New team help needed

I agree with @Railgunawesome with the super kit. I would also like to note that many teams don’t have fields, and you don’t need one to be competitive at competitions. Though it is hard to program an autonomous.

Actually, that may be not the best option given this budget limit. Super Kit is $1499 and has a lot of parts that are unlikely to be used by the first year team. For example, V5 camera, high strength shafts, extra wheels, sprockets, and gears.

Yes, when those parts are packaged in a kit, they may be cheaper, but if $70 V5 camera is going to sit on the shelf - it is dead weight, regardless if it came at a discount price.

On the very tight budget, I would get $899 Competition Starter Kit and buy extra parts separately, on as needed basis.

For example, in addition to the Competition Starter Kit (276-7030) $899, I would get:

Order Total from VEX: $899 +$401 => $1300

Then I would get extra screws, rubber bands, mesh, spacers, and tools from https://www.robosource.net

RoboSource total: $81

Finally, you need to get a couple of good organizers for your small parts, like Plano 3600 or 3700 series that could be found in Walmart fishing section under $10.

This all will cost you less than Super Kit, and leave some funds to cover additional parts that you may need later or an extra competition registration fee.

I would argue that the second battery and going to one more competition has much more value for a new team than the vision sensor or a bunch of unused gussets, even at discounted prices.

Edit: itemized all parts

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Thanks guys for your comments.

technik3k, you have made my job much easier . I am literally going to take your list and order it so we are ready with everything.

What tools do I need to order for the kids?

What do you think of this supplement kit -

I was thinking of having the kids create a mock up of the field by purchasing some field elements so we can program the autonomous challenge.

Where would be a good place to purchase the tiles. It seems expensive on the Vex site.

Please pardon my endless questions! We kick off this weekend so I’d like to get everything ordered ASAP.

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That supplement seems to offer a good variety of parts for your robot. You definitely would want that if you have the budget.

The booster kit is mainly steel, if you want to be competitive, aluminum is a better option.

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Please, do not order Booster Kit, because it contains a lot of steel channels and those should be avoided. Competitive robots use aluminum parts with very rare exceptions.

This thread talks about alternative foam floor tiles: Cheap Alternative Tiles
Also, there is some additional cost saving discussion here: VEX Cost Reductions

You don’t really need full field. 8-12 floor tiles and a couple of game objects (cubes) will be plenty at the beginning.

The most important tools are T15 star screwdriwers and 11/32 wrenches that are available from https://www.robosource.net/27-tools

Edit: moved itemized https://www.robosource.net parts to my previous post

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I do agree that in general steel is avoided, but the competition starter kit has good amount of aluminum that could be used on an arm. The booster kit should suffice if you don’t mind having a steel base (it just slows you down some).

errrmm… the only time my team used steel was to build wallbot…

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Is there a quality difference that would be an issue if we go with Home Depot or Walmart tiles?

How do you guys program autonomous without the actual field?

@technik3k Thank you for your detailed itemized list.

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You would just need to estimate distances based on the field to program it, but it would be harder without an actual field. I’m guessing your best way to test would be at a competition or using another teams field.

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@technik3k I was going through your list. There is only $200 difference between what you listed and the Superkit. Should I just go ahead and get that or would I need these “miscellaneous parts” anyway?

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it depends on how much you want to expand. If you want to use all the advanced things, then I think you should just get the super kit. If you stick with the basics, then save the 200.
Your call.

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In either appendix A or B (if u know please respond), there are field specifications. One of the pages shows the distance of objects from the field perimeter

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Foam floor tiles from most of the manufacturers are very similar with one side being smooth and another having some sort of the ribs or dimples. VRC field has them smooth side up. It might be hard to describe the difference in texture and firmness of the tiles, but once you see and touch official tiles, it will be very easy for you to recognize if specific tiles are compatible. I think you could find such tiles in any of major hardware stores.

Also, most of the beginner teams don’t have any autonomous until January - February time frame, so you will have plenty of time to get your field setup.

It is more like $250, because with Super Kit you don’t get a second battery, which I think is very important to have. If you can afford a total budget of $2500 - $3000, then I would suggest to buy Super Kit.

But if you want to try to stay under $2000 then, in my opinion, Starter Kit plus some extra parts is a better choice because it lets you concentrate your funds on the items that are important. Also Starter Kit has some nice pre-cut structural pieces that are not included with larger kits.

Later in the season, you may want to buy additional items that are not included in either of the kits (like longer standoffs, limit switches, potentiometers, or ultrasonic sensors) and you will need those saved funds.

Additional, highly recommended, items like antistatic spray and magnetic micro-usb programming cables (1), (2) will quickly eat into your reserve funds.

You also need to plan to attend one or two early competitions as a spectator and talk to mentors on some more established teams to give you tips and/or let your kids follow their students for a couple of hours.

On the limited budget, you really want your money to have the largest impact, and that will ensure that your $100 registration fee for the first competition is not wasted if your kids are not familiar with the process.

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@technik3k
Ok, I will get the starter robot kit. Should I order all of the miscellaneous parts you listed up front or order as needed? I think there is going to be a price increase 11/1.

I wish Vex has the option of ordering tiles for half the field which would have been more economical.

This website sells them individually and it states they are “official”

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Yes, it would make sense to order all items at once, to save on shipping and handling, unless your local VEX reseller offers free shipping (https://www.vexrobotics.com/how-to-order#resellers)

Those SoftTiles still look expensive. I think we got ours in Harbor Freight for $8.99 for the package of 4. Got total of 8 tiles and that is plenty for building and testing.

I would give higher priority to getting antistatic spay and magnetic microusb cables rather than the tiles.

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What is anti static spray? I have never seen that used before. Though you may want to get some compressed air for your motors to prevent overheating.

Antistatic spray is used to prevent accumulation of the static electricity on the field tiles, robot wheels, and any other non-conductive surface.

During the winter months when HVAC heated air gets dry inside the buildings, static electricity can accumulate and ESD (electro static discharge) could damage sensitive electronics.

V5 brain and motors happen to be missing robust ESD protection and this resulted in a lot of damage last season:

V5 brain ports break continually
7 BLOWN PORTS IN LESS THAN A WEEK!?!? What a joke.
How Do You Fix Broken Ports For v5?
V5 Ports Keep Dying
V5 White Screen Call for Replay?
Broken V5 Smart Ports
… and more …

To avoid costly equipment damage VEX recommends using antistatic spray in their Knowledge Base article: https://help.vex.com/article/148-vrc-team-esd-notice

Getting large bottle of spray makes perfect sense if you have full field and/or hosting competitions.

For the small setups (like 8 foam tiles sitting in the basement) there are cheaper alternatives. For example, we use laundry dryer sheets that contain some antistatic to wipe our tiles and robot wheels every couple of weeks, once we start heating the house.

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Based on seeing this I can see why one would want anti static spray

Is Harbor Freight tiles, the same quality as the Vex ones? Did you get it and the anti static spray at a store or online?

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