Piston usage?

How would I go about using a double solenoid to extend and retract a piston. I was able to extend it but I cannot retract it.

Here’s a good instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Create-a-Pneumatic-System-for-FIRST-Robots/

Ignore the part about the SPIKE relay, as that’s legacy hardware. If you have it wired up right, it might actually be a programming issue, I know we’ve had that happen to us in programming before

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Just a hint…you’re extending and retracting a ‘cylinder’. The “piston” is the thing inside the cylinder moving back and forth.

Sometimes using the right words is helpful.


There are 2 screws on the inside that you have to manually set for the air flow through the solenoid

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Hi Daniel,

Without verifying your system is plumbed correctly myself (or programmed correctly by someone who isn’t me), these are two things I would check:

  • Solenoid voltage - A mistake some people make is running a 24V solenoid valve at 12V. Sometimes valves will still switch at a lower operating voltage, but reliability will be compromised. If the valve’s LEDs are changing but the actuator isn’t moving, this is a likely culprit. Make sure the PCM is set up appropriately for the voltage of the solenoid.

  • Manual overrides - If you can get the valve to change state (and therefore move the actuator) by using the manual overrides on the valve body, then it probably points to a control issue (programming issue, incorrect voltage on PCM) and not something physically wrong with the system. Also double check to make sure manual overrides aren’t locked into a position preventing the valve from shifting electronically.

These are relatively common and easy-to-overlook issues. If you could provide some pictures of the system itself that may help too.

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Thanks all for your help! Programming errors earlier on were due to electrical telling me the wrong ports(I should’ve checked) but when I get into our shop next I will definitely be able to test some of these suggestions out! I was just testing using a battery at the time of the post.

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