Before, At, and After Robotics Season Competitions

What happens for district qualifying events and the District Championship event are very close to the same, so only differences will be noted below. The Worlds Championship is sufficiently different from the district-level events that that information is located on a separate page.


The Chesapeake District website will publish team information for upcoming events a few weeks before each event (often updated until the day of):

  • Team Information Packet (READ IN ENTIRETY)
    • instructions & caveats for teams about the venue, unloading, inspection, and event
    • maps: the pit layout, venue, parking
    • event schedule
  • Meal Ordering Form


There is a link to 2017's packing list at the bottom of the page.

Some categories of items must be rechecked and packed every year:

Administration & Robot

  • annotated team roster
  • Robot Lockup Form
  • lockup tags (enough+extras)
  • extra robot bag
  • packing list
  • hard or local copy of FIRST Bill of Materials
  • FIRST (and Chesapeake FIRST) consent forms
  • robot
  • robot cart
  • both sets of bumpers (if needed per rules)
  • drive station + 1+ laptops

Safety Materials

For more information about pit safety and the various required components, see the section on Pit Safety Requirements.

  • Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) Binder for each substance in the pit
    • batteries
    • epoxies, glues, hardeners, etc.
    • water, gum (sometimes asked)
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Battery Spill Kit
    • sealable, spill-proof container
    • nitrile gloves
    • several boxes of baking soda
    • vacuum OR dustpan and brush
  • First Aid Kit
  • Safety Documents
  • Work Gloves
  • Safety Glasses for the team

Subteam Specific Items

A strategy to make sure you have everything you need for the robot is to look at the robot. Go through every single item on the robot (this polycarbonate plate, this gusset, that bolt assembly) and determine what tools, materials, and supplies it would take to completely disassemble and rebuild the robot.


    • masking tape
    • pens, sharpies, markers

Mechanical Items

  • tools
    • all tools for all parts of robot, as deemed necessary
    • depending on space, capabilities, etc., common tools and supplies that could be loaned/given to other teams
    • (optional) tabletop machine tools
  • supplies
    • duct tape
    • epoxy
  • materials
    • fasteners (bolts, nuts, washers, etc.)
    • stock material (aluminum, polycarbonate, wood, etc.)
  • backup mechanisms (this will be included in the withholding allowance)

Control Systems Items

  • general electrical supplies
  • spare electronics/sensors/data
    • coprocessors (e.g. Raspberry PI's) and code/images/SD cards
    • robot radios
    • etc.
  • laptops
  • connectors (ethernet, USB, etc.)


The exact day and time should be coordinated with students, teachers, and the transporter at least a week beforehand.

Generally, a mentor volunteers to drive a trailer down to the competition venue. Certain other items are sometimes carried in person to the venue.

Before the day of, students should know which items are going on the trailer. Keep a checklist.

Unloading/Inspection Day

For the unloading period before the official event days, there's usually a limit of 5 total people, including mentors, but some locations are more relaxed in those requirements. It is a general courtesy to the event staff to bring a minimal amount of people.

Upon entry into the pits,

  • everyone must already have safety glasses (they should carry with them to setup or be readily accessible in pit equipment)
  • a mentor must present an annotated team roster (printed from TIMS) to the Team Registration Desk
    • annotation means any name that has not fulfilled all FIRST requirements needs to be crossed out and a mentor needs to sign next to the crossing-out
    • sign-ups for Chairman's Award presentation time slots
  • an Inspector needs to check the Robot Lockup Form before the robot can be unbagged
    • they may ask for the Withholding Allowance (usually not)
  • pit setup begins

After team registration, the registrants will receive the team packet, a manila envelope containing

  • driver buttons
  • drive coach button
  • technician button
  • safety captain button
  • list of attending teams/maps
  • event sponsor materials
  • Gracious Professionalism nomination form
  • (sometimes) Safety Nominations card

Inspection Process

  1. Radio Programming
    • one member should be sent to the CSA Radio Programming desk to program the radio for each competition
  2. Significant Mechanical or Electrical Changes
    • the robot should be in its final state physically before starting the formal inspection; any subsequent significant changes may require reinspection (read the I-rules in the Game Manual)
    • any alternate configurations of the robot should be inspected together
  3. Send a team member to the Inspection desk to request inspection.
  4. When available, an Inspector will come to the pit to begin inspection.
    1. Robot Weigh-In (with and without bumpers; bring both sets; remove batteries beforehand)
    2. The Inspector will run through his checklist (the official inspection checklist is located on the Game & Season Resources page on the FIRST website).
  5. End of Inspection
    • If everything's passable, one Mentor and one Team Captain needs to sign the inspection checklist. The Inspector will then give the "Passed Inspection" sticker to affix somewhere clearly visible on the robot.
    • If there are things to be changed, the team can fix the issue and go back to the inspection desk to ask to finish the inspection.

Competition Day(s)

Match Cycle

The match cycle consists primarily of these stages (from the perspective of the pit):

  • Prepare for Queue
  • Match
  • Debrief/Evaluation
  • Repair/Modify

and repeat.

Prepare for Queue: There should be a checklist of mandatory items to verify before the robot goes to queue.

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"
  • not be cumbersome; each item should be intuitive

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.

Play the Match: Go watch! (Or watch from the pit)

Debrief/Evaluation: Some will need to discuss how the game went and evaluate next steps, others should begin inspecting robot.

Go through the checklist again. Then, also do cursory examinations on the robot to make sure everything else is okay too.

The debrief should primarily involve key decision makers, but should not be closed off from other members. A thorough debrief discusses the match from pre-match setup to robot removal from the field, and includes both the good and bad.

Take Actions as Needed

Once a decision has been reached about the next steps, they will be implemented by the pit crew.

If you make modifications to the robot, you should go through the checklist again.


Judges aren't supposed to divulge what award they're judging for, and they come around and ask questions about your robot, operations, team, etc. It's usually a good idea to have someone versed in technical and someone verses in the non-technical aspects of the team available. If everyone's busy, it's okay to ask them to come back again a little later.

Safety Inspection

See the page on Pit Safety, section on Safety Inspections.


Load out can begin after the team's last match. Load out, just like loading and load-in, should have been coordinated well beforehand.

  1. Bag and lock up the robot using a new tag.
  2. Load the transport with all items.



Loading time should be coordinated with teachers, students, and the transporter beforehand. (Unless you're transporting a spur-of-the-moment full-size field carpet on the bus, in which it can be okay to leave it to the last minute.)

Post-Mortem Analysis/After-Action Report

Ideally at the next meeting, go over what went well and what could be improved from the past competition.

Discuss things such as:

  • changes to the robot
  • changes to the pit, including items forgotten
  • pre-match checklist items
  • team effectiveness

Archive of Important Past Documents

Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Feb 27, 2018, 6:20:51 PM