DIY Death… er… Diving Bell

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How to turn a trash can, some plexi, and a drill-powered air pump into an old school (like Aristotle’s class) diving bell.

Welcome to the Death Bell! – Link: http://www.sector512productions.com/deathbell/index.html

Warning: A reader in the Comments claims that: “Kaspersky detected a Trojan-Downloader.JS.Psyme.me virus in this page.” So cut n’ paste that link at your own risk. (Email sent to site owners.)

26 thoughts on “DIY Death… er… Diving Bell

  1. How many tons of concrete blocks will you need to get it to sink below the surface when it is filled with air?
    Pffft!

  2. Holy crap I built a contraption like this when I was 10. I used a big mop bucket and the front part of an aquarium mask all sealed up with silicone aquarium sealant. I hung a couple of 10lb rubberized boat anchors on it to make it neutrally buoyant. I used a bunch of surplus aquarium pumps to get replacement air into it. It worked to a depth of about 6′ in the pool but the air pumps couldn’t really get a good volume of air into it below about 4′.

    All that being said and even doing a very similar thing myself I think trying to go down to 30 feet in a trash can is incredibly stupid. They aren’t joking around with the ‘death bell’ name are they?

  3. Holy crap I built a contraption like this when I was 10. I used a big mop bucket and the front part of an aquarium mask all sealed up with silicone aquarium sealant. I hung a couple of 10lb rubberized boat anchors on it to make it neutrally buoyant. I used a bunch of surplus aquarium pumps to get replacement air into it. It worked to a depth of about 6′ in the pool but the air pumps couldn’t really get a good volume of air into it below about 4′.

    All that being said and even doing a very similar thing myself I think trying to go down to 30 feet in a trash can is incredibly stupid. They aren’t joking around with the ‘death bell’ name are they?

  4. In Eric Flint and David Weber’s “1634: The Baltic War” there is a particularly grisly death that befalls a man in a diving suit at 30′. Particularly. Grisly.

  5. I also made one when I was about 10! I didn’t have – or was smart enough to think of – rubberized weights, but I found some weight-lifting weights and tied them to a bucket handle and simply tossed it all into my aunt’s pool then swam down to it. From there I could walk around the bottom.

    Unfortunately it was a black bottom swimming pool, and the weights left little gouges all over the bottom which were clearly visible from above.

  6. Simpler version: Cut the neck off of a plastic 5 gallon water bottle. Burnish the jagged edge with a flame or other heat source so the edge doesn’t gouge your skin. Place the bottle on your shoulders, and have a friend stand on it while you stand on the floor of your pool. By controlling your breathing you can stay under quite a surprisingly long time, provided your “weight” doesn’t get bored. When you need to surface it’s a simple matter of dislodging your buddy from the top of the bottle… Then it’s their turn!

    Great fun. I used to do this all the time in the early 80’s when I was a kid.

  7. C’mon vonSlatt! Clue us in. Something collapse on him, or what.

    In trying to puzzle out what might be so grisly, it occurred to me – 30 foot is deep enough to get the bends but only just. I can’t find a time/depth table right now (my Google-foo is weak at six a.m.) but the secret is come up slowly.

  8. @Austringer – OK, the hose comes loose from the compressor and collapsing suit forces most of the diver’s body into the helmet and first 10 feet of air hose. Excarnation is what they called it.

    I won’t speculate as to what might happen with an open bell, but the early days of diving in the 18th and 19th centuries are filled with stories of grisly deaths.

    Note that the page has not been updated since Feb 2006.

  9. I can see how that couold happen, but not at 30 ft. where you’re dealing with about two atmospheres of pressure.

    I think with the open bell you’re just going to find yourself wondering where all the air went. Then your ballast is going to drag you to the bottom. A check valve seems in order. And long enough ropes on the ballasts so you can swim for it.

  10. I’m pretty sure Flint and Weber did the math.

    Try this exercise in your head, imagine the diver is standing in a cylinder with a piston in it. The cylinder is at 30 feet. Now calculate the area of the piston and multiple by 14.7 lbs/inch2.

  11. This reminds me of a story about my Grandpa. When he was a teenager him and his brother took a bicycle pump, a garden hose, and an old hot water tank add did the same thing.

  12. Hi everyone,

    This is Tom (maker of the Death Bell) and I saw the post about the url having a trojan virus. I used a paid web host (acenet) and just re-scanned the files with AVG and don’t show any viruses or other problems. So, I think the URL should be safe to browse and I am in process of setting up a drupal-based page that is easier to use and allow people to make comments. If anyone else sees something like this, let me know and I can try scanning with another tool like Avast. Sorry for the concern / worry.

    As for the possible injury or stupidity of the experiment, I have no defense. :^)

    Cheers,
    Tom

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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