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Old 07-24-2007, 01:19 AM
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Default Amazing Underwater Flight!


The Aqueon, want to "fly" underwater up to 6 mph under your own power? If so, read on ...


Calvin A. Gongwer, "Cal" graduated from CalTech in Aeronautical Technology and has approached design problems from that perspective. Fluids include both air and water and are governed by fluid dynamics. So shifting from airborne travel to underwater in practical design is no big change in things, right? Wrong. This 92 year old renowned hydrodynamicist and inventor is still going hard at it through his company, Innerspace Corporation along with his son, Dr. Robert Gongwer.



http://www.innerspacethrusters.com/.


Over time he has amassed over 71 patents in underwater technology. His fertile imagination has resulted in the creation of numerous innovations, including thrusters used on many important platforms such as the submersibles Alvin, Deep Rover and numerous Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) including the Triton, Oceaneering, Perry and other vehicles.



The Deep Rover sporting gray Innerspace Corporation thrusters


Cal first had the idea for a oscillating foil propulsion system about 55 years ago. He was inspired by fish and dolphin tail fin propulsion. How to adapt the motion into a man-driven device? So came about the Aqueon. The Aqueon is a man-powered diver propulsion device capable of producing speeds of 5 1/2 kts. A 165 lb. diver was measured to develop static thrust of 87 lbs. exceeding most electric diver propulsion vehicles that come to mind. For two years he traveled the world promoting his device in the 1960's. The world may not quite have been ready.

Cal tells me it took about 50 years for the bicycle to catch on and now look at it today. In U.S. Navy trials two UDT swimmers equipped with twin 90 cft. diving tanks (Northhill aluminum 90's, had a pair myself with UDT Frogs back in the day, sssh) and fins swam for all they were worth a distance of 1500 yds. The divers made it in 44 min. 20 sec. and were exhausted. They did the run again two hours later with Aqueons in 24 minutes and arrived energized and ready for more. These swimmers had minimal experience with the Aqueon. Wonder what their time might have been with some more practice? Let's think about that, you have a commando force that becomes knackered swimming full speed with fins but arrives in almost half the time and in fresh condition with the Aqueon. The teams are still primarily using fins and electric DPV's, 50 years later?

Cal related a demo he did for the military in one of the towing tanks at the David Taylor R&D Center in the mid '70's. He was on his game and could really rip with the Aqueon. He was moving in excess of the speed to create skin ripples on his back around 4 kts.. So, he was likely the first diver to break the "wrinkle speed barrier." You can review full product literature and performance test results HERE



Last weekend I took the Aqueon out on the Wreck of the Inchulva off Delray Beach, FL. We were treated to some excellent 70 ft. viz. in bluewater.


Cal has quite a lot of time on the Aqueon naturally enough and some notable crossings. He crossed length of Lake Tahoe, 22 miles in 14 hours when he was 52. The next year he topped that by towing a man on a paddle board across the Catalina Channel in 11 hours.



Looking back to the mainland from Avalon on Santa Catalina Island


He told me about sneaking up on basking sharks and giving them a jolt with this strange looking device on the way to Catalina. He described another case of a fit 185 lb. man who towed his similarly sized brother for 100 m (plus turn at 50 m) in an underwater breathhold dive in a pool.





I was lucky enough to find one of these in my early UW exploration days as a teenager in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. My good friend Vic and I used to tool offshore at speed over the reefs. It was an amazing way to check things out, with minimal exertion. Vic still has two of these in Alaska, the Bahamas, the Middle East or wherever he lands next with the requisite dolphins and water.


Recently I contacted Cal and acquired another Aqueon. Some pictures and videos of the device in action appear throughout this article.



Moving out across the wreck


A short video clip of the device in action. NOTE: All of the recent still and video Aqueon images were taken with the new Olympus 770 SW amphibious camera.* The stills are processed with Photoshop, but what else is new? Apologies for the distracting spine-like brown phytoplankton that show up in the shots on an otherwise very clear day. The camera is an impressive device all on its own and in a very small water & shock resistant package.






You can work up a nice head of speed with the Aqueon. The unit requires some ease in the water and a bit time to get used to it. Still when you see someone moving out naturally enough you may want to do it yourself. Gliding underwater with minimal exertion is an unusual sensation. Ripping loose on a speed run is only more so.



Moving around the boilers



The Delray Wreck or the Wreck of the Inchulva is comprised of several sections including the boilers shown above and this section of hull.




Nice viz. for a warm summer day





Cal put this design together consisting of a low drag face shield/faring, integrated snorkel and even compass display for the run to Catalina as shown in Popular Mechanics, November 1968. It might look funny to some but it serves a variety of essential functions for distance runs in cold water. He had 14 painful hours experiencing elevated convective heat loss from his head the year prior in crossing Lake Tahoe to think up this design. Necessity as always the mother of invention. His bride of 67 years sometimes requests that some of the accumulated inventions from over the years move on from the family garage. Lots of history there, if you ever have a garage sale, let me know!


The day prior we headed out to the nearshore reef off Deerfield Beach. The viz. wasn't nearly as nice as off Delray the next day, still you get a feel for the performance of the Aqueon.



Exaggerating the stroke to enter into a dive. Still figuring out ways to use the Aqueon for best effect in free diving.


It had a secondary trait that I wasn't expecting. There was also a small turtle, perhaps a male cruising for a likely female to create some eggs with.






Swimming along and off into the haze.


I followed along for a while and I think the guy fell for the Aqueon. He wasn't running away and when I veered off and stopped he actually turned and came over my way.








So, for a fifty year old design it is pretty incredible. Makes you wonder why you don't see them out all over? Well, like Cal said, it took 50 years for people to embrace the bicycle. Perhaps a new day may be coming for the Aqueon.







* Olympus 770 SW 7.1 Megapixel Camera


3.6” W x 2.3” H x 0.8” D !

For more info: http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_se...p?product=1287




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Last edited by RickI; 07-26-2007 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:28 PM
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Excellent, Rick. I'd like to try the Aqueon and maybe even buy one. Are they available? The photos from the Olympus look sharp, especially the turtle. Video even looks good.
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Old 07-25-2007, 11:30 PM
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Thanks George! The units are out of production. Then again, with enough interest that could be put BACK into production. Fingers crossed on that one.

I copied some material from the Innerspace website about Aqueon performance below:




From: http://www.innerspacethrusters.com/Aqueon.htm


Note the plot including compressed air consumption from a 71.5 cft. tank (how many guys today have even used one of those?). We used to do lots of stupid stuff with single 72's. Anyway, take a look at the ratio of regular fins to Aqueon consumption at 1.5 kts. It works out to about 1.5 to 3.8 or roughly 40% LESS air consumption when moving at 1.5 kts.. That is significant to say the least. It would be interesting to see comparative stats. for free diving.

Cal calculated a propulsive power ratio of Aqueon to fins of 6.37 or over 6 times more effective.
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Old 08-22-2007, 09:46 AM
Mikey Boh Mikey Boh is offline
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That's one of the more cooler inventions I've seen in quite a while! I'm crossing my fingers along with you, have to keep checking their site in the hopes that they'll produce some more of these. Thanks for posting this Rick.
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:11 PM
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I took the Aqueon over to Bimini in the Bahamas recently. Taking some extra time to sort out editing the clips but decided to toss a couple out as teasers. There were taken on the wreck of the Sapona, a ferrocement ship blown aground in the 1930's. The Sapona was a rumrunner and seagoing casino in her day and once grounded a target for Army Air Corp aircraft mustering out of SE Florida.


The diver shown here had been on the Aqueon for about 30 minutes at this point. She was a very quick study and natural at using the device.


Moving along inside the grounded vessel.

More to come, stay tuned ...
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Old 07-23-2008, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budgy View Post
Hi
Great thread. The Aqueon is facinating. I was looking at the description in the patent and I was wondering can it be adjusted in use for forward and reverse direction.
As Cal the designer explained it to me, the mod involves placing eyescrews into the outer portions of the foils just behind the axle hole. You don't want to be so close as to cause damage to the wood between the screw and the hole for the axle. He said he would invert the foils and reattach the string passing through the tension spring. He would adjust the tension to suit at that point. He said it would work with the diver descending in a heads up attitude. This presents certain ergonomic considerations and possible benefits for deeper diving.

The tricky part comes in coverting back into the normal foils down configuration for the ascent. You don't want to spend too much time messing around with attachments, potentially dropping foils off the axle, etc. at depth.

I think some innovation of rapidly adjustable and secure attachments are in order to implement this mod for deeper free diving. I thought about having two attachment points with hooks for each of the two foils. That way the lengths are preset and attachment might be accomplished more rapidly. Doing something to secure the foils on the axle would be in order should this option be pursued for securities sake.

Have you picked one of these things up?
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:23 AM
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I've been looking at the pictures trying to figure out how it goes together and what makes it work. How you get it to reverse seems so obvious now, I feel foolish I asked the question. I've never picked one up, I just read about it on the web this week. From what I've seen and read, I want to try one. I've asked Innerspace how much they cost with a view to buying one. Although after reading your post, I'd guess unless there's one or two in the back of their stores somewhere, theres not likely to be one for sale, so I expect if I want one I better figure out how to make one.

I was wondering how the foils were retained on the axle. I guess I know now.

Instead of damaging the wood, how about two fishing rod eyelets bound back to back, to the tubular shaft. For quick change forward/reverse I wondered if I could string the foils with light bungy cord and fasten it with a dog lead clip top-side eyelet/ forward. To change direction release and pass the bungy over the foil and fasten it base side for reverse. If it works, I'm not sure about the foil security. If I wasn't happy with my two hands, I might try using one of those cord clips most fleece jackets and outdoor clothing have and slide it up to the foils first.

Last edited by budgy; 07-25-2008 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budgy View Post
I've been looking at the pictures trying to figure out how it goes together and what makes it work. How you get it to reverse seems so obvious now, I feel foolish I asked the question. I've never picked one up, I just read about it on the web this week. From what I've seen and read, I want to try one. I've asked Innerspace how much they cost with a view to buying one. Although after reading your post, I'd guess unless there's one or two in the back of their stores somewhere, theres not likely to be one for sale, so I expect if I want one I better figure out how to make one.

I was wondering how the foils were retained on the axle. I guess I know now.

Instead of damaging the wood, how about two fishing rod eyelets bound back to back, to the tubular shaft. For quick change forward/reverse I wondered if I could string the foils with light bungy cord and fasten it with a dog lead clip top-side eyelet/ forward. To change direction release and pass the bungy over the foil and fasten it base side for reverse. If it works, I'm not sure about the foil security. If I wasn't happy with my two hands, I might try using one of those cord clips most fleece jackets and outdoor clothing have and slide it up to the foils first.
There is quite a bit that is less than obvious in this device. It looks simple enough and in some ways it is then again there are some subtle aspects too. The guys at Innerspace may be able to help you out, hope so.

The foils are retained by light tension by the spring. Despite that you can come close to pulling them off if you set your mind to it. Accidentally during normal operation is a remote possibility in my experience though. If they tension vanishes as might be the case in setting the foils up for inverted operation some mod would be in order to stop the foils from sliding off the axle for safety's sake.

The approach you describe for inverting the foils could work. At one time I was thinking about running a pair of cords over both faces of the foil and knoting them in place with loops at each end. They would have to be seized or otherwise secured in place to avoid slipping off the end of the foil. I was planning again on using the hooks on the end of the tension line running through the spring. Lots of approaches just a matter of finding the most simplistic and reliable one. Hope you get an Aqueon.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:17 PM
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Tom Lightfoot on the west coast of Canada acquired an Aqueon and wrote about his sea trials free diving with it. He shot three videos during some of the dives including the one below involving two 45 m (148 ft.) descents.



More observations from Tom's dives appear at:
http://www.tomlightfoot.ca/freediving/stories/Aqueon
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:26 PM
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I just spoke to Cal yesterday and he told me he has some Aqueons available at $450. plus shipping. If you want an Aqueon, I would buy one while they are available.

More info at:
sales@INNERSPACETHRUSTERS.COM
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