Unfortunately the dive shop I was affiliated with (Scuba Toys) sold in 2006 and I lost use of their compressor. I am extremely gracious that Scuba Toys owners, Jim and Carol Hoffman, supported my diving endeavors and allowed me to complete my blends at their shop over the years. Then during a trip to the Monterey area to dive with my good friend Andrew Georgitsis, I explained to him my delema and told him I was looking for a compressor. So "Drew" showed me an older Bauer K14 compressor sitting under a tarp in his back yard. He said, do you want to use it ? I said, hell ya. Unable to fit it in my truck at the time I returned with Jim Hoffman, Bryan Thompson and Sam Thompson to picked it up a month later.

Upon our return to Orange County, Jim and I had a local compressor shop look things over. Everything look pretty good. So we put the unit in the garage and wired it into a sub-panel. A new sheave and belt were installed and we plumbed the air output into the Ultra Pure filtration stacks. The system works great and I thanks all those who added their time, parts and ideas. I call it "Gas StationX". It has made tank fills and gas blending much easier and free me up from the hassle of traveling around, loading and un-loading heavy tanks.

Bauer K14 compressor

People might wonder why we sometimes blend gases for scuba diving. Here's the gist of it. As we descend in the water, the ambient pressure surrounding our body increases. In order to fully fill our lungs, we need to inhale a pressure of gas(s) equivalent to that ambient pressure surrounding our bodies. More gas molecules will be concentrated within this higher pressure. Once inhaled, these gas molecules will slowly move towards equilibrating all gases throughout the body.

The air that we commonly breathe on land is not always a good breathing medium for underwater. Air is roughly composed of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. Oxygen (O2) is required to sustain life via oxidative cellular metabolism. But in greater concentrations, it may become toxic. This "oxygen toxicity" can result in a seizure underwater and drowning is quit possible. To counter this problem, we reduce the amount of oxygen in our breathing mixture for deeper diving.

Nitrogen (N2) creates a whole different issue. Nitrogen is a diatomic gas molecule that is highly soluble in lipids and causes these "fats" to swell. Lipids line the membrane of cells that lie within the fluidy pathways of our neurons. It is believed that when nitrogen is perfused into these lipid membranes, swelling occurs and synapses become blocked. This creates a narcotic effect. This is known as the Meyer-Overton hypothesis. To overcome this, we reduce the amount of Nitrogen in our gas mixture, typically replacing it with Helium.

Helium (He) is a mono atomic gas with a very low lipid solubility factor. Because it doesn't cause the cell's lipid membrane to swell, it eliminates the narcotic effect. Helium also offers advantages in decompression when ascending back to the surface. Unlike Nitrogen, Helium is not retained in fatty tissues. Helium is a small, mono atomic molecule and perfusses much quicker that the diatomic Nitrogen. The increased perfussion reduces biochemical changes and lessens the overall insult to our bodies physiology. When juggling these gases around and creating alternative breathing mixture for deeper diving, we refer to this a "Mixed Gas Diving".

Gas mixing storage tanks
1200 ft3 air cascade, 1800 ft3 Helium cascade, 900 ft3 Oxygen cascade,
300 ft3 Argon for drysuit insulation
On the wall: Haskel Booster, Blending Panel
The fire triangle
Oxygen is one of three elliments required to create fire. Along with it, fuel is needed (a material that will burn) and some form of heat. Any grease, rubber or debris can become a fuel. During a scuba cylinders filling cycle, heat is generated from adiabatic pressure as the molecular friction increases as they are compressed together. Ultra High Pure filtration towers are use to minimize excessive hydrocarbons from building up in any equipment exposed to high pressure oxygen. The hydrocarbon can act as a fuel and completes phase three of the fire triangle. These filtration stacks purify the air to 99.995% hydrocarbon free to minimize the risk of having a fire or explosion during the filling phase.

Ultra Pure Filtration

The Gas StationX system is open for use by all who help to maintain it. Having a fill station in your garage requires the same maintenance and operational expenses that a dive shop has. Beyond the cost of assembling a new system, electricity, filtration, maintenance materials and gases all add up. But the convenience of not having to travel back and forth from a shop and having the ability to maintain control of what goes into my tanks makes it well worth it. I have built an small insulated room for the compressor to minimize noise in the garage. This keeps the neighbors happy. A large attic fan and thermostat help control any heat accumulation in the room by pulling fresh air through a vent in the wall. A digital thermometer allows us to monitor the internal temperatures. Now we can fill comfortably for hours while listening to our favorite music.


Special Thanks to:
Scott Brooks
Steve Bullard
Joe Churilla of Cameron Industrial Gases
Fred Colburn
Andrew Georgitsis
Jim Hoffman
Bryan Thompson


Disclaimer:
This site is NOT intended to teach anyone how they should dive. It is simply reflecting on what I have done and continue to do and is my opinion only. Proper dive training should be gained before attempting anything involving the use of a Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA).