Annual cost for materials replacement and maintenance

I am working on starting 1 new robotics team of up to 10 students (5 kits) for a high school. I was able to price out the cost for the VEX V5 kits easily enough, but am curious about annual expenses for replacement or general costs for add-on items so that I can include those expenses in my proposal. What are the typical expenses you have incurred each year?

You always order more parts (specifically metal) during the season. The first order never is enough from my years in vex. Also get aluminum to replace the steel in the v5 kits.
If you have a Dremel or other cutting tool, expect to buy more blades.
Allen/star keys get lost constantly, my team always seems to buy a pack of the robosource ones every year.
Competition fees usually are anywhere from $25-80 for local competitions. State/regionals usually is $80-170 (but usually around $120 from my experience).
The hard thing about money and vex is there is always something you want, like another box of c channels. You’ve got to make sure you actually need things before you order them, otherwise you’re spending more thousands of dollars and you don’t need to.


There is special parts that come into play for each years game. Last year, it was creating shooter parts and loader, so tracks and bigger wheels were on the list. This year it was tray bots with flaps to pull cubes in and L channel for trays or C Channels for reverse double bar.

From experience this year you should plan on replacing two dead motors, adding a second controller for drivers. Other teams have reported port damage to brains. I don’t know where VEX is with RMA, but that swap takes some time, an extra V5 Brain may be helpful.

Battery packs have limited life, so budget on replacing 1/2 of yours per year. You may not do this, but it helps. Having a second battery per team helps this.

@Nerdom has pushed aluminum, but reading the cost of that makes my eyes bleed. Another thread on what to do in steel vs AL may be needed to help clarify what to buy. I have experience with a bored roboteer cutting x35 lengths into x5 lengths. They got through about 4 lengths of x35 before I twigged to “that saw is running a lot”

edited: grammar stuff.


I think we killed about 4-6 motors this year

When we started, we doubled the price of our robot and that was enough to cover for extra expenses- $4,000

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Extra items outside of normal vex parts like rubber bands, lexan, anti slip matting, and the plethora of tools usually account for a large one time order per season. The last you you want is for your teams to be unequipped for the season and if you can afford them they make a big difference in your team. They are not necessary and you can get by without them but you should definitely budget in those costs. Also don’t buy things like rubber bands, anti slip mesh, and lexan from vex. You can find much better quality and it will cost less if you buy in bulk from somewhere else.

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metal is always something you need more of. every few years you’ll need to restock on basic tools and screws and stuff, those pieces just sort of disappear occasionally. polycarbonate is also another good resource that you’ll always need to be buying more, if you want to use polycarbonate that is. v5 stuff also breaks relatively often in my experience, so you’ll always want a backup brain, controller, radio, and a bunch of backup motors. my team went through 2 brains, 5 motors, 1 controller this season. most of this damage was due to esd. If your region gets a lot of static in the winter, I would advise getting the anti-static field tiles, they really do work. we would have saved thousands of dollars in electronics if we had those from the start.

to save money, don’t buy non-vex stuff from vex. so buy your rubber bands, antislip, polycarb, tools, screws, nuts from other sources. is really good. I particularly enjoy their color coded star screws and their thin nylocks. also their spacers are really nice and really cheap.

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You say you are starting 1 robotics team with 5 robots and up to 10 students - are you doing 1 team of 10 students and they’ll be working together to create 1 main robot (but possibly building multiple robots for experience)? Or, with 5 robots and 10 students, are you maybe planning on doing 5 teams of 2 students each? Or a mix? The reason it matters is that many of the extra expenses each year are going to be per registered competing team.

  • Each team will have to pay a main team registration fee (this is a 1 time expense per year, and I believe additional teams from the same program are a discounted price). I think it was $150 1st and $100 additional last I heard? So, a minimum of $150 but if you do 5 teams it will be $550.
  • Each competition a team goes to will also have a registration fee per team; the standard minimum for this is $80 around here (leagues are less, Regionals / States are almost 2x more - this may be different in different areas). The number of competitions a team goes to can vary, but a the teams I know will often try to go to many (5+) to gain experience and test changes. I would plan on doing at least 1 competition plus budgeting for Regionals / States (just in case!) in your first season, so maybe est $230 minimum (1 team) up to $1,150 (5 teams).
  • Competition meals / snacks; often the EP will provide something like $10 pizzas to pre-order, which may end up being a team expense rather than an individual one. Just something to pre-determine, as these costs can seem small but add up fast.

Lots of great thoughts above! I agree with trying to go mainly aluminum if feasible (I think some of the V5 kits are actually sold with Aluminum instead of steel now?). You’ll kill motors for sure - we try to have at least 10 per actual competition robot (to cover the 8 max - assuming it is not increased - and 2 extra “just in case”). Some of the kits only come with 4.

As an aside - if you plan about 10 students, I’d try for 3-4 per team if possible. Then you can just buy maybe 3 V5 robot kits and use the rest of the funds for all those extra parts and expenses.


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