How does the vex net usb dongle work?

With the new vex net system how does the usb dongle work on the computer?

Does it show up as a serial/COM device or something else???

I am trying to figure out whether or not this device could be easily integrated into say a application. If its a serial device then its a piece of cake but other devices tend to get a bit trickier especially if you need special drivers and or library’s.

I like the simplistic nature of this product its just plug and play factory paired wireless units! However I’m thinking its going to be to simple, as in no settings and or configurations. That’s why I’m hooked on the blueSmirf modules from sparkfun every setting that you can imagine is in there and is easily configurable.

I’m not quite sure, but I hope it’s better than the FTC dongles. The pairing was terrible, and they often lost their connection.

Fortunately, it’s apples and oranges. FTC uses bluetooth while VEXNet uses WiFi.

Does that mean that the VEXNet dongle appears as network card to the OS and applications?

This should help answer your question. See this Wiki Page for more details on VEXnet. Specifically, look at the section “VEXnet vs. VEX PRO ARM9 + 802.11b/g”

The short answer is VEXnet’s WiFi protocol is not open for security, simplicity, and competition reasons. With the VEXnet upgrade, you will be able to wirelessly program and debug by plugging the orange cable from your PC to the VEXnet joystick while using easyC or ROBOTC. In later versions of easyC and ROBOTC, you will be able to plug a VEXnet WiFi adapter into the PC, allowing direct wireless download and debug without a joystick.

If you are trying to control and communicate with a robot with custom software on a PC over standard WiFi, then look at the VEXpro ARM9 controller. This unit provides open and unrestricted access to any WiFi network.

Are you NOT going to support “VEXnet’s WiFi” with MPLAB and mcc18 with the VEXnet Upgrade Bundle???

I see that the VEX Cortex Microcontroller replacement for the VEX Microcontroller, Uses the ARM Cortex M3 processor, so it would use a different Compiler.

Yes, MPLAB and mcc18 are supported with the VEXnet Upgrade. I just forgot to list them.

Thanks for the Clarification… :wink:

Looking Forward to ordering the VEXnet Upgrade Bundle. I also need to order a couple of those VEX Accelerometers. When finances allow…

Interesting, I hadn’t seen those new micro controllers before. The vex pro arm9 looks really nice. The increased motor current should prove to be really cool as well as the configurable wireless.

As for driving it from the computer I hope that the software interface will be changed. In easy c v2 I didn’t like the interface because you could only really control one motor at a time. I think that a GUI designer should be included. Nothing really complicated just a page that you can drag and drop menu items onto like buttons, text box’s, text labels ect… Allow the properties of the item to be changed like font, size, color ect… Then have a drop down menu so that you can choose what that item does like for a button you could select “Drive Motor 1” on click and “Stop Motor 1” upon release. For a textbox you would select something like “Show D/O pin 1 state”. Sort of a vb/ nockoff but with ease, simplicity, and no programming involved.

That would be really great because it really difficult to move the sliders in the online window when you need to test two or more motors at the same time.

I know this is a little off topic, but with the new VEXnet system, are you going to be able to program “2 microcontrollers into one”. For example, if a limit switch is pressed on microcontroller A, then it will cause a wheel to spin on microcontroller B. Is this what they mean when they say robots will be able to communicate with each other in the future?


If the robots can communicate with each other, then this will be possible.

You would have to develop a Protocol between the Two Robots for this to happen… This is something I am already working on… RO-CIP.

From the Description of the VEXnet Upgrade Bundle, the way the VEXnet TX Upgrade Module is “paired with” the VEXnet Microcontroller Upgrade Module, I would guess that Two VEXnet Microcontroller Upgrade Module, could be “paired together”, and use the Regular RX1 and RX2 for the Communication to the Operator Interface, that is the 75Mhz Transmitter.

When they said that 2 robots would be able to communicate with each other, I was thinking of something like Lego Mindstorms where the robots would be able to send messages to each other.

You could program the robots to respond to the messages they receive allowing them to work together to perform a complicated task - maybe that’s something that IFI has already thought of for a future game.

Anyway it works, it will add some interesting possibilities - greatly expanding what’s possible with VEX!

I can’t wait for it all to come out (Power Expander, LCD, VEXnet, etc.)

With the Pro this should be relatively straightforward since it’s simply two computers passing information over a network that’s as open and/or private as you want it to be.

I don’t see any way for the V0.5 or new Cortex controllers to communicate to each other over the wifi, especially since it’s running some form of proprietary security.

You should be able to do some form of communication using the 12 digital I/O ports. In theory you might even be able to rig up some infrared communication (heck, you might be able to do that now).

I don’t recall anyway to access the serial port on the vex micro controller in easy c v2. In easy c pro you might be able to but the only way I know you can access it is by using mplab. Once you have access to the serial port (read/write) and its settings (baud, parity ect…) you can start to make robots talk to each other. From this point on you just need a radio module to make the robots communicate. Deciding which module to use depends on if you need bi directional (transmit,receive) communication or 1 way communication, how robust the link needs to be, and how many settings you need. The easiest link would be a general radio link which costs $10 for a 1 way wireless link with a max 500ft range.



Setting these up is straightforward, its just simple wiring plus there are some good tutorials.

The next would be a pair of bluesmirf modules but they are $65 each so you would need $130 to get both but they are worth it. You get bi directional communication a 350ft range and dozens of settings (passwords, sleep mode, connections everything…).

And the final link would be an xBee module, these are nice because you can use many of them in a network. The expensive modules also have ridiculous ranges of like a max of 15 miles! (unless you use a huge antenna you will only get around 3 - 5 miles range)

Now if you want to go overboard I guess you could use cell phone modules and have your robots text each other information but that’s just straight up overkill…


This is good information, I’m not sure if it will help you guys but hopefully it’ll give you some ideas.](

Here is a complete sample project to use the serial port with EasyC Pro.


  • Dean

Back to robofreak’s post…

All that hardware looks great, but isn’t the new VEXnet system going to be able to do the same thing? Or would you have to connect one of those hardware pieces you suggested using Quazar’s wiring diagram?

I guess there is more than one option to transmit data…


Just a little refresher on the Vex Controller…

The Vex v.5 Controller has two RS-232 type Serial Ports, but at TTL Voltage Levels. (BTW, This Voltage Difference is one of the Reasons for the Orange Programing “Dongle”.)

One is the RJ25 connector on the Back, the other is the TX and RX connectors located on Top, with the Analog/Digital I/O connectors. (Note: The Vex Wiki and other Vex Documentation have the Pin Numbers of the RJ25 Connector Reversed, compared to the Numbering for RJ25, which is based on the Registered Jack Specification of the “Universal Service Order Codes” from Bell Labs in the 1970’s.)

The [ that meets your requirements. One Size (or Way), does not fit all.

one way](“”)