I tried searching the forum for this but no joy. I have been tasked with setting up a robotics program at my high school and have decided to go with the vex system.
I have in mind what I want to purchase from Vex but what “support” equipment do I need in the classroom? Since we haven’t had a robitics team at the school in four years there is no one who has any tribal knowledge about what the classroom looked like.
This first year I intend to take it slow and start building up a knowledge base in the students. Next year I’ll add the Level 2 and level 3 upgrade kits and the year after that we’ll consider going to competitions. I am purchasing 9 of the $549 lab kits and the crystal kits A and B. This should allow the students to control 9 bots at the same time correct?
The only things in my mind that I need to purchase other than that to get started are a small tool set along the lines of:
Any other items, or changes I should make? Please don’t hesitate to provide constructive feedback.
You will have 9 different Crystals so you can operate 9 different Robots at one time. BUT, After this summer, you will need to get the new WiFi Controllers for Vex Competitions. See the New VEX Products section of the [Vex FAQ 2008.
The Level 2 & 3 kits need the Programming Kits to use the Sensors.
A few great, pretty inexpesive things that I think help a lot with doing vex is longer hex tools (sorry no link, I got mine at Harbour Freight),
a good individual worklamp,
a self-healing work mat (I have this but saw this for less),
I don’t know if the educational kits come with the rechargable batteries but they are a most (you will eat through batteries otherwise and it is worth the price),
lastly (this cost no money) is a either a list or book of a ton of different industrial and hobby (like the gallery here on vexforum) for the students to get ideas and inspiration from.
In our classroom, we had 16 Starter kits, plus 16 X Power Pack, Chain & Sprocket, Tank Treads, Programming Kits & 4 extra sensors.
The classroom had 18 computers, no machine shop, not much desk space.
Tools we used: Tin snips (1), bolt cutters (1,for axles), files(2), safety goggles (4).
Extra supplies needed for lost & damaged replacement: Allen wrenches, both sizes (3/32 and 5/64), extra plates, 12" square bars (axles) and long bars. You can get the Allen wrenches at OSH for under $1 each. After a while, I got smarter and color coded every wrench with green (3/32) or red (5/64) electrical tape, and they disappeared far less frequently.
You will need many more motors than 3 per robot. You will need as a minimum about 6 per kit.
Build an arena as soon as possible…or buy the kit. This gives the students a place to run the robots without crashing them off tables or getting stepped on. You can also design both non-competitive and competitive challenges for the students. Its fun to build robots, but let them compete a bit and the excitement is contagious. If you aren’t careful you will have the students in on their own time trying to improve their robot…and testing it of course.
Enter competitions as soon as you can…maybe with your “best” team only to start. You will be amazed how steep the students learning curve is when they compete. Yes there will be some hard lessons learned but those lessons are important and will help the students. If you don’t want to do outside competitions at least do in school ones.
And yes rechargeable batteries are a must. You will also have to set up a charging station for all those batteries.
When you are having your “in-class” demos and contests…make sure you invite other teachers and your admin to come and see what your students are doing…
This is my schools 3rd year we have 15 registered teams and last year qualified two teams to Atlanta. The students are already building and trying to figure out “elevation”. In the first week of school I had requests to open at lunch…
Hello Whipple & Co,
I hope you don’t mind if i ask a couple of questions. I’ve been tasked with setting up an Introduction to Robotics at my community college. [Next semester] It’s going to be a 15 week course, approximately 4-5 hours a week lecture and lab time.[One day a week]. We bought 11 class-room kits and will install easyC or RobotC in the assigned class-room. So here are my questions – Any help would be greatly appreciated….
My feeling is that we should use RobotC instead of EasyC – A lot of these students will have already taken some C at some level. I think dragging and dropping the functions makes it a little too easy for them. Do you guys have any opinion on this?
Instead of creating my own powerpoint lectures – I wanted to use either the Intellitek REC or Carnegie Mellons Robot curriculum – to be honest money is not a problem so I’m just looking for the best curriculum to use a community college level. My initial feeling and I haven’t spent too much time on this is I prefer Carnegies curriculum – I thought the intellitek website was a total pain to use. It was not intuitive at all. This is just my limited opinion now.
Some of the professors I work with seem to think the vex system is not complex enough for a college course – they think it’s better suited to the high school level. They think the students should work on more industry-related pick and place robots. I think they’re correct but my feeling is the students should learn the basics first – mechanical, electronics & some programming and the vex system is IDEAL for this and then move onto the more complex industry robots – do you guys have any opinions on this also?
Also im having a hard time finding a good book for this class. I don’t think there is a book that talks about the theory of electronics , mechanicals, etc and applies it with the vex system. This would be ideal for me.
Thank you for your time - Tim
Apologies for continuing the hijacking of this thread, but hopefully it’s useful information for everyone. I’m also currently setting up an assignment as part of a Mechanical Engineering paper here at the University of Auckland (in New Zealand), but have also been involved in Vex for about three or four years now.
Definitely RobotC if they have already had experience with C. What I actually found from asking students is that having to learn a completely different graphical interface like EasyC can actually be more difficult, especially if they’re not particularly good at programming and only just understood C (the paper that teaches C is a prerequisite to the paper with Vex in it).
To be honest, for a college level you might need to create your own curriculum. However, there are a couple out there from other colleges that already have courses, and post all their stuff online - you might just need to contact the lecturer/professor and ask for permission to use their content. Off the top of my head, the nice guys at Mount San Antonio College (MSAC) have a pretty good course.
That is always going to be a problem unfortunately, because we’re using the same equipment as the kids in the high school competition. I think it’s important to stress that the vex system provides a good foundation for later development, and gives the students hands-on practical experience rather than just being taught a bunch of theory which can be difficult for students to relate to. Additionally, presumably a large portion of the students will not have had access to these sorts of programmes in high school, and will not have interacted with vex systems before so it doesn’t have to be “difficult” to be “challenging”.
Vex has only been around for five or six years, and during that time not many colleges have picked it up. I doubt that you will be able to find any books that relate the theory to vex, but there are two or three academic papers that have been written about the topic - you might need to use an online academic database to search through.
If you have any other questions or would like to get in touch with me personally, my e-mail is below. Hopefully that helps!
I only skim-read what the others said, so what I say may duplicate what they said, but this is what we have in our cupboard that are non-vex parts:
Hacksaw, file, scissors, side cutters, wrenches, LOTS of cable ties, rubber bands, various types and colours of tape, power boards for the chargers.
My suggestion would be to get the kits that come with Cortex and VexNet, because that will future-proof your investment so that you can compete later. Alternatively, if only a few of your students are likely to be competing, you can get the radio crystal controlled kits for the class, and then later just get two or three VexNet capable robots for competition use. The other good reason to do the second option is that in two or three years time Vex might have released something even better than VexNet and Cortex, so you might want to just buy it when it comes out then for the competition team.
Thank you for your advice. Yeah it sounds like RobotC is the way to go then. The students that I will have in my class next semester will only have taken a college level AC-DC circuit class- very basic. I can’t assume that they know anything about robotics, mechanics, etc. My feeling is even though the Carnegie Mellon curriculum is designed for high schoolers – I still think its advanced enough for an introduction community college class.
If I had to develop a curriculum from scratch – this would be a tonne of work. My plan is to combine existing material out there and supplement it with whatever extra I need. Andrew if you have the time – could you give us some links for college material that uses the vex system? I tried looking up MSAC and found a chap called Prof Mason – the website looks interesting with Vex project ideas but I couldn’t find what I would call a curriculum? I might need to look more.
Thanks again for your help. - Tim