New middle school club

First I would like to thank you for any and all responses. I am starting a middle school robotics club in the fall and I am trying to gather a needs list from some veterans.

If money wasn’t a concern, what kits and add-ons would be ideal to start a club with 2 robots?

Thanks again,
G. Cook

I have an Excel spreadsheet you can use for this – send an email to and I will forward it to you. The version you get will be for a “dream team” robot, you can change the quantities to fit your budget. Have fun!

The budget answer is to buy two VEX Classroom & Competition Super Kits. They are a very good value for a team starting out.

Rick, shouldn’t he perhaps wait until after the new product reveal on 4/21 or as VEX reseller, are you in the know that there will be no big changes?

VEX has publicly mentioned a Cortex replacement, but has not described how the Cortex/Joystick fits in with the new controller. If Mr. Cook can wait until after Worlds, it might be a good idea to hear what VEX announces before making a purchase. (I do not know what they are announcing.)

These parts

From the OSSR. Made to be a thrifty set of standard parts for a competitive robot any year.

I would personally stay away from the kits.

Thank all for your responses to this point, I am interested in pricing all of the options.

@Highwayman could you be more specific as to why you would avoid the kits.

Kits are good if you plan on using steel and the sets of sensors provided in them. If you don’t, then the net savings is not as much.

The kits are a good value for getting the Cortex and keys and a primary joystick. Those are some of the most expensive parts. A programming cable is another good one so you can program and debug wirelessly.

You will probably upgrade to high strength gears and other elements from the spreadsheet above. Nylock nuts, additional batteries, more motors, more shafts, more wires are all additional items you will buy as you design your robot next year.

You will also want a set of tools for cutting parts and some boxes to keep all this stuff.

Like others have said, you end up with a lot of stuff you won’t need/use after the first year or two once you become more familiar with the parts, more adept at building, and more competitive. The steel especially will sit in a bin that you don’t want to take from while wishing you had more aluminum.

:frowning: Basically

Considering joining the “VEX World Coaches Association” on Facebook, too. There is a bunch of free advice to be found and shared there.

I agree with those who are leading you away from the “competition kits”. If we could go back in time I would have skipped them and started with aluminum. There are so many parts in the comp kits that we have never used.

I also, believe it would be wise to wait until after Worlds. That way you don’t buy electronic equipment that you will then have to upgrade in the near future. I don’t know what exactly they are changing, but I have heard that even current 393 motors won’t work at full power with the new cortex.

I would be furious. Ain’t nobody got money for that!

I expect the following things:

  1. the present Cortex will remain usable for a while, so you don’t HAVE to buy the new system.
  2. in the past, when there was a change over like this, there was a buyback option. You would send in your old equipment in exchange for getting the new for half price. (not sure if that will happen this time, but it might)

What is true is the present Cortex is about 7 or so years old. It is WAY overdue to be updated. I have heard that the current motors will NOT work with the new system. I am not planning on buying the new system for all six of my teams. I will buy 2-3 for the first year, then the remaining ones later (just before the buyback option, if there is one, ends). It does not make me furious. It is the price of progress. We will have to wait and see if the new system is far enough above the current system in capability, reliability and ease of use to be worth the pain of change. After all, change is inevitable (except from vending machines. LOL).

Attached is a parts list for a single robot that I share with prospective new teams in our area. I am not a fan of the kits either as you end up with too many parts you won’t use. This list is a little overkill but contains most of the parts that my students use on their robots fairly consistently over the years. (5 Worlds appearances in the past 8 years). There are things on this list that you may already have or may get from sources other than Just make sure for parts that end up on the robots, that they are VEX or VEX equivalent. See the Game Manual for the specific wording of what non-VEX items you may use.
Note: This list is based on the current robot processor (the Cortex). As others have pointed out, a new processor and associated motors, sensors, etc. is expected to be announced at the World Championships during the 3rd weekend of April. You might want to wait until then to do your purchasing. The attached list will still be a decent guide to the main structure and pretty much all but the processor, motors and possibly sensors.
VRC Competitive Robot Parts List.pdf (338 KB)

Buyback would make it tolerable. We just will have virtually no money after Worlds, and we just bought a new cortex (I was going to wait until after Worlds, but our old one became literally unusable and we kind of wanted to keep competing). That’s not to mention that we would probably have to replace all out motors to remain competitive. Overall, fundraising is my least favorite aspect of robotics by far, and we already have a lot of fundraising to do.

Thanks so much for the input, you all have given me too much to ponder.

Now for my new dilemma. My principal has allotted approximately $2500 from this year’s budget, the catch I have to spend his money before April 6th.

What items can I purchase that will not be affected by any potential cortex change?

Thanks again!!!

Looks like you’re gonna want to stick to metal. Our robots in the past that have gone to worlds costed us about 2000 dollars, but I think a majority of that is spent on sensors, cortex, PE, etc. You can invest in structure and movement without worrying about the potential cortex change.

We tend to use mostly aluminum. We use a lot of 2 and 3 hole, and have a ton of 5 hole in stock. Torx screws are the way to go, we love them and all our teams are going to switch to using those. You will want plenty of spare motors, esp for middle schoolers. A few turbo kits are helpful also. A good robot will cost about 1-2000 dollars by state, and won’t ever be good enough for the team. They will want you to order specialty parts, and then they will begin to buy their own and work on it after curfew. Most of our high school teams do that, and one middle school team, (me) does that also. Also, I highly recommend a tool box and a robox. Tool box to take things to a competition, and the robox will carry the robot, some parts, a dremel, a laptop, and some other stuff. They are expensive, but work AMAZINGLY! They are even certified to fly in aircraft.

Every thing on the parts list that I posted above except the Cortex and Motors.