What is DCP testing, and how does it compare to CPT?

Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP) testing is used to measure the strength of in-situ soil and the thickness and location of subsurface soil layers. It is similar to CPT in that a metal cone is advanced into the ground to continuously characterize soil behavior. However, unlike in CPT, where the cone is driven into the ground at a constant rate by varying amounts of force, in DCP, the cone is driven by a standard amount of force from a hammer, and how far the cone moves with each blow is used to determine the soil density and properties at that level. In DCP testing, the pushing force is applied by manually dropping a single or dual mass weight (called the hammer) from a fixed height onto the push cone unit. The resulting downward movement is then measured. Unlike CPT systems, basic DCP equipment is hand-portable and may be limited to test depths of 3-4 feet: this makes it a good choice for shallow testing applications such as road bed construction and maintenance. Since DCP is essentially hand-powered, it is cheaper and more portable than CPT equipment, but the possibility of human error makes it trickier to obtain consistent and accurate data. Historically, one of the largest difficulties associated with DCP has been obtaining accurate depth difference measurements with a hand rule after each blow of the hammer. As you can imagine, taking these measurements by sight and recording them by hand can be slow, finicky work. Plus, to measure the total depth, the sum of these measurements is calculated, so it is easy to accumulate a troublesome amount of error if each measurement is even slightly off. Fortunately, handheld electronics technology has alleviated these issues to a great extent. Vertek’s Handheld DCP System uses a smartphone app and a laser rangefinder [...]

Smart DCP – Get the app for instant data logging and laser accuracy!

DCP (Dynamic Cone Penetrometer) testing is a highly portable, lightweight soil testing method. It is ideal for shallow tests and can be carried by hand from one location to the next, making it a good choice for applications such as road bed construction and maintenance. However, traditional DCP testing has drawbacks: though the equipment is lightweight, the test requires two people—one to operate the hammer and the other to measure the displacement with each blow. This manual process makes the test quite labor-intensive, and human errors in measurement and recording can make it difficult to obtain consistent results The Vertek Smart DCP system takes this portable, low-cost testing method into the 21st century with laser measurement and real-time data acquisition. Rather than relying on by-hand measurement to track the displacement of the cone, our laser measurement system makes this process both instantaneous and accurate, eliminating the need for a two-person test. Displacement data is transmitted wirelessly and collected via our convenient smartphone app. Where a traditional DCP system would require two people, Smart DCP requires only one person and a phone--yet it allows the test to be completed much faster. Time and labor savings don't stop when the in-situ test is completed: rather than having to manually enter and plot your data on your laptop or computer, our smartphone app lets you log data in real time and gives you access to powerful presentation and analysis capabilities in the field. The raw and processed data can be transmitted by text or email in multiple formats. Like any other app, it can simply be downloaded from the app store on your phone and is available for iOS and Android operating systems. See the Smart DCP system in action in the video below, and check out our website for more information about [...]

Data Analysis With DCP

DCP (Dynamic Cone Penetration) Testing is a simple, reliable and cost-effective method to evaluate the in-situ stiffness profile of soil to a depth of about three feet. Its extreme portability, minimal disturbance of the subgrade, and ability to produce a continuous depth profile make it an ideal system for testing the mechanical properties of a pavement system during any stage of construction. The following simple equation is traditionally used to express the stiffness of a material from DCP test values: PR = Depth of Penetration / Number of Blows If you are new to DCP testing, you may be wondering whether the PR value can be used to calculate to other, more familiar geotechnical parameters, and whether DCP test results correlate well with those from other testing systems. Much has been researched and written on this subject, and the short answer is yes —DCP testing can easily and repeatably measure the same parameters as other in-situ and lab-based soil testing methods. For example, the California Bearing Ratio (CBR) test is another penetration test commonly used to measure the load bearing capacity of road beds. Perhaps you want to know the CBR values for a test site, but you have opted for a DCP system instead, due to its simplicity and lower cost. No problem! PR values can be converted to CBR values by applying a simple equation. This widely used conversion was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is used by many state DOTs and federal agencies: Log (CBR) = 2.465 - 1.12 Log (PR) This calculation and many others can be performed automatically by a state-of-the-art DCP setup. The Vertek SmartDCP kit can be operated and transported by a single user by hand, and provides instantaneous data collection and graphing capabilities via smartphone app. Data can [...]

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