A Beginner's Guide to Pneumatics

Well, after having spent a bit of time learning pneumatics in order to be able to implement a working system on our robot, I thought I’d try to pass on what I’ve learned to anyone else who might be interested. to do so, I’ve created a guide which tries to explain every aspect of the pneumatics system.

Please let me know if I’m missing anything, or if you have anything you think I should change.


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looks good, pictures and diagrams would make this solid. both pneumatic and electrical diagrams.

One thing to be aware of, you mentioned using the regulator with the yellow ring because it’s easier to adjust. We were told by an inspector at our first event this year that this must be a secondary regulator. The FIRST pneumatics manual backs this up although the wording is not very strong and doesn’t really explain why. I’ve tried researching it a few different times but have been unable to find exactly what the difference is between the two so if anyone does know, I’m curious.

Thank you for pointing that out. We are able to pass inspection with this setup, though I will admit it was a bit of a rushed inspection and we didn’t actually fire any pistons on the field. As mentioned, if someone could clarify this it would be greatly appreciated.

Where did you get your information about how PTFE tape works to seal threads? Specifically this part:

Note: in case you’re wondering, this tape liquefies as you’re threading the fitting in and solidifies again afterward; this seals in any openings when the tape is liquid and blocks the openings later when solidified.

The current first choice Monnier regulator (the one with the yellow ring) is legal according to the 2014 rules. The problem might be convincing an experienced inspector going off of previous years rules or outdated pneumatic manuals. :slight_smile: There are versions of the Monnier regulator from previous years KOP that might not be legal as the primary regulator.

Here is the applicable rule:

4.10.9 R82
“Working” air pressure on the ROBOT must be no greater than 60 psi and must be provided through one primary
adjustable, relieving, pressure regulator.

The monnier regulator is rated for 300 psi, adjustable, & relieving.

You can tell the relieving from non relieving regulators by turning out the adjustment knob. If the regulator vents, then is relieving.

From the 2014 pneumatics manual:

Norgren has supplied the primary pressure regulator.

This regulator has a maximum output pressure of 60 psi and must be placed inline right after the storage tank to limit the pressure to all working circuits to 60 psi.

Monnier has supplied the secondary regulator, which has a yellow ring around it. This is also a relieving regulator. Its purpose is to allow you to have a reduced pressure leg, if needed.

It seems like it is recommended that you use the Norgren regulator as the primary but it is not necessary?

I have to admit that I scratch my head over some of the pneumatic rules & how they get interpreted. We use the recommended Norgren regulator because I have better things to do during robot inspection than discuss regulators & it is clear that the Norgren regulator is legal since it is recommended by part # in the rules. But going by what is in the rules, the Monnier regulator is legal.

The pneumatic manual is wrong in saying the recommended Norgren regulator has a maximum outlet pressure of 60 PSI. You can adjust it up to 100 psi which I do regularly in a non FRC application.

Since there is no port size restriction on the regulator, I have considered going to a bigger regulator to get more flow. But that is another topic.

I would like to start off by saying that your guide has sufficient information for me to put a basic pneumatics system together without becoming overwhelming with advanced facts and ideas. You wrote in a human enough tone that I didn’t fall asleep, but your guide contained a lot of useful information at the same time. I’ll save you from the horrors of grammar and ignore the fragments (consider revising).

Speaking as a beginner with a pneumatics skill level of zero, I would highly recommend compiling the vocabulary that may confuse people like me into a list at the bottom of the guide, as FIRST did in the FRC Aerial Assist Manual 2014. FIRST kindly listed and defined terms ranging from COTS (a “Commercial, Off-The-Shelf” COMPONENT or MECHANISM, in its unaltered, unmodified state) to BALL (the spherical game piece used in AERIAL ASSIST). Considering this, you may also want to explain some of the abbreviations found in your guide, like PSI and NPT, no matter how obvious they may seem to you. Our team may end up using this as a way to teach future team members how to use pneumatics, and to ensure that freshmen who want to understand pneumatics have a satisfactory place to start with, I believe the guide should be integrated with notes on even the most basic concepts involved. That being said, an introduction explaining what pneumatics even is could be helpful. Also, placing the section on solenoids before getting into spikes and solenoid breakouts can help people who have no idea what a solenoid is understand what you’re referring to.

My reply is, of course, assuming that your guide’s intended audience includes true beginners who have little to no knowledge of physics. If you meant for it to be read and used by people who just wanted to put together a functional pneumatics system, then disregard any of my previous suggestions. I would also like to mention that I am writing from random bits of knowledge I have picked up over the few days I had around pneumatics, so feel free to correct anything I may have wrong.

And because I can: polytetrafluoroethylene tape. Fun to say.