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Tournament Packing Checklist

Packing Planning
  • Permission forms can take a while to get signed by parents and returned.  Start this process as soon as you can.  A student who fills out FIRST's electronic permission forms only has to do this once for the whole season!
  • Many tournaments don't allow teams into the pits without safety glasses.  So, have these handy, not buried in your stuff.
  • Robot Inspection is the major tournament schedule bottleneck, so go STRAIGHT to Robot Inspection when you arrive.  You will avoid a line and more importantly, speed up the tournament.  Therefore, ATTACH your 2nd copy of your Bill of Materials (1st copy is in Engineering Notebook) to your robot so you'll automatically have it at inspection.
  • The best time to prepare a checklist for your tournament packing and preparation is AFTER a tournament.  You can pull things out of your vehicle and inventory them.  Your assessment of what might have been missing, or not particularly useful will never be fresher.
  • Review multiple teams’ suggestions for packing and prep.  There are many on the web.  You'll probably discover a few key items unique to each of them.
  • In a given tournament, you'll probably only need 5% of the spare parts you bring.  However, you can't predict WHICH 5% you'll need.  So, unfortunately, you'll have to bring 20 times the spare parts you'll need.  There's no getting around this.

At the Tournament

  • If the tournament does not allow indoor power tool use, or even hand sawing/sanding, identify a permissible location with power.  
  • Robot Inspection is the major tournament schedule bottleneck, so go STRAIGHT to Robot Inspection when you arrive. You will avoid a line and more importantly, speed up the tournament. Therefore, ATTACH your 2nd copy of your Bill of Materials (1st copy is in Engineering Notebook) to your robot so you'll automatically have it at inspection.  
  • Organize your pit space neatly.  For instance, organize your cords, power strips, batteries and chargers under your table so you present a clean pit table to visitors and judges.
Notes: Create a backup folder with all your program files in their state immediately preceding the tournament. Tournament day programming mistakes don’t have to be fatal if you can revert back to a working, if not perfect, program quickly.  CAD models, animations or outreach slideshows can be impressive displays at your pits, and ideally aren’t on the same laptop you need to revise your programming.  Backup your programs, slide shows, animations, etc. on your flash drive.
  • Programming Laptop
  • CAD and/or Outreach Laptop: 
  • Flash Drive:
  • Laptop Charger
  • Bluetooth Dongle (if applicable)
  • Mouse
  • Laptop Bags
Notes:  Charge all batteries the evening before your tournament, refresh Tetrix and NXT batteries at the tournament and between matches.  Heavy robots (over 20 pounds) will want a fresh 12V battery every match.  Pushing matches or driving into a wall during autonomous can quickly discharge your battery.
  • 12V Tetrix Batteries:  Number your batteries and record battery statistics.  Batteries degrade with time and use.  Don't use "tournament" batteries (most recently purchased) for testing, scrimmaging, etc.  
  • 9V rechargeable NXT Batteries: 
  • 9V batteries for multiplexers and IR Beacons
  • AA batteries for NXT or exhibits
  • AAA batteries for exhibits
  • Camera Batteries
Battery Testers, Chargers & Power Cords
Notes:  (Battery Beak available at Andy Mark is currently used by FTA's at Worlds).  Voltmeters (multimeters) indicate charge levels, but battery testers also indicate the rate charge can be delivered by measuring internal resistance (how old they are).  Use electrical or duct tape to fix the switch of your 12V battery charger to 0.9A.  We physically gang our chargers together to keep them better organized (see photo above in slide show).
  • 12V Tetrix Battery Chargers
  • 9V NXT Battery Chargers
  • Laptop Chargers
  • Camera Chargers
  • Cordless Screwdriver Charger
  • Extension Cords
  • Power Strips
  • Battery Tester or Voltmeter
Notes:  Forceps or hemostats hold nuts in tight spaces when fastening.  Color code your hex keys and ball hex screwdrivers with colored electrical tape so they're easy to identify for each screw type.  Nut drivers are the best and most convenient way to tighten screws if you've got the room.  Small hacksaws are nice for travel.  Use sharp, bi-metal blades in your hacksaw.  Digital micrometers are probably not necessary for tournaments.  Crimping tools should match your wiring connection types.  Anderson power poles are recommended for wire connections that need to be taken apart.  This is especially important for your battery connection.  Butt splice connections or soldering can be used for more permanent connections.  Highlighters are nice for highlighting the match schedules.  We put painters tape around any defective items (such as burned out motors), so they won't be re-used later.
  • Hex Keys:  7/64”, 1/32” & 5/64”
  • Ball Hex Screwdrivers:  7/64”, 1/32” & 5/64”
  • Wrenches:  5/16”
  • Nut Drivers:  5/16”
  • Small Phillips and Flat Head Screwdrivers
  • Small Cordless Drill & Bits
  • Rotary Tool (Dremel) & Bits
  • Forceps
  • Hammer
  • Utility Knife
  • Deburring Tool
  • Vise
  • Hacksaw
  • Multiple-Profile Files
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Ruler (Metric & Inches)
  • Carpenter’s Square`
  • Tape Measure
  • Digital Micrometer
  • Blue Thread Locker (Loc-Tite)
  • Chain Breaker
  • Tubing Cutter
  • Wire Cutter
  • Wire Stripper
  • Crimping Tool
  • Tape: Electrical, Duct, Cellophane (Scotch) and Painter’s
  • Pens and Markers: Permanent and Highlighter
Notes:  Game elements and IR Beacons are typically NOT provided on the practice fields, so bring a few of your own and mark your team number on them.  Bluetooth can be a bit chaotic in the pits, so bring a USB cable for downloading your program revisions.
  • Joysticks
  • USB Cable
  • Game elements
  • USB Hub (if necessary)
  • IR Beacon
  • Team Scouting Sheets
  • Robot Performance Scouting Sheets
Spare Parts
These are just ideas. Your robot may require additional or different spare parts.  Create your own checklist or hand write them next to this one.
  • DC, Servo & NXT Motors
  • DC motor with an attached encoder & cable
  • DC Motor Leads
  • Servo Extension & ‘Y’ Cables
  • NXT Cable: Various lengths
  • Spare Power Wire
  • Gears, Sprockets & Chain
  • Chain Master Links
  • Screws, Nuts, Washers and Threaded Rod
  • Channels, Brackets & Plates
  • Motor & Axle Hubs
  • Nylon, Flat & Axle Spacers
  • Axles, Bushings & Set Collars
  • Spacers & Hubs
  • LEGO parts
  • Rubber bands
  • Cable Ties
Judging & Outreach
Notes:  Bill of Materials (BOM) must be submitted at Robot Inspection, so have your BOM handy so you can take your robot immediately to Hardware Inspection upon arrival, speed up the tournament, and avoid waiting in line.  Have your Engineering Notebook handy when you arrive, many tournaments demand them at check-in.  Don't put checklists, tournament schedules, scouting sheets, etc. in your engineering notebook because you won't have access to it during the tournament; have a separate "Scouting Notebook" and/or "Tournament Notebook".for those items.
  • Engineering Notebook
  • Bill of Materials (2nd copy for Inspection)
  • Business Cards
  • Buttons
  • Banner
  • Handouts
  • Slideshows & Videos
  • Demonstration Projects
Team Apparel, Food, and Personal Items
Notes:  Food and drinks may not be allowed in the building.  Safety glasses cannot be dark, worn over sunglasses, etc.  Bring safety glasses for your family and friends.  Scouters might need their notebook all day (like at Worlds), so a separate tournament notebook would be good at tournaments.for general tournament info, the match schedules, etc.
  • Safety Glasses
  • Team T-shirts
  • Team Sweatshirts
  • Team Hats
  • Team Costumes
  • Mascot Costume
  • Snacks, Lunch & Plenty of Water
  • Cash
  • Cell Phones & each other’s numbers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hair ties: People with long hair need to tie it back 
  • Tournament Notebook
    • Tournament Schedule
    • Directions and Parking Instructions for Tournament
    • Permission Slips
    • Electronic Roster