Answered: Pneumatic Vex Pump

A few years ago, a question was asked on the Q and A about adding pressure to pneumatic tanks with a motorized “pump” built out of vex parts. Karthick ruled that such a subsystem is illegal because it violates the intention of the 100 PSI rule. However, I thought it would be worthwhile to ask the question again now that a few years have passed and the game is different.

A vex “pump” would have a few distinct advantages. First and foremost, it would present an engineering challenge that would teach the basics of fluid dynamics to anyone willing to explore this option. Vex already teaches participants mechanics, the basics of software design, and rudimentary electrical engineering, and adding fluid dynamics to the mix would greatly increase the educational value and real-life applicability of the vex program. It would also expand the option of using 12 motors or 10 and pneumatics. By that, I mean rather than just trading 2 motors for 2 pneumatic tanks, as is currently legal, a team clever enough to design such a system could trade additional motors dedicated to a pressure adding motorized pump for additional air. However, since the pressure in the tanks never actually exceeds 100 PSI, it would not grant team that choose to pursue this option an unfair advantage. Finally, such a rule might make pneumatics a more viable option. Ever since vex has allowed 12 motors to be used instead of 10 and pneumatics, pneumatics have all but died out. At most competitions, only 2-3 of the many teams use pneumatics, the rest using the extra motors. This has been a consistent trend in NBN, Starstruck, and so far this season. In NBN, 974X was the only team in Round Robin to use pneumatics on their robot, and in Starstruck, 6007 and 7700R were the only two. Allowing a vex legal pumping system to be used on a competition robot would hopefully increase the diversity among these teams.

I have not spent any time testing or designing a system like this, but if it was legal, I probably would work hard to be the first team to develop it. I hope that the GDC will consider this option seriously and make whatever decision your team feels is right.

Thank you very much for your time and effort!

<R18> reads as follows, with a portion bolded for emphasis:

No, this would not be legal, as it would effectively generate more usable air pressure than if a robot was solely using the two allowed reservoir tanks.