This article guides you through some basic IQ Pneumatics System configurations - which you can then tailor to suit your own setup. This is perfect for those who know the IQ Pneumatics Kit basics and are ready to see them in action. For more information on the components within the IQ Pneumatics Kit, view this article from the VEX Library.
Important Update Notice: Make sure the firmware on your IQ Robot Brain and Pneumatic Control Unit is up to date. Using outdated firmware could result in unexpected behavior and performance issues with the pneumatic components. To learn how to update your firmware, view the "Firmware" Section in the VEX Library, ensuring you follow the instructions specific to your IQ generation control system.
One Cylinder System
A One Cylinder System, using just one Pneumatic Cylinder, is suited for operations needing a single motion. For instance, a robot might use this system for a specific task, like moving a claw or releasing a mechanism.
The concepts in a One Cylinder System can be expanded for multi-cylinder systems. The setup illustrated above is a basic system, featuring most components from the IQ Pneumatics Kit. Note, only the tubing that comes in the IQ Pneumatics Kit, the light blue tubing available for purchase on the VEX website, is compatible for use with IQ Pneumatics. Other tubing, such as the black V5 tubing, is not compatible and could pose safety risks. Now, let's understand why components are positioned as they are and how this impacts the system's functionality.
Components that are vital to the system’s operation are highlighted above. Vital components include:
- The Air Tank which stores compressed air for the pneumatic system, supplied by the Air Pump.
- The Air Pump supplies pressurized air to power the pneumatic Cylinders, with any excess air being stored in the Air Tank.
- The Pneumatic Solenoid, which electronically controls the flow of air around the system (operation of the Solenoid explained below).
Pneumatic Solenoid Operation
It is important to connect the Pneumatic Solenoid correctly.
On the left side of the solenoid, you need to plug in the 3-Wire port coming from the Air Pump. On the right side, connect the Smart Motor cable that goes to the IQ Robot Brain.
The Solenoid is divided into two sides which can be operated independently. These sides are labeled 1 and 2. Each side has three ports - A, B and P.
P is connected to the compressed air source - the Air Pump and Air Tank. The compressed air is then directed to either A or B. In our One Cylinder System, A is connected to the port at the rod end of the Cylinder and B is connected to the port at the cap end of the cylinder.
Directing the air to A causes the compressed air to enter the rod end of the cylinder which causes it to retract (pull in). At the same time, B is open to the atmosphere and so the air in the cap end of the cylinder is allowed to vent.
Directing the air to B causes the compressed air to enter the cap end of the cylinder which causes it to extend (push out). At the same time, A is open to the atmosphere and so the air in the rod end of the cylinder is allowed to vent.
Before you start building your system and coding, it's important to understand how the solenoid works. The Pneumatic Solenoid has two separate inputs: the group of ports on the left (1) and the ports on the right (2). They work independently but have the same functionality.
For more details on coding, setting up your system, and controlling the pneumatics, view this article from the VEX Library.
Some important parts in the Kit can be exchanged for other parts. These are shown in the configuration above and include the following:
- The Tee Fitting connects the Air Pump and the Air Tank together. If your pneumatic system is going to need a steady flow of air, you'll need both the Air Tank and the Tee Fitting. However, if your system doesn't need a constant stream of air, you won't need the Air Tank or the Tee Fitting.
- The Straight Fitting is used here to connect the Tubing to our robot. It's meant to keep the system sturdy and steady. If you have shorter Tubing, the Straight Fitting is not necessary.
- The Pneumatic Cylinder is what makes the movement in this system. Depending on what you want your system to do, you could swap it with a different size cylinder.
In a One Cylinder Pneumatic System, parts to the right of the orange line in the image above make up the Supply Line, which gets the pressurized air ready. This includes the Air Tank and Air Pump. The parts to the left of the orange line are part of the delivery system, which includes the Cylinders, Fittings, Tubing and Solenoid.
Lastly to link everything together, think of the IQ Pneumatic Tubing as the veins in your system as it carries pressurized air from one component to another. Use classroom scissors to adjust the tubing length, ensuring it fits your project perfectly, but always ensure safety procedures are followed.
Understanding how to properly connect the Pneumatic Tubing to the solenoid, and to all the other components in the kit, is crucial. A simple trick is to cut the tubing at a slight diagonal and attach it by gently pushing it onto the component, also at a slight angle until it is firmly seated at the base of the component.
Two Cylinder System
A Two Cylinder System uses multiple Pneumatic Cylinders for different movements. For instance, one could control a robot's claw while another operates an intake mechanism. This way, the robot can manipulate objects and collect them simultaneously, which makes it efficient.
The Two Cylinder System adds an additional Pneumatic Solenoid connection through the supply line, allowing air to flow to additional components, shown highlighted above. Using the component descriptions and usage guides, you're now ready to build your own IQ Pneumatics System using the IQ Pneumatics Kit.
Once you understand the components within your kit and have built an operational pneumatic system, next comes coding it. For more information on coding your pneumatic components, view this article from the VEX Library.