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I am really intrigued at the application of pneumatics, especially for small-scale automated processes. Realistically, how small are the components of such a system? -- Ioneill 08:45, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

There is no limit in size, neither in small nor in big scales. It depends on the use case. The resistors I have worked with are about 2 cm long, which is a good size for easy handling. The capacitors were about 4 cm high with a 3 cm diameter. I have built for example a pneumatic astable multivibrator with optical signal output. I will add a pneumatic optical signal output element to the pneumatics page, soon. For sure, it is even possible to make integrated circuits. I have seen a high sophisticated PID controller the size of a foot, made of pure pneumatics.
Yes, it is an amazing technology. Do you remember the flux capacitor in "Back to the future"? Doc Brown announced, the principle is universal, and it works with steam as well. In the year 1885 he had no electronics, but he managed to do it with steam. Okay, this is science fiction. But the functioning of pneumatics is true. It has been widely used in automation in the 1980, especially in factories with dangerous explosive gases. -- Rfc 10:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
Wow. That is very cool. I took electronics in college and I am really interested in how circuit function can be replicated by pneumatics, it's a big conceptual step to make! I'll look forward to hearing about more applications :) -- Ioneill 19:24, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm really not sure about this. I can see the use of pnuematics for automation, but as a replacement for electronics? T.Neo 12:17, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

The great advantage of pneumatics is that it can be produced and maintained with simple tools and materials (hi-tech versus lo-tech). In case the logistics chain between Mars and Earth breaks down for some reason, the settlers can handle it themselves. This is the idea of an autonomous colony. -- Rfc 11:35, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

I have a problem with the size of pnuematics, and the computing power. Lo-tech may be attractive, but it can't do everything. I doubt pneumatics could replace computers fully. What is needed here is a disruptive technology. Once we know how to make integrated circuits and microchips on the cheap, with relativly lo-tech processes, not only will building an autonomous colony on Mars be a lot easier, but it may open up a whole new load of possibilities on Earth. Where I see pneumatics standing out is in production processes, like pnuematic robotic arms and 3d printers. I think that the best bet of producing electronic components on Mars is via some form of printing. T.Neo 13:45, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

I fully agree with you. Pneumatic computers are less powerful, indeed. But the reason for that is not physical law, but rather a historic legacy. Electronics have been developed to a huge performance due to a number of advantages of electricity: availability, easy installation, versatility, etc. Pneumatics, on the other hand, requires compressed air, which is usually produced by electricity. Obviously, it is the easier way to use electricity directly, and after several decades of technological development we enjoy awesome computers, based upon the flow of electrons. I am sure, the same performance and size would be possible with pneumatics if mankind had spent the same effort for pneumatics development.
Okay, we can not build powerful pneumatic computers shortly, and we do not want to. We still can have electronic computers on Mars for internet, science gadgets and amusement. But I think we should make all vital parts of the colony without electronics (It might be a crucial issue for plain survival), unless we find a way of making transistors and electronic circuits with technology, simple enough to produce on Mars. Printing can be a hopeful approach...
-- Rfc 20:13, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

You are right. There are many things on Mars that don't reallly need electronics, and pneumatic systems could do the job, but some things require all the complex computers a transistors, etc. T.Neo 10:05, 15 July 2008 (UTC)