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Spank-O-Matic II, Hand Control
Spank-O-Matic II, Disassembled
Pneumatics for Spanking Power
The Spank-O-Matic is a breakthrough in spanking machine capabilities, offering complete control over striking power and speed, start and stop, manual operation, and multiple automatic spanking modes... all from a convenient hand control or your PC. These revolutionary features all originate from a unique combination: pneumatic power and computer control. Combining pneumatics and computer control provides control over the power and timing of the striking action at the millisecond level... more precision than is available any other way.
It all starts because pneumatic power is direct... it acts directly to create the spanking action. Previous commercial machines -- meaning my earlier Spank-O-Matic offerings and the Robospanker -- are indirect power, with a motor "loading" a powering force, be it gravity, a spring, or a rubberband. In none of the previous approaches is there any direct control over the actuation of a spank, since we control the motor and the release of the loaded force is a matter of rotation or retraction. Direct control via a high-speed solendoid valve and air cylinder is at the heart of most of the advantages we get from pneumatic power.
It also doesn't hurt that pneumatics can pack some serious power in a compact package. A large volume of room air is forced into a small space by a compressor, a mechanical device built just for that purpose. How much air in how little space is measure as pressure in PSI, or pounds per square inch. A good pressure for the SOM II might be 90 PSI. That means the force of the air is equal to 90 pounds sitting on one square inch... an area the size of a large postage stamp. That's a lot of power!
Advantages of Pneumatic Power and Computer Control
- Direct control over spanking action allows manual mode
- Regulator adjustment of incoming air source provides gross control over the spanking power
- Millisecond adjustment of valve open time provides exacting control over the spanking power
- Integrated computer can run the machine, providing a range of automatic modes (including random action)
- Integration with personal computer for even more automation and use over Internet
- Home-use compressors are robust, reliable, and highly available; quiet units such as the Senco are available
- Passive air tank allows extensive use without a compressor, if desired
- Industrial grade pneumatic components are durable and reliable
- Pneumatics can provide everything from very light to very powerful striking action
Air Sources for the SOM
Obviously, the SOM is designed primarily for use with an air compressor. Compressors come in many shapes, sizes, and types... but there is really only one requirement: the SOM II requires a compressor with air tank. Tankless compressors (often called "inflators" because that's all they're good for) do not provide the on-demand volume of air required to properly operate the SOM II. Both oil-free and oil-lubricated compressors are suited to use.
When selecting a compressor, noise is probably your top concern as many compressors can be loud. The Senco, the GMC Syclone line, and several DeWalt compressors are notably quiet... see the FAQ for additional recommendations. If you don't mind spending the scratch, some specialty compressors can be basically silent. Two other key considerations are tank size and CFM. Tanks are measured in gallons, and a larger tank provides power for more strokes before the compressor turns on automatically to fill it back up. CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, and describes the volume of air the unit can deliver at a given pressure. A compressor of roughly 1 CFM at 90 PSI powers the SOM II fully, and a somewhat lower volume unit such as the Senco still does a great job... strokes at the highest pressure level cannot be delivered at maximum speed indefinitely with such a small compressor, however.
The other option that may be of interest to some folks is the passive air tank, such as this one from Lowes (similar units available at most hardware stores). This option is inexpensive, portable, and silent in use. They can easily be filled at any gas station that offers air to inflate auto tires, although the maximum pressure available at a filling station may vary. I tested the 10 gallon unit from Lowes to provide some data about its use with the SOM II. I started by pressurizing this tank to 100 PSI (it's rated for 125 PSI), and set the regulator (not included, a separate purchase of <$10) to 50 PSI. Using the full 50 PSI, I got nice powerful strokes... for comparison, they were about halfway between "medium" and "high" settings on the RS. In this experiment, the setup delivered 420 strokes by the time the tank pressure reached 50 PSI and started falling. 34 strokes later, the tank reached 45 PSI, and after another 40 strokes pressure hit 40 PSI and I stopped.
Air Compressors In Practice
So how does pneumatic power create a spanking with the SOM? Pretty much the same way it operates home tools and industrial machinery. The compressor runs for a while, reaching it's maximum pressure (usually set at the factory) in the holding tank. This pressurized air goes through a regulator, a mechanical valve that allows the user to dial in a desired output pressure. A hose connects the regulator output to the SOM head unit where a solenoid valve holds it back. A control signal from the handset or your PC opens the solendoid valve for a precisely controlled duration, measured in milliseconds, letting the air pressure through to the cylinder. The cylinder is forced forward while the valve is opened, and once it shuts again the air is released and internal and external springs retract the cylinder for the next stroke.
Each stroke uses a bit of the pressurized air in the compressor, lowering the pressure over time. After some number of strokes, the tank pressure reaches the turn-on pressure, also typically set at the factory. This starts the whole process over again, as the compressor runs to again increase the tank pressure. You'll note that there's no limit on the timeframe for a spanking, since the compressor runs as needed and provides an air supply indefinitely.
So what observations should you take away from this process? First, using a compressor is as easy as plugging it in and turning it on. It takes care of itself. Second, as long as the compressor is functional the tank pressure never drops below the turn-on pressure (often 90 PSI). If your regulated pressure is at or below this level, the output will always be consistent. If your regulated pressure is set above the turn-on pressure, the output will occasionally dip down to the turn-on level, where the compressor will run again to repressurize. In actual practice, these changes are barely noticable. Finally, note that there aren't any magically appearing "contaminents" in the pressurized air used for pneumatic power. It's room air. Since your average room air contains some water vapor, carbon dioxide (about 3% at sea level), and perhaps things like cigarette smoke and dust, these things also show up in the air once it's pressurized.
Compressors aren't mysterious, hazardous, or particularly unusual, despite the desire of my competitor to cast them as such. Most contractors, machine shops, house painters, gas stations, and home workshops have air compressors. The vast majority of manufacturing businesses have them. Dental offices and hospitals do too, along with dozens of other types of business. As a kid, I used my dad's air compressor to inflate my bicycle tires. They are available from stores as varied as Sears, Home Depot, and Wally World. Every refrigerator and air conditioner has a compressor. Even if you're completely unfamiliar with air compressors, don't automatically believe crazy concoctions about their supposed danger. Compressors are all around you, and have been for many years.
A prospective customer wrote this to me, after doing his own research (shared anonymously and with permission). I strongly suggest that you do the same, if you still have questions.
"This isn't exactly a testimonial, since I haven't bought your machine yet, but I wanted to let you know that your explanations and approach worked for me. I knew I wanted a SOM II when I first saw it. However, I read your counters to the Robospanker claims, and then went to read the claims themselves. Your links and explanations are clear and present a good case but I remained concerned about the compressor health risks from the Robospanker site. I decided to write DeWalt, the company that made my air compressor. Their response requested that I read the manual to understand all risks and concerns with the compressor. I did, and that sealed it for me. Nothing about the health risks of bacteria or oil, ventilation was related to spraying things, and draining the tank is no big deal and something I already do. I want the more capable machine and will be ordering my SOM II in time for Christmas."
Maintaining Your Air Compressor
While we're on it, please maintain your compressor. Not especially because it's a danger otherwise -- compressor explosions are exceptionally rare, almost always commercial units, and require very serious maltreatment -- but because you should properly maintain the things you own, so they'll serve you well throughout their useful lifetime. Compressors regularly last 20 years and more without any attention, and practically indefinitely with proper care. Since you'll likely have a small portable unit, it's as simple as the following:
Unplug it and take it outside or to where you can hang the valve over a sink
Release the air pressure in the tank
Turn the drain valve open slowly... water may come out
Most people, especially with light duty uses like the SOM II, will do that perhaps every month or two. If you're lazy, you can also gently crack the valve with pressure in the tank, and whatever water there is will be propelled out at high force... you'll be done very quickly, and the tank will still have air in it for your next play session ;) Aside from plugging it in, that's the entire work involved in setting up and maintaining your air compressor.
Learn: SOM II
See: Video of the SOM II
Control: Take Control of the SOM II
Hear: Testimonials for the SOM II
Compare: SOM II vs. the Competition
Understand: Pneumatics for Spanking Power
Enlighten: Find Truth Through the Competition's Lies