Pit Design

The pit lives primarily for 2 reasons:

  1. to serve as the pit, where the robot is parked and repaired
  2. to serve as a hub for the team, to perform outreach and marketing

The Physical Pit


  • all items brought must fit inside the pit (no items sprawling out)
  • there will (probably) be a table you can't remove
  • safe and effective working condition
    • items should be accessible
    • subteams should ideally store their items in a place where they won't run into each other as they do things in the pit
  • display of sponsors, other outreach/marketing items


  • dimensions
    • technically a 10'x10' space, but usually 9'x9', and sometimes 8'x8'; a good design will work in as small as 8'x8' but not be constraining in a 10'x10' space
    • nominal height limits set by venue, but usually ~10'
  • electrical power: there is usually a limit per team and a limit per 6 teams at district competitions
  • cannot daisy chain (power strip + power strip)

"What are all the things you need to bring to the pit?"

From that list, think about how might you most conveniently

  • store each item in the pit
  • access/display each item in the pit
  • transport each item

As with all iterative engineering, ask "How can we do better?"

Things to Think About

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What is the workflow of each match cycle? Will people bump into each other as they crowd around the same spot where batteries and bumpers are stored?
  • What if you get a corner spot? Are two sides open or just one?
  • What do you do with all the jackets and bags team members will bring?
    • What to do with stuff other teams give you?

People in the Pit

Everyone who's in the pit should have something to do. Everyone who's there should understand what they're responsible for and when. For example,

  • Billy Joe Fisher : responsible for replacing the battery before each match
  • Ellen B. Evergales : in charge of pit operations; has the authority to kick out people who aren't doing anything if space is crowded
  • Alai Suetterl : performs checkup of robot immediately after each match
  • Dan R. Campbell : reads off items on the pre-match checklist and ensures each item is completed

For every match cycle, the robot will need to be examined. To ensure that all items are checked, you should really use a checklist of items to check.

Qualities of a Good Checklist

  • detailed and precise enough that someone else could take over if needed
  • broken up into individual tests of specific things
    • don't say "check all connections", but "tighten bolts on arm-shooter connection"

When you carry out the checklist, there should be at least 2 people. One person reads off each item from the checklist; the other actually performs each check. Ideally, a third person can double check each item's completion.


  1. Practice setting up the pit, especially if it's complicated.
    • you can check you have all the parts/tools necessary
    • people can get a feel for how the pit will be run
  2. Assign roles beforehand, make sure each person understands their role

Current Pit Design & Components

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Previous Pit Components (listed in reverse-chronological order)

These are just the previously used items. There are definitely better solutions out there.

curved trade show display

A 10 ft. long curved display structure with soft material backing (allows velcro attachment).


  • easy to attach anything with velcro
  • somewhat flexible in where it is placed
  • hollow space inside in which to hide things
  • single carrying case


  • large, unwieldy setup, esp. if not practiced beforehand
    • expansion of the inner frame can take a good bit of space
  • very tricky to assembly correctly (such that it stays assembled)

steel & wood carts


  • simple
  • wheels


  • extremely heavy (some places dangerous)
  • require a trailer (or similar) to transport

cube frame

A 9 ft. cube made of 16 aluminum frame pieces and 16 pairs of fasteners.


  • simple
  • enables hanging of elements from any segment


  • separate and heavy parts
  • restricted to a 9' cube (some other configurations possible, see below)

Other Configurations

It is possible to have a few other configurations of the frame besides a 9' cube, although they are still just as (or more) constraining.

  • remove one side
  • lower entire frame by 1/2 (and remove front side)
  • use only 3 sides (one corner)

pvc pipe frame

A modular frame of PVC elements.


  • easily sourced, easily assembled
  • lightweight


  • looks much less professional
Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Feb 23, 2018, 5:01:51 PM