Current Shipping Advice

Heading to Nationals from SC next week. Looking at best option to get the robot there with our flight. Was planning to check but I’m getting a little anxious over it. I have read recommendations for the following. Thoughts?

  1. check it - will it be crazy expensive?
  2. ship it overnight - any less expensive?
  3. break it down and pack it.

Looking to hear from anyone who has done this lately. Latest posts I’m reading are from '15 on the forum. Just did a quick search.

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Nothing meaningful has changed (except lithium battery rules) since 2015. Feel free to use the old suggestions.

We flew with our robots to the Google Signature Event. We flew Southwest, and our robot boxes were within their baggage size restrictions and also weighed less than 50 lbs, so we were not charged any oversize baggage fees. Our robots flew free. We put any long screwdrivers and snips in with the robots, basically anything that could be used as a weapon. We carried our toolboxes, batteries and controllers on with us. We had no problems, and weren’t even held up at TSA inspection, although we made sure that we had plenty of time before our flights in case we were. Everything went smoothly.

I can’t speak for the other options, as I have no experience with them, but hopefully my experience will help you feel a little more confident about traveling with your robot. Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

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When we flew to China we checked the robot and had no issues and the robot was in the same condition when we landed as before we took off. Just make sure the tools that can be seen as weapons are checked and batteries and controllers are carried on.

Thanks! Have a box to recommend that I can get short notice. The Pelican case I ordered ended up being way too expensive to bring. Right now, we plan to break the robot down into 3 sub assemblies for convenient packaging but that can be put back together easily when we arrive. Unless someone has a box idea aside from making one.

Don’t disassemble your robot unless you REALLY have to. You’ll have a lot to do once you arrive, and assembling your robot isn’t one of the things you want to be doing.

Here’s the cheap and safe checked baggage alternative, and is what we did before building plywood crates. Get a 20x20x20 heavy-duty corrugated box. You will find one if you look around. Get some 1/4-inch plywood, and cut it into six 19-3/4 inch panels. Depending on your box, the plywood might have to be a little smaller, so measure carefully. Lay one in the bottom of the box, slide four along each of the sides, and then add the sixth on the top. Tape the box up and you are good to go. Make sure you add enough packing (VEX gear and filler, such as foam peanuts or crumpled butcher paper) to fill up the box. The box creates the structure, and the plywood ensures that it won’t get smashed or penetrated. Packing like this we took 4-6 teams to worlds a couple of times without a single robot injury. After that, we built plywood crates.

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Love it. This is the route we will go this year. Thanks!

Another thing about packing- we build “roll cages” for our robots. We attach a 1x3x35 c-channel to the bottom of each side of the chassis of the robot so that the robot rests on the c-channel instead of the wheels. This helps to protect the axles from bending if the box is dropped. We then attach a “box” of 1x2x35’s to them to more or less create a cube around the robot. This added structure keeps the robot centered in the box and ensures that it the box is tipped over or upside down, no delicate subsystems will get bent or damaged.

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I think most teams simply remove their wheels, but this is a good idea, too.

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