Rule <R7> of the game manual lists the non-VEX parts that teams are allowed to use. Item k. states:

An unlimited amount of 1/8″, braided, nylon rope.

1/8" braided nylon ropeThis rule is not new; the Starstruck and Nothing But Net game manuals also have the exact same <R7k> rule. I’ve noticed over our few seasons as a team that a very small number of robots make much use of rope in their designs (other than the obvious use with pulleys), so I thought I’d share how we have used it.

First, the good news is that this “braided nylon rope” is not an uncommon material—you can find it in any hardware store (ACE, Home Depot, etc., or Amazon). And it’s very cheap; I see Home Depot sells 48′ for about $4. Be sure to get the 1/8″ thickness, as most stores carry a variety of sizes.

Our ITZ robot, showing string used
to keep cones from getting stuck
in the robot

My team has found string to be a really useful building material. For In The Zone we are using it to prevent cones from falling into the robot and getting stuck (which prevents you from picking up any *other* cones), as shown in the image at left.

In Starstruck we used it in lieu of metal plates to prevent stars from getting stuck in the open spaces along the front of our forklift. Using rope instead of metal saved us a lot of weight. In addition, the string made it easier to fold up the forklift for the start of the match. Here’s photos of our robot Guido (named after the forklift from the Cars movie) both folded & unfolded; you can see the string as the “radiator grille” along the front of the robot:

Starstruck robot showing rope "grille"   Starstruck robot showing folded forklift

(For Starstruck, my daughter really wanted to knit something for the robot, but alas, a radiator grille was all that was needed.)

A little string does a lot; you can see from the first photo above that our In The Zone robot has just 7 cross-wise lengths of string threaded back & forth through some 1x pieces. This little bit of string takes the place of either metal plates (which are heavy) or the non-shattering plastic mentioned in rule <R7f> (that most people don’t have sitting around the lab and is not typically available at your local hardware store).

So, expand your horizons! Maybe you can knit something for your robot, or perhaps some macrame? 🙂

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