VEX parts boxes

As you know VEX/FTC and FLL robots are made up of hundreds of tiny parts. One of the biggest challenges is keeping them organized and off the floor (and out of the vacuum cleaner).

My personal challenge is having multiple teams (14 in 2010). You can see the collection of boxes here: Wall of VEX in my gallery

For the last 5 years I’ve been using these Plano tackle boxes: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/419GYTHGPBL.SL500_AA160.gif
The box is 16"H x 11-3/4"W x 16-1/2"L. For a while they came in yellow and then Lowe’s started selling them in a brown / copper color. In 2010 we found that the boxes are no longer in the big three tier version (where the VEX transmitter will fit in the top). Plano makes a smaller three tier version, but it’s about 2/3 the size of the big box. The new size is 13.75’’ L. x 10’’ W. x 14’’ H and costs about $30.

I’ve been on the search for a new larger box. I’ve found these from a company called PDY Systems at about $40 each. http://www.pdysystems.com/img/isometric.gif

Before investing in these boxes I though I’d ask the community on suggestions. I’m looking for something that will hold parts for a robot team and a pair of VEX transmitters (XBox sized controllers). It needs to have a pretty decent latch, since all the screws/nuts and small metal parts become pretty heavy.

I used the yellow tackle boxes in high school to much success. They were pretty much perfect back then.

However I donated those boxes to 1714 and when I rebuilt my collection they were apparently discontinued, so I got a much beefier box from Home Depot. It’s 24 inches long by ~12 inches wide, but it has a huge toolbox up top and tons of room for big stuff underneath. I brought it to IRI (so Foster has probably seen it).

Here, just found it on Home Depot: 22 in. Cantilever Toolbox. It has a four bar linkage on it for extra cool points too. $30 is a lot but it’s enough for a team’s worth of stuff, I bet.

We’ve been using the Plano toolboxes Foster describes for two years, and I am practically inconsolable that they are discontinued. They were practically made for VRC teams. Having purchased about 15 of them two years ago, we are fine for the time being, but as they start to suffer various indignities (broken handles, broken latches, etc.) I’ve been putting together some things that are necessary for a VRC toolbox/parts storage solution. Here is what I’ve learned in five years of VRC/FVC:

  1. Make sure the hinges are robust. We have one toolbox in which the top falls off every time it is opened. Not good. Either metal hinges, or stout plastic hinges with a metal wire hinge pin.

  2. Stuff accumulates and the boxes get heavier over time. The biggest weakness of the Plano boxes is that their lids aren’t meant to hold much weight and the handles sometimes pull out.

  3. It would be nice if the box were 18" long on the inside to hold uncut 17.5" pieces.

  4. It must hold a multi-hole small parts bin of some kind, like this. The best solution would hold 2-3 of these.

  5. Back to hinges – the top of the box cannot just flop over backwards. It must rest at some upright angle.

  6. The best solution would have a flat top (like some carpenter’s toolboxes) that could be used as work surface if needed. An embossed ruler on top would be extra helpful.

The box I posted meets all of those criteria. Metal latches, long enough for 17.5 inches of metal, small tackle box like bins for screws, top shelf remains level with ground as storage opens, small bins are removable and exchangeable… I loved the yellow tackle boxes, but this box is my new best friend.

For some reason, I keep getting these ‘spot’ observations. I am tenured, and not supposed to get these observation checks, but for some reason, I have had six of them in the last two years.

One day last week, I was working a problem on the white board, using multiple colors, and I heard a cell phone. Instantly, I turned around and saw my principal turning off his phone and heard him say “Sorry!” as he sat in a desk.

I proceeded with my lesson which is a hard one because it is sort of like a study hall for Geometry consisting of students from a mixture of classes taught by other teachers.

Amazingly, all of the students were on task, but the one exception to norm is that they are usually helping each other. They didn’t realize that it was okay to do so in front of the principal.

As expected, the principal noted the neatly boxed up and stacked plywood, pvc, power tools, etc. , etc. and he told me to order two more storage cabinets (I now have only one).

Principals ROCK! They are the KEY to our success!

Ann

Foster,
Have you tried any of the PDY boxes yet? Do the drawers come out?

Jon

On order, when it arrives I’ll give it a full review :slight_smile:

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am an organizer freak!

I have plenty of tackle boxes, but they are filled with fresh water and salt water tackle. All of which sit unused, along with a bass boat since I started teaching.

I found this today at the small Walmart 2 miles from my home, only it is in more pleasant colors of off-white and lavender/purple inserts. You can’t change the size of the trays, but there is a good variety of sizes, and they are removable.

http://www.stanleytools.com/default.asp?CATEGORY=ZAG+ORGANIZERS&TYPE=PRODUCT&PARTNUMBER=014725R&SDesc=Stanley%26%23174%3B+Professional+Organizer

According to my receipt, they were $13.

Currently, I have all the tiny screws, etc. in two sizes of tiny ziplocs (fashion accessories @ Walmart). I wrote the name and sizes on each ziploc, but soon found out that you can’t read it because of the parts that are black, so I will be using labels with tape over the labels. Still, I needed space for the larger gears.

I hope this will work. One thing that I have noticed is that when we go to the Gym lobby for driving practice, I have numerous students volunteering (begging) to help carry items. They love being able to ride the elevator with me. Priviledges, huh?

I suspect that when we have multiple robots, we will have to go with the larger tackle boxes, but for now, this works.

Ann

hey! thats the exact same box WE use! :slight_smile:
they are really convenient, boxes of different sizes, you can take the individual boxes out, not too big/heavy
i recommend this to everyone as well :slight_smile:

Murdomeek!

Thanks for the encouragement.

Most of my students are new to robotics and all of these ‘parts’, so organizing them helps.

It’s a beginning, and we are definitely in the beginning stages!!

What is amazing to me is how much these young students have learned in the last month, and they realize that it is a LOT! They will tell you quickly how much they have learned.

They had no clue before…

Thanks!!!

Ann

While we stay with the Plano boxes, we have one of these Stanly double sided box that works pretty well. It perfect for the large number of screws and small parts.

We actually own at least one of every solution mentioned in this thread, but this is the latest addition to our collection: the latest addition to our collection. I use it for my personal go-to-tournament-or-workshop-box. It doesn’t really hold enough stuff for a competition team, BUT it is really strong and will easily hold long pieces.