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Pilot Valves

The valves mentioned so far have been manually operated. Pneumatic systems often use
double pressure 5 port valves called pilot valves. Pilot valves are operated by a
pneumatic signal and not a manual one.

The following diagram is a schematic symbol of a 5/2 pilot valve, pneumatically operated
both sides:

Compare this with the 5/2 valve with selector switch:

4 2

5 3

The main difference between the pneumatically operated pilot valve and the 5/2 valve
with selector switch is:

♦ The pilot valve is operated by a pneumatic signal, not by a manual switch or spring

The following is a picture of a 5/2

double pilot valve:
If the valve is to be switched to the left-hand side of the
diagram, it must receive a pressure signal at the 14 port. This
must be thought of as the “one four” port and not the
fourteen port, as this side connects the air port 1 to port 4.

If the valve is to be switched to the right-hand side of the

diagram, it must receive a pressure signal at the 12 port. This
must be thought of as the “one two” port and not the twelve
port, as this side connects the air port 1 to port 2.

The diagram on the right shows two

push-button valves operating a
double-acting cylinder via a
pneumatically-operated pilot valve.
A push-button valve is used to
exetend the cylinder (make the
cylinder go positive), and another
push-button valve is used to retract
the cylinder (make the cylinder go

Note that:

♦ the pilot valve must have an air


Cut-away of a pneumatically-operated pilot valve ….

Roller Valves
Roller valves are used when automatic movement of a cylinder is required. They are
similar to the 3/2 push-button valves, except that they are ‘actuated’ (switched on and off)
by the cylinder instead of manually.

Look at the following situation…

Double-acting cylinder operated with Double-acting cylinder operated with

a 5/2 selector switch – normal position a 5/2 selector switch – switched position
Instead of using a selector switch, the system can be automated by using a roller valve
that will automatically make the cylinder contract after it has expanded ….
System in normal state Push-button pressed – cylinder goes

When the roller valve is switched by the

expanded cylinder, the pilot valve receives a
signal at the right-hand side, which switches the
cylinder back to its contracted position.
Assignment 4

Limit valves, impulse valves, double-acting cylinders

Construct the circuit as shown…



Which airlines (A,B C D E F) are a power source? __________________________

Which airlines (A,B C D E F) are signals? ________________________________

What is G? ________________________________________________________

What is H ? ________________________________________________________
Assignment 5

2 Double Acting Cylinders

Consider the following situation

Cylinder A Cylinder B

You must construct a pneumatic circuit that performs the following sequence:

Cylinder A goes positive (A+)

Cylinder B goes positive (B+)

Cylinder A goes negative (A-)

Cylinder B goes negative (B-)

The circuit should start with a push button switch.

Use the following schematic diagram to help you. Insert the airlines!
Homework Questions
Match the following symbols with their description (the first one has been completed for
you). Choose from the following:

a) foot pedal operated actuator b) roller operated actuator c) lever operated


d) direct pneumatic actuator e) 5/2 pneumatically operated pilot valve

f) pushbutton operated actuator g) lever actuator with détente h) pneumatic


Symbol description Symbol description

1 5

2 6

3 7

4 8

List 3 safety considerations when using compressed air




12. Which of the following is a pneumatic system?

a) fuel pump on a car
b) headlights on a locomotive
c) bicycle brakes
d) air brakes on a truck

13. What is an advantage of using pneumatics?

a) overload safe
b) cannot be used in clean environments
c) expensive
d) it is colourful

14. Why is a filter unit used?

a) it compresses the air

b) it removes moisture from the air
c) it lubricates the air
d) it can adjust the pressure

15. A pressure regulator is used:

a) to clean the air

b) to lubricate the air
c) to store the air
d) to obtain the correct pressure

16. A lubricator:

a) cleans the air

b) stores the air
c) is adjusted to obtain the correct pressure
d) lubricates the pneumatic components

17. A single-acting cylinder:

a) can produce work in both directions

b) can produce work in only one direction
c) can not produce work
d) can produce work in three directions

18. A double-acting cylinder:

a) has a return spring

b) has no return spring
c) has 2 return springs
d) has only one port
19. A 3/2 valve has:

a) 3 directions and 2 ports

b) has 5 ports and 2 directions
c) has 1.5 ports.
d) 3 ports and 2 directions

20. A 5/2 valve has:

a) 7 ports and 5 directions

b) 2 ports and 5 directions
c) 5 ports and 2 directions
d) 2.5 ports