Questions from a rookie team

I’m attempting to setup a first year VEX team at my school in Australia. I’m very familiar with FTC and FRC and have participated in both programs for multiple years. I’m still trying to get around the concepts of VEX with help of the internet and this forum.

My team purchased 2 Cortex Clawbots prior to considering joining VRC. After obtaining some funding, we set out to purchase a Booster Kit and V5 Super Classroom kit, along with some more motors and batteries, and a second controller. I understand that we are using V5, which means the Cortex electronics are unusable.

I’m not sure if this is enough in the way of nuts, bolts, gears, motors and wheels for the robot, but it seems sufficient. I believe that, similar to FTC, we will need some quantity of sheet metal, which my school does not have. I was considering asking them to purchase some 3mm Aluminium sheet for use on the robot, as i do not believe that the pre-cut metal provided in the kits will be enough for a custom robot. We have a workshop with tools and such, but only steel, acrylic and wood materials. I understand that we can cut the metal that comes with the robot kits. How much aluminium should I get? Do teams usually make most of their robot chassis out of custom metal parts?

I believe we’re covered with students programming the robot with Modkit in VCS; I don’t believe we’ll be doing anything incredibly complex in the way of software, and VCS is relatively easy to use, which is good. Should I be sticking with VCS? We haven’t had much experience with it yet as a team.

On a final note, would it be better to make a practice field out of wood or to attempt to get funding for a proper field? I am unsure as to whether my school will let me buy a full field due to price.



I don’t believe you’re allowed to use sheet metal. Only metal purchased from vex authorized retailers.


There’s only one retailer in my country, which only sells metal through VEX bundles, so I guess that makes sense then. Thanks for the clarification.

Also, will I need smart cable crimpers, stock and connectors? Or will there be enough in the kits?

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You will need more cables, but get the pre-cut ones. Also, DO NOT USE VCS. It is terrible. The software is sketchy at best, and normal keyboard shortcuts do not work. Use VEXcode.

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Thanks for the heads up. There’s a few members on my team who are interested but very new to programming; While VCS was nice to use due to it including a graphical editor, I’ll see if I can start us off on VEXCode. Senior students might be able to use it more easily than younger students - Would you recommend any other non-VCS alternatives in case it’s too far of a jump forward?

Maybe Robot Mesh studio?

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PROS from purdue is pretty nice. It’s similar to VEXCode but I believe it is a bit more stable, don’t quote me on that though.

Robot Mesh Studio should be a similar alternative to VCS/VEXCode, since it includes a graphical editor (Blocky) and support for Python, C++, and JavaScript for V5 systems. It should be important to note that RMS can be used either on the web or by downloading the desktop version.

Another alternative to VCS is PROS, which includes C/C++ support for V5 systems. However, there aren’t many resources for teaching PROS other than the tutorials on their website compared to RMS, and difficulty-wise Robot Mesh might be an “easier” option. If the programmers on your team are already familiar with C/C++, however, PROS might be the better option.


He’s/she’s asking for beginners options. So NOT PROS. They aren’t pros yet, so they shouldn’t use PROS.

EDIT: For the people on discord, I am not a pro either.

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Well PROS isn’t too bad for beginners; once you get the hang of it, it becomes way easier. But to really familiarize with coding as @leeto_of_troy said, Robot Mesh is great. Personally, I started off with PROS.


Thanks all for the feedback. Nobody on our team is very familiar with C/C++ at all. I believe that using RMS is our best bet as we can use blockly at the most basic level if need be, however it’s likely that we’ll pursue a higher language. RMS is also a good option because you only require a Chrome extension for full use, all of our computers are non-PC and thus the desktop version is out of the question. I have had some issues with connecting to Cortex via RMS but that’s just likely me, and not the software itself.


Also, you can make a practice field out of wood but make sure you use proper foam tiles for the field, since you want to simulate the field as best as you can. If your school allows you to get the actual field, I would certainly recommend getting the actual VEX field. It’s a one time investment, and you can several years of use.


That’s a pretty weird statement to make. Imo, PROS might be better in the long run for new teams that wish to be ambitious later on.


I have recently tried PROS, and it wasn’t easy at all. And I am fairly experienced with programming. Just my opinion.

Good to know that both options are OK. Just saw that you can buy the game-specific parts of the field each year without needing to buy the foam every time, which is a relief. Thanks for your help.

Also, just a general question - How should I structure my team? I’ve already laid out plans to have ‘subteams’ like my FRC team - for mechanical, software and a drive team. Are there any other roles/responsibilities that I should probably allocate? There’s only one teacher/coach who is not very experienced, so most of it will be student guided until we (somehow) get more mentors.

Don’t forget to have a notebook. Also have a couple of designers who are also part of mechanical.


VEX is generally fairly doable without a significant number of mentors, as long as the students on the team(s) are passionate about it. So don’t worry too much about getting more mentors; focus on having a solid first season as a team instead.

But yes, the major lines for division of labor are generally hardware (mechanical/design) and software. It’s unclear from your post if you meant to have different people in each role, but drive team members usually also have roles in the development of the robot.

Tip: If you’re running short on driver practice time before a competition (which will inevitably happen), the programmer(s) may well be your best option for drivers, as they are already familiar with the controls from programming the robot.


This, and if you want to have a designated driver, make sure they manage to squeeze in driving time whenever they can. This way, they are comfortable even if there is no time for driver practice before a competition.