Help a Champs Rookie Team Understand

Our team is going to Champs in Houston. It will be our first trip and we are full of questions about how we get in and out of the convention center with all our stuff. We are located about 4 hours away from Houston and we’ve attended Lone Star at at the George R Brown in '15 and '16.

  1. How do we load in? We can’t imagine the normal 60 team Lone Star load-in/load-out process working for 600 teams. I can’t find any info on about load-in.

  2. How much stuff can we put in our robot crate? I spoke with several teams at our last event who have been to St Louis and I got answers from “Just the robot” to “we put our whole pit in there”. I know the instructions from FIRST say “only the robot” …

  3. Should we slim down our pit or can we just bring it all? If we can bring a trailer, we could bring it all. What is the norm for non-flying teams?

  4. If we packed a second crate for our pit, how much does it cost to ship it with the robot?

Be gentle with me.

> How do we load in?

In St. Louis, there were multiple loading doors that teams entered. Teams were lined up on the street, down the block, around the corner, etc. If you are in line, then you have to push all your stuff. If you wait a little while after load-in starts, then you can drive your truck/van up to the loading door.

I have no idea how Houston will be laid out. You will get load-in instructions a few weeks before the event.

> How much stuff can we put in our robot crate?

Up to the weight limit for the crate. Just make sure all that stuff does not damage the robot if something comes loose. IMHO, just put in the robot, and don’t risk the damage.

> Should we slim down our pit or can we just bring it all?

Our team drove and brought it all

In prior years, there was not “crate storage”, so a lot of teams were inventive with their crate, and it disassembled to become part of the pit (shelves, etc.). That has some benefits in: 1) Not having your crate in the way while waiting for them to pick it up; and 2) not having to wait for your crate (or have it in the way on the last day) when you are packing up.

If you have a place to store your crate at home, I suggest building a large crate so you can reuse it from year to year (you will be going back to Champs in future years, won’t you?).

I saw many foreign teams build crates that transformed into their robot cart (rearrange some pieces, screw on some wheels, …).

If you are driving, why crate your robot? just bring it in the lock and tag bag?

You want enough stuff to get your robot thru competition, so what you had the regional would be a good start. especially since you guys are driving there.

When we went to the Championship event in 2013 we were required to crate and ship. I am pretty sure that is still the case.

[ALL teams attending the FIRST Championship MUST have a crate to ship their robot in and MUST ship their robot to the FIRST Championship.]( to FIRST Champ)

Champs requires crating. This is actually to make load-in easier on the venue, because the crates will already be staged in your pit before they open the doors to teams. Once you get your crate emptied there’s a procedure for getting the crate taken back to storage, and it will reappear after quals are over. You can apply for a specific exemption from FIRST to be able to drive your robot home if that’s what you want, and the instructions are in the link Kevin posted.

Note that the weight of the actual crate is part of the weight limit for crates, not just the weight of the contents. This is a mistake a lot of people make the first time. If your crate is overweight, there will be a tag on it saying that you have to go to the shipping people and deal with the overage costs.

On Wednesday, there will be a load-in period where you can send 5 people in to bring in additional gear. If you have an extra robot cart, it’s kind to bring it so you can loan it to one of the international teams, who tend to be a bit short on such things.

I don’t know why that’s not an option. We would sure like to avoid the expense and trouble of building a crate! But [ to FIRST Champ]( to FIRST Champ)

I don’t have any official knowledge of load-in for Champs at GRB, but like 30% of the back side of the first floor is loading doors, with private GRB parking a block deep just outside. I’m hoping they’ll have most of that parking lot clear of the show trailers so we can pile lots of teams in there, pile out all their stuff at once, then pile in even more teams. Since 3rd floor is FTC/FLL, there’s no sense loading FRC in there. And parking/loading through the front doors along Avenida De Las Americas is “strictly prohibited” by the GRB, so it’s going to have to be some sort of dance in the parking lot at the rear of the building.

But really, just wait for the official instructions.

As others have said, you can put as much stuff in your crate as you want, but if you exceed the weight allowance (which includes the crate), you’ll pay hefty overages at the event. We usually crated the robot, a cart/dolly, and lightweight bulky stuff like shelves, whiteboards, etc.

We also shipped our batteries in the crate, which requires a few extra steps. According to Fedex non-spillable batteries don’t require any declarations or extra forms, but you DO have to label the crate and any internal box holding the batteries “NONSPILLABLE BATTERIES”. We had an extra box built into the corner of the crate that we could put the batteries in.

Sorry, as a Californian, that was never an option, but then definitely just ship your robot, I’d truck and carry everything else in, had experience where team I was working with got charged for overweight fee and it can be quite a large bill.

Thanks everyone, it’s clearer to me now.

I have some trade show experience (some in George R Brown even) where the norm was that all your equipment had to be crated and the venue crews had to move EVERYTHING. The crated robot requirement made me think that might be the case here too.

Rookie team? Your number and join date suggest otherwise unless I am missing something.

If you are concerned with shipping cost then contact the teams near you and see if they have extra space.

Additionally, the stuff you used at your regionals, bring. If you are concerned with weight or cost, then you can cut down on what you bring by not bringing things you didn’t use at your other two events. Chances are if you didn’t use it then you won’t use it at champs.

Champs Rookie: Veteran team that has not been to any Championship Event.*

Similar condition: Bumper Rookie (2016): Team that hasn’t made any bumpers yet despite not being a rookie.

*Or that has experienced a complete institutional turnover since their last trip.

The thing you are missing is called Context. Try looking for it sometime.

This is our 6th season, but first Champs.

FWIW, here’s a view of the pit shortly before the mayhem/load-in begins. Note that you’ll get a table in your pit.




In the past some of my teams have shipped two totes in the robot cart filled with essential items/withholding parts, these usually are mounted on a wooden shelf above the robot. This allows us to still have critical items in the case that our transportation method fails, and helps us save space in our own vehicles.

We are going to be another Champs Rookie and I am wondering what are the pit dimensions. They look smaller in the picture than regional pit sizes. We have always been really bare bones in our pit but having a banner now makes us want to build/buy something that will we can use for Champs as well as future events. So maybe we need something adjustable. Any suggestions along those lines as well? We don’t want the tent set-up (roof makes me claustrophobic).

As a district team, the CMP pits at St. Louis seem to be the biggest we get all season. The pit is at least 10 feet wide (it’s the only pit our banner actually fits in), and I think the depth is a bit deceiving in that picture.

Every year I have been to Champs pits have been atleast 10x10 if not slightly bigger

Ah okay, I just figure you were part of two teams or something and the other one wasn’t on your Chief, my apologies for jumping to a conclusion.

I can’t speak to load in at Houston, as I’ve only ever travelled to St Louis for Champs but…

I would advise against putting things in your crate if you have the ability to drive a trailer to Champs. This is just me, but I would be scared of stuff coming loose and hurting the robot.

Bring a trailer if you can! This is what my team did and we brought everything! We set up our pit just like at any other event and it was nice. It made the huge event seem manageable when you could go back “home” after matches. It’s nice to have your normal space with you. In my experience, it helps lower the high pressure situation Champs can turn into.

(Besides, it is so much easier to find your pit when you have a structure and banner up. Even then, it’s nearly impossible.) I remember praying that we wouldn’t be in Archimedes again because, oh my goodness, I swear the pits were on the farthest end and the field was on the opposite farthest end.