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 (cone penetration testing) in that a metal cone is advanced into the ground to continuously characterize soil behavior.
In DCP, however, 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 roadbed 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 Smart DCP Kit uses a smartphone app and a laser rangefinder to automatically count blows and measure, record, and plot depth.
From the smartphone, this data can be easily graphed in the field and transferred to a computer or client for reporting and analysis.
Automatic data collection saves time, increases accuracy, and means that the test can be efficiently completed by one person. Check out our video below to see how much more efficient the Vertek Smart DCP Kit makes DCP testing.
To further increase the repeatability and efficiency of DCP testing, Vertek offers automatic DCP (ADCP) testing systems. ADCP rigs can be mounted on lightweight trailers, commercially available trucks, or ATVs.
Automated tests are both faster and more consistent than their manual counterparts, and also decrease physical labor for the operator.
DCP and ADCP testing and data analysis is a broad subject, so we’ll return to it in another blog.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the DCP testing information and video demonstrations YouTube channel! You can also download our catalog to see the full specifications and capabilities of Vertek’s Smart DCP and ADCP equipment.
Have questions about whether DCP is right for you?
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What is a dynamic cone penetrometer?
The Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) is used to determine underlying soil strength by measuring the device’s penetration into the soil after each hammer blow.
How does a cone penetrometer work?
A cone penetration test rig pushes steel cone into the ground, generally up to 20m below the surface or until the cone reaches a hard layer. The steel cone contains an electronic measuring system that records tip resistance and sleeve friction.
What is DCP testing?
Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP) testing is used to measure in-situ soil’s strength 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 characterize soil behavior continuously.
What is DCP in the construction industry?
Dynamic Cone Penetrometer, or DCP, is a tool used for evaluating the strength of soils on site. It also helps with monitoring the condition of granular layers and subgrade soils in pavement sections over time.
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