How do *you* light your pit?

Iron Kings have been working on their pit area this off-season, and it’s obvious that our setup would benefit from more lighting.

The pit was about the size of an FRC crate on its side, split down the long way on a hinge. We’ve cut down one of those halves to table height for an additional work surface, and the plan is to build storage and a charging station underneath. (We’re still deciding if we want or need the other side–not being able to drag more crap to an event may be addition by subtraction.)

LED strip lighting seems like the obvious answer for the storage portion, but I’d like to know what other teams have tried for both storage and working spaces. What worked, or just as important what didn’t work?

We have only been in three venues, but as long as we have our top open we haven’t needed anything but very occasional task lighting. (We use a pop-up canopy, without the fabric the last two years, and nothing overhead the first three.) If more lighting were needed, I would absolutely go toward LED (cooler than incandescent and less fragile than Fluorescent), and preferably track lighting or other “steerable” or mobile lights which can do double duty as task lighting as needed. I would also seriously consider a 12VDC system (auto lighting) over 110AC, so that in a pinch we could run the lights off of a battery (in addition to 18Ah batteries, we have a large deep cycle battery for our trailer lighting).

I don’t have a good solution for lighting the whole pit but for situations where you need it, this flashlight has served me quite well:

I’ve actually bought 3 of them because the first two were lost at robotics competitions. I don’t think anyone walked off with them intentionally but it gets lent out and sadly never finds its way back. :frowning:

The current one has a CTRE lanyard on it so it’s fairly easy to spot.

A couple years ago, we just had some portable lighting similar to the pictures attached. The hanging lights were super convenient, and we removed the stand on the portable lights and mounted them to the top corner of our pit structure. I don’t think we ever actually used them though, and we soon stopped taking them to competition. The venue for SMR is VERY well lit, so any extra lighting would just be in the way.

Hanging Light.jpg
Portable Light Stand.jpg

Hanging Light.jpg
Portable Light Stand.jpg

I personally haven’t dealt with pit lighting I tried to convince my team about getting some last year (our rookie year) however funding wasn’t best for it. But one of our good friends and travel mates team 5816 (GRA-V) had a great idea of using I believe LED spotlights, like those you can mount on the top of your car, and they would run the set of four mounted above their pit off of two extra robot batteries and charge those overnight.Idk where they got them but LED car lights aren’t a bad idea because they already 12v and you could easily use a battery or inverter plugged into a power strip to power them.

Matches were involved… I’m legally not allowed to say more…

But we use LED strips.

+1 to Dwight. Our team mounted four LED spotlights to the corners of our pit structure last year since our pit had walls that blocked out a lot of light. Even when the light from above would have been enough to work in, the extra light was awesome to have in the pit and really helped to see things normally covered by shadows. We wired the lights through some sort of inverter or power supply (I’m not sure what exactly) and had no need to charge them, either.

I use 6ft LED tube normally used for commercial refrigerators(think grocery store coolers). The are stupid bright and it’s really easily to make a fixture for them and with a couple of tombstone connectors, easy to hook up(no ballast required). I used to work as a commercial refrigeration technician during my summers throughout high school and we used these for everything.

In our case, we have a set of fluorescent lights that go around our pit, hanging above us and shining light down onto the workstations below us. We mostly do this to avoid having shadows be a big problem while we are working.

We haven’t really had any issues with pit lighting either. I guess if you wanted to see under tables and such, some standard cabinet lighting solutions would work.

1 Like

I haven’t used those in a pit, but I can attest from having some at home that they provide great lighting. I will warn, however, that they get very hot, so keep that in mind for placement.

My team uses a lot of LED’s. And we have a LED tube on a bar that pivot’s into our pit to light places without tables. In my rookie year I realized how dark the pits can get. So I got a pen light, because helping other teams without being able to see is kind of hard.:slight_smile:

If you want there to be light in your pit,

  1. Don’t block light from getting into your pit. Your pit shouldn’t have walls or a ceiling. Furthermore it shouldn’t have dark blue walls or a dark ceiling, and it certainly shouldn’t have both! Remember:
  1. Carry a flashlight

A flashlight with fresh batteries is a key to a successful inspection. Many of the items on the inspection checklist ask whether an item is “clearly visible” and it’s easy to find the robot in violation of these criteria when it’s surrounded by a ring of people in a dimly-lit pit. Preemptively shining a light on problem areas will often eliminate any concern.

There’s a more theatrical side to inspection, too: a flashlight can be used like a laser pointer, directing your inspector’s attention to the areas you’d like it to be directed towards.

It’s true, most inspectors are like cats in that you can easily distract them.

Alternatively, only if it’s a class 1 flashlight.

I will never forget the team at an event that had half a dozen people using the lights on their cell phones to illuminate their robot, because they had a POP UP TENT WITH WALLS AS A SHELL OF THE PIT.

This is not an engineering design challenge, this is a project management and common sense challenge with engineering elements. Don’t go out of your way to screw yourself.

Most (MOST) events have enough house lighting to get your pit well lit if you can get out of your own way. I will on occasion have a backpack at events and do have a belt at events, and after playing The Last of Us on the PS3, I bought a light like this. Buy a couple of those to get light in tight places and have it handy at all times.

If you have a tall and rigid structure in your pit that serves a function, throwing some LED strips or rope lights up there can get you some cheap ambient light if you are desperate.

I know you are new to IN competitions, maybe you could find out what the house lighting situation is at the high schools and go from there?

Generally we just get a good amount of intelligent students to stay in the pits at all time.

Meow! :rolleyes:

You should also festoon your pit with bags of catnip, backed by muffin fans to waft the aroma around – makes us more suggestible. And offer us liver snacks. Also, try massaging the backs of our heads, up around the ears.

Just don’t rub your inspector the wrong way.

I usually just stand in a good spot for the venue lights to reflect off of my head. Then we usually need sunglasses, not more lights. Ever have that problem Billfred? :cool:

As others have suggested, having an open pit ceiling is a good idea, as well as having open sides and probably fixtures that aren’t completely opaque.

But tinted glasses aren’t allowed in the pits…

To echo what Wil said (did I just type that?), I think you’ll find most Indiana gymnasiums and fieldhouses are more Taj Mahal-ian than the dank dungeons you are used to in the land of roosters. There will be a good mix of natural and artificial light, to spotlight the sacred beauty that is Indiana High School Basketball.
I understand your only taste of Indiana robotics this year was from B^3. That’s not a district host site. Think more LNHS, host of IRI. 'Round these parts, the Lawrence North gym is considered on the middling size.