Complaints with Vex

I was bequeathed a large number of obsolete printed transparencies. It’s our intention to cut transparencies to our hearts’ content, then copy the final product onto Lexan, trusting that tin snips truly do the trick.

I’m always in awe of people who see “the sky’s the limit”, and while there’s something extremely appealing that about that philosophy, I must admit that the contrasting (though not opposing) philosophy of “bring up the bottom,” or perhaps “make something of little” has been more my motto. The first raises the bar, while the second broadens the base. Interestingly, you need both to build a higher mountain.

Interestingly, this is one of the biggest challenges we face at VEX. We are constantly debating between “low hurdle” and “sky’s the limit”. This debate is most prevalent during game design discussions and product development discussions. Striking this compromise is not an easy thing!

We NEVER want to do anything to upset our customers. One of the cool things about VEX is that there is no “one” way to use it, our customers are using it in 50,000 different ways. Unfortunately, since our customers are using VEX in so many different ways it is sometimes tough for us to please everyone. As a result, we are constantly trying to find a balance which keeps as much of our great community as happy as possible.

During the opening ceremony of this year’s VEX Robotics Competition World Championship I challenged users to approach me and provide criticisms, compliments, and challenges for the future. We pride ourselves on working very closely with our customers and being receptive to their feedback. It was awesome to have so many people (ranging from young to old, tinkerers, students educators, and professional engineers) come up to say “hi” so we could talk about our products and programs. I’m happy that most of the people I talked to understood that it isn’t just as easy as “that’s a good idea, we should do that” and that there are often many considerations that go into our decision making.

What you can count on is that VEX is committed to providing high value products and programs to our customers. We want to continue to serve you with the level of service you’ve grown to expect.

If you have any feedback (positive or negative) or if there is anything you’d like to see us consider in the future, please feel free to post it on these forums or shoot an email to [EMAIL=“support@vexrobotics.com”]support@vexrobotics.com. Believe me when I tell you the right person will eventually see your message.

Sorry for the rant, but something in Yolande’s message struck me, and I felt the desire to reemphasize what we’re trying to do, and how you can all help us do it!

Take Care,
John

PS - I’ve got a “new product idea” list that is just over 150 items long. They’re coming… it just may take us longer to get to some of them than others.

This is the first game where a Squarebot can’t compete successfully. Protobot is iffy, Protobot with a claw might. So the low hurdle is now higher, but I think thats now a good thing. Competition is a step past the basic robot

A good thing since most of us are the vocal majority that left FTC to follow VEX :slight_smile:

Well shucks, if I had known that I’d have Steve go to the Firefight and I’d gone to Worlds. But I’m going to guess that you heard about the things we want and don’t want.

I’m going to guess that what I want is on that list too (and the turntable / lazysusan is #1 right John? hint … hint)

But to give someone (*) credit, the VEX platform has been amazing. In the last 4 years I’ve seen my roboteers and other teams build robots that stop me in my tracks. I’ve seen pictures of the teams in Dallas and I’m blown away with what they have built.

The new plastic is fine and we will use that. Most of the 150 things we want are available now. Go buy 1000 turntables and mark them up and ship them. (or drill a number of holes at 1/2" increments and mark them up more :rolleyes: ) Buy Sharp IR sensors an spray paint them red. But I think that we’ve reached the point that “close” is good.

I know that you are in the business of selling robot parts. We know that the competition side is a small part (3000 Teams vs. all of the TSA teams and all of the school districts) of your business. So maybe “close” won’t work for them, an idea is “VEX Competition Components” for those of us that demand more.

But my job is inspiring roboteers, teaching righty tighty (etc), design, engineering and problem solving skills.

I’m a huge fan of ManicMechanic’s work, and don’t think for a second I’m not going to push alongside (hey, robots from a stone, a new phrase!"). I have new roboteers each year and pushing them up the mountain is hard, but not impossible.

We are going to move the mountain. Four years ago I had a teaspoon. Today I have a shovel. I asked for an earthmover, but feel free to deliver a trans-dimensional vortex substance conveyance.

(*) Side note, VEX stuff rocks, you should post on the wiki how they came up with this. A.C. Gilbert was a smart guy, but VEX is a step above.

I for one completely agree with this. At the end of every year, I ask my entire team to keep going. There is so much to learn, and there is always something new you can try… As a PR guy, my goals are always easy to expand. I can just try to reach a few more people next year… But the real challenge comes when you reach the point where you feel like you have exhausted every single idea you possibly could. I think it is here, and only once you have reached this point when you can really start growing.

Vex has done a great job at making it so you can reach this point, but then have thousands of different paths you can take to expand your experience, and make sure that everyone learns something.

I applaud Vex for what they have done, and for their lack of “politics”, for lack of a better word. They make it easy to get in, easy to learn, and they don’t try to control you the entire way… I particularly like how affordable everything is, and while some people might have a problem buying the parts from the official company, I see it as a way to help keep the prices low, and make sure everyone can get a chance…

Thanks to all the people at Vex for doing what you do!

One of the best things about vex in my opinion is that they do an awesome job of keeping things fair. I feel like i have said this before but i am a FIRSTer as well and what i have noticed is that although there is a budget in place there are a million ways around it. You can get things donated by sponsors and what ends up happening is that teams with great sponsors are able to do very little work because the sponsors are doing so much. One of the teams in my area is literally handed two robots from their main sponsor, one to ship and one to practice driving while the other ships. Vex does an awesome job of keeping things in check. Vex does an excellent job of evening out the field so even if a team decided the mentors would do all the work they still wouldn’t gain any real advantage.

I can not thank the Vex staff enough for working so hard to make a product that we enjoy as well as for trying so hard to take all of our suggestions into consideration.

~DK

I know you probably get a lot of requests for new parts, and everyone has their own special thing they would like fixed, but just me personally, the most complaints I heard while talking to other teams was the sensors. I have worked with all of the sensors, (with the exception of the accelerometer) and while some of them are really great, it seems like most of them are lacking…

The Bumper Switch and the Potentiometer are both excellent, but maybe it’s just me, but I have found the Ultrasonic, Limit Switch, Light, and Quadrature sensors to be both of weaker construction, as well as very buggy when using.

Maybe this is just me, so if anyone has any suggestions to improve the sensor performance, then please, by all means let me know…

Just my two cents for improvements…

we have at least 3 limit switches with the tabs broken off
is there a competition legal way to fix that?
and i also like the encoders
those and the pots are a programmers best friend :slight_smile:

That is what my programmer keeps telling me… I have worked more and more with them, and they always seem to work fairly well… (minus a few bugs that each team has to sort out…)