I was just wondering if anyone knows if there was anyway we would be able to program the VEX Cortex with ArduinoIDE or if there was any shields running VEX robots with ArduinoIDE (besides a breadboard / custom made ones).
WPI uses a shield to merge them. But I don’t know if they custom build the shields themselves or of you can buy them, so I don’t know if this helps or runs into your “besides” note. At least it might give you a place to start looking.
If you need to program Cortex, the alternatives to RobotC are PROS and ConVEX. But if you want to control VEX motors using an Arduino board then sure you could use Arduino IDE to program it. This will also let you use any cheap sensors that are Arduino compatible.
First of all, standard Arduino motor shields cannot provide enough current for VEX 393 motor. We tried to use them at the beginning and burned out the chips on the shield.
Use MC-29 VEX motor controllers instead and make sure they get the power not through the Arduino board but directly from the power source.
For our project we needed only three VEX motors so we just connected MC-29s directly to Arduino PWM pins and configured Arduino servo library to drive those pins. I imagine you could use something like 16-Channel PWM shield to control more motors.
The tricky part was to calibrate range for the control signals. With Cortex you send “0” for stop, -127 for full reverse and +127 for full forward. With Arduino servo library it was something like “0” for no signal, 20…93 for reverse and 96…160 for forward. The exact values may depend on the accuracy of the clock in your specific Arduino board.