VEXnet Upgrade

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Tutorials → VEXnet Upgrade Installation


VEXnet Upgrade
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, passwords, or special security modes)
  • 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)




Part I. Installing the VEXnet Upgrade on the Microcontroller

1. Begin by removing any of the 75MHz crystal receivers from your Microcontroller.

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2. Attach the VEXnet Upgrade to the top of the Microcontroller.


2a. Gather the following parts before moving on:

  • 1 Microcontroller
  • 1 VEXnet Microcontroller Upgrade
  • 8 3/4" 8-32 Screws
  • 4 1/2" Standoffs
  • 1 7.2V Battery


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2b. Use four of the screws to attach the 1/2" standoffs to the VEXnet upgrade.
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2c. Align the back of the VEXnet Upgrade with the back of the Microcontroller.
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2d. Use the four remaining screws to attach the VEXnet Upgrade to the Microcontroller.

Note: When securing the VEXnet Upgrade and Microcontroller assembly to your robot, the bottom four screws can be removed, inserted through a section of the robot chassis, and then reconnected to the bottom of the assembly.
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3. Power the Microcontroller and VEXnet upgrade with the 7.2V battery.

3a. Connect the battery to the VEXnet Upgrade.
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3b. Connect the battery wire coming from the VEXnet Upgrade to the Microcontroller. The ON/OFF switch on the Microcontroller controls the power to the Microcontroller and the VEXnet Upgrade.
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4. Connect the yellow VEXnet cable to the SERIAL port on the Microcontroller.
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5. Connect a VEXnet USB adapter to the VEXnet Microcontroller Upgrade.

5a. Attach the Velcro loop piece (fuzzy) to the USB adapter and the hook piece (bristly) to the Microcontroller so they will align once the USB adapter is inserted into the VEXnet Upgrade. This will ensure that the adapter will not get disconnected while the robot is running.

Note: It does not matter which VEXnet USB adapter you use.
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5b. If you are connecting a VEXnet Microcontroller Upgrade that was packaged with the Transmitter Upgrade, insert the USB adapter now. If not, or if you are unsure, you can wait to insert the USB adapter until you manually pair the Transmitter and Microcontroller Upgrades (Part III of this document)..
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6. (Optional) Connect the 9V backup battery to the VEXnet Upgrade. The backup battery maintains VEXnet communication in the event of a main power loss and is mandatory during official VEX competitions, but optional in classroom use. Connect the backup battery to the front of the VEXnet Upgrade. (The battery is not included with kit.)
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Part II. Installing the VEXnet Upgrade on the Transmitter

1. Begin by removing the battery door and crystal on the back of the Transmitter.

1a. Slide the battery door down to remove it from the Transmitter. The VEXnet Upgrade will replace it.
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1b. Remove the Crystal

Pull the crystal from the back of the Transmitter to remove it.
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2. Place the 9.6V rechargeable battery in the battery compartment, but DO NOT connect it to the Transmitter. Note that the VEXnet upgrade will not work with the AA battery holder.
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3. Power the Transmitter and VEXnet upgrade with the 9.6V battery.

3a. Connect the battery to the VEXnet Upgrade.
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3b. Connect the battery wire coming from the VEXnet Upgrade to the Transmitter.
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3c. The ON/OFF switch on the VEXnet Upgrade controls the power to the Transmitter and the VEXnet Upgrade, but the Transmitter must also be turned on to send and receive data. You can leave the Transmitter ON/OFF switch in the ON position at all times, but remember to power down the VEXnet upgrade to conserve battery power.
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4. Install the VEXnet Transmitter Upgrade in place of the battery door.

4a. Use Caution... Be careful to route the wires so they won't get pinched.
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4b. Install the VEXnet Upgrade Slide the VEXnet Upgrade into the Transmitter to secure it.
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5. Connect the short yellow wire on the VEXnet Upgrade to the TETHER PORT on the Transmitter. Slide the VEXnet Upgrade into the Transmitter to secure it.
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6. Connect a VEXnet USB adapter to the VEXnet Transmitter Upgrade.

6a. Attach the Velcro loop side (fuzzy) to the USB adapter and insert the hook side (bristly) into the slot on the the VEXnet adapter so they will align once the USB adapter is inserted.

Note: It does not matter which VEXnet USB adapter you use.
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6b. If you are connecting a VEXnet Transmitter Upgrade that was packaged with the Microcontroller Upgrade, insert the USB adapter now. If not, or if you are unsure, you can wait to insert the USB adapter until we manually pair the Transmitter and Microcontroller Upgrades (Part III of this document).
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Part III. Manually Pairing the Microcontroller and Transmitter VEXnet Upgrades

Bundled Microcontroller and Transmitter VEXnet Upgrades are preconfigured to automatically establish a link with each other. Only follow the steps to manually pair your VEXnet Upgrades if you are having trouble establishing a connection between them, or if you are using a Microcontroller VEXnet Upgrade that was NOT bundled with a corresponding Transmitter VEXnet Upgrade.

1. Remove the USB adapters from the Microcontroller and Transmitter VEXnet Upgrades.
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2. Connect the Microcontroller and Transmitter VEXnet Upgrades using the USB cable.
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3. Turn on the Transmitter VEXnet Upgrade and allow them to pair.

3a. Turn on the Transmitter VEXnet Upgrade. Slide the POWER switch of the VEXnet Upgrade to the ON position. Do NOT power the Microcontroller VEXnet Upgrade. Power from the Transmitter will turn on the Microcontroller VEXnet Upgrade.
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3b. Allow the VEXnet Upgrades to Pair. The ROBOT and VEXnet status lights will blink yellow and red. When both lights turn green, the Transmitter and Microcontroller VEXnet Upgrades have successfully paired.
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4. Remove the USB cable from the VEXnet Upgrades and replace both USB adapters.
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