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Old 01-28-2013
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Re: DIY - discussion on building a DIY hookah diving compressor

I've done the research on this years ago and even set up a rig and breathed of it (on land) for a while. Here is the problem in a nutshell:

Setting this up safely looks easier than it is. What will get you killed here is not what you don't know (because you can look that up) it's what you don't know you don't know.

I'll try and explain. By nature I am an iconoclast. If I'm told that there is only one way to do things, I immediately feel that that is a challenge and attempt to re-invent the wheel. That's just me. I also don't usually buy the argument that "it has to be certified to be safe" or "there are special parts in there." With this application I was/am wrong.

It seems like a simple engineering problem to build one (and basically it is) but when I tested my theory and congratulated myself on my success, I didn't know that industrial hoses break down and will cause me to inhale rubber. I didn't know that the "oil-less" compressor actually has oil in it, or that he tank would rust.

There is also the SCUBA issue. It seems like you should be able to breathe off this thing and swim around right? Wrong. If you're checking out your anchor at a nice shallow depth of 14 feet, and you decide to swim to the surface slowly without exhaling your lungs will rupture. That's the air you breathed in at depth expanding. Yet, if you took the same breath at the surface and dove down and back up, you'd be fine. These simple, non-intuitive issues will get you killed.

Getting SCUBA certified is easy and I think it would be a requirement for anyone to safely use a hookah setup. Do yourself a favor and get certified.

As far as the engineering, it can be done, just don't cheap out and do your homework. The second stage of a scuba regulator is set (but adjustable) at 120PSI which, is coincidentally the same PSI that many compressors run at. It's a simple $2 fitting to connect the 2nd stage of the regulator to an industrial hose (that's what I did and thought I was being safe) but in order to be safe you need to carefully engineer the whole system. Aspiration pneumonitis or lipoid pneumonia is not a great way to die.

MedSailor
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