Running just the compressor (was: free compressor)

This is a little unorthadox, so the rules weren’t clear enough for my situation. If we were to run the compressor ONLY, would we need the associated valves, tanks, etc? It’s not being used to run pneumatics. It’s just plugged in and turned on.

there wouldnt happen to be a party noise maker attached, would there?

or the end of a broken balloon (PHbpbppbpbpbbhbhbhblp! :^)

I dont think you can connect the compressor to anything other than the approved pneumatic components, valves, hoses, tanks…

if its literally not connected to anything, then what function does it serve?


  1. balls in hopper will jam
  2. shaking paintball hopper unjams it
  3. compressor vibrates
  4. anything compressor is bolted to will vibrate
  5. vibration will unjam balls

It would be lighter and easier to take one of the smaller motors and bolt an eccentric plate to the shaft. For example, take a 2- or 3- inch diameter round piece of aluminum plate and drill a hole off-center. Attach the round to the motor, and attach the motor to whatever you want to vibrate. I guarantee it will vibrate like crazy. You will probably dramatically reduce motor life, but it only has to last for a few minutes, right?

Well, it’d be lighter, but not necesarily easier. The compresser already has mounting holes and is already made. We just have to plug it in. Weight might not be an issue because we want it. Our goal is to push the robot right up to the limit.

We might not even go with this vibrator, I was just investigating options.


have you considered having your drive train motors twitch for a instant?

I cant think of any logical reason why you would not be allowed to attach the compressor like this, but I can think of several easier and more effective ways to make your bot shake like a Chihuahua OD’ing on caffeine.

(keep in mind, when you get to your 1st event you may come up with an idea for something you want to add to your bot. Having some margin on your weight will make that easier).

It sounds like it would be a legal set-up, since you would never operate over the 60 or 120 psi level.

BUT< if you are serious about pursueing this idea, I would suggest your mentor formally ask the question on the FIRST Q&A website, then, assuming they say it is OK, take a copy of the question and answer page with you.

If your robot design is dependent on it, you do not want to leave it to the judgement / interpretation of the inspectors at a Regional.

If you’re running the compressor the whole time your battery life/power will be down a bit. I’m not sure positive, but I don’t believe you’d be allowed to just switch the compressor on/off when you want either, it has to be computer controlled?

Or maybe you could shut it off, but the only “on” is still computer regulated?

Just throwing the idea out there.

From and inspection standpoint, you would need to demonstrate that the compresoor will shut off should the pressure “somewhere” reach 120 PSI. That requires that the cutoff switch, guages and at least a valve to close the system be attached. Please note the compressor has some vibration damping built into the mount. This might not give you as much as the previous idea of a motor with an eccentric weight.

that is a good train of thought, but the compressor doesn’t vibrate as much as a small motor with a eccentric mass, like the little one in a cell phone. The compressor in the kit of parts is a fairly quality component in that it is quiet and doesn’t vibrate like mad. It also draws a fair amount of power when it’s running. If you were using pneumatics on your robot, then what you’re thinking of might be an option, but if you just want the compressor for its weak vibration, you might want to consider something else.

Do they still include the mabuchi motor in the KOP? I don’t recall seeing it this year…

If so, you could just slap a weight onto it like you’d see in the handle of one of those clear PS2 controllers (or something likewise that’d generate more vibration) and be better off than using the compressor. (Assuming it gets enough RPMs… I’ve never used one, I wouldn’t know)

If I were a judge, looking for clever engineering solutions and innovative designs for the judges awards, I would be more impressed by a team that designed a mechanism specifically to shake a holding bin precisely as needed, than I would be by a team that bolted the compressor on the robot to make it vibrate.

Compressor = overkill.

Actually, if I were a judge I would be very impressed by a team that was able to recognize that a solution to an problem was right in front of them through the innovative use of an existing part. By efficient use of existing materials, the team is able to quickly solve a problem, is able to avoid using extra (scarce) materials, avoids design efforts to create a duplicative solution, and is able to redeploy their human resources to work on other, potentially more important, problems. And if this were being done in a professional environment, as a project manager I would be very impressed by a team that was able to find a quick way to solve a problem without additional overhead, instead of racking up lots of additional manpower charges to design a solution for a problem that can be solved in a cheaper, faster, simpler way.

Good engineering often comes down to knowing the difference between “better” and “good enough.”


“Sometimes ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’.”

week 5 = panic!

they did include one mabuchi motor this year. I was looking at the data sheet for it and if I remember right, it spins at 4000 rpm. It is a powerful motor for it’s size, and it should have no trouble for what you recommended. We have never used one either, though.