New Products - September 2021 (VEX EXP)

I’m happy to announce something (again) that’s been a long time coming for us, VEX EXP!

VEX EXP is a complete redesign of the V5 System, but specifically for classroom use. Some highlights include:

  • New Robot Brain that is just a powerful as V5, but with 10 smart ports
  • Buttons on the Brain
  • Integrated Inertial Sensor, Gyro & Accelerometer in the Brain
  • Integrated Bluetooth Radios
  • International languages on the Robot Brain screen
  • Organized parts storage

We are now opening up pre-orders for the all new Education Kits and Bundles. Much like V5, we will only be accepting orders for Kits and Bundles for now, and will open up ordering for individual Brains, Controllers, Batteries, etc. at a later date.

With the launch of VEX EXP, we will be discontinuing the V5 Classroom Starter and Super Kits, and their respective bundles.

Barring any setbacks, (famous last words, I know) we expect pre-orders to begin shipping out to customers in Q4 2021.

You can find product pages for the new kits and bundles here:

And here are a few additional pages to answer any additional questions you may have

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reply below, or contact our Customer Service team!

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Will the new wheels and gears be available separately ?
Will the new controller be compatible with the “old” brain ?

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Argh - our district was in middle of provisioning V5 classroom for our middle schools - and now not being available at all puts a damper and means also platforms different in single school. Going to be rough figuring this one out.

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Did you happen to include ESD protection on those smart ports?

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The EXP battery and controller look familiar – are they the same parts as the IQ Gen 2 battery and controller?

Will the EXP brain be programmable with VEXcode V5 and VEXcode Pro V5, or will there be a separate, EXP-specific version of VEXcode?

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Looks like a good product line, v5 is very expensive for education purposes, and I’m sure having this cheaper, more education-suited line of parts will make a big difference.

I’m curious whether any of the hardware (new gears, wheels, and I’m sure other parts) will be made vrc legal?

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They are more or less essentially the same, but with some minor differences internally. Apart from being made in different color housings from the equivalent IQ 2nd generation products, the biggest difference is that the EXP Robot Battery uses higher capacity 2500 mAh cells (which also have a higher max discharge rating), as the V5 Smart Motors (5.5 W) have higher max current draw than the IQ Smart Motors.

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Yes, almost all new mechanical parts from the EXP kits will be available in separate add-on packs in the coming months. We’re really excited about some of them, as we started this project by going back to some of the “RadioShack era” V5 parts, and questioning every individual part on whether it still made sense in our kits, or whether we could improve it in terms of a classroom experience.

One of the subtle things that we improved was that we modified the dimensions of the C-channel so that it is actually 1/2" by 1" (which makes it way easier to build three-dimensional structures), and then changed the pre-cut notches from being every 5x holes to every 4x holes. We did not want this new kit to involve the need for any cutting in the classroom, and it’s really annoying to build mechanisms that alternate back and forth between even- and odd- length spacing / widths, so having the precut beam/plate/channel lengths in only even lengths vastly improves this experience.

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woah big change there, but it sounds better than the current c channels. Going in multiples of 4 seems odd, but that’s probably just because I’m so used to thinking about everything in terms of 5.
Will this new model of c channel eventually replace all c channel? seems like it’d be confusing to have two different types of c channel going around.

I also see a new motor type listed: V5 Classroom Motors.

are these different to the V5 workcell motors? I wonder, how does their power compare to v5 motors, and will they be competition legal in the future?

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We have always had ESD protection in Smart Ports. The issue has not been ESD protection as much as ESD generation. For EXP there are two significant improvements in that area. 1) The field that comes with EXP Bundles use tiles that dissipate ESD. This is the same for IQ field tiles. This helps eliminate the ESD generation caused when plastic game objects slide on the tiles and when wheels roll on the tiles. 2) The wheels in the EXP kits use conductive rubber that drastically reduces ESD generation at the source.

For VRC the rollout of ESD floor tiles has reduced ESD generation. I will let @Art_Dutra_IV talk more about the future of ESD wheels.

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Could have gone metric and that would have a great change in modern world.

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The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it.

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Yeah… We all wish we had a time machine to go back to the RadioShack era VEX kits and change those to standard metric default. We’ve seriously considered it several times, but switching from 24DP to metric module gears, changing from #8-32 to M4, or similar minor changes would cause a lot of problems with our existing users getting confused.

We’re also not a fan of the irrational chain pitch of the V5 High Strength Chain / Tank Tread, because as far as we can tell that was meant to be 35P (0.375" pitch), but had a typo in the original RadioShack era design requirements document.

We try to make as much as possible metric default. There is a really nice coincidence that nearly every fractional inch diameter wheel ends up at a nice nominal metric circumference, which is why we are updating wheel sizes to list the inch diameter and metric circumference. E.g. 3.25" (260 mm Travel) Anti-Static Wheel.

We also design everything internally fully in nominal metric values if that counts. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Ouch! Love the continous improvement but hate that none of this is communicated until so late. We purchased 53 Super IQ kits and 12 V5 super kit bundles in the past couple of years. Now both are already yesterday’s news. I think VEX could garner some more goodwill if they made announcements about things coming down the pike sooner rather than later.

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I’m sure there are many talented engineers working on the V5 system and that a lot of thought and care has been put into designing it, but that doesn’t mean people, and more over companies don’t sometimes make mistakes.

The RS-485 transceivers in the V5 (by far the part most commonly killed by ESD) do contain some ESD protection built in, however, only to a fairly limited capacity. The datasheet for the part in question states at the bottom of page 20 that, “Although the SN65HVD178x family is internally protected against human-body-model ESD strikes up to 16 kV, additional protection against higher-energy transients can be provided at the application level by implementing external protection devices.” It then goes on to show and describe a typical application circuit containing TVS diodes on the data lines to protect against higher levels of ESD discharge. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I do not see any such protection diodes (or any other external protection) in the V5 or any of the sensors / motors that I’ve examined.

I’ve heard rumblings that VEX didn’t deem it a necessary problem to fix due to the V5’s largest target market supposedly being the classroom; and while I disagree with this reasoning due to the poor experience it gives your competition customers, I’m obviously not a VEX employee so all I can do is accept it. However, with the release of the VEX EXP system, that reasoning makes even less sense as now there’s a separate device targeting classroom use relegating the V5 to, as far as I’m aware, primarily competition use.

I (and I’m sure others) would greatly appreciate a proper response that addresses our concerns with ESD protection on the V5 system other then just the usual, “We have always had ESD protection in Smart Ports.” Thank you for your time and consideration.

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Looks like the comparison page has the wrong battery capacity listed.
It has been updated.

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Did not expect robot parts to reduce in cost. Thank you to the VEX Engineers for reducing cost and streamlining the platform.

I also like the new EXP product name.

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EXP isn’t meant to replace V5, it’s a part of the V5 ecosystem. It’s a lower cost control system so more schools have access to them, as the regular V5 system is pretty expensive if you’re trying to buy many at a time.


Source: EXP FAQ - Products - EXP - VEX Robotics

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Not necessarily “new” products, but VEXpro 2" Mecanum Wheels have just been cross-listed on the V5 website, making them VRC Legal.

Note: These Mecanum Wheels must use V2 VersaHex Adapters (also found on the page) so that they can be used with High Strength Shafts.

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Re: “We have always had ESD protection in Smart Ports. The issue has not been ESD protection as much as ESD generation.”

Our teams (mostly our volunteer parents/mentors) spent thousands of dollars on new brains and anti-static tiles. Last season we took every possible precaution and because of the pandemic only competed in LRT/LRS competition on our own field. The best we were able to do is fry ONLY 4 ports on a brand new brain. This came out of nowhere, as we were practicing for skills. It also happened in the middle of a match when our robot lost a drive motor. Symptoms always the same for us. Motor stops responding. First instinct is to panic. Second to blame the programmer. Third to blame anyone who did not tighten a shaft collar and let the shaft come out. Fourth to replace the motor, has to be it right? Then cynicism steps in, panic moves to the side and experience whispers “it is always a dead port on the brain you bozo”. The port is blinking a faint red. We already have a test motor just for that. It is labeled “test motor” so we know it is a good one. Plug it in, it also blinks - we know port on the brain is dead. Move to a different port, rename/reprogram, go back to what you were doing before. A frustrating waste. It is always the TI RS-485 transceiver chip on the brain that burns, not the one inside the motor. For us at least it is. We stopped mentioning it because invariably the answer is the same. Well you did not spray with antistatic. Well your room is too dry, you did not use a humidifier. Well you did not wear your antistatic bracelet, well you did not touch a grounded piece of metal - the field perimeter is not grounded you bozo. Well you are wearing socks - get rid of the socks, well your room has carpet - get rid of the carpet, well do this don’t do that. And now “We have always had ESD protection in Smart Ports”. These devices are supposed to handle the harsh conditions of robot competitions and constantly assuming teams did something wrong because ports on a $250 device burn or brains turn white and stop braining gets depressing and frustrating. Ports do constantly burn and we are not making it up and we are not all complete bozos (only a vast bunch of us). Those RS-485 chips (marked TI VP1782) are actually notorious for being super sensitive to ESD. At least PLEASE put those chips on a socket (surface soldering is not for the average bozo) so we can just get a bag of them (while supplies last, soon we’ll have to get them at 15x the price from scalpers like graphics cards or PS5) and replace them when they burn, just like good old fuses. Also, RS-485 chips more resilient to ESD seem to exist, at least as far as their datasheet goes (link). The TI datasheet specifically mentions the need for TVS diodes. Could be wrong / blind / bozo but can’t see them on these images, there are resistors and condensers, no diodes (link). Apparently without the diodes, the chip should handle 16Kv of ESD. According to Google a human body can produce max 15Kv (bozos walking in socks on carpet dragging their feet). So then how do these burn on antistatic tiles by just driving the robot around and not actually touching it? The more you learn, the more you don’t know. Again, ports on brains burning - whether we are bozos or not - a real thing, we are not making it up.

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