Pit design help

Our team right now is in the process of coming up with a pit design idea and need help from veteran teams about what would be suggested for use without so much hassle and carrying and lifting.

function first, then looks.

a general U shape works well with tables or carts on the outer borders of the pit size box, and an open front to simply roll the robot in on a cart. The cart should be tall enough to work on the bot, yet short enough you can fit through a standard doorway (if you go to IRI or similar offseason events you may need this).

i don’t have any pictures of our pit but we spent a summer perfecting it and in turn we have many people from other teams using the tools quite a bit. (bandsaw, drillpress, sander, arbor press…)
including RAWC right before a match we faced them at champs this year lol

What is provided at the events: 1 table, 1 power drop, and somewhere between 8’ by 8’ and 10’ by 10’ of floor space. What you do with it is up to you.

Now, one idea is that you ship your pit in your crate. This is a good idea (it will be waiting for you) provided that your crate doesn’t exceed the shipping weight limit.

What you need in a pit: Battery chargers (more than one to charge more than one battery), tools and tool storage, a “drop zone” for packs and such, though this could be in the stands with guards, robot space, and a power strip to distribute the power.

What I would recommend is: use one or two collapsible shelving units, in addition to the provided table, to help organize. Those are fairly light, although maybe a little awkward to carry. Ship in the crate, if possible.

Carry the tools in the toolbox, pre-organized. That way, you know where they are for quick reference.

When you get to competition, open the crate, remove the robot and pit items, and get the crate out of there (if you don’t use it as a storage/work area). Set up the shelves and plug in the power strip. Organize to suit your team.

If you can’t guess, my best tip is to ship the larger/more awkward pit items in the crate, so you don’t have to carry them. If you can’t, bring them with you and have a cart for them (the robot cart works).

As much as possible, look for solutions that are closer to open than assemble. What I mean is look for organizational devices (cases, bin, etc.) that you can roll into your pit and use basically as they are. I’m sure that you would rather spend time working on your robot than unloading tools from a travel container to a working space. Think about economy of movement during set-up and strike.

Note that your shipping crate itself and robot take up a great deal of the allowed shipping weight. You’ll only have about 50lbs max spare for tools (etc) until you get an overage charge.

For far away competitions (like when we did Vegas last year) we brought all of our spare parts carefully wrapped inside our checked luggage. We had the TSA inspect the spare parts at the airport at checkin to ensure they didn’t have to be reopened somewhere along the way. This helped reduce the risk of damage.

Vegas was also our 2nd competition that year, so we brought a nylon bag with us to the first competition to load it up with the necessary tools (wrenches, drivers, and such) and that bag went in the crate from VCU to Vegas, then from Vegas to Atlanta.

Also for far away competitions, we hooked up with a team near Vegas that donated a temporary cart, and when we got there we purchased an inexpensive folding table for $20 to use as shelf space. We gave the table to the team that donated us the cart as a thanks.

For competitions we drive to (usually any competition within 12hrs driving distance which includes Atlanta), we always take an ‘L’-shaped table that has a table cloth and skirt. Above has our displays and below it has alot of storage. This year we will also scrap the folding table in the pits for a rolling workbench that also houses our tools, contains power distribution, and will hold our batteries. The workbench is 72"x22" and stands 36" tall (I think), so that should be good enough to work off of while also leaving enough room for us to move around in.

One of our students did a 3D CAD project and presented a paper on MOE’s pit design. It’s available at our website, www.moe365.org (scroll down to the link), along with pictures. We load the tools and such at our home base, and it is driven by truck (via a parent or mentor) to the competitions. We also have bunches of bins with other equipment in the pit as well. It is hard to lift the pit but it does wheel easily.

A back-drop can also be very helpful at getting noticed. Make sure it is cohesive with your team theme. We use 2 tripods with a cross bar and hang a printed back drop across them. The Back drop should be about 2-4 feet tall and the top needs to be at about 8-10 feet.

Our team uses a very space friendly booth. We have a 8 foot “wall” with a small table like thing attached to the wall, just to hold our TV. Under that we have storage for brochures, robot information, scouting stuff, the DVD player, and other supplies. On that wall, we also have all of our major sponsor names Velcro’d to the wall. We have two 4’ by 1.5’ by 1.5’ feet storage containers where we usually put our laptops with our animation on, along with the brochures and robot information. They work very well for storage. And The whole wall comes apart and goes into two rather small containers with wheels. I’m sure you can buy the panels we used for the wall somewhere. And im pretty sure we built the containers years ago in like a day. they are wood, and are covered in blue carpet.
I’l see if i can find you a link to show you how it looks.

Pretty much any team can benefit by having some sort of structure in the pit beyond the provided table. However, I think many teams over-due it. I’ve seen a lot of very bad pit designs over the years, with way too many towers, posters, banners, and even tents that block out light from above.

254 and 968 use this shelving system It’s rather easy to transport and even easier to assemble. It is also pretty sturdy. It is a bit heavy though. We put it in the crate and pay the overage for long distance events, or, for how inexpensive it is, you can just purchase it at a Costco local to the event. We use it in two half-sections.

For power, I think a long strip like this one is beneficial.

For lighting, I recommend some sort of fluorescent. The halogens are too hot and too blinding.

For working on the robot, we usually set it on a plastic crate turned upside down, and have never had a problem with this. It is sturdy, and easy to move out of the way. At times though, it would be nice to have the robot elevated slightly higher off the ground to work on the lower portions.

Our team last year used ummm regular piping with connecters, very easy to put up take down, etc also went over very well with everyone there

Last year our team we just had a banner created with our team info and had our sponsors on it and used PVC and buckets of sand to stand upright.

Also last year we made a new crate, (our first year crate bended in the middle and was built in the last week of build season, actually less than week, I HIGHLY suggest not doing that). We started workin on our crate early on and put lots of thought into it. I will post pictures later as I am on a schools computer that has none of the files that I need.

But with our crate it was the normal size that teams have. On the front we have two hinged doors splitting down the middle of the crate. Those opened up so we could place things into it and out of it. But we designed it come competition time that our crate would split in half, so we had a top half and a bottem half. Then the top half would split open running the long way. So then we would of the competition crew take our bottom half away and we kept the top half and placed it on one side of our pit. Also with that we made it so that we could place some dowls in and had stuck some extra pieces in so that we could have shelves in it. So we had a top to place things with then shelving underneath and that worked out well for us. I will try and remember and find some pictures and post them later.

I dont have any good pictures from our pit last year, but I liked how it worked for us, we created our crate out of aluminum and had shelving that could be put into it. one side that came off to get the robot in and out had these two sleeves so that it would lock vertical with a section of pipe and give us even more table space, also the crate was useful for dumping people stuff in it and keeping it out of the way. If I find a good pic I will post it.

In addition to the things already discussed (shelves, something on which to put the robot when working, tools, power strip) a couple small items can be very helpful:

  • A dry erase board & pens for posting match times or team notices
  • A tablecloth/skirt that hides supplies or clutter
  • A sign, rope, or barrier of some sort for when the pit is closed (i.e pit crew is on the field, at a meal, etc.). A sign can also let others (like judges) know when the pit will be manned again.
  • A file or notebooks with scouting & safety materials, extra paper, pens

a designated drawer for the OI power plug(we have forgotten this twice

We used a backyard canopy that was 10 x 10 without the tarp on the top. The Cross supports from opposite corners gave a place to hang a fluorescent light in the pit and places to hold a 3’ wide by 6’ tall banner at the front of the pit. The back support from corner to corner was used to hang team information posters and pit rules. We used a wire rack for shelving to hold tool kits, etc. We used the provided table at the back of the pit for a work surface and under the table for storage of backpacks, computer for programming team and promotional items.

We used a hydraulic cart from Harbor Freight for robot transportation as well as a work stand. It was nice to be able to put the robot up high to work on. We mounted a plywood top on the cart that was large enough for the robot to set on.

We had four folding tripod seats for the pit crew to use for seats in the pit as well.

One word…wheels.

The more of your pit set-up you can put on wheels, the better. Our pit has evolved over the years to the point where EVERYTHING is on wheels! Take a look at the picture of our pit here then read the description below. We have the following items that make up our pit.

Two 4’ x 2’ pit carts. The bases are cabinets that hold spare parts bins and large power tools (band saw, drill press, arbor press, etc.). The upper cabinets (that collapse down low enough to fit in our trailer and raise high enough to support the frame of our pits) hold manuals, cordless/corded power tools, some spare parts, and have fluorescent lights mounted underneath. In addition we have power strips integrated into our pit carts as well.

Our battery cart charges 15 batteries at a time with custom electronics (courtesy of our friends at Plexus) and serves as another work surface. The top of the charger station is at the same height as the bench portion of our pit carts.

Our parts organizer holds 20 Stanley parts organizers and has a space for holding raw stock in the back. The parts organizers hold anything from fasteners to pneumatics to controls hardware.

Our tool chest holds all of our hand tools as well as milling bits, measuring instruments, drills, taps and dies, and a host of other “must have” items.

Our pit frame superstructure holds pictures from previous and current seasons to show off our students in action and serves as a mounting point for our lighting. We originally used halogen lights but switched over to compact fluorescent bulbs to save energy and reduce heat.

Good luck and happy pit designing/building.


Wheels are a must. In Florida,we had to wait in line to get into the pits with all of our stuff, Wheels saved our lives.

I just have one question, How do you get all of that stuff to your competition? We have a hard enough time with the compact pit design that we do have. Do you have a trailer, because we just got one this year for our team. I think its a 12 footer. A nice size for what we need to bring to the competitions.

If you have the space in your work area at school (or where-ever you meet), create a pit space by marking 10’ x 10’* on the floor, then put up some pretend dividers to identify the space you have.

Place a work table, your robot and cart, and the other items you want in your pit. Use boxes or other equipment to simulate the sizes of items if you need to.

Then, move around and do some ‘work’ in the area to see how it feels and how much room you have. Sometimes there is a big difference between how it looks in a CAD file and how it is to work in an area.

Think about how many people will be in the pit at one time, where you want to place displays, where to talk to judges, etc.

We had some new layout ideas last year, and doing this in the lab helped us determine what would work and what would not. We also kept our final layout set up for our open house, so that sponsors, friends and families could see what our pit looked like at a competition.

  • If you go to events wher the pits are uaually smaller, then set up for an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9.

We have a fourteen foot tandem axle trailer we haul with us to comps. We special ordered it with a 6’-6" clearance so we can get taller items (and people) inside. It has a side access door and a ramp gate in the back for ease of moving things in and out. We’ve also installed metal racks at the front and side to handle bins and other items.

I’ll see if I can scrounge up a picture.

Heed Chris’ advice in the previous post. We did that as well!


Hey, I uploaded some pictures of our pit if you want to check them out.

Heres the links:

And btw, thats great. I wish we could get a custom one like that.