A PORTABLE AND MODULAR SCUBA-BASED AIR-TOOL SYSTEM FOR EXCAVATION AND PREPARATION OF LARGE VERTEBRATE SPECIMENS IN CHALLENGING FIELD CONDITIONS
We retrofitted a standard SCUBA tank to run air tools using standard connectors. A SCUBA tank was outfitted with a first stage regulator and quick connect for standard air tools. An in-line air-pressure gauge and regulator allow for fine control of the air pressure provided to the tools. A modified buoyancy control device (BCD) is used as a backpack to haul the tank and tools into the field. The SCUBA tank is able to operate a variety of standard air tools including hammer drills and air scribes. The hammer drill can be used to remove large sections of matrix to free specimens for field jacketing. An air scribe can be used for more delicate work if the situation arises. Without adaptation, we’ve used this combination on cliff faces of over 50 feet and to provide air power to tools under water.
The simplicity of the system provides a striking departure from the weight and sensitivity of traditional compressor-dependent systems. The core SCUBA equipment is designed for ease of use by a single person and is readily available through the internet or local scuba shop. Necessary maintenance and safety precautions are standard and available through any scuba shop. There are also limitations associated with a finite air supply.
Overall, field testing has shown the system to be a robust and portable alternative to compressor-driven systems.