Pneumatic Suction Actuator

Shown is a device I fashioned to pick up the game pieces for the 2023 FIRST FRC competition. It is a regular pneumatic pump with a suction cup inserted at one of the duct ports. The cup has a hole through it’s center. Suction is created when the piston (on the right) is extracted. The cup releases the game piece when the piston is returned. This works quite well and is quite light (for operation at the end of an arm). It has been told to me that this might violate a rule about pneumatics in that all pneumatic devices can only be operated with compressed air provided by a compressor with valves controlled by the Robot Rio. In my case, the piston is pushed by some kinetics that is not pneumatic. My question is, does this violate the pneumatic rule or any other rules? How about I push the piston rod with pneumatics? Would that comply? Thx for any advice.

R801 & R804: ‘Only use the named pneumatic parts & devices’

But: R804 “a” (not “A”): The following devices are not considered pneumatic devices and are not subject to pneumatic rules (although they must satisfy all other rules):

a. a device that creates a vacuum
b. …

You’re at the mercy of the Inspectors at your competition(s). Consider asking in the FRC Q&A :

Note that some teams have created a vacuum using a vacuum-cleaner impeller. You’ll have to drive it with an FRC-Legal motor.


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It’s been legal in the past

Splitting hairs here:

If being used in the vacuum application this is legal.

If you press the suction cup against something and then compress the cylinder (creating pressure on the suction cup side) that would not be legal (rules: only can get air pressure from compressor, no modified pneumatic components). However since the intended use case is for a vacuum so as long as you are not willingly creating positive pressure you are good.

Okay … since I created a vacuum, its legal, as long as there is just a vacuum but doesn’t that mean when I return the piston, air is being compressed back to the cup which violates the rule?

You’re releasing the vacuum, using existing air in the system that is then vented to atmosphere.

A couple of teams have tried this in the past–I recall a couple in 2004 that used one cylinder to pull a second one.

Also, you can put the suction cup at the far end of a vacuum line, so it’s not right on the end of the cylinder.

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