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Which Robotics Kit Should I Use? VEX Edition

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VEXiq-109Now more than ever, robotics educators are faced with the important question of which kit they should purchase and use. This key question has been made even more intricate in the 2013-2014 school year due to the addition of the new robotics kits, VEX IQ kits. This article will help break down each VEX kit, their capabilities and target audiences, and allow you, the educator, to make an informed decision on which kit is best for your particular classroom.

The VEX IQ system is the brand-new robotics system from Innovation First International (IFI for short, makers of the VEX Robotics Design System). The VEX IQ can be used with any of the all-new hardware and sensors, including a unique plastic snap-fit structural system.

  • Sensors include a gyroscope, color sensor, potentiometer, touch LED, and ultrasonic sensor.
  • The base kits (either Sensor or Controller kits) are provided with over 650 structural components, 4 plug-and-play ‘smart motors’, at least 2 touch sensors (or more, depending on kit), and the VEX IQ microcontroller (more information on all available kits can be found here).
  • The IQ contains 12 smart ports that can be used to control either analog sensors, digital sensors, or servos/motors; the ports are non-typed and can be used to control any piece of VEX IQ compatible hardware that is plugged into it.
  • It also includes a micro-USB port for IQ-to-computer communication and a ‘tether’ port for direct connections to an VEX IQ Controller.
  • Debugging and programming information can be displayed on the backlit LCD information to increase ease-of-use in real time.
  • Wireless communication between the VEX IQ microcontroller and a VEX IQ controller is provided via a set of 900 MHz radio adapters.
  • The VEX IQ system will be fully legal in the new VEX IQ Challenge (designed specifically for the VEX IQ system), for students ages 8-14.
  • Recommended use: Middle School.

cortex-robotOne of the mainstays of the educational robotics world is the VEX Cortex platform. Originally released in 2010 by IFI, the Cortex can be used with the VEX Robotics Design System’s hardware and sensors.

  • Includes over 300 metal structural parts, 4 powerful DC motors, the VEX Cortex microcontroller, and a wide variety of fasteners, gears, and other miscellaneous hardware.
  • Sensors include touch sensors, an ultrasonic sensor, integrated motor encoders, line following sensors, and a potentiometer; additional sensors are available outside of the base kits.
  • Wireless communication between a VEX Cortex and a VEXNet Joystick Controller is possible by using the 802.11b/g VEXNet USB Adapter Keys.
  • The VEX Cortex system can be used in the VEX Robotics Challenge (Middle, High School, and College divisions).
  • Recommended use: advanced Middle School, High School or College.

We understand that choosing a robotics kit is a tough decision. The number one factor in determining which kit is right for you is the students; depending on the skill level of the students, it may be better to challenge them with a more advanced kit (VEX Cortex) or they may prefer to learn with a beginner kit to get them started (VEX IQ.) No matter which kit you decide to use, though, you can rest easy knowing ROBOTC will fully support all of these platforms.

 

Written by John Watson

August 27th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Updated ROBOTC Support for VEX Competitions

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competition templateAre you part of a team that competes in VEX Robotics Competitions? If so, we’ve just released updated support documents that will help guarantee your success when you get to the field:

  • Firmware Inspection using ROBOTC
  • Firmware Inspection using the IFI Loader
  • Testing Robots using the 75 MHz Crystals
  • Testing Robots using the VEXnet Upgrade
  • Using the ROBOTC Competition Templates
  • Complete ROBOTC Software Inspection Guide (11 MB)

If you’re not part of the VEX Robotics Competitions, get involved! You can find out more information through the CMU Robotics Academy and VEX Robotics.

As always, you can also find support on the ROBOTC.net support pages and forums, too.

Written by Jesse Flot

February 22nd, 2010 at 11:23 am

VEXnet Upgrade Support

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VEXnet Upgrades

VEXnet is an 802.11 WiFi replacement for the crystal-based communication system between the VEX Microcontroller and Radio Control Transmitter. The VEXnet Upgrade enables users to convert existing Microcontrollers and Transmitters to the VEXnet communication system.

Additional VEXnet features include:

  • Easy to connect (No IP addresses, MAC addresses, or passwords)
  • Multiple layers of security built-in and always on
  • No wireless access point needed; each VEXnet pair makes its own private network
  • Hundreds of robots can operate at once; every VEXnet robot has a hidden unique ID
  • Optional tether for wired communication
  • Two user selectable channels and one private channel for competitions
  • Optional 9V battery backup to maintain wireless link during a main 7.2V power loss
  • LED scheme displays the status of the Robot, VEXnet link, and Game (Competition Mode)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jesse Flot

November 25th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Posted in General News,VEX

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