Help! Rookie with Pneumatics!!!

Hi everyone. Some of you may know me from being the rookie programmer for my team. I am also the rookie pneumatics lead (Our team lost most of its key builders/leads this year) and I was wondering how to configure the regulators for the pneumatics. In particular I had several questions I couldn’t find an answer to online.

  1. Are the regulators set by default to only allow 60 PSI of maximum pressure to the actuators? If I want a maximum of 60 PSI going to the actuators do I just need to make sure both regulators are set to max setting (By twisting the primary and secondary’s respective knobs to their max)?

  2. Does more air tanks = less compressor on time?

  3. I felt like there was an air leak coming from the regulators from the top with the knobs that control how much pressure is allowed through. Is this normal?

The kit regulator will allow more than 60psi through it when the knob is turned all the way. You should have a pressure gauge on your working side (easiest way to do this is one of the three outlet ports of the regulator), so that you can tell what your working pressure is and adjust accordingly. If you’re running all your pistons at 60psi, you don’t need to use a secondary regulator – it’s only for cases where you want different pistons at different operating pressures.

More tanks will make it take longer for your system to run out of enough air for the compressor to turn on. However, it will then take the compressor longer to fill these tanks back up.

You should not feel any leaks in your system. A good way to check for leaks is to drip soapy water on potential trouble spots, and look for bubbles, which indicate escaping air.

One other thing to remember, you can pre-pressurize your pneumatics system in your pit. You are not limited to pressurizing during the match.

1> No, the regulators can go higher than 60PSI. Stamped on the bottom of the regulator should be an arrow. The base of the arrow is the inlet (or high-side) port. The point of the arrow is the outlet (or low-side) port. The 2 other ports are for a pressure gauge which will measure the outlet pressure, which by FIRST rules cannot be higher than 60PSI.

2> More tanks = longer time to fill the tanks, less pressure drop for each cylinder actuation. (IE longer off time)

3> Pressure may leak from the regulator if the low side pressure is higher than the regulator setting, as these are relieving regulators. This can happen if the cylinder is put under load after being actuated. That being said, that should only happen for a brief (1-2 seconds) period. If it is leaking for longer than that, ensure that you have not plumbed the regulator backwards (as it will relieve all the time in that case).

Good luck, and welcome to FIRST

This is true, however, it must be the robot that fills the tanks. You many NOT use external air to fill the tanks before a match. What we do is program the Test mode to only run the compressor then enable test to fill the tanks. When they are filled, then we shutdown the robot and swap in a fresh battery.

You have a high pressure gauge, a regulator w/ gauge for working pressure, a pressure switch, and a relief valve.

You should confirm that the regulator w/ gauge does NOT exceed 60 PSI.

You should confirm that the switch cuts off before 120 PSI (somewhere between 115-120 PSI).

The relief valve should open before 125 PSI (121-125 PSI).

The Robot Inspector will check for all of that, and adjust the component if out of range.

The actuators are after the regulator w/ gauge, so should never receive more than 60 PSI.

There is no need for multiple regulators unless you want more than one working pressure, ie one at 60psi and one at say 40psi. You need at least two gauges however one showing stored pressure which would go before the regulator and one on or after the regulator(s) to show the working pressure(s).

When the regulator is hooked up with the air supply into an outlet port air will leak out of the top around the knob. I’ve seen this problem more than once. Depending on the regulator it can be tricky to know which is the inlet port as they are not specifically marked inlet. Typically they have an arrow, some it is on the bottom so the inlet is on the “feather” side of the arrow. Others have it on the side of one of the ports and the inlet is 180 degrees from that port.

Also, note that pressure regulators work the opposite direction of a flow valve (e.g. most water valves). That is, you turn the top of the knob to the right to increase the pressure which passes through, and to the left to decrease.

Figure 4-7 in the game manual (at R67) shows how to plumb the pneumatics system. You can make some minor rearrangements, but the following are key:

  • The (spring-loaded) pressure relief valve must be directly connected to the pump, as the first item.
  • There must be a gauge on each side of the regulator.
  • The (quarter turn) vent plug must exhaust all the air pressure in the system. If your regulator does not allow backflow, this will need to be on the low-pressure side; we have seen this issue with non-competition systems such as our air cannon.

We have also found it helpful to connect as many metal fittings as feasible directly to the compressor output, to assist in heat dissipation before the air enters the first plastic hose. In practice for Ultimate Ascent, we blew out several hoses at the first fitting until we made this change. (Our primary climber actuators were pneumatic, so we needed lots of air).

Once your pneumatic system is assembled, I would recommend using last years inspection checklist (or this years if it’s posted by then) and then running through the entire checklist. This will ensure you have less hiccups at completions.

Also, if you hear any leaks but cannot find them, you can put soapy water on the areas you think are leaking and you will see air bubbling up where the leak is.

Best of luck and welcome to FIRST :slight_smile:

Ok! Thanks for everyone’s advice! I successfully figured out how to set the system up for our robot and it’s running good along with my solenoid programming code!