Advice for an Unwanted Situation


That is a good point. I really need to get better with sensors. Too bad I’ll have to practice more on cortex but it’s better than nothing. If I can find one to buy.


For your consideration, OP, teachers don’t get paid over the summer. So any time the teacher would spend at school is likely to be unpaid. Lots of teachers have kids of their own and instead of paying for summer daycare, they plan to be home with their kids to save money. Plus, many plan vacations during that time. Some teachers get second jobs over the summer to supplement their income. I just wanted to mention this so you can consider the teacher’s position and some of the reasons for the reluctance to come in over the summer.

As far as taking stuff home. That is tough. The school makes a huge investment in it’s robotics supplies. I can see a reluctance in sending it home with a student with no guarantees on how it will come back.


I would expect cortexes will show up on ebay or in the forums as soon as VEX gets their supply chain failure figured out and starts shipping V5’s again.

A whole summer off? Wow, the VEX Team Virus off-season is about 2 weeks long, right after worlds. We have our first competition on August 3 at the Monroe County Fair.

I would suggest that doing game analysis (with teammates, if possible) and laying the foundation for a good engineering notebook and design process will get you a long way. Download the Judge’s guide, and find the Design Award rubric. This pre-work prior to building a competition robot will take you 4-6 weeks. Part of the design process that is lost to many teams is to build a “tinkerbot” then figure out how to make it work, rather than see what the game requires and design a bot to best complete the task at hand.

Working with CAD and studying programming and sensors with a very basic “2-motor test base” would be a good use of time, especially since you have 2 more years of HS, before you join or start a VEX-U team. Using the gyroscope for autonomous routines and PID for motor control are two areas where many teams lack expertise, and if you work out these areas of programming on a test base, it is very easy to transfer the knowledge to the programming of future robots.

In the meantime, don’t forget to keep playing music :slight_smile:


I have a similar problem to you. My mentor just so happens to also be the athletic director at my school, and that takes a lot of time away from meetings. I keep up with it, though, by trying my hardest to avoid procrastination and designing what I want to build outside of the (often cancelled) 1-hr meetings once a week.
Other students get to have him in school classes (MS PLTW teacher), but I, in the high school, don’t have such luxuries. But I try to use that to my advantage to get more work done on the notebook. (Although Ohio is a very competitive notebooking region, as well as general robot skills, so I haven’t seen it pay off just yet.)

You just have to make the best use of whatever time you have. As others have said, completely design components outside of meetings, and assemble them in what little time you have. I myself have become a decent speed-builder by doing this. (I helped my D team completely rip off a DR4B at a competition because it wasn’t working [after trying to fix it, of course], and attatched a roller to help flip caps. I felt pretty good about that.)

Anyway, CAD is probably worth your time. I’m being kind of hypocritical because I don’t use CAD (yet), but the precise intricacies of your designs can be worked out so much better than just thinking about the build.

Just hang in there. Keep it simple early season, and qualify early. Then spend the rest of the season preparing for State (And hopefully Worlds) with a more advanced robot.


That sounds really tough man. I see you all the time on the forum and I think you’ve replied to almost every single one of my posts so I’m wishing you luck.
I slacked so much on the notebook this season so it would probably be good to have all the extra time to work and prepare it.
Thanks for replying and letting me know I’m not alone in this struggle.
Good luck next season, hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to meet the legend of Got a Screw Loose at Worlds next year.


Yeah I completely understand her not wanting to be there, I’d prefer not to be at the school either. Last summer other teams were allowed to go up to the school multiple times so it’s a little confusing. My teacher does have stuff to do over the summer and even I do, I’m going to spend most of the summer living in a different state interning at company if that works out. I’d still love to be able to work on it when I got home that day from interning and working on it, might even help bring up topics at the company.

We’ve always been able to bring our robots and parts home, this has been the first time she’s said no and her only reason is we NEED an offseason.

Responding to @kmmohn, I might have a cortex and a couple of electronics worked out so if that’s my only option I’m going to use it.
The first competition in my state usually isn’t till September so that probably goes in to my teacher’s reasoning. I seriously slacked on CAD and design this year but being a one man team I believe I used my time working wisely, so I’ll work on that over the summer.
Thank you though, and I’m gonna kill the drums this season.


Most of those who have actually met me don’t consider me a legend, but thanks, man!

It’s kinda tough, but I get through it. And so can you. Just spend the time away from the robot well.


Honestly, summer isn’t that critical for having a successful program. What ended up happening to our team for several years is that we make a bot over the summer, but it turns out to be bad in competitions and not the meta. Just hit the ground running right after your first competition so you can get realistic bot ideas.


I would first suggest if ylu CANT go independent, work a CAD design and use robotmesh to develop a program to run the design. All this can be done virtual, which keeps costs low. Then, when the school gets started, you walk in on day one ready to build. This is huge. In addition, keep an eye here on the forums, read and reread and highlight the rules, and watch videos on youtube of others designs. Doing this you can be as ready as possible to start wrenching on day one.

All this and more is part of why we went independent. We did it on the cheap this year, funding it all by ourselves (7 members). Keep an eye on ebay for parts. As others said, teams will be parting out their stuff. We got lucky and found someone that was selling their kit after the team dissolved. I priced out all the stuff and it was over $4500 worth of kit. We got it for $800. There was a bunch of stuff we really didn’t need, so we resold that on ebay and made the $800 back. Took some elbow grease, but we ended up with two large tupperware tubs of parts, really enough to build 2 robots, for free.

Not that you would have $800, but maybe you can get a smaller lot of a couple motors, a cortex, a couple switches, and even some steel and prototype a few designs/mechanisms. Again, this would save lots of time when the team actually gets together.


I didn’t even think of robotmesh, that’s my plan as of right now. Thanks for mentioning it. I can only work one day a week for like an hour and a half for the first semester but I’m gonna use all that time wrenching.

I still have the thought of going independent but I don’t really want to abandon my school, half of my goal this year is to improve the club at my school. But I don’t want that to get in the way of my personal success. As well as cortex angered me so much last year, I don’t really want to go back to it. I’m gonna keep the option available though, your ebay achievements have inspired me.


I understand it’s not critical however summer break is the only time I can really grind out work. I can’t really work on my bot over the school year till January besides like an hour a week. I could certainly make a robot with that time, many teams have less. But if I want to maximize my chance for the robot I want to make and be successful I think working over the summer would be the way to go. Not to mention that my first competition comes early 1st semester in either late September or early October. I didn’t qualify for state this year till literally the last chance at the last competition in my state, when my robot was finally ready and finished. If I miss out on the chance to work over the summer I won’t be angry, I get that it’s not necessary. But it’d definitely be nice.



If your school is willing to lend you some structural components for the summer, while keeping expensive Cortex or V5 system safely under the lock at school, then this solution might be just what you need:


One thing I can tell you for sure is that starting an independent team is definitely the hardest option.

  1. The amount of money it will cost will be a lot, especially with V5 system.
  2. Starting an independent team means leaving the school team. You will inevitably face some criticisms and relationship issues no matter how you explain to others.


No doubt it is difficult and expensive to start an independent team, but I think that it is actually cheaper with the V5. There are lots of things that are no longer necessary with the V5: LCD screen, power expander, numerous batteries (you can get by with two), lots of different lengths and types of wires (two-wire, three-wire, four-wire), shaft encodors (for the most part since motors have built in encoders), etc. And that’s all I can think of. There are probably more things that I’m not even thinking of.


V5 is simpler, but still relatively more expensive. Shaft encoders are also still useful in some instances. All that really changes is the necessity for lots of 3-wire connections. At least 2 batteries are still necessary for continuous testing.


I think the biggest advantage, in the long run, is not having to repair broken motor wires! (so far, every bad V5 motor (we’re up to 5 out of 60), has been replaced on warranty) There was a point I had over 40 393 motors in my repair pile. Also, not smoking an MC-29 every time the wires shorted out reduces long-term costs. Broken pins on other stuff was a minor inconvenience that goes away as new V5 sensors come out.


Hey @Fmaj7add9,

This is Omar from AUBIE1 and former member of 643Z, I don’t know if I got to meet you at the Alabama state competition, but ill let you in on some tips. So obviously the first thing you want to do is come up with a killer strategy. You really want to think about how your robot will manipulate the game objects and the rest of the field elements. (Usually, I start this after right after worlds). Once you have a pretty solid strategy then start modeling your robot. (I personally use Autodesk Inventor and spend about the whole summer coming up with different models). Try to make your robot as modular as possible. (It’s the fastest way to get things done) That way you can make multiple designs work with each other. Talk to many of the teams around you about their design and your design. We have an Alabama VEX Discord server if you are interested. If modeling the robot gets a little too much, you can always take a break and work on the code a little. (I usually get the code finished before I finish modeling the robot). This year was AUBIE1’s first year and we didn’t get our parts till February, but because of the different designs I had, I was able to make a robot that could do sorta decent in skills to (hopefully) qualify to worlds. When I was apart of 643Z (one man army essentially), I had the entire robot modeled before I even touched an actual physical part. We won two state championships and just barely missed the division playoffs. One thing I will say is to work on a notebook and actually make it good. I am friends with many of the judges from the state tournament and most notebooks were severely lacking. I’m usually either down in Auburn or in Birmingham. We should have plenty of cortexes and other things that could be useful? Send me a message or something and we can work something out.


Tough words, but perhaps you need to hear this. By your description it would sound like you goofed off in the eyes of a teacher who worked many hours for little or no pay. Then you worked hard but was too little too late.

So you want this? Drop it for a bit and prove you are worth the hassle. Start with finding at least one person you can work with. Then spend some time discussing strategy. Analyze the last season’s game and the one before that. Compare what you come up with against seen strategies. Can observed strategies be improved?

Your partner(s) and yourself should be watching for the reveal. Immediately start the strategy phase. Stay off the design and decide what the bot should do. Then design a starting point.

Take your design and teammate(s) to your teacher and ask for parts to build on a weekend. Bring back a bot on Monday if you can get permission to take home.

If you are serious, prove it by doing work you can away from sight. Find a teammate or two. Have them excited and able to speak to the situation. That MIGHT convince your teacher things have changed.


Goofs were had but the main thing for not working till late was other extra curricular stuff so I couldn’t really pour time and effort into it till the second semester in January. I did definitely waste time this year though and I was uninspired for far too long.

I’ve considered doing something similar, I’ve already cadded a bunch of potential designs for the game next year. When the game is revealed I’ll think of the most effective way to score points and combine the designs that I think will achieve it. I’ll bring it and a parts list to my teacher and ask if I can take home any parts at all to work with my sister team too. We’ve worked at home in the past so it shouldn’t be too big of an issue. After the reveal I have like 15 days or so of school that I can work and program and use the computers there after school and hopefully the progress I make then will show my teacher I’m serious and might sway her opinion.



Your new affiliations on here will certainly help with inspiration. Even though I don’t get a lot of time (as stated previously in more detail), I still get a lot of respect for what I do accomplish. I like to actively work on Notebook and random designing outside of my robot time, and that has helped me immensely.
Honestly, joining the forum was the best decision I made this year. You and I are set for next year. I will expect to see you at Worlds again.