Bill of Parts/Materials?

I am the engineering notebook keeper for my team, so of course, I’m looking to improve upon the contents of the book for this new 2019-2020 season. I had just recently this year seen a notebook with a Bill of Parts at the beginning of it when I judged at a competition (one that I hadn’t competed at, of course). It’s my third year and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Preformatted textI hadn’t much time to look at it, but what exactly is it?

I understand that it contains pictures, labels and prices (probably drawings, too, right?) of all the parts you’ve used for your robot, but how much do I include if I am going to put it in my notebook for next season, especially if I am unsure what parts we will use and what parts we will not? Printing pictures of every VEX part seems excessive (would I also add pictures and labels of parts we don’t even have?.. yet…).

I’m also fairly sure that the objective of having a bill of parts is to understand the prices of all parts you need, but would that be necessary in my team’s case? What I mean is that my team already has enough parts from past years that we rarely have to buy new parts—even if we need a fresh and uncut 1x2x35 or axle, we’ve got a few boxes of those in storage. The bill seems redundant at that point.

It seems to me that the best way to apply the bill of parts would be to design your entire robot first, understand what you need and how much (using the bill of parts), order the parts, then build the bot. But my team’s design process is more like: design, build with parts we have, test it and rebuild when it doesn’t work lol. I don’t know if it could be very applicable to how we work.

Idk. What do y’all think, should I put in a bill of parts next season? Do you use one? If yes, what’s it like?


I’ve been told, to have a great notebook someone who’s never been associated with your robot should be able to read the engineering notebook and build the robot just by following the it. To do that you need to know what parts to have, kinda like an IKEA assembly or LEGO instructions, so a bill of parts should be beneficial to your engineering notebook.

I’d suggest CADing your robot if you have a computer that can handle it, you can get a couple of programs for free and part libraries off of the forum itself if you look. It allows you to plan your robot out and even gives you a bill of parts and design points. Killing like 3 birds with 1 stone (sorry PETA). Planning the bot out before hand, if it’s a good design that’s competitive with the “meta”, it should save time. You could try prototyping with the parts you have, if it works like how you want make a refined CAD and build it off that.

If you want to keep your method of design, you could figure out all the parts you are using the night before your competition and scramble to put up a parts list for that version of the bot but that last second work sounds stressful. And I do something similar every competition.

I’m definitely not the best at the design process or a notebook guru, I’m trying to improve myself but I think designing/CADing, having a better design process (rather than “design, build with parts we have, test it and rebuild when it doesn’t work lol”) and documenting your parts could be beneficial. If you have any questions about CAD I’d be down to answer. Good Luck with your notebook.


Thank you! This helps a lot :grinning: