Just got some funding!! Where do i start?

I think i’ve locked up a cache of cash for robotics at school. Where do i start?

for a 20 student class…8 classroom bundles?..what do you guys think? Of course, i want to get the most for my money.

What other extras do i need?

thanks.

tom

1 Like

The absolute best thing you can do is contact the Educational Rep for your area. Click on this map http://www.vexrobotics.com/educational_reps.php to find the right person, call them or send them an email. Where are you?

Are you talking about the “VEX Classroom Lab Kit” on the Classroom Bundle Page.

With 8 kits, that would place 2-3 people at each Robot Kit… That might be a little too much work for that number of students, but it depends on your Students…

If you got 5 Classroom Lab Kits, then you could get a few of the items below…

The Additional Programming Kit will add a little bit to the cost of each Kit that it is bundled with, but you might not need to have a Programming Kit for each Classroom Kit, but you will want to have some Programming Kits.

Also a few of the Advanced Sensor Kit and Advanced Drive Kit, would be a great help in building more flexible robots, which if you have some Students that are really into build Robots, they will appreciate the extra, advanced parts.

Thanks for the replies!! I’m in Southern Illinois and I’m really jacked up about this… I’ll reread your replies.

MARKO: I was going to get the $150 programming kit (EASYC Pro) but Why would i need additional programming kits?

Based on what i read in another thread, I suppose i should buy several extra servos/motors (are they thesame, btw?)

Also, should i get the rechargable power pack and a BWM bundle?

I would get some extra motors, especially if you want to build more complex robots.

Motors and servos are very different. Servos only rotate a certain amount (I think 100 degrees), but motors have no limit to the amount of rotation. Servos are good for arms or grabbers. Motors are good to drive the robot.

One thing you could do is get the minimum amount of parts and wait until the class starts so you will have a better idea of what parts you need.

You will need to read quite a bit, to get all the History… :wink:

Get some of your Students to join the Forum here and start reading and asking questions too… There is no cost and there is no limit, and we’re quite friendly… :wink:

Let’s start with, How far do you want to let the Students go with Vex??

Take a look at the Vex Robot Kits page. There are Three, slightly different Kits, based on the Protobot Kit for the Hardware.

  1. “Radio Control Starter Bundle”

  2. “Autonomous Control Starter Bundle”

  3. “Dual Control Starter Bundle”

These are the different ways you can control the Vex Robot…

The Programming Kit, EasyCPro or otherwise, has one Hardware Programming Cable and One License to Install the Compiler on One Computer.

If you want to have multiple teams develop Robots for “Autonomous Control” or “Dual Control”, you might want to have Multiple Vex Programming Cables and EasyC Pro Licenses.

If you combined the purchase of the EasyC Pro Programming Kit with the Classroom Lab Kit, it will add $100.00 to the Classroom Lab Kit Price. VexLabs adds the Hardware, at no additional cost, when you purchase the Compiler with the Classroom Kit.

It depends… Motors and Servos have different jobs… The Protobot/Classroom Kits have 4 Motors, and no Servos.

Motors are Continuous Rotation, Servos will only turn a Certain Amount and then stop… About 120 Degrees total rotation for Servos.

Wheels connected to a Servo won’t go very far… I believe someone has made a Walking Robot (with legs) using the Servos…

Servos are very good for motion that needs to move a short, finite distance, and back again… I have 6 Servos myself.

If you have Rechargeable NiCd or NiMH, AA sized Cells, you can use them with the provided Holders.

If you are going to compete and use the “new” VEXnet Radio System, you must have the Rechargeable Battery Packs.

Also, if you plan on buying AA Alkaline Cells, they have too much internal resistance for the High Current demands of the Vex System, and will not work well, and be very costly in replacing AA Cells. The Robots will be fine, if they are the only thing you have available for testing…

“Do you mean PWM bundle??”

On lager Robots, the distance from the Motor or Servo or Sensors can be further from the “Signal Splitter” or “Microcontroller” than the Built in Cable will reach… These are the Times when you need the PWM Bundle (bottom of page). If you are buy a few Classroom Kits, I would recommend getting a variety of lengths.

=========================================================

I must note that ALL my Vex Kits were from the “old days” (2006), when the Kits were $299.00 and had the “basics”, but were a little lacking, like 3 Motors and 1 Servo, and 4 of the 2" Wheels, but only 2 of the 4" and 5" Wheels… The Kits I am discussing here, are based on the Web Site, which to the best of my knowledge is the “official description”.

The new kits, like the Protobot, have 4 Motors, and 4 of each of the Wheel Sizes (2", 4", & 5"), plus other Metal. The “Protobot Kit” still needs to be combined with the VEX Signal Splitter, the VEX Microcontroller or upgraded to a Classroom Lab Kit, which would allow for “Dual Control”.

If you have Vex Kits with the Vex Controller, then you can Re-Program the Controller for specific tasks. The “Signal Splitter” makes your Vex Robot opperate “just like a RC Car”.

The “bottom line”, is “Where do you want to go with Vex”??

We have 11-12 year old guys doing Vex Robot Programming, so depending on the ages of your Students, you might have more or less “students” that find that “aspect” of Robotics interesting. If you have less Programming Interest, you might want to get just the One or maybe Two Programming Kits.

A great source for most of the information that you will need is on the wiki pages

You can also find the link at the top of this page in the dark gray bar.

I just read through this thread and no one has mentioned that a servo can hold its position. So, A servo can only rotate 120 degrees, but if you tell it to go to degree 100 (They aren’t accurate to degrees though) than even if you put a strain on it it will stay at that position. Motors can not do this because the potentiometer inside a servo will only rotate 120 degrees and a motor can rotate 360.

The Vex servos rotate 120 degrees and I have 120 posts;).

Vexer

True and fair enough but I still intend on taking over the world!

Onto my point…

If you want to teach kids how to build robots that is one thing, if you want to compete that is another and if you want to competitively compete that is quite different.

Kids building robots is easy, buy a few starter kits or a classroom package. have the kids read the manual and let them play around a bit. The scope of a starter kit in my opinion is rather limited though.

Competing is by far the best way for kids to learn. The simple element of competition will make them want to learn and give the program purpose. If you intend to compete, break the classes into two or more teams (less than 10 kids per team). Then have them brainstorm the competition problem, then devote a given amount of money to each team for parts. Somewhere around $400-$600. Part of the problem / game is resource management. Make the kids design a robot with a parts list. They can manage a budget.

Now, if your in it to win or at least do well. Make two teams. Arrange an after school club that meets at least once a week for several hours. Have the team extensively research the problem at hand, research other Vex teams and previous competitions. Once again devote money to each team for parts (this time around $600-$1200). Also you’ll need a Vex field with the current game hardware (somewhere around $2500 I think). Factor in going to one or more regionals and if you quality for the worlds go for it!

Pick one of those and the community will gladly help you!
-Cody

You don’t NEED a regulation VEX Field to compete… you can very easily build a “stand-in” field by following our low-cost field guide, or design your own.

If you decide to pick up a regulation field:
http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-competitions.shtml
Field Perimeter: $749.99
Foam Tiles: $189.99
Clean Sweep Competition Kit: $499.99

Total: $1439.97 (about $1000 less than what Cody mentions…)

If you want to go really nuts, you can add a regulation field controller for $199.99

Again… you REALLY don’t need the regulation field unless you’re hosting a VEX Competition.

-John

Well, since I AM a regional manager for educational robotics, I’ll tell you what I would tell anyone: It’s all about the funding, curriculum choice, and your educational goals. When you know what your goals and resources are, we can give you a better idea of which parts and programs are the best for you.

Intelitek, for example, has a complete 2-year curriculum for which we have bundled the necessary hardware and they include the EasyC software. You can read about it here: http://www.intelitek.com/admin/products/uploads/File/File1_404.pdf. Intelitek even has a training program to teach teachers how to use the program. This is something you would purchase from an Intelitek reseller, not directly from Innovation First (the VEX company).

Another good choice is the VEX Curriculum from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy: http://store.robomatter.com/vexcurriculum.html and http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/roboticscurriculum/vex_online/main_start.htm. It’s not as extensive as the Intelitek offering, but it is a popular choice. For this curriculum you would buy the Classroom Lab Kit and RobotC software from Innovation First ([http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-education.shtml) and the curriculum from CMU.

Our third curriculum includes less software and more design items. It’s from Autodesk, and is included in every Classroom Lab Kit. It includes modules on using Autodesk Inventor to design robots, but doesn’t have much on how to incorporate your own software.

A teacher can also, of course, choose to develop his own lesson plans and not use one of the prepackaged choices.

When it comes to building robots in the classroom, the fewer the students per robot, the better. Your goal should be two students per robot. Any number higher than that is not as good.

If you have infinite money, the perfect kit is the Classroom Lab Kit with your choice of EasyC Pro or RobotC software, the Classroom Advanced Sensor Kit, the Classroom Advanced Drive Kit, and the Classroom Pneumatics Kit. With any leftover money, buy extra motors, the high-strength gear kit, the high-strength chain kit, and some omniwheels of both sizes. You can easily spend more than $1,000 per pair of students – and even more if you buy curriculum.

So, it’s all about the money. Figure out how much you have and the contact Marc Couture at marc@vexrobotics.com. Marc is a great guy and can help you figure out the best combination of programs to meet the educational goals of your school.

Now, if your primary goal is to set up a competition robotics team or want to do VEX as a hobby, this forum is your best resource. People like pjohn1959, Technic-RC, Smartkid, the 254 folks, JoshShadowfax, and a bunch of others are very successfully involved in VEX competitions, and others like Vexer, MarkO, tswift1, GGCO, Quazar are genius hobbyists. (There are a LOT more people in both these categories, these are just the ones I thought of first.)

And John V-Neun knows everything…](http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-education.shtml) and the curriculum from CMU.)

Great replies!!! I am indeed slightly familiar with vex robots as I attended a training this summer. I teach in highly successful private middle school in southern Illinois.

My plan is for an elective class w/ 15-20 students. I want enough kits to give the kids and option of 2-4 per group. Initially, they will build the basic designed bots. Then, we could begin solving ‘clean sweep’-like tasks. assuming i get the $1500 for the field, I would like too. We could then have exhibitions/open houses, you know?

I found out today that SIU will be having a competition this year. Perhaps this is an option. Like i said, we are middle school, but some hghly interlligent minds, nonetheless.

here is what I’m thinking…

the 8-pack for $5700 or the 4-pack for 3000 and a couple of $500 kits.
extra motors & servos
rechargable battery pack
a programming CD or two, or three
field $1500
a couple of other things that i cannot think of at the moment.
will i need to buy better screwdrivers, tools?

tom

. Intelitek even has a training program to teach teachers how to use the program. This is something you would purchase from an Intelitek reseller, not directly from Innovation First (the VEX company).

Another good choice is the VEX Curriculum from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy: http://store.robomatter.com/vexcurriculum.html and http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/roboticscurriculum/vex_online/main_start.htm. It’s not as extensive as the Intelitek offering, but it is a popular choice. For this curriculum you would buy the Classroom Lab Kit and RobotC software from Innovation First ([http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-education.shtml) and the curriculum from CMU.

Our third curriculum includes less software and more design items. It’s from Autodesk, and is included in every Classroom Lab Kit. It includes modules on using Autodesk Inventor to design robots, but doesn’t have much on how to incorporate your own software.

A teacher can also, of course, choose to develop his own lesson plans and not use one of the prepackaged choices.

When it comes to building robots in the classroom, the fewer the students per robot, the better. Your goal should be two students per robot. Any number higher than that is not as good.

If you have infinite money, the perfect kit is the Classroom Lab Kit with your choice of EasyC Pro or RobotC software, the Classroom Advanced Sensor Kit, the Classroom Advanced Drive Kit, and the Classroom Pneumatics Kit. With any leftover money, buy extra motors, the high-strength gear kit, the high-strength chain kit, and some omniwheels of both sizes. You can easily spend more than $1,000 per pair of students – and even more if you buy curriculum.

So, it’s all about the money. Figure out how much you have and the contact Marc Couture at marc@vexrobotics.com. Marc is a great guy and can help you figure out the best combination of programs to meet the educational goals of your school.

Now, if your primary goal is to set up a competition robotics team or want to do VEX as a hobby, this forum is your best resource. People like pjohn1959, Technic-RC, Smartkid, the 254 folks, JoshShadowfax, and a bunch of others are very successfully involved in VEX competitions, and others like Vexer, MarkO, tswift1, GGCO, Quazar are genius hobbyists. (There are a LOT more people in both these categories, these are just the ones I thought of first.)

And John V-Neun knows everything…](http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-education.shtml) and the curriculum from CMU.)

My goal is to offer these students opportunities. The more the better. Funding is not always there, and if do get a chunk of change, i want to get as much as i can. I foresee competing competitely…perhaps not right away. That is why i also want the field, …so we can have our own competitions.

w/ 20 kids, I think 8 classroom kits would work…a bit more than 2 per group.

Wow, where did I get those numbers from? I apologize I honestly thought that a Vex field (fully stocked) was $2,000. Maybe my previous director stretched it in one of his “we need money” rants. Again sorry, I should have verified that.

Also, having the real field is/was REALLY nice. I did mention it as the 'if you want to go all out" kind of category. I still recommend investing in one if your extremely serious about this. Autonomous programming should be done on a real field (in my opinion).

Hey, I’m at college right now. By virtue of which my brain is being leached and only working at 60% capacity. I didn’t bother looking up the numbers because these computers have a crapppppy Internet connection! Maybe I’m just pampered at home ~ 27 Megabit connection :smiley:

Anyway…

Again:

  • Just a class project: Starter Kits or Classroom bundle

  • Competition team: Have students design the robot with materials in mind and whatever budget you can give them. Also keep money for the event(s) and a low cost field.

  • 3rd place or grater in the world: We had a real field and spent about $1,500 on our international bot. Keep in mind that year we built three different robots in the season for three events.

DISCLAIMER: Numbers may appear larger than they really are when I am at college!

In addition, can’t the “Field Perimeter” and “Foam Tiles” be reused each year, because they’re the same??

Just the “Game Specific Pieces” would need to be purchased or made each year.

Unless you have a real clear Direction, or Experienced Professional Mentors to direct your Lesson Plans, I would suggest the prepackaged choices. You can decide as you go, if the packaged choices work for your Classes, and gain insight in to how you can make it better for your future Classes.

I don’t think that this part is so “cut and dried”. It comes down to Personalities, Engineering Prowess and Vision, as in Visionary.

I personally like One to Two Students per Robot Kit, but I am a Robot Hobbyist at heart. :wink: If I am working on an Idea, the more people, the more they “get in the way”.

But if you have Students that are not Leaders, Natural or Made, and not real confident with their Mechanical Skills or don’t have a Vision that they are willing to try for (and possibly fail), you might find that a Group of 3-4 might be better. This lets the “team” function as a Group, something that most Humans desire to be in. In a Group without Firm Direction, someone is bound to be promoted to Leader, even if they really are not quite confident with being leader, but the Group Support will encourage them to move forward with their idea.
Girls are usually a little more “reserved” than Boys, but I will put my 11 year old Daughter, who now has 3 years of working with Vex Robots, up against any of your Students. Because I know that she has Confidence and Engineering Prowess (With Vex and otherwise) and Vision. But not all Girls, and some Boys have that… Vex Robotics is an area where they can Grow those Skills…

After your “Larger Groups” gain Confidence, Engineering Prowess and Vision, then the One to Two People per Robot will be essential. Your Students will be just getting in each other way, trying to implement new ideas.

Just so you know, I am not picking on Girls… I have 4 Daughters, and 1 Son (he is the Youngest). I encourage all my Children to follow wherever their Dreams lead them.

Having some of all the Metal and Sensors gives the students, Maximum Flexibility in their designs. You are bound to find at least One Student that makes Robotics their “Passion and Hobby”… They will want a few of Everything VexRobotics has… :wink: The specifics come down to, Do the Students like Building the Robots (Structure) or making them interact with their Environment (Sensors and Programming).

Thanks Rick, for your Vote of Confidence…

And Tom, encourage your Students to Jump In and try things… The Vex Robots are quite Robust and you won’t break things by just touching them…

I don’t know if your School has blocked YouTube but here is the Innovations First Inc./Vex Channel. Check out the Robots built with Vex Parts, just so that the Students will see what can be done.

Thanks Marko!! I have stirred a lot of interest through Youtube. Actually, we watched that video in 8th grade literature this afternoon. My principal wants a list tommorrow of what i want. He basically said to think big, so this evening I am going to put together a ‘wish list’.

My principal found a prep school for students w/ learning disabilities about an hour from me. The have an international team. If interested, search ‘Brehm Robotics’.

Thanks a bunch, folks!! You have been a great help for the 17 hours I’ve been on this site.

tom

I was recently advising a few middle schoolers who are starting a team - here’s the advice I gave them*, which seems applicable to many rookies:

Buy whatever bare essentials you’ll need for your group, based around the most expensive elements (microcontroller, transmitter, possibly WiFi). For 20 students, I’d recommend 4-5 microcontrollers and no more than 8 transmitters. If you choose to buy the WiFi kits, buy one kit per microcontroller. Buying the bundle packs is a good deal, but don’t use all your money on them. Also, since you have a substantial “cache of cash,” buying a field is actually a good investment right now - you’ll only have to buy the perimeter and tiles once, and they last a very long time. With regard to the programming kit - it is nice to have more than one license and cable, but you can always have kids take turns using a single laptop. Usually, they won’t all be programming at once. 1 computer for 2 groups has worked for us in the past; 1 for 4 is pushing it, especially as tournament time approaches.

Once you’re done with the bundle packs, programming kit, and field, take a serious look at the individual products. Some we’ve found pretty valuable (omni-directional wheels, C-channels, etc.) by themselves, but buying the packs and kits are probably the best bet for starting a team (Booster Kit, Hardware & Metal Kit, etc.). Unless you are really rolling in cash, you won’t need some of the more expensive/extravagant items (aluminum, pneumatics, 1/4" pitch metal, etc.).

About batteries: if this is a casual classroom activity, you don’t need that many. The ones that come with the bundle packs should be enough. If you do intend on competing though, the more batteries the better.

In my sophomore year of high school, my old middle school successfully started a VEX team and went to World Championships in the same year, with pretty minimal funds. Teams 83 and 394 are both very successful middle school teams - 83 won the World Excellence Award two years ago and 394 took third in Programming Skills at this past World Championship.

Form a team - go for it! You’ll be surprised at where you can end up.

  • I am a high school senior, not a teacher. Although we have never been short of money in the traditional sense, our club often serves a very large amount of students, which affects the recommendations I give. At present, we have over 60 people in our competitive VEX program, which makes any amount of parts seem too small…

How many computers do you have in the room? The licensing for programming is very rigid. If you buy one CD (or license), you get the use on one computer, no more.

For 8 stations, you might consider the 10-seat license. Or the 20-seat license if you think you’ll expand eventually.

I’m jealous – oh, for an expense account!

Glad that the YouTube Videos were “inspirational”! :wink:

If you have the Budget you seem to have been promised, go for the 8 kits with Programming Kits (at least half of them), because you are bound to have some Programmers in your Classes. Also all the Extras you can afford, Metal, Sensors, & Batteries.

Very nice… They compete in USFIRST Competitions, as FRC Team 2219 at Brehm Preparatory School.

I myself have been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. My Youngest Daughter has High-Level Functioning Autism. Her older sister has Aspergers Syndrome like me. These are all related Autism Spectrum Disorders.

We are Glad to be of assistance…