Zip Ties, Rubber Bands and Pneumatic Tubing Rant

I’m curious the GDC’s rationale behind restricting rubber bands, zip ties, and pneumatic tubing to only those that match specifications of what Vex sells.

Only Number 32 or 64 rubber bands are permitted. Could other sizes provide additional functionality beyond these 2 sizes? Perhaps. If the restriction were lifted would there be potential to abuse it? Perhaps? But aren’t rubber bands pretty common? Do teams really get any sort of “competitive advantage” by using whatever sized rubber bands they happen to have around the house?

Zip ties. May only be 1/10 of an inch thick, and only 4 or 11 inches long. Really? Again could someone find some extreme zip tie that provides some novel feature?

Pneumatic Tubing. Apparently must only be black. Colored tubing, even of the same SKU apparently provides “competitive advantages”. Admittedly, it does make it harder for the Inspector to check

I’m all for clear specifications. But how is an Inspector really going to be able to verify any of this beyond an attestation? Maybe loosen to “commercially available” rubber bands? Maybe loosen Zip Ties to thicknesses no more than X and no longer than Y made from whatever normal zip tie material is.


I was happy that they allowed rubber bands, VEX orange for $5 for 10 vs “office supply” a 1 lb bag for $5 (At one point I had a bag of rainbow colored #64 bands.

The zip tie thing is also weird with the length. Need a 22" one, connect 5 of them together…

I was wondering about the colors of tubing. I thought colors were awesome since we have a plethora of colors in VEXIQ and the screw heads in VRC. Maybe if I invoke @Grant_Cox he can explain why color matters.


Yes. Take this to the extreme. Really massive rubber bands that you could make stretchy things with. Or really small rubber bands that could fit and give force in small spaces.

Yes. There is always potential to abuse loopholes in the rules.

Key word “around the house”. You start getting a competitive advantage when you get specialty parts that offer a advantage. Ofc when you do this you allow for teams to be creative and create new interesting ideas.

this commercially available rubber band is very large.

Zip ties Zip ties Zip ties.

As always yes. A much thicker zip tie won’t break or anything if you put a lot of force in it.

Now I know that if need a zip tie for wires or something I am just going to grab one regardless of the speciation of it and say that its well probably legal. I personally think that any zip tie(and for that mater color of tubing as well as rubber bands ) that doesn’t clearly introduce a competition advantage should still be legal due to the very fact that most people won’t know and won’t check if their zip ties are legal and will simply say “yea sure the zip ties are legal”

Unless there is a 18 inch long zip tie or a massive rubber band than no. But how often does a team member know what zip tie or rubber band they are using is legal.


agreed. I think teams should be able to use any sort of rubber band they like.
in fact, it’s possible that we are allowed, under <r8-e>

e. An unlimited amount of rope / string, no thicker than 1/4” (6.35mm).

can this string be rubber? It no longer specifies material, theoretically it could be made of anything. technically, aren’t rubber bands just a loop of rubber string? as long as the bands aren’t wider than 1/4" it should be ok.
I think this is further supported by R8 e. - string/rope clarification : Robot Events, though I think I’d want a more definitive answer before buying exotic rubber bands.

agreed as well, and I think you might have a harder time classifying zipties as “string”.

Also makes sense to allow 3rd party tubing, as long as it’s to the same functionality and size specifications.


Pneumatic Tubing. Apparently must only be black. Colored tubing, even of the same SKU apparently provides “competitive advantages”. Admittedly, it does make it harder for the Inspector to check

Wait, you can only use black tubing? I can’t find this in the game manual.

Silly, I know:

Perhaps the GDC should ban rubber bands that are not orange and zip ties that are not black


The rubber band size rules have at least been in place since I started in VEX 14 or so years ago… those are pretty standard.

Now the tubing? I find that to be absolutely ridiculous .


the tubing IMO is ridiculous, first off its hard to enforce, second off its the same number just a different color.
I could maybe see this as a vision sensor issue but tubing is so buried nobody will notice.
Guess ill learn to paint tubing now, i want my robot to look good
Everyone knows a cool looking robot is more functional