Cool Pit Photos

I don’t have any photos to submit of my own but we are considering upgrading a few parts of our current pit so i started this topic to see other peoples cool pit designs. Feel free to post any photos/CAD of your or another teams pit setup or how it packs in a trailer. You can of course add any comments about how it assembles or how you or the design helps keep it clean and organized.

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/thread

Maybe @D.Allred has photos of the cart that it all travels on.

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Not so much a picture as a recommendation - We recently purchased a set of Pipe and Drape Equipment to hold up our (fairly simple) backdrop and valance. It replaced an old 80-20 system that was a pain to transport, set up, and tear down.

While we still have yet to try it during a competition… we know already the setup went from a 6-person, 30-minute task to a 1-person, 5 minute task.

Cost was well under $1000.

10/10 would recommend… so far. Check back later and we’ll see how well it holds up.

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First things first, what is your definition of cool? Functional, or just… neat?

As far as functional pits go, I don’t think you can really beat 973’s super pit. It can be quickly set up, has room for everything you could possibly need at a competition, and can be pretty easily converted into a double pit if the need arises.

As far as the best-looking pits go, I love clean and professional pits like 254’s, even though the truss, banner, and monitors probably add quite a bit to set up and tear-down times, damn does it look clean. 3256 has used a similar pit for the past couple of years, with 3 tables, an enclosing truss, a banner with our logo on it, and two display monitors, although it doesn’t look nearly as nice as 254’s if I’m being entirely honest with myself.

Personally, I’d prioritize simplicity and setup/tear-down time, so if I had the opportunity to redesign our pit for 2021 I’d probably just opt for two cabinets without any racks and two nice, soft, blue stanchions. It should be easy to set up and with the right cabinets and decor, and/or a bit of spray paint, it should also look pretty clean. It can also be pretty easily be converted into a double pit or enclosed on all sides. I’d probably skimp on truss in the interests of utility, but if you are looking for some of the standard stuff, here’s a nice supplier I found earlier this year. They sell in black powder coat too, for superior performance.

Here’s a picture of 226’s pit. The two workbench wire shelving units are 3ft and 5ft wide each so that they can fit in an 8’x8’ pit area. We purchased the components from Shelving.com locally in Michigan. The two TVs are 40" each. Our banner hangs above the TV using two extension poles. Its height is just under 10’ per FRC rule.
Imgur

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We did this by hand but there’s probably easier ways to do it with a laser or something. Something something character building…

I’m of the unpopular opinion that most overhead hanging things are far more effort to set up than they are worth. I watched a team this year set up their pit for 2.5 hours. TVs are almost always a waste too unless you’re expecting a crowd (which most teams should not, sorry) or you have the TV feed at champs.

3015 and 340 have some very nice pits that @Justin_Montois may have some photos of.

Additionally, here’s a great video of making compact, cheap storage for those very common Harbor Freight storage bins.

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Hot take*: if your pit has non-functional enclosed sides you’ve already lost the game.
Same thing if you’re using a pop-up tent with the canopy and no additional lighting.

I have strong opinions regarding the various pit truss structures but those two are just immediate facepalms.

*I judge this take to be hot based on what I see at comps, not the CD hivemind.

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This is why I want to redesign our pit for (hopefully) offseasons next year. Open pits are simply more functional, at least as far as modularity goes. Although I’m not exactly sure whether or not velvet stanchion ropes count as ‘non-functional’ enclosed sides. They’re fluffy. That’s peak functionality.

As with PC cases, LED lighting makes everything work somewhat better while adding decent complexity and a bit of cost. Other than that, I love the pits that are essentially mini shops on wheels, they’re great.

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It’s more about being walled off from neighboring teams, and a lack of flexibility.
I hate the “pit size may vary” rule as much as anybody else, but when you build a giant cardboard box as you pit you have to choose between footgunning with a 8x8 pit and losing all that space or footgunning with a 10x10 pit that’s illegal in smaller venues.

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Huh, I hadn’t really thought about that. More talking points for when I make my pitch to the rest of the team, which is neat. How common are venues that choose to take advantage of this rule by chance?

It’s typically districts that run from HS gyms that end up with the smaller pits, but as you may have noticed a lot of the regional venues have been downsizing over the years from large event spaces (RIP Long Beach Arena) to highschool facilities and other similarly cramped spaces. If Cali ever jumps into districts it’ll be pretty standardized.

That’s also where my gripes about canopies comes in: a good 2/3 of venues have imo already garbage lighting and HS gyms make up a majority of those; some have been bad enough to be a safety hazard, like 2018 AVR. When I look over and see a team working in basically twilight levels of illumination it just hurts.

Once you join the light pole gang you can’t go back. (you can also just mount LEDs to the top of a superpit if that floats your boat)
It also helps you get cool pit photos, which is apparently what this thread is supposed to be about :grin:

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Back when I was in high school, one of the worst-lit venues I was at was actually the World Championship in Atlanta. Seems the folks in charge of A/V (I suspect) didn’t like some of the lights around the practice fields being on, because that meant that people couldn’t see the screens. But when several pits are having to work by flashlight… Someone eventually got the memo and turned a couple extra lights on, which improved the situation. Until the next day when the light was off again… and the memo was resent.

There are 3-4 things that you need in a pit.

  1. Flexible from 8x8 to 10x10. If you get more than 10x10 then you should be able to use the extra space.
  2. Lit well enough to work. If you have a canopy on the frame, make sure there’s lights rigged inside. If you don’t have a canopy on the frame, be able to rig lights in case you’re in a bad spot.
  3. Store enough tools to allow you to work on the robot, and have space to do the work. (See also: SuperPit)
  4. Easy to set up. If 5 people can’t set it up in 1 hour, then you need to think again on how you’re doing it. (This is for bulk setup, not necessarily details like whiteboards. Think canopy raise and light rig instead of giveaway placement.)

Beyond that, “cool” factor is going to depend a lot on what you think is “cool”.

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On a related note, how useful would you say the upper racks in most super pits are? I’ve been thinking about maybe just dropping the racks in favor of a greater work surface on the cabinets themselves, but a lot of super pits seem to have them, so I’ve been wondering about how beneficial they might actually be.

Personally I think this is way too much time needed to setup a pit, time that can be spent working on the robot or at the very least not wasting energy setting up a complicated pit.

We recently went to a pit similar to 254’s, and being able to setup the entire pit at regionals in under 10-15 minutes (with overhead lighting) or in 0 minutes at offseasons (where we dont worry about lighting and just roll in the two pit toolbenches, robot cart, and plug in 1 wire) has been a game changer.

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I see what you did there.

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Unless you’re gunning for that imagery award, in which case, #winning !

But definitely agreed. Whatever you do, don’t decrease your lighting or ability to use the space.

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Here is an image of 1923’s pit from DCMP in 2019. Nice features we’ve built up over the years include:

  • Black tablecloth on the back table allowing us to hide all our jackets/bags under the table and out of sight
  • 4 cheap Home Depot brand LED light bars ziptied to the upper truss giving us super bright lighting even in dark venues
  • Hanging mounts for bumpers allowing them to be tucked up and out of the way
  • Instabench - allowing for flexible, foldable seating for 5-6 people
  • Trash can - prevents us from accruing random garbage in random places
  • Low profile robot cart - has blocks to let us run all functionality checks on the cart and low enough that even tall robots are easy to handle
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It is best if the light is diffuse and not too bright. I have been in some pits, especially the ones with the canopy, where bright lights were mounted above. These ended up casing harsh shadows when one bent over to look at the robot. There were areas that were brightly lit and others that were too dark to work effectively.

Remember, the primary purpose of the pit area is to work on your robot. The cosmetic aspects should not diminish that.

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