Air motor control


I have been investigating air motors. Air motors have some neat advantages versus electric motors, such as light weight, high power, corrosion resistance, not need for a driver card, and low cost per HP.

Has anyone else looked at air motors for the ROV application?

How would they be controlled? Are there small pneumatic valves that can be controll with PWM, 4-20mA, or 0-24V?


Hmmm... I'm not sure about air motors- I think they'd need some sort of high-pressure air source which may be hard to implement on such a small vehicle. Larger ROVs sometimes use hydraulics-- perhaps that would be an option more worth exploring?



I’m using compressed air on a small rov for pneumatics etc and control options are very limited and clunky. I would like to try Parker miniature valves but they are expensive and difficult to buy in small quantities. Proportion control is also limited. Would love to hear if anyone has found some options.


I have used air motors several years ago on a working ROV.

Here are some recommendations.

Use a two way air bank, I recommend Bimba Brand.

You will have two use many through hull fittings so the air bank

can ride inside the housing.

Port the exhaust out into the water. send air down at 160 PSI.

Regulate the flow control on the exhaust side rather than intake, this allows for

greater control. of motors and actuators.

Make sure your air bank has two open close ports for each actuator you will

be using. in other words one port will let you run one motor on/off, while

you will need two ports for each piston or actuator to move an arm.

If you are building a small enough robot you can use Die Grinder motors

they are cheep and usually made of high grade aluminum.

They also have a nice chuck design to hold your home made prop.

another nice thing about air is you can use bladders to bring your rov]

up or down. In other words a strong claw and your bladder could lift heavy

objects to the surface that most motors could not.

---- Here are the down sides to air. -----

No revers, most air motors only run in one direction, I solved this by adding extra motorsmounted in revers direction.

You will not be able two push depths greater than 200 feet. The only way around this

is to go two high pressure air such as 3000 psi dive bottle or dive compressor. Once

you step up to high pressure air bank valves the cost goes through the roof.

At that cost you may as well go hydraulic, more power, reliability ect.


This is a great product! I found some more information on this website: