Announcing VEXnet 2.0

We’re happy to announce the discontinuation of one product, and the launch of another. Starting early in 2014 we will be discontinuing the VEXnet USB Adapter Key (276-2245) and replacing it with the new VEXnet Key 2.0 (276-3245).

The new key utilizes the new VEXnet 2.0 communication prototcol. This consists of a custom 2.4 GHz data radio instead of the 802.11b/g wireless link used in the original VEXnet key.

The new VEXnet Key 2.0 is designed to be a functionally identical replacement to the current VEXnet key.

The new VEXnet Key 2.0 requires a firmware update of both the VEX Cortex Microcontroller, and the VEXnet Joystick. The new firmware version will include support for both new and old keys (so users won’t need to switch versions back and forth depending on what key they use). However, the old keys are not compatible with the new keys.

The keys only work in matched pairs. (You can’t use a first generation key on one side of the link and a VEXnet Key 2.0 on the other side of the link). To help make it easy to troubleshoot this, the new VEXnet Key 2.0 is molded in a white plastic housing, which makes it easy to contrast with the black colored 1st generation key.

The new key will be available for $39.99 in January. P/N: 276-3245 - VEXnet Key 2.0

Awesome! I can’t wait til I can get a pair.

I don’t know much about wireless/data radios. Does this mean that wifi connections will not interfere with VEXnet connected stability?

The color of the new key looks better as well.

I hope this allows more reliable communication and faster pair times. Also, does this new key use less power than the old key. It seemed that the joystick batteries run down really quick.

I’m looking forward to seeing what these are like.

When you say “functionally identical replacement,” does that mean that the pair times, connection problems, power consumption, etc. will be the same, or that it serves the same function? :slight_smile:

Just for curiosity’s sake, what is the difference (in big-picture/overview/non-specific terms) between the communication protocol version 1 and version 2? Was the new communication protocol designed to increase speed, decrease errors, decrease link time, some combination of those, or some reason that you can’t tell for intellectual property reasons? :wink:

And good call on the white vs. black color scheme–the stark contrast will help tell old from new easily, especially in dark tool chests.

I assume there’s no chance of a rebate program, where we can trade in our old keys for credit on the new ones? The fact that they won’t get interference from laptops and wifi networks is enough to make us switch, but I don’t know what to so with all of the old VEXnet Keys we have lying around. Getting a little credit towards the new keys would be great.

Is there a trade in program or sale?

When will kits switch to the new keys.

Any more tech specs?

Did I miss where it says that? It’s still 2.4GHz and has to presumably share the same spectrum.

Are you saying that the new keys will effectively change nothing about the bulk of the issues that are present with the 802.11b/g tech? If not, what advantages will be present with the new keys? I’m not very well acquainted with wireless technologies.

All I was saying is that Ricky didn’t specifically say it’s immune to interference from existing WiFi networks. I hope that is the case, but the spectrum is very crowded in the 2.4GHz band, there are different modulation methods available and I would expect something different from 802.11g, I would also expect the data rate to be lower.

My GUESS (and I really have no idea, this announcement was a complete surprise to me) is that VEXnet 2.0 is based around something like the TI CC2544 SoC.

YAY ! :smiley: <10char>

Sorry, I assumed that the change was to get rid of the issue. I used PS2 controllers on this same spectrum for years before they finally started having issues. The non-gaming mouse for my laptop, my wireless keyboard, and almost everything else I’ve ever seen that’s wireless is in this same range. I’ve rarely have problems with it, and certainly not on the level of disconnects I see with VEXNet.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding what this change is and how it will affect connectivity. If so, my bad. But if there isn’t a decrease in disconnects, what then would be the point of upgrading?

In addition to there being a trade in program will we be able to preorder these new VEXnet keys? Would love to test these at our next competition.

One reason is probably component obsolescence, the RT73 chipset in the VEXnet 1.0 WiFi adapter was current in 2006 and probably went end of life some time ago. It’s almost impossible to find anything being sold that uses that device now, I’m actually surprised VEX managed to keep them around for so long, must have bought a huge quantity initially.

Yes, I would like to get some ASAP for obvious reasons.

Will the software vendors have updated versions of their products available that support the new firmware? Both EasyC and ROBOTC are sensitive to the master firmware version. Hopefully, ROBOTC will support this in both the old 3.X and new 4.X versions.

Could we continue to use old keys?

My opinion isn’t official or anything, but I would assume so. The Cortex microcontroller came out in 2010 and I am still seeing PIC microcontrollers used in competition today.

There is obviously a large price difference, but I assume the same logic applies.

Wait… so we’re going back to non-WiFi RF, but we’re sharing the same frequency range as WiFi based RF?

Someone please explain (in great technical detail) how this isn’t the worst of both worlds?

In particular:

A. How is staying in the 2.4 GHz range good given the multitude of devices that use (and must share) this particular range?

B. How is ditching WiFi helping? We’ve enjoyed it’s security quite well over the years. A “custom” solution is a “security” nightmare says the entire computer security world.

C. If we’re shelling out more $$$ for a new thing that does pretty much exactly what the old thing did/does, what new features are we getting? Why? Sell me on this.

D. Formal communications API, give it to me! There are applications that could use VEXnet beyond linking the Cortex and Joystick together.

I really hope it’s based on this.

(Texas Instruments ZigBee solution)

Endless hacking opportunities …

I doub’t it is ZigBee though.

I, too, sign the petition to hear why the new keys are better than the old keys. I sincerely hope one of the tests that was done with the new keys was to a) jam them in to the cortex a thousand times to test durability and b) enable and use a dozen or two other WiFi-enabled and active devices along with several other active robots using VexNet (new and old keys) to test reliability. My current opinion about the new keys is that at least Visual Edge’s stickers will still look right.

I highly doubt that the new system is entirely custom–it is probably a pre-packaged system that allows some configuration, much in the same way that the Windows desktop is “customizable.”
But, why do we care about security?? Hackable=fun! :slight_smile:

Good question… I have a feeling the answer will be that the old one relied on obsolete equipment, and is therefore going to become hard to construct.

Never gonna happen… Besides–that would take all the fun out of reverse engineering it! :stuck_out_tongue:

Hooray! If it works better…