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Lego Pneumatics and FLL

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  • Lego Pneumatics and FLL

    In Detroit I noticed that many of the top 20 teams in Robot Game used pneumatics. Seeing this, my team asked me to order some pneumatics parts. I did and we have been playing with them and learning how to use them. This left me wondering a few things.
    1) What pneumatics parts do other teams use?
    2) What types of tasks are pneumatics parts best used for?
    3) What type of pump do you use to pump up your system?

    I think I saw some hand pumps being used by teams in Detroit, but I am not sure. I built a simple pump using a motor, but I wondered about other ideas for pumping up an air storage system.

    Let me know what you think.


  • #2
    My team used pneumatics one year to close a grabber and hold the object as we dragged it to base more strongly than we could get using motors. The team pumped the storage tank to pressure manually before each game run. So on the robot we had one cylinder (the largest), the pressure tank, assorted tubing and two valves. One valve was used to actuate the cylinder (the lever on the valve was moved by a linkage that when the robot pressed to the wall it changed position), the other valve was a shut off valve that allowed us to attach and remove the pump and gauge.

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    • #3
      I think these are questions best answered by your team. Over my 18 years of judging FLL competitions I have seen pneumatics used for everything, even propulsion. The most common use is generating lots of force. Another common uses is as a replacement motor for an attachment.

      The large pump is by far the most common way of generating pressure, but I remember one team that used a motor and multiple small pumps to make an air compressor. The compressor supplied pressure to a pneumatic engine that propelled the robot. That probably wasn't an efficient or effective way to solve the challenge, but not every FLL team is enthralled by the official challenges.

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      • #4
        My team has never used pneumatics before but, after seeing other teams with them the last few years and having a couple of advanced kids now, I thought this is the time to let them explore the options.
        I took a look at the Lego Pneumatics Add-on Set, 9641 and it seems expensive for a pump, meter and a couple of cylinders.
        I purchased a few separate parts through Bricklink and ended up with some air tanks, a few large and small cylinders, hose, hand pumps and such for a total of about $130 but, even that is pretty expensive for our team and I didn't get a meter yet. This is likely enough to try a couple of things but, I would like to get a few more because we have two teams at the school and need enough to share if the other team wants to try them also.
        Is there a good source for purchasing parts?
        Do teams get by without the pressure meter?
        Are there any of the Technic kits that are a good source, Volvo truck, forest cutter?
        Thanks.
        FLL coach Trash Trek on, State 4x, World 2x, state ref, state judge.

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        • #5
          I've never seen anyone use a pressure meter. The large pump provides pretty good pressure feedback and most teams just count pumps. "Mission 3 requires 2 pumps after which I need to pump it 3 more times for mission 4."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 150Roboraptors View Post
            My team used pneumatics one year to close a grabber and hold the object as we dragged it to base more strongly than we could get using motors. The team pumped the storage tank to pressure manually before each game run. So on the robot we had one cylinder (the largest), the pressure tank, assorted tubing and two valves. One valve was used to actuate the cylinder (the lever on the valve was moved by a linkage that when the robot pressed to the wall it changed position), the other valve was a shut off valve that allowed us to attach and remove the pump and gauge.
            I see about a 50/50 split on teams building the pump into the robot/attachment or doing as you did and using an external pump with a shutoff valve.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post
              I've never seen anyone use a pressure meter. The large pump provides pretty good pressure feedback and most teams just count pumps. "Mission 3 requires 2 pumps after which I need to pump it 3 more times for mission 4."
              Our FIRST LEGO League team used a pressure meter every single time we used pneumatics. It is extremely helpful in detecting any leaks and it is much easier than just remembering how many pumps to put in. You can pump while in queue and just double check when you get to the table. We would recommend that teams get the pressure gauge.
              **************************
              EV3Lessons.com and FLLTutorials.com Founders
              FLL #51 World Festival Champion's 2018 (retired)
              FRC Not the Droids You Are Looking For (Rookie season 2020)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DJR View Post
                My team has never used pneumatics before but, after seeing other teams with them the last few years and having a couple of advanced kids now, I thought this is the time to let them explore the options.
                I took a look at the Lego Pneumatics Add-on Set, 9641 and it seems expensive for a pump, meter and a couple of cylinders.
                I purchased a few separate parts through Bricklink and ended up with some air tanks, a few large and small cylinders, hose, hand pumps and such for a total of about $130 but, even that is pretty expensive for our team and I didn't get a meter yet. This is likely enough to try a couple of things but, I would like to get a few more because we have two teams at the school and need enough to share if the other team wants to try them also.
                Is there a good source for purchasing parts?
                Do teams get by without the pressure meter?
                Are there any of the Technic kits that are a good source, Volvo truck, forest cutter?
                Thanks.
                We bought the Pneumatics add on set for this season. It was cheaper than buying the parts individually (around $92). I also bought a few extra pneumatic parts as well as the Technic set 42053 which has pneumatic components as well and then you get the bonus of all the extra technic pieces. It's a fun build so far! The add on set does come with some building instructions for ideas.

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