New to competitions

I teach at Olive Peirce Middle School in Ramona, CA. I am looking to enter my school into a few vex competition for the first time. Does anyone have any recommendations as good starter competitions? Also, we use the older vex transmitters because they cost a great deal less. Does this matter? Finally, below is the link to the kits we use minus the transmitters. Will they work sufficiently? Thanks for your time, Shane

The PLTW kit you have seems to have Cortex micro controllers. These are incompatible with the old style transmitters. You will need to have a Joystick Controller and two VEXnet 2.0 USB keys…

This [Gateway Upgrade Kit - PLTW]]( should get you competition ready.

Go to and use the map interface to find events near your location. You can contact the RECF regional manger for suggestions of good venues for first timers. Pretty much every team is welcoming and happy to help at events.

  1. Go to Robot Events to register teams, find events near you, etc.
  2. Some (read few) competitions accept the outdated vex 75 mhz crystal radios as opposed to the newer VEXNet system. Using these controllers should greatly widen the number of competitions available.

Hello, Shane. I think you have had some good advice here – if you do not have a joystick for your Cortex controller, you will need one, plus two VEXnet keys. If you want to be competitive, you will also want more motors than the 4 that come in your kit, but there are a lot of options depending on your budget. I’ve been a VEX team coach for 10 years, and work for an authorized VEX Educational reseller in California. Feel free to send me a PM or email and I can give you some detailed suggestions on what you will need. We ship for free, too, and can usually get things to California faster than VEX can from Texas. Let me know how I can help. Our email for VEX queries is

Good luck!

All good advice. Also, go to the RECF site to see if you qualify for a new team grant. It is very hard to have a competitive robot on a shoestring budget. The good news is that there are funds available if you go out there and pursue them. After all, you’re training future engineers - this is in everyone’s best interests to fund and support.

You might contact established teams in your area. If they have been around several years its possible they will have a box full of the old 269 motors that they no longer need (I know my team does.)

Thanks for the responses. Very helpful. Looks as though we are going to have 20 kids.
I am going to purchase the following kits:

Two of the competition kit below
(this comes with the joysticks necessary for competitions)


Two of the kits below (There is quite a bit more parts yet no joysticks)

We will also have access to the Robot C Virtual Worlds which we be a plus. Thanks, Shane

Looks like a good start. You’re definitely going to need more motors and motor controllers, though. I’d plan for at least 10 motors per robot. Also, it don’t see the 9 V battery Vex Net Battery backup. You’ll need one of those per robot to be competition legal. Lastly, you might want to consider buying a set of game pieces so you can make sure your robot can manipulate them in the ways you plan on. Plus, like you point out, you will need one joystick per team.

Also something to consider for later - kids are hard on things. Joysticks take a beating. Might want some back ups. Motors can die, too.

Good luck!

Oh, you’re going to need software, too. At least one license - although, I’d recommend more than one so more than one team can program at the same time.

I have 32 laptops with Robot C ready to go. I imagine I can purchase the 9v battery vex net battery backup separately. I will definitely buy more motors. Thanks for the tips.

Its important to note about both of the kits you are looking at: all the structure is steel, and none of the structure is the maximum 35 unit (17.5") length. If you are looking for a base collection of parts for classroom instruction of robotics, that would be ok. If you are looking to make a set of parts to build competition robots, you may find you have a large portion of your purchase go unused.

Almost never used in competition: claw kit, chassis rails or bumpers, 30x15 base plates, any steel structural pieces.

I was in the process of making a wishlist for a complete competition robot at the vex store, but their site managed to conflate a shopping cart I had saved with the list… it is a mess.

TLDR: you are getting lots of parts that you may never use.

I agree with Doug. I think most of us have found that the kits arent really a deal. You pay about the same for individual parts (I’ve priced out a couple of kits). I’ll bet the people on here could help make a shopping list for you that would be much better for the same price - and it would contain stuff you’d actually use.

I made a list at the vex store that would be enough to build a single bot with many of the commonly used competition components. The total shipped is just under $2k per bot. Its likely that there would be several items a team would want that are not on this list, but it would be a better base purchase in my opinion.
Shopping Cart - VEX Robotics - competition bot.pdf (321 KB)

That list sums up the parts you will need pretty well.

However, I think that you would be better off buying hex screwdrivers (not the keys) like the one here Drivers are much quicker to use and while the driver I linked is a dollar more expensive than the Vex ones, I have found that the Vex drivers wear out really quickly (especially the ball ones).

Also, you may need to buy rubber bands.

Check the data: a couple years ago I price out all the kits and bundles, data is attached. The prices might be off a few dollars, but I have to disagree that there is no savings to be found. While I agree that most competitions don’t use the claw (so take $20 off the “savings” for a part you don’t use), many teams use plenty of steel, short pieces, and chassis rails in competition, especially those that are starting out.

Our team uses clawbots for basic training and for exhibition/demostration with the public, so nothing really goes to waste. You can find information about our 5S training workstation on our website.
bundle discounts.xlsx (9.68 KB)

Very interesting - especially the ones where the bundle price is higher than individual price!

Like your spreadsheet shows, the bundle price is only good if your saving is not eaten up by parts that you won’t use. It is very close in many circumstances - although the large bundles seem to save the most.

However, I noticed when I was looking at the same thing - that some packs would include 8 pieces where the bundle has only 6 pieces. So in order to compare prices, I would have to figure out how much an individual piece cost. It’s a little tricky. I don’t know if they do that on purpose or accident - but it makes the comparison a little more difficult.

I did…the rest of the spreadsheet (which I did not post) has every part down to the single piece, so I could calculate it for the bundle savings. Also, not listed, is that the old segmented and non-segmented angles, which are not sold separately and more, are thrown into a couple of the bundles for “free”.

The kits might make sense for a large school classroom program, but if you are just a small team starting out then I think you’re much better off just buying the stuff you need individually. The kits might offer savings but leave you with lots of stuff you wouldn’t have needed to buy.