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How far your piston should travelI was not really sure where to put this post, but if a moderator feels that there is a better section that it should be in, feel free to move it.
A lot of people new to pistons always ask how far a piston should be able to travel back, and the response from most members who are experienced with piston valves is the diameter of the barrel divided by 4 (d/4). This number seems way too small to many, who believe the piston should need to travel back much more in order to achieve full flow. Using basic physics/math, here is an explanation as to why the d/4 rule is correct. Consider the amount of air which can flow through the barrel. The amount of air which can flow through is equal to the crosssectional area of the barrel. In our case, that crosssectional area is circular, meaning the crosssectional area would be equal to (pi)(r^2). When the piston is fully open, consider the amount of air which can flow through the gap created by the piston. Image this gap is a cylinder of air. The amount of air which can flow through that cylinder would be equal to the surface area of the cylinder, minus the top and bottom. Therefore, the crosssectional area would be equal to 2(pi)(r)(h), where h is the amount of piston travel, effectively the height of the cylinder. To achieve maximum flow and maximum efficiency, you want the amount of air which can flow through the gap created by the piston to equal the amount of air that can flow through the barrel. Therefore: (pi)(r^2) = 2(pi)(r)(h); divide by pi r^2 = 2rh; divide by r r = 2h; solve for h h = r/2; replace r with d/2 (radius = 1/2 diameter) h = (d/2)/2 h = d/4 And there you have it. The piston travel should equal the diameter of the barrel divided by four. If for some reason I did something wrong, please correct me. I just was thinking about why that rule made sense last night before I fell asleep, and this is what occurred to me. I thought this would be a helpful post for those who are just getting into pistons.
Yeah, I was sure that the math had been established somewhere... but I thought a single post would help people find it with the search function. And maybe a dedicated post might deserve a sticky . I don't think a single thread with all types of piston stuff would be too good, because it would be too long... however, a thread with links to all of the piston information (clide's piston diagrams, this piston travel thread, how to build certain types, etc) would certainly be beneficial.
So anything past that is a waste/overkill/bad for proformance?
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as long as the piston doesn't bounce, yes.
wow I didnt know this I always assumed the farther it travels back the more flow and power I guess I will go and shorten the distince they travel back.
Of course for chamber sealing valves it's quite different and at a minimum would need travel equal to the diameter of the chamber/barrel (whichever is smallest)
i always assumed that too even though when you think about it there is a maximum amount of air that can enter the barrel at once although does the 1/4" rule take into account velocity of the air because maybe more piston travel would allow the air to enter the barrel more freely
For barrel sealing "T" valves, the orifice through which the air flows towards the barrel port really should be modeled as a rectangle rather than the lateral area of a cylinder. In this case;
pi*r<sub>barrel</sub><sup>2</sup> = l<sub>port</sub>*w<sub>port</sub> Solving for the length of the port (piston travel), we get; l<sub>port</sub> = pi*r<sub>barrel</sub><sup>2</sup>/w<sub>port</sub> For coaxial launchers, the d/4 calculation is accurate, but for launcher with "T" valves, using such a design would probably limit flow quite a bit.
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My valve is built into a cross. Would you figure that as a "t" or a coaxle? I guess i'm the one in the crowd this go around!
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Jrrdw, could you provide a more thorough explanation of your valve's design?
People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.
well it would make sense that the chambers are either side of the cross, the barrel is at the front and the pilot ant the back
Bingo! The chambers are 5' of 3" diameter. The barrel is 8' of 1" diameter. 2" piston diameter, cylinder lenth/pilot chamber 8"/10"s long. Piston travle approx 4"/6"s. Piloted with 1" modded sprinkler valve bought from bcarms.com.
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