Micro Pneumatics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please note that ALL pneumatic systems no matter how small can be dangerous. You should always use the appropriate protective equipment especially eye protection. Failures in pneumatic systems are often sudden and catastrophic. Never fill systems above the lowest rated components rated pressure, and never fill a system that has been damaged. Always start at very low pressures and bring the system up slowly expecting at any time that something could blow or release.

Q: What order do I put the fittings and valves etc together in?
A: See the instruction PDF files above.

Q: What is the difference between the double acting and single acting kits?
A: Double acting (5 way) valves power the actuator in BOTH directions. Double acting systems are usually slower because they have to exhaust pressure from the opposing side of the ram. Single acting (3 way) valves power actuators in only ONE direction and then exhausts to allow a spring, elastic, or gravity to return the actuator to its starting position.

Q: How do I pressurize these systems?
A: These systems are designed for up to 145psi and come with two fill fittings one is a standard Schrader fitting (seen on most bicycle and car tires), the other fitting can hook up to the same 3mm microtubing that comes with the kit. Both have an in-line back check so that the air wont leak out that you put in. You can use any bicycle or car tire pump that will go to these pressures or you can use a tire fill chuck fitting on a compressor or pre charged air tank. There are many new small hand pumps for bicycle shock absobers that work well. Make sure you NEVER use a pump that does not have a gauge to see how much pressure is in the system, and never leave a powered pump unattended. Here are some inexpensive powered pumps that can be used...

Q: You might want to think about putting some threading on the end of the rod...
A: The actuators are internally threaded 2-56 currently, and mate with a host of RC size clevis and rod end hardware, check the drawing links...

Q: Could someone just use a larger actuator and come up with something a 12lb or 30lb bot could use?
A: Yes you can use any size cylinder and put it in any size bot. Just be aware that the larger the diameter of the cylinder the slower the actuation as the valve has to move more gas volume. Of course you could use multiple valves on a single larger cylinder to increase speed or even use multiple valves and a corresponding number of smaller cylinders (e.g. Toro and Matador used twin air systems for more speed and force).

Q: What is the largest bot I can put one of your micro pneumatic systems in?
A: The size of the robot is irrelevant, it just depends on what you want to do. These systems can be used in series to lift larger weights and or operate faster. These systems can easily be used to design 1-3 pounds robot flipping systems that literally throw other robots around. In larger robots they can be used for slower lifters, internal actuation, or braking. You can also use these small valves to operate a pilot on a much larger valve eliminating the need for other interfaces etc.

Q: How light of a pneumatic system can I build?
A: You can build a pneumatic system with this kit that is close to 2oz with the stock parts!
3 way valve - .81oz
Small Tank - .5oz
165S actuator - .6oz
fill fitting - .12oz
T coupling and 6" of hose - .18oz
Total package - 2.21oz!

Q: Could the valve and hoses be used for an ant sized flamethrower?
A: It seems all the plastics are compatable with most fuels. The seals in the valves are Viton which is compatable with just about all fuels (including butane, kero, gas etc). I recently built butane flame thrower ant for Robolympics. The valve seems to work fine, all the seals are still holding. I got some leaking when filling, as the butane chills things down, but when it comes back up to temperature it stops.

Q: Have you looked into the possibility of offering a small CO2 regulator?
A: All that stuff is too heavy at least for Ants. Palmer Pursuit has a reg that you can screw threaded cartdiges into that should work fine for 3+ pound bots.

Q: I put it all together like the diagram shows but its leaking?
A: Either you did not push the tubing all the way into the connector, or you are not using the supplied 3mm tubing. (1/8" tubing is too small). It may also be because the connector is not screwed all the way into the valve securely.

Q: How do I mount a (165L) 2.5” Stroke, Double Action Cylinder, as it lacks a bracket?
A: The 165L has a hole in the tail end that allows easy mounting with a bolt or pin.

Q: Do the tanks vary largely in capacity as they are different sizes...what about using two tanks?
A: The tanks volume is directly proportional to its size. You get roughly twice as many shots using the medium tank as the small one and probably more than twice as many again with the large tank. Using two tanks is also a great option for more flexibility in your design while doubling the capacity. You also don't have to get two evenly sized tanks, you could use a medium and a small for instance. The standard hose fitting pack has just enough stuff to make a two tank system work, but you may want to order an extra set of "T" fittings so you have a few extra.

Q: I still don't understand the difference in the use of one of the filling valves. One is aluminum with a bicycle valve inside, this one is srtaight forward (fill valve), it fits compressors tire fill nozle. But the other one in brass (fill chuck) with an O-ring on the male thread side and hoze bard on the other end is used for...?
A: The brass one allows you to fill off an airline if so desired (some people make an adapter from their compressor down to 1/8" or 3mm air line for easy filling). For instance we used it this way on our flame thrower ant weight to refill off a butane canister. The brass piece also allows you to drain the system easily as it depresses the schrader valve.

Q: I am trying to make a bot flipper with the kit but am not getting the speed and power to really chuck a robot with. How can I improve performance?
A: In our bot Pele we use twin actuators and set them at an angle we found through trial and error as optimal for that configuration. The geometry of your configuration will decide how much power vs. speed you get out of your system. it helps to build a test set up that allows you to easily move the components around to find your "sweet spot".

A: In the latest version of Pele we use two paralel air sytems each with its own hi-throughput valve, tank and fill system. Here is Pele in action at the '04 Marin Ant Wars with this new set up.