Archive for the ‘VEX Competitions’ Category

VEX IQ Virtual Challenge – Beltway!

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We are excited to announce our brand new programming game, Beltway, just in time for the kickoff of the VEX IQ Virtual Challenge!

beltway medium

In Beltway, you will program your VEX IQ robot to autonomously score as many cubes as possible during the 2 minute period. The standard Highrise game has been augmented with a conveyor belt around the perimeter and several other game play elements. Click here for a more extensive list of the new rules and game play. Beltway is available in the latest update to the VEX IQ Highrise Robot Virtual World download.

Check out this video of one of the new Virtual VEX IQ models, Clampbot, scoring in Beltway:

We include sample code to help you get started when you install the Robot Virtual World. You can locate it in ROBOTC by going to File > Open Sample Program, and choosing the Highrise folder. Get started today, and keep submitting your high scores and code to CS2N!

Check out our previous post on the VEX IQ Virtual Challenge, here.

Written by Jesse Flot

November 14th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

2014 REC Foundation and Robomatter Scholarship Winner!

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Scholarship WinnerThe 2014 REC Foundation and Robomatter Scholarship Winner is Cameron Akker of Redmond, Washington!

Cameron Akker is the 2014 REC Foundation-RoboMatter scholarship recipient and will receive $5,000 intended for students pursuing a degree related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Cameron attended Redmond High School and is a member of VEX Team 575, Exothermic Robotics of Redmond, Washington. He will attend Harvard University this fall. Cameron, on far right, is pictured here with his Exothermic Robotics teammates.

Cameron started programming for the first time in 9th grade and pursued a variety of summer programs to improve his skills. He began by learning ROBOTC, picked up Java at a Stanford University program, and took a course focused on robotics programming using language C at the University of Pennsylvania. Last summer, Cameron put his knowledge to use and got together with friends he met through robotics to start a mobile app company. Working straight through the summer, the group was able to create and release two Android games on Google Play.

When it comes to programming robots Cameron says, “Virtual worlds is an excellent interface through which I’ve been able to program without the rough, troublesome physicality of actual robots. It’s helpful to be able to test programs without the possibility of one mistake leading to a physical robot’s untimely demise. The Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy sponsored Robot Virtual Worlds Competition provides an exciting chance to experience the thrill of robotics programming without needing to attend a physical robotics competition.”

“Understanding programming has also aided the way I build robots to participate in the VEX Robotics Competition,” continues Cameron. “Instead of building an entire robot and then programming it, I program the robot at every step of the build process. As a result, I don’t have to wait until the end of the build process to find broken motors or faulty engineering, but can rather find them along the way. Understanding programming has also allowed me to better set up sensors on a competition robot. Instead of putting sensors on the robot and later figuring out how to incorporate them, I only add sensors when there is a clear need in programming for them.”
The REC Foundation and RoboMatter congratulate Cameron Akker on his well-deserved scholarship award and wish him much success in his college career at Harvard University.

Robomatter Blog Ad RVW

Written by Cara Friez

September 15th, 2014 at 7:15 am

VEX IQ Challenge – Add It Up

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VEX IQ LogoAt the VEX World Championship in Anaheim, VEX introduced their newest robotics platform, VEX IQ.  VEX IQ is designed to transform STEM learning for students and their teachers. Students as young as 8 can begin building and programming their robot.

To support the VEX IQ system, the REC Foundation revealed a new VEX IQ Challenge game called “Add It Up” for the 2013-2014 robotics season.

VEX IQ Add It Up Field

In the VEX IQ Challenge, students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, build a robot using the VEX IQ robotics platform to solve an engineering challenge that is presented in the form of a game. VEX IQ Challenge teams will work together scoring points in Teamwork Matches, and also get to show off their robot’s skills individually in driver controlled and autonomous Skills Challenges. VEX released a new video yesterday that explains the rules of the game.


There are a total of thirty-six (36) Small BuckyBalls and four (4) Large BuckyBalls available as Scoring Objects in the game. There are four (4) Floor Goals, two (2) Low Goals, two (2) High Goals, and four (4) Scoring Rings, as well as a Hanging Bar. Official game documents are available here: VEX Wiki – Add It Up

Registration for a VEX IQ Challenge team costs $100. Additional teams from the same schools can register for $50. Tournament entry fees vary by event. Visit for more information, to register a team and find events near you.

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy is currently developing new curriculum and trainings for the new VEX IQ platform and ROBOTC for VEX Robotics 4.0. Curriculum, software, and training will be available this Fall.  To find out more information visit: Robotics Academy VEX IQ.

What do you think of the new VEX IQ system? Are you interested in creating a team in your area?

Written by Cara Friez

July 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Wiki Guide: How to Play Sounds Through a VEX Cortex Speaker

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Back in April, we did an unboxing for the VEX Cortex Speaker which we blogged about, here.

Since then we have had many requests for an updated guide on how to play custom audio files through the Cortex Speakers. Today, the wait is finally over. We have updated our wiki pages to include an in-depth guide on how to convert a sound file into a Cortex-usable format using the open source program, Audacity [link].

Once the file is formatted and downloaded to the Cortex properly, the ‘PlaySoundFile(“filename.wav”)’ command is used to access the audio file and play it through the speaker port (example shown below).

task main()

//Play a Sound File (need to use the File Management to Upload First)


If you are interested in the Cortex Speaker and what can be played through it, check out the VEX forum post about playing Nyan Cat through the VEX Cortex speaker. As an added holiday bonus, how about the 12 Days of Christmas?

We are continually updating and improving all of our support material; if there is anything you think would make ROBOTC more accessible, don’t hesitate to comment below!

Written by John Watson

November 21st, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Announcing ROBOTC 3.5! Beta Version Available Today

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The ROBOTC Development team is proud to announce thatROBOTC 3.5 for the LEGO Mindstorms, VEX Cortex and PIC, Arduino, and Robot Virtual World platforms will be available on September 7th, 2012. The new ROBOTC 3.5 update will be free-of-charge for ALL existing ROBOTC 3.0 license holders. Download a Beta version (3.45) today to get a sneak peak at all of the new features and enhancements available in ROBOTC 3.5!

ROBOTC 3.5 has a number of new features and enhancements:

  • Full ANSI-C support to support pointers, recursion, and stacks with an updated compiler and updated robot firmware.
  • New and Updated Debugger Windows:
    • “Local Variables” to monitor variables in the current task or function.
      (Note: Local variables are only available when your program is suspended)
    • “Global Variables” to monitor variables available to your entire program.
    • “Call Stacks” to monitor function calls in the currently selected task.
  • Updated Documentation and Wiki ( – Still in progress!
  • Support for Standard C commands – sprintf(), sscanf(), support for character arrays, unsigned variables, etc.
  • Support for the Arduino family of controllers (Uno, Mega, Mega 2560) with future support and expanded functionality for the Arduino Leonardo and Due controllers.
  • Updated Robot Virtual Worlds support to include additional sensors and motors.
  • Improved Robot Virtual Worlds performance to simulate more realistic physics and robot behaviors.
  • Support for the new MATRIX building system with the NXT.
  • Many general enhancements and bug fixes – more in-depth change log to come with the ROBOTC 3.5 official release.

Please remember that the Beta available today should not be installed across entire school sites–this is a beta version, so install at your own risk!

You can participate in the ROBOTC 3.45 Beta version by downloading a copy here. Please note that the Beta version will uninstall your existing version of ROBOTC; the Beta will use your existing licensing so there is no need to ‘Deactivate’ before installing. If you have any issues/questions with the ROBOTC Beta, please e-mail betasupport [at] robotc [dot] net for assistance and to alert us of any issues to be fixed between now and release day.

Written by Tim Friez

August 24th, 2012 at 11:24 am

VEX Sack Attack Virtual World v1.0 Now Available!

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The Robot Virtual World team is proud to announce their initial release of the VEX Sack Attack virtual environment! This years competition field features a higher level of interactivity and simulation than ever before. Several new robots (with expanded motors and sensors) designed specifically for Sack Attack have been added to the line-up, and are fully programmable through ROBOTC.

Note that the new features in the virtual world also require that you have the latest Beta version of ROBOTC installed, which is available here.

Here’s a video of the Sack Attack virtual world in action:

New Robots
Check out Scooperbot scoring Sacks and Bonus Sacks in the Trough and High Goal:

And Plowbot pushing Sack and Bonus Sacks into the Floor Goals:

User Interface
The new and improved user interface allows you to switch between the robots, and tells you where the growing list of motors and sensors are connected:

Controlling the Robots
Sample code for programming the robots to move autonomously or via a Logitech USB Remote control can be downloaded here: Sack_Attack_Sample_Code.

Don’t have a Logitech USB Remote Control? No Problem! We’ve also added keyboard control for the robots when a ROBOTC program isn’t running! The controls are as follows:

  • “W” key: Robot moves forward
  • “A” key: Robot turns left
  • “S” key: Robot moves in reverse
  • “D” key: Robot turns right
  • “{” key: Scooper motor up
  • “}” key: Scooper motor down
  • “<” key: Arm motor up
  • “>” key: Arm Motor down

Future Enhancements!
We’re extremely excited about this release, but we’re not done yet. Check out some of the enhancements that are on their way!

More robots! Clawbot:

Holobot with claw:

Improved Sack physics, and Robot-to-Sack Interaction:

The VEX Sack Attack virtual world can be downloaded here, or under the Available Level Packs section of the RVW Download Page.

Important! The new features in the virtual world also require that you have the latest version of Beta version of ROBOTC installed, available here. Don’t have ROBOTC for Robot Virtual Worlds? It comes with a free 60-day trial, so download it today. Need help getting it set up? Check out the setup videos, here.

Written by Jesse Flot

August 23rd, 2012 at 4:40 pm

VEX Sack Attack Referee Training Videos

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John and Karthik at VEX Robotics have put together a fantastic set of videos for teams competing in the VEX Sack Attack Robotics Competition.

The 9-video series breaks down the rules for the competition, and shows how referees will interpret the different scenarios that may occur. It’s definitely a worthwhile watch for any teams competing this year (or anyone who wants to see John hug this years game object).

You can watch the full video series here, or on their YouTube page:

Written by Jesse Flot

August 22nd, 2012 at 3:38 pm

New ROBOTC Firmware for VEX Cortex Users with Integrated Motor Encoders

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There have been reports of the VEX Cortex locking up when using the new Integrated Motor Encoders. The root cause appears to be an unhandled exception that is generated when the I2C communication link between the Cortex and encoders is compromised. To prevent the Cortex from locking up, we’ve put together a new ROBOTC Firmware file that handles the exception. The differences between this new firmware and the version included in ROBOTC 3.08 only apply to the new Integrated Motor Encoders, so users who aren’t taking advantage of them should continue using the firmware included in ROBOTC 3.08. VEX Robotics Competition teams that are using the encoders are encouraged to load the new firmware, and to take extra steps (zip ties, ect) securing the 4-pin I2C wires, to help prevent them from coming loose in the first place.

The new ROBOTC firmware, “VEX_Cortex_0912A” can be downloaded here. Once the file is downloaded, you will need to extract the .hex file from it.

To transfer the firmware to your Cortex:

  1. Open ROBOTC
  2. Go to Window > Menu Level > Expert
  3. Make sure the Cortex is connected to the PC over USB or VEXnet
  4. Go to Robot > Download Firmware > ROBOTC Firmware > Choose File…
  5. When the File Selection window appears, navigate to the “VEX_Cortex_0912A.hex” file you extracted and select it
  6. A Download Progress window will appear in ROBOTC and begin the download
  7. When the Download Progress window closes, the Firmware download is complete

More information on the problem can be found in this post on the VEX Forums.

Thanks to everyone for submitting your testing results, and for your patience as we work out the issues. A special thanks goes out to VEX Forum user, jpearman.

Written by Jesse Flot

April 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

VEX Robotics World Championship Firmware Update

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VEX Robotics has released the following information on their website:

The VEX Robotics technical support team has identified an issue that some competition teams are experiencing in which the Cortex Microcontroller is unable to resume VEXnet link after a Microcontroller reset.

To help eliminate this issue at the VEX Robotics World Championship we are releasing a special version of the VEX Firmware, specifically for World Championship teams (3.21_Worlds). This firmware version modifies the Cortex re-initialization to help the VEXnet link reconnect in the event of a reset (i.e. caused by VEXnet Key “jostling”, power interruption, battery brownout, or static).

We know that competition teams dislike updating firmware so close to an event, so we are publishing this update in the hopes that teams will have a chance to test it “at home” before coming to VEX Worlds. If you’re comfortable with the new version, we strongly urge you to use it at the World Championship to help prevent potential problems related to a Cortex reset.

This firmware only updates a “back end” relinking protocol and it does not affect anything related to robot performance — you don’t need to tweak your autonomous mode, or anything like that.

Visit the VEX Forum thread on this firmware release for more discussions and to post any questions or concerns.

Download the 3.21_Worlds Firmware Update.

We’ve done an array of tests and the firmware is compatible with ROBOTC 3.08. User jpearman of the VEX Forums has also posted his test results, here.

We recommend that all competition teams update to ROBOTC 3.08 and use the 3.21 Worlds firmware. The firmware can be downloaded using the VEXnet Firmware Upgrade Utility, or ROBOTC using the following procedures:

1) Connect the Cortex to the Computer over USB

2) Switch the ROBOTC Menu Level to Expert:

3) Go to Robot > Download Firmware > Master CPU Firmware > Choose File…

4) Navigate to VEXnet Firmware Upgrade folder in your Program Files directory and select “CORTEX_V3_21_Worlds.BIN”.

5) Press Open to open the firmware and begin the download process.

6) Once the CORTEX_V3_21_Worlds.BIN Master firmware has finished downloading, you should also download the ROBOTC firmware. Go to Robot > Download Firmware > Manually Update Firmware > ROBOTC Firmware > Standard File.

Written by Jesse Flot

April 5th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Michigan VEX Regionals

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A few weeks ago I came to the VEX Regionals over at Monroe, Michigan which was held at  Monroe High School. This was their first year hosting the VEX competition, and Steve Ketron did a nice job organizing the event.

There were about two dozen teams, and the robots that were built by the teams were phenomenal.

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to several VEX competitions over the years, and this one had a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I’d chalk that up to the friendly teams surrounding Monroe that came, and also Steve’s planning for the competition.


I took several hundred photos AND video for the event. I will post the video as soon as I can get all of them onto youtube.

Note: If you want a photo removed, I completely understand! Just comment on this post letting me know which photo to remove and I will remove it immediately. Your comment will not show up below so it will be anonymous.

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Written by Vu Nguyen

November 22nd, 2011 at 9:29 am