Pneumatics Penalty

This manual will have three scheduled updates. All rules in this manual are subject to changes,
and not considered official until August 16th, 2019. There will also be scheduled manual updates on
June 14th, 2019 and April 10th, 2020.
a. The GDC reserves the right to make changes to this manual in the April 10th, 2020 release
specifically for the VEX Robotics World Champion

I may be delusional but I hold out hope that in June the GDC sees fit to eliminate the pneumatics penalty. It serves no purpose other than stifling design creativity especially in the context of the V5. Two motors is a heavy penalty and it is not like pneumatics were destroying competitiion in the earlier games when there was no penalty.

It’s about accessibility and a level playing field. The pneumatics are expensive, and having no limit basically said if you want to spend more than the other teams you can get more functionality. You maybe weren’t around when there wasn’t a limit and there were teams putting 8-12 pneumatic reservoirs on their bots.


I would argue there is still a hefty penalty. If one was to use a 4-motor drive, say in order to use mecanum wheels, that leaves them with 2 motors left, half of what a bot without pneumatics would have left. In V4 this was not a big deal because a pneumatics team would still have 6 motors compared to 8 on a non-pneumatic team. Vex should consider drives in scaling this penalty. Just one more motor would mean much more creativity without necessarily giving a pneumatics team much of an edge.


May someone update me on what the pneumatics penalty is?

Essentially regardless of system, you have 2 less motors to use if you use pneumatics

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I thought that’s how it always was?

Btw I’ve only been part of vex since ITZ so having two less motors with the substitution of 2 pneumatic cylinders sounds normal and correct to me.

I actually don’t know if there is a solenoid limit, just a resivoir limit (only one). I just don’t think the -2 motors is the fair conversion to v5 motors

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I see, that makes sense then

I think it is important to understand that these are not penalties, but rather constraints that you have to work within. I know, it might seem like semantics, but it makes a difference how you think about it and how you approach it. If in following your design process you determine that those two motors are more valuable than the two air reservoirs and unlimited cylinders, you make an informed decision and move on. If, on the other hand, you find that you can design a much more capable robot by utilizing a pneumatic system and two less motors, go with that.
The idea of working within a power budget and limitations on what you can have is as about real-world as it gets. Learning how to work within imposed constraints will make you better at what you do.


The v5 motors are ‘more than twice as powerful’ so I’d assume the power limit for pneumatics would be half of what it was for v4

EDIT: just a disclaimer, I havn’t actually used a pneumatics bot yet, I just think that the rules are a bit odd. I can see limiting cylinders (which isn’t limited for some reason?) and resivoirs, but removing two motors when many already already eaten up by bare necessities seems truly stifling.

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It might make sense to keep the limit at 8 motors, but allow people to use pneumatics in addition (standard 2 reservoir limit)

It’s only stifling if you decide for yourself that it will be. True innovation and problem solving arises because of working within the limitations, not in spite of them. Don’t automatically discount the utility of pneumatics because you get two fewer motors. Maybe you need to challenge your own list of “bare necessities” and how they are achieved.

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I am yet to see a robot that doesn’t drive with 2 or more motors. That’s what I mean by ‘bare necessities’. I’m just saying is that pneumatics is less viable than before because we lost more power in the v5 pneumatics than v4 pneumatics

Like I said, I don’t even use it. This is in part because it isn’t viable as of now. I can innovate around it just fine.

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I was around for the 20+ tank behemoth in 2013 and that was resolved by the two tank limit.

Robotics is what is expensive but no more expensive than club sports. But as a small sub-component pneumatics are not really that expensive–$230 for a double acting kit (which is my preferred cylinder as it is more compact than a single acting and easily modified to be single acting). Pneumatics furthermore is the one product available piece by piece from other vendors such that you do not even need to spend that-one tank, one cylinder, one solenoid, fittings and a couple feet of tubing and you have a transmission.

Also if it was truly a meaningful constraint, it should be imposed in VEXU. But maybe it is as unlimited-2 is still unlimited and the true constraint is the number of available ports. Both the cortex and V5 were built with these constraints. The GDC does not need to add more.

I understand every program cannot afford to buy everything right away but as it stands now there is no reason to buy pneumatics at all. And as a result, VEX will just sell more overpriced aluminum to replace indiscriminately cut full length aluminum. But teams would learn more about engineering if the constraint was based upon the total cost of the robot than the nature of the robot’s components.


Hold up… 20 tanks??? I want to see what this looked like… any links/pictures?


yeah i totally agree, pneumatics is so unbelievably un-viable when you lose 2 motors. they say it is to reduce the paywall that is robotics, idk when was there not a huge paywall? in terms of v4 and v5

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Gateway… and 599D (if I remember correctly). But it was an amazing pneumatic 6-bar.

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Back in Toss Up my team NOVA1 had a 28 tank robot. Also in 2013 you had 12A with 9 tanks

And as said before, pneumatics aren’t prohibitively expensive.

The Dynamics of VRC have changed since then.

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I completely disagree the motor penalty is a must. V5 motors are the equivalent power wise of two 393 motors. V5 users have a power potential of about 1.5 times greater then cortex users and the nesacarry motor penalty is completely justified.