Pit Design

I could only find so many CheifDelphi threads that really goes into detail about every aspect of pit design. My team (3374) has always had trouble with having an effective and visually pleasing pit setup.
This year due to: time, money, priority for other projects, and being in the process of moving our workshop to a new location– we cannot build a completely custom pit (what I see a few threads refer to). We have a decent plan for our tools and material, the real struggle is figuring out a good work space/surfaces (we want to have an alternative to the folding table provided, but because of transportation reasons, we can’t have a big tool chest), banners/overall “aesthetic”, and presenting our business things (such as pins, binders, stickers, robot sheet, etc). I have been looking at folding shelves for the front of our pit, but I just cannot seem to find anything tall/big enough that is still collapsable.
I have started CADing our pit, and I can link it in the thread below. If anyone has any advice or pit examples, it would be greatly appreciated. I have read many many threads, but if there was one that already exists that addresses these questions or one I over-looked, please feel free to let me know.
Thank you! It’s good to be back talking about comps again :slight_smile:



Work in progress using extrusion. It may or may not be a good fit for your team, nor is it perfected in CAD, but it’s something.

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I really highly suggest a custom eurmax canopy. I put a link to another thread I discuss it in with photos. It easily fits between the seats of a van, making it super portable and great for both events and demos. Buying it in 2018 set us back only $750.
I just threw together this CAD idea for a binder stand for you. It is made only out of polycarb, 2x4, and paint. If you use bolts to attach the bottom feet, the whole structure takes up roughly 5’ x 2.5’ x 4". The support legs on the bottom are sized to fit under a standard sized folding table, so it could easily be placed in such a way no one trips over its feet.
What don’t you like about the folding tables? What do you wish were better? Your original thread didn’t indicate why you disliked them. By figuring out your needs, you can parameterize your problem better and get a fitting solution. (This is not to say there isn’t benefits to having your own work set up, I just want to know the why)

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For workspace alternatives that aren’t tool chests or folding tables, give short metro racks a try and put your own wood top on them. They are portable, provide shelves underneath for storage, and can fit in vans.

Another solution I’ve seen from teams is making their own three piece work benches. Two vertical wooden shelves acting as legs and then a worktop that you can throw on top to span between them. Typically see teams use the shelves for supplies or batteries.


This unit can collapse considerably and be put together as a shelving unit or (by replacing a shelf with a solid surface) workbenches. With a bit of creativity you can even combine the two if none of your pit crew are more than about 6’3". If you’re going to use this for a pit, I recommend clearly marking which holes in the uprights you use to expedite the process.

I like the idea of a more closed off pit. What material would you use for the walls?

for the tables, it just collects our in-the-moment clutter, and seems we could use that space for efficiently and with more organization.
That CAD looks sweet!!

We already have these banner-type curtains. We are just trying to update our structure. I recommend finding some custom branding curtains or make them custom on your own.

Blue Banners? :wink:


I’m just going to say it: when Pandamaniacs built their pit cart/table out of lumber, it was a game changer. You save double-digit labor hours on setup and unpacking when everything can roll into the venue, and it gets you to the field or to inspection that much faster.

But if a trailer is nowhere in your future, 4901 used to have a pit setup built around Bosch FMS extruded aluminum and two smaller upright toolboxes that Bosch offered. You can see it in the back of this picture:

And another view, partially obscured by the robot and Cocky:

When transported, the rear banner mount would pop off, the black tabletop would lift off, and the toolboxes rolled independently once freed of the tabletop (which had bars under the work surface to keep everything constrained while set up).

We fit the whole thing under a charter bus a couple times, and we once managed to fit all of our stuff and 1772’s stuff in a U-Haul trailer. If I can’t just roll it all onto a trailer straight up, that would be the way I’d go about it.

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I don’t suggest any canopy. They block out light and trap air making your pit hotter and darker - of course this could be solved with overhead lighting and fans - but it’s extra steps to solve a problem that doesn’t need to be a problem.

Custom banners are pretty cheap and you can make them generic enough to use year over year (aka without sponsors). They are also much smaller to store.


Heat has never been an issue for us.

I agree with the need for lights. We have a slick set up that was both cheap and fast to assemble. This can be really nice in more dimly lit venues.

Another game changer of a canopy for me was the ability to run drop down extension chords. With so little space in a pit, any tool chord that has to run to an edge cuts off a path of motion.

3946 has used camouflage netting (I don’t remember why, somebody must have thought it was cool) and foam board (painted as a castle for STRONGHOLD and a brick factory for STEAMworks and supporting printed graphics for later games). Note that I do not like canopies per se for pits, as they block the venue lighting. If you put a mostly opaque fabric above, be sure to include plenty of lighting in your design. Canopies without the covers are great for supporting walls without obstructing too much light (and hanging relatively light items up to bumpers), and canopies for outdoor events are awesome!

Outside of FRC, I have made some PVC-framed cubicles to serve as bedrooms for Family Promise, a “back on your feet” charity for homeless families. For those, I used blackout picture window curtains with pockets at both ends similar to this:
We may have had to rip out some seams at the bottom to create a bottom pocket.
The cubicles are somewhat modular: at 3 panels by 3 panels, they’re 10 feet square, which is how we usually set them up. Below I have some photos where I set them up in a 2x4 (6’8"x13’4") configuration.

For a pit, the doors would obviously be wider, and you’d scrunch the side panels a bit if you used them at all!
As many churches are unable to host families due to COVID-19, we currently have three 10’x9’ rooms (which required a few custom cuts) set up in a room in “Wheeler House” at our church in a room which was originally a carport.


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