Pic: FRC 1293 New Pit Structure (WIP)

A still-in-progress CAD render of a new pit structure the Pandamaniacs have been working on this fall. One, because we needed to learn Onshape. Two, because it took us over a blankety-blank hour to unpack ourselves at Smoky Mountains last year and being a regional team we need all that pit time!

Inspiration (and the tote model, actually) came from 148’s new sheetmetal pit structures. We don’t have that god-tier sheetmetal resource at our disposal, so we’re making it out of dimensional lumber and plywood.

It’s very much a work in progress (one of the angle pieces in the top literally appeared while I was taking the screenshot), but the gist:

  • 8’ long. If we like this one, we have thought about a second 6’ one.
  • Room for 4-5 totes on the bottom
  • Second level will sport rails to fit our preferred Stanley organizers. (Which we’ve discovered are starting to get discontinued, but we have too many right now to change course.)
  • Workbench surface, complete with a vise and a hole for a 5-gallon wastebasket (bucket). The bucket will also provide storage for anything on the back pegboard during transport.
  • Upper storage hutch for a few smaller organizers and Sterilite shoeboxes for bulkier items.
  • Six beefy swivel casters from CasterCity.com, a supplier recommended by Marshall from the Zebracorns. THOR is a common off-season stop for us, so we wanted to consult with someone experienced in the realm of foam tiles.

You can look at the most current version here.

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Would you be able to share any links/images showing these?

EDIT: Found them on JVN’s blog: https://johnvneun.com/blog/2018/10/23/more-cad-resources

Is weight a concern? Making this out of 2x4 and ply wood is going to add up in the weight dept. A concern to think about is if you want to carry as much weight into the pits just for your organization as you do robot and tools.

Weight is not nothing–we ran the math last night and this will be a couple hundred pounds empty. But “ability to transport weight in a trailer and push things in on wheels” is not our bottleneck, it’s “time when the pits are open at events”. When you’re trying to take as big of a swing as we were at Smoky, that hour of unpacking totes and assembling plastic shelves and remembering a whole new organization system is untenable.


ApolloCasters in my hometown has the same caster for 1/2 the price…


I would add atleast 1 D-Ring per wooden post. You can use them to strap down to the trailer, and use them to to run a rope across the front so your totes dont fall off while moving. I also dont see any holes to run extension cords through for charging/power. maybe adding some more support to the bottom of the 2nd shelf lvl as well. Looks good!

Rather than lose bench space for a trash can, how about a sliding one?

We use a very similar setup aside from our bench having a fold out table top for our drill press, band saw, and vise. This gives us double the table space and removes the need for the provided “work table” when we arrive. Weight has never been a problem. Ours weighs around 350-400 lbs fully loaded.

Using the totes for large item storage is great and having a shelf under the bench to hold small parts and hardware has been wonderful. I would recommend a small area that runs the length of the bench to hold shaft stock to keep it from rolling away from you.

Our typical pit setup ranges from 10-20 minutes with two people. We roll in our workbench, battery cart, robot cart, and toolbox. Typically the pit is done and robot is ready to unban before the truck and trailer get parked.

Ahh, dang! We already ordered but I’ll keep this on deck. If the 8-footer suits us well, we have plans to build a 6-footer as well that will replace our current battery cart.

Organizer retention was one of those known unknown things; we’d discussed bungee cords and eye hooks in the past, but I reckon we could about make purpose-built straps to keep them in place. D-rings for the trailer are also a great idea, though one we’d likely freehand along with extension cord holes. :slight_smile:

We kinda liked the idea of being able to sweep chips into the bucket and already had the bucket for the task, but that is pretty snazzy.

We had discussed storage for long stock, and even how this needs to be on one side of the pit (so you wouldn’t have to spear a neighbor to get it out, but instead just go out into the pit aisle momentarily). We’re keeping that kinda vague until the storage organizer racks are complete.

Off the edge into a bucket works about the same as through a hole.

A few hundred pounds? How much weight do you take into the pits total? A few hundred pounds? So you have a 1:1 ratio between your organization and what your organizing? I know weight is easy to move on wheels but its still bulk and energy. Like you said rolling it up a trailer ramp etc… Ideally you want to make a pit cart be as multi functional as possible so you don’t have to spend time setting up you organization.

I think you’re contradicting yourself. We want to make a pit cart as functional as possible, so our setup time is as low as possible. That means weight, and we really aren’t concerned with that. At worst, one of our schools hasn’t lost a football game since September…of 2017. We’ll be alright pushing. :wink:

(While researching this stat, I noticed my alma mater–one of the other district schools–hasn’t put a single point on that team in the last two meetings. Gotta work on that.)

I like the concept. Here are some items to consider.

Add task lighting under the shelf. LED kitchen lights would work.

Add some way to trap the totes so they don’t slide off in transit or get pushed out the back during normal use. Weight will not be a big issue. Shifting weight will.

Add some mounting points for team signage.

Good luck!


We put one of these pipe flanges on the pit side of the end of our cart. Then used a 3/4 x 24 pipe as a hanger for jackets. Its always cold and we had a pile of jackets in the pit. Some cheap metal coat hangers and we have a place to put them. When moving the cart we unscrew the pipe and have some blocks on the end that allows it to be used as a handle. We made the blocks strong so we can use the pipe as a tie point when strapping it down in the trailer.


This is what ours has evolved to, very similar to your design. I think you’ll be happy with it plus the pit set up time will continue to decrease until you almost get bored waiting for an inspector because you run out of stuff to do.

For travel, the work surface holds the fold out tool area.


We had hard casters for a year after our Harbor Freight ones very surprisingly exploded on us. We are now back to pneumatic style with foam filled tires to handle bumps and other obstacles better.

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Thanks, David! Lighting was on my to-do list, even if it was a strip of LEDs and a Blinkin underneath the hutch. We’re still playing around with the exact method of arresting the totes; it’ll probably be a bracket of some sort. (I’d advocated for turning them sideways, but got overruled.) Signage is a known unknown right now, so we’re holding off on that but I’m confident we’ll be looking sharper come Palmetto.

I like that! Coat storage was on the radar, and I figured it would be something like a mass of Command hooks on the end facing away from the pit aisle. Your solution is more robust, for sure.

I am in awe of that work table. Can you share more about how it pivots and how it’s supported once opened? (I’m not sure we’ll need the extra table space for long if we’re planning to make a six-foot cart next, but this is undeniably dope.)

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I knew I should have taken a picture of the pivot. The fold out table is 2,4 structure with a sheet of 1/2" ply on top. It is supported by a beefy piece of steel angle welded to a pipe that acts as the hinge. The end is supported by a fold out leg that tucks up underneath the blue table top when folded in.

This is all the brainchild of one of our mechanical mentors to eliminate one more cart for our trip to Detroit last year. It honestly is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen built out of the simplest materials available. My only real input was to have the students paint it blue after they were done building it. I also added a computer and the monitor so we can run a schedules/ranking/scouting display in the pit.

I’ll take some more pictures tomorrow and share them when I can.

Posting an update. We’ve been working on this as we have capacity around the robot, and we’re really loving the potential here. The last big thing is doing the racks for our storage boxes, then a coat of paint and some graphics before we get to Myrtle Beach.

I had meant to share this earlier but totally forgot. This is the hinge on our bench, super simple, relies on a piece of steel angle to make it work.

Yours turned out really nice, looks like it should make for an efficient workspace.

The extra details are great. Any chance you could get a photo of the leg, or is it an unremarkable folding leg?