy compensator, first valve means operatively interconnected between the buoyancy 2 compensator and the life vest for communicating air under 33 pressure from the buoyancy compensator to the life vest 34 when pressure in the buoyancy compensator exceeds a first 35 predetermined level, and second valve means operatively 36 interconnected between the buoyancy compensator and the 3' inflatable device on the air tank for communicating air ^° pressure from the life vest to the inflatable device when air pressure in the buoyancy compensator exceeds a second predetermined pressure level.
21. The power inflator device of Claim 20 further comprising a trim bladder arranged between the backpack and the diver, the power inflator device comprising additional control means operatively interconnecting the air tank with the trim bladder for permitting the diver to selectively pressurize the trim bladder independently of the buoyancy compensator.
22. An emergency marker for use in scuba gear, comprising tether means attached to a selected scuba gear component, fixed buoyancy means coupled with the tether means and releasable from the scuba gear.for floating to the surface to perform a marking function, inflatable means coupled with the fixed buoyancy means, and means for inflating the inflatable means.
23. The emergency marker of Claim 22 wherein the means for inflating the inflatable means comprises a compressed gas canister also forming a portion of the emergency marker and further comprising means for releasably connecting the emergency marker to scuba gear worn by a diver.
24. Scuba gear for use by divers and the like for carrying a compressed air tank to provide an underwater source of air, comprising backpack means for securing the tank to the diver, the backpack means comprising quick release means for permitting the diver to rapidly free himself of the tank, an inflatable transport raft suitable for supporting the diver out of the water, means for securing the transport raft to the tank, means operable by the diver for inflating the transport raft, and releasable means for maintaining the transport raft in compact and gathered form when deflated in order to facilitate the diver's underwater use of the tank with the deflated transport raft secured thereto, the releasable means being operable for allowing the transport raft to open as it is inflated, the transport raft thereupon providing flotation means for the tank when the quick release is operated for freeing the tank from the diver, the inflated transport raft also providing transport means for the diver on the surface of the water.
25. The scuba gear of Claim 24 wherein the releasable means comprises fastener means for maintaining the transport raft in compact and gathered form and for allowing the transport raft to open in response to inflation pressure developed therein.
26. The scuba gear of Claim 24 wherein the backpack means comprises means for attachment with the tank and harness means comprising both shoulder and waist strap means, the shoulder and waist strap means each including quick release means for permitting the diver to rapidly free himself of the backpack means and the tank.
27. The scuba gear of Claim 26 further comprising a vest type buoyancy compensator adapted for relatively close fitting engagement about the upper torso of the diver, the harness means of the backpack means being adapted for firmly securing the tank also on the upper torso of the diver while allowing the buoyancy compensator to be inflated and deflated on the diver.
28. The scuba gear of Claim 27 further comprising means operable by the diver for selectively regulating inflation of the buoyancy compensator and the transport raft, the inflation regulating means comprising means for inflating the buoyancy compensator and the transport raft.
29. The scuba gear of Claim 27 wherein the buoyancy compensator comprises inflatable means arranged adjacent the diver's waist and chest, the buoyancy compensator further comprising a flat panel covering a portion of the diver's back and interconnected with the inflatable means for securing them in place upon the diver's upper torso, the back panel being formed with openings for receiving the elongated straps of the backpack means in order to permit secure attachment of the backpack means to the upper torso of the diver, the openings in the back panel also being adapted for facilitating passage of the elongated straps therethrough to facilitate freeing the diver from the tank and the backpack.
30. A combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator for use by divers along with scuba gear including a compressed air tank to provide an under water source of air, backpack means for mounting the tank on the diver and quick release means for securing the back pack means to the diver and permitting the diver to rapidly free himself of both the backpack and the tank, comprising a garment adapted for fitting about the torso of the diver, buoyancy compensator means comprising a first air-tight chamber formed in the garment closely adjacent the location of the air tank on the diver, means permitting the diver to selectively regulate pressure within the buoyancy compensator chamber, a second air-tight .chamber formed in the garment to generally surround a portion of the diver's torso, and means for selectively inflating the second chamber, whereby the diver is able to regulate pressure within the first buoyancy compensator chamber during a dive, the buoyancy compensator being arranged closely adjacent the tank to maintain the diver's underwater center of gravity while also being in a position to avoid restricting movement of the diver, the second chamber being inflated only as necessary or desired by the diver.
31. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 30 wherein the garment comprises flexible containers separately forming the first and second air-tight chambers, the garment also comprising inner and outer shells providing abrasion protection for the flexible containers.
32. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 31 wherein the inner shell comprises- a wet suit.
33. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 32 wherein the garment comprising the flexible chambers is separable from the wet suit.
34. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 1 wherein the first and second air- tight chambers are of complementary nested configurations,
35. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 30 wherein the first air-tight chamber comprises an extension arranged to form a cushion behind the diver's head.
36. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 30 further comprising one-way check valve means forming an interconnection between the first and second air-tight chambers for permitting pressurization of the second air-tight chamber when pressure in the first air-tight chamber exceeds a first predetermined level.
37. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 26 further comprising a relief valve arranged in communication with the second air-tight chamber and adapted for relieving pressure in the second air-tight chamber when it exceeds a predetermined level higher than the first predetermined level.
38. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 36 further comprising a second one- way check valve arranged in series with the first one-way check valve between the first and second air-tight chambers, indicator means being arranged between the first and second one-way valves to provide a signal to the diver prior to inflation of the second air-tight chamber.
39. The combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator of Claim 30 further comprising a rebreathing tube arranged in communication with the second air-tight chamber to provide an emergency source of air for the diver.
40. Scuba gear for use by divers and the live, comprising a compressed air tank to provide an underwater source of air for the diver, backpack means for securing the tank to the diver, the backpack means comprising quick release means for permitting the diver to rapidly free himself of the tank, a buoyancy compensator means comprising a first air-tight chamber arranged closely adjacent the tank, means for selectively regulating pressure within the first chamber under the control of the diver, a second air-tight chamber arranged to generally surround a portion of the diver's torso, and a one-way check valve providing an interconnection between the first and second air-tight chambers in order to automatically inflate the second air- tight chamber when pressure in the first air-tight chamber exceeds a first predetermined level.
41. The scuba gear of Claim 40 wherein the second air-tight chamber is separable from the first chamber in order to remain with the backpack and air tank when they are removed by the diver.
42. The scuba gear of Claim 40 further comprising a second one-way check valve arranged in series with the first one-way check valve between the first and second air-tight chambers, indicator means being arranged between the first and second one-way valves to provide a signal to the diver prior to inflation of the second air-tight chamber.
43. The scuba gear of Claim 42 further comprising disconnect means associated with one of the check valves to facilitate separation of the two air-tight chambers.
PCT/US1985/002106 1984-10-24 1985-10-24 Diver scuba gear WO1986002613A1 (en)

Priority Applications (6)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US664,238 1984-10-24
US06664238 US4645465A (en) 1984-10-24 1984-10-24 Scuba gear with combined flotation and transport device
US06747005 US4681552A (en) 1985-06-20 1985-06-20 Combined life vest device and buoyancy compensator
US747,005 1985-06-20
US06785906 US4779554A (en) 1985-10-09 1985-10-09 Rigid diver backpack with internal buoyancy compensator and ballast compartment
US785,906 1985-10-09

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1986002613A1 true true WO1986002613A1 (en) 1986-05-09

Family

ID=27418103

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US1985/002106 WO1986002613A1 (en) 1984-10-24 1985-10-24 Diver scuba gear

Country Status (2)

Country Link
EP (1) EP0198066A1 (en)
WO (1) WO1986002613A1 (en)

Cited By (13)

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0215704A1 (en) * 1985-08-26 1987-03-25 U.S. Divers Company, Inc. Buoyancy compensator insertable backpack
US4791921A (en) * 1987-06-05 1988-12-20 Michael D. Shackelford Kelp shield for diver worn equipment
US4952095A (en) * 1988-12-14 1990-08-28 Walters William D Soft backpack for scuba diver air tanks
FR2651203A1 (en) * 1989-08-31 1991-03-01 Robin Paul Equipment support fairing (streamlined casing) for SCUBA diver
US5403123A (en) * 1992-07-29 1995-04-04 Walters; William D. Gas impermeable, elastically deformable laminate and inflatable articles formed therefrom
EP0909702A1 (en) * 1997-10-15 1999-04-21 HTM SPORT S.p.A. Warning device and sighting light for scuba divers
EP0826593A3 (en) * 1996-08-30 1999-11-17 Johnson Worldwide Associates, Inc. Universal accessory support system
FR2798115A1 (en) * 1999-09-08 2001-03-09 Aurelien Icard Individual lifebuoy, for divers, inflates automatically when the oxygen pressure in the lungs falls below a threshold
WO2004050473A1 (en) * 2002-12-05 2004-06-17 Empac Limited Dive propulsion system
FR2948093A1 (en) * 2009-07-01 2011-01-21 Beuchat Internat Balancing jacket for use by e.g. non-professional underwater diver for scuba diving, has dorsal element and abdominal elements independently provided with rear and front inflation chambers that are connected to breathable gas cylinder
FR2953190A1 (en) * 2009-12-02 2011-06-03 Eric Marguet Aquatic device i.e. propeller, for providing propulsion forces to displace human body on water, has internal components fixed on limb of human body, and motor and propulsion element arranged on small hull
US9180343B2 (en) 2010-03-22 2015-11-10 Opcon Pte Ltd Joint Commonality Submersible (JCS)
CN106956756A (en) * 2017-05-10 2017-07-18 朱光 Swimming and diving dual-purpose appliance

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US2114301A (en) * 1936-07-24 1938-04-19 Daniel W Harrigan Parachute life raft pack
US2538775A (en) * 1946-11-13 1951-01-23 Henry A Goldsmith Life preserver
US3436777A (en) * 1967-06-22 1969-04-08 Alden T Greenwood Diver's jacket and buoyancy control device
US4016616A (en) * 1972-10-06 1977-04-12 Lawrence S. Scott Diver flotation apparatus
US4054132A (en) * 1975-04-14 1977-10-18 Douglas Allen Deeds Integrated diving system
US4137585A (en) * 1977-06-10 1979-02-06 U.S. Divers Co. Buoyancy compensator and inflation system
US4240371A (en) * 1978-08-28 1980-12-23 Perry Theodore M Signal bladder

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US2114301A (en) * 1936-07-24 1938-04-19 Daniel W Harrigan Parachute life raft pack
US2538775A (en) * 1946-11-13 1951-01-23 Henry A Goldsmith Life preserver
US3436777A (en) * 1967-06-22 1969-04-08 Alden T Greenwood Diver's jacket and buoyancy control device
US3436777B1 (en) * 1967-06-22 1983-09-27
US4016616A (en) * 1972-10-06 1977-04-12 Lawrence S. Scott Diver flotation apparatus
US4054132A (en) * 1975-04-14 1977-10-18 Douglas Allen Deeds Integrated diving system
US4137585A (en) * 1977-06-10 1979-02-06 U.S. Divers Co. Buoyancy compensator and inflation system
US4240371A (en) * 1978-08-28 1980-12-23 Perry Theodore M Signal bladder

Cited By (14)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0215704A1 (en) * 1985-08-26 1987-03-25 U.S. Divers Company, Inc. Buoyancy compensator insertable backpack
US4791921A (en) * 1987-06-05 1988-12-20 Michael D. Shackelford Kelp shield for diver worn equipment
US4952095A (en) * 1988-12-14 1990-08-28 Walters William D Soft backpack for scuba diver air tanks
FR2651203A1 (en) * 1989-08-31 1991-03-01 Robin Paul Equipment support fairing (streamlined casing) for SCUBA diver
US5403123A (en) * 1992-07-29 1995-04-04 Walters; William D. Gas impermeable, elastically deformable laminate and inflatable articles formed therefrom
US5693412A (en) * 1992-07-29 1997-12-02 Walters; William D. Gas impermeable, elastically deformable laminate and inflatable articles formed therefrom
EP0826593A3 (en) * 1996-08-30 1999-11-17 Johnson Worldwide Associates, Inc. Universal accessory support system
EP0909702A1 (en) * 1997-10-15 1999-04-21 HTM SPORT S.p.A. Warning device and sighting light for scuba divers
FR2798115A1 (en) * 1999-09-08 2001-03-09 Aurelien Icard Individual lifebuoy, for divers, inflates automatically when the oxygen pressure in the lungs falls below a threshold
WO2004050473A1 (en) * 2002-12-05 2004-06-17 Empac Limited Dive propulsion system
FR2948093A1 (en) * 2009-07-01 2011-01-21 Beuchat Internat Balancing jacket for use by e.g. non-professional underwater diver for scuba diving, has dorsal element and abdominal elements independently provided with rear and front inflation chambers that are connected to breathable gas cylinder
FR2953190A1 (en) * 2009-12-02 2011-06-03 Eric Marguet Aquatic device i.e. propeller, for providing propulsion forces to displace human body on water, has internal components fixed on limb of human body, and motor and propulsion element arranged on small hull
US9180343B2 (en) 2010-03-22 2015-11-10 Opcon Pte Ltd Joint Commonality Submersible (JCS)
CN106956756A (en) * 2017-05-10 2017-07-18 朱光 Swimming and diving dual-purpose appliance

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