Tell Me About Your Pit

What are the top 5 most important things in the pit? Not counting your robot, of course. I’m thinking things like battery charger, band saw, tool storage, laptop/desktop, etc.

Well, first and foremost a pit has to be clean. Without a clean and orderly pit, having one is functionally useless. Every tool has a place, and is kept in it obsessively.

Secondly is the layout. The robot needs to be somewhere when it’s in the pit when we’re working on it such that we can have 3 or 4 people on it at once (depending.) As a result it’s almost always dead center.

Thirdly is our tool location. Keeping them at the back wall worked for 1257 in 2016, with a shelf off to the side for the sake of storage of things we don’t need frequently.

On that note are the 4th and 5th items being laptop charger & battery charger. Without either of these, the DS can’t work and the robot won’t move. IIRC we purchased a spare charger just in-case the main charger for our DS breaks, and we have a backup battery charger (4 at once vs 1 at once) just in case.

Overall, a pit just has to be clean, orderly, and functional. Anything else is supplementary. Though a mess in this photo, it does show 1257’s 2016 pit all-right. (It was during finals at MAR DCMP, so it was clearly deserted. I should have watched that match is something I’ve said far too much…) The photo goes against everything I said, but there are toolboxes that were dragged to right beside the field.

I will be following this thread closely as we are in the middle of a complete PIT redesign. Top 5 needs for us in no particular order (and will most likely change a few times over the coming weeks):

  1. Battery charging station w/read outs
  2. Programmers area
  3. Tool chests/Work stations
  4. Lighting that doesn’t overheat the work area
  5. Media/Marketing area
  1. Dragon


Battery charger
White board with schedule posted
Safety supplies
Tool box with tools
Foam flooring

These are the things we MUST have even when we travel light to off-season competitions.

Dragon? Not following… Please elaborate.

Our pit has a mobile island made out of two toolchests, and a spot for the robot on top. We also have a back area made of shelves. This is (along with our battery cart) all we have in our pit, which gives us a place to store tools (toolchest), robot (top of carts), storage for hardware (shelves), a place for immobile tools (shelf), extra workspace (shelf), and a place to store coats, etc (top of shelf). On top of these shelves, we have a bank of TVs that display a powerpoint.

This design is very clean, and gives us enough room to work and room to store all our stuff without feeling cramped. I can’t really stress how good this feels - you have space to move around people without it becoming awkward! It’s also quick to set up and easy to transport.

For five most important things, I would put toolchest-island first. It’s nice to have a work surface that also stores your tools.
Second, our bandsaw. We had tons of people use it during 10,000 Lakes (we joked about setting up a fundraiser by charging 1$ for using the bandsaw), and we couldn’t have fixed a few essential parts without it.
Third, our powerpoint TVs. TBH, it looks nice. We had a good number of compliments on these last season.
Fourth, (though this is kind of cheating) the shelving. Work surface and storage.
Fifth, our battery cart. It’s essential for a robotics team (so I would put it higher), but ours is up for a bit of a redesign, as it’s a bit clunky and space-inefficient.

Here are some pics. In the second one you can see some coats up top.

  1. Safety equipment
  2. Battery charger
  3. Whiteboard with schedule and battery list
  4. Tools/parts storage
  5. Talking materials (basically some printoffs we can show to Amy judges or teams that come up when the people in the pit don’t know the answer to something)
  6. Foam flooring

One thing I would suggest if you have the space is to set up your pit in your shop permanently. We started doing this because we share an old band room with a regular class for our work shop. We initially set up our pit so we would have very clear boundaries as to where the classroom’s property ended and our team’s property started. However, we figured out pretty quickly it made our team members much more efficient at competition because we were so used to working out of the pit. Knowing where all of the tools go is a wonderful thing, and you can figure out what does and doesn’t work for your pit before you get to competition.

Another thing I’ll add is that having your team number displayed prominently on all sides of your pit makes everyone else’s lives easier.

We kept him in our pit after that.

  1. Battery charger
  2. Rolling toolboxes with all our tools
  3. organized system of totes with all our spare parts
  4. An unobstructed corner for the programmer to work
  5. A pit team that works in perfect (and I mean perfect) sync, to get repairs done as fast as possible


  • A monitor in the pit to show current match details, and the upcoming match schedule, and countdown to our next upcoming match (its easier for the pit crew to know exactly when the next time is)
  • a scouting station with all the ipads and tablets for scouters
  • a charging station for phones (a hub with 4 android and 4 apple cables plugged in)
  • a spot for our button bucket (a bucket with our buttons and other swag like bumper stickers)
  • a hanging safety box with gloves and goggles
  • a place to hang banners and logos

How do you account for delays? Do you just manually enter it from the FMS display, or do you have something fancy going on?

  1. Safety Captain
  2. Driver
  3. Operator
  4. Human Player
  5. Coach

Oh…you meant stuff, not people.

Toolbox with the tools we need to fix the robot, and make a few parts as needed
Spare parts bin/box plus the shelf to put the parts on so we can find them quickly.
Battery cart with the batteries and charger(s).
Robot cart, some years it’s more better than other years.
Art. Stuff that other teams can see to figure out who we are, and what we do.

I didn’t include the robot and driver station, because you probably already know that you need that.

I have it updating from both TBA and the FIRST API, and incase those two are reporting accurate times, than there is an option to manually input the field “running behind” time.

  1. Toolbox
  2. Part Shelf
  3. Video Button Box (lets us back up claims when others are pit scouting)
  4. Battery Charger
  5. Programming Computer (for quick code changes and adding quick new auto programs because command based code)

4 is largely optional unless your local events provide really insufficient house lighting, and 2 can be accomplished outside of your pit.

2876 is pretty proud of its pit (

The five most important things in the pit are

  1. Empty space for the robot and pit crew members
  2. Table space for tools, programming etc. (the shop in the box we have has table space and a vice on it)- we also use large boxes for bringing in batteries and materials so that we can use that as table space.
  3. Designated areas and enough (but not too much) mechanical, electrical, and programming supplies.
  4. Designated areas for safety and strategy equipment that the entire team is aware of and has access to.
  5. Banners and displays to make the team visible and exciting (and buttons/giveaways in the front corner so they don’t interfere with robot transport and maintenance)

Pits only function if they are clean and organized. Here’s a slightly different take on the list. (I stretched the top 5 a bit.)

  1. Empty space. Git rid of tables unless you plan to do major upgrades or build something. We use our cart as a temporary table if needed. Otherwise, table tops attract junk. We also use the competition machine shop and only bring hand tools.
  2. Robot cart. You need a cart anyway, so make it a functional part of your tool storage system.
  3. Rolling battery charging station. Make a compact battery charging station for you robot batteries and hand tool batteries. It needs to roll if you plan on going to the playoffs.
  4. Rolling tool boxes with a vise. Limit the amount of tools needed by having standard fasteners.
  5. Spare parts / raw material system. We have small parts organizer boxes for fasteners and control system spares. Raw stock is in a bin attached to the side of the tool box.
  6. Task lighting.
  7. Branding system.


The pit that we use was built in 2012. we have used it ever since then and it has worked great for us. We have 4 cabinets mounted on the back wall above 4 tool chests that hold all of out tools. On one wall we have rack that holds 6 tool belts that drive team and pit crew members can use for matches in case a quick repair or something is needed. We also have a rolling cabinet we made that has 6 built in chargers and an outlet to plug in two more portable ones. We also have 2 computer monitors mounted to the front of our pit that we can plug a laptop into for things like out match schedule.

edit: We also built in a big power strip so that we have 8 outlets all around the pit. One of the other things about the structure is that the upper halfs of all the walls are pegboard. We use this to store anythings from files to extension cords. Super useful.

After working on this year’s pit I have realized its importance for:

  • Charging Batteries
  • Robot fixing
  • Presentations for judges
  • Team morale!

So I would say:

  1. Good and reasonable space managment
  2. Batteries charging dock and easy-access-but-not-interrupting storage
  3. Easy-access-but-not-interrupting storage
  4. Team resources for explaining about the team and the robot
  5. Safe working space

*looking for a good picture of our pit, will upload soon

You should tell that to the DECC and UofM :smiley: