Should VEX U have less restrictions?

Did you watch the entire division? There were multiple robots in the VEX U division that were very different from any High School robot. In addition, funding is many times an issue with VEX U teams. Most colleges (and companies) aren’t quick to support VEX U teams at the moment.

This is also true. Team UVM released the first video of the general design that nearly all High School teams ended up building.

Either way, I don’t like using the word “copy,” as I don’t remember seeing any two robots from different schools that looked exactly alike. However, the general design was used by nearly all High School teams, most of which added their own special features, which usually meant adding a catapult, or some method of hanging, which UVM’s original design did not have.

I thought Owen made an 18" robot, because team UVM hadn’t been created at that point. But yes, I didn’t think of that.

True, I didn’t see all the robots in the VEX U division, and I shouldn’t make blanket statements like that. However, I just felt that VEX U should have a little more diversity.

Yes, you’ve right. Also more part allowances won’t necessarily fix this problem. There definitely were some different interesting designs in VEX U and high school. But of the matches I saw, most of them were the same design. I just was a bit disappointed was all, that there wasn’t more creativity.

The VEXU program is (although slowly) growing. Many of the teams in the VEXU division had never done vex before in high school so the lackluster robots are to be expected. This year should be a much different VEXU division, with a large group of high school students joining (including myself). OYES is a great example of what capable high school students can do in the VEXU division with the limitations of the design system.

I don’t think the solution is to give us more, when the majority of the teams can’t even make use of what’s allowed currently.

Hey everyone,

There’s some really good feedback and discussion in this thread. The GDC is definitely paying attention and will keep everything said here in mind as we go forward with our planning of the future of VEX U. There are a few specific points I want to address.

  1. The changes (or lack thereof) to VEX U for the Skyrise season were based heavily on feedback we received from the VEX U community, especially the feedback we heard directly from the teams at the VEX U open forum discussion in Anaheim. In fact, we had planned on some sweeping changes to open up VEX U (as alluded to in a few posts in this thread), but held back on these changes based on an overwhelming amount of feedback at the discussion forum from teams who were firmly against loosening the current material restrictions.

  2. We want to thank Cody for his question about the oversized 3D parts. It brought up a possible inequitable situation for VEX U teams that the GDC had not considered.

  3. There were multiple reasons we made the change to the rule that we did. These were:

  • A desire to keep the playing field level for teams with varying levels of resources. (i.e. We didn’t want teams with access to expensive 3D printers to have an excessive level of advantage)
  • To ensure consistent rulings by all inspectors, experienced and inexperienced, we wanted to keep the rule as simple as possible. As soon you start making allowances for multiple parts being attached together, you run down a slippery slope of what exactly constitutes a part. Also, when you start dealing with attaching, you enter the grey area of whether you’re actually just attaching the parts, or if you’re strengthening them by the method of attaching. (e.g. impregnating parts with expoxy)
  • Our intent always was to only allow four (4) 3D printed parts. We did not want to increase this number, even with the volume restriction. At the end of the day this is still “VEX U” not “3D U”. We want teams to take advantage of 3D printing, however we do not want it to be anywhere close to the main focus.

Thanks again for all the feedback, and keep this discussion going; the GDC always wants to hear what you have to say.

Thank you Karthik for jumping in here.

While I’m ultimately not happy (at all) with the ruling, I do have to admit that on some level it makes sense. I just wish you guys would had redistributed the lost volume into other parts. I’ll take a bunch of 2" x 2" x 2" parts for all I care, I’ll think something up that fits.

There was a real design possibility with the two 12" x 6" x 3" parts, a design possibility so obvious my mom figured it out on her first guess when I was telling her this story today. For you put the two blocks together you can make a 12" x 12" x 3" block.

What would a 12" x 12" x 3" block be great for? That’s right everyone, a drive train! More specifically, the entire bottom of a robot. At NAR we wanted to carve out space for the batteries, channels for wires, holes for microcontroller boards, the whole freaking nine yards. That design possibility died with this ruling, which is very disappointing because it was a really juicy idea.

Given that Andrew and I (actually most of NAR for that matter) have managed to CAD up a LOT of neat things that we just couldn’t built with the currently available parts in VRC these last year, It’s just quite franking annoying. We keep waiting to hear that the program is going to open up, the program keeps not opening up, we keep thinking “It’s totally going to open up next year!” and it keeps not happening.

I mean we have thrown out CAD for lots of neat things…

  • I designed a very nice planetary gearbox, can’t built it

  • Then there was this, can’t build it

  • What was going to be H5, the H5 I designed featured a way of building square channel with VEX that has never been done before. A large part of why the design wasn’t built is because it required a very small plastic spacer that fit between the two pieces of L chan. I had hoped to 3D print it initially, but (given that we needed a freak load of these), we couldn’t so the second plan was to CNC the part and pass it off as part of the plastic block, well it turns out CNC’ing something that small is really really hard. That’s why that robot died.

  • Then there was that awesome three part full holonomic drive I designed, hailed by all who got to saw it as a genius idea, also not buildable

So while I understand the move, I fundamentally oppose it. What I want is a volume of 3D printed parts that works exactly like the plastic block. Unlimited number of parts, just make them all fit in this box. Even a much smaller volume of parts, say 8" x 8" x 8" would have made me a joyously happy camper if the “only two parts” crap was dropped.

With these parts, VEX U just isn’t worth it for me anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but a nagging little voice keeps getting louder and louder saying, this is a game, if it’s not fun, stop playing it. Spend your time and effort on the projects you’re involved with that actually matter.



We could have had so much fun with my new 3D printer (well, it’s in my building but I don’t have control over it unfortunately).

Fortus 900mc


Build envelope is 36 x 24 x 36 in :slight_smile:

Oh my God, I’m not sure you’d be able to get me to leave if I got to print on that.

I could print an ATX case with that thing (something I’ve been wanting to do actually).

Print a whole robot, just for the LOL factor. Not legal, but for a robot to sit in your pit and look cool.

Or print a team’s mascot

I’ve seen a couple teams that have done that. I don’t remember any numbers, and I think it’s usually FRC teams. They use the CAD model of the robot, and 3D print a mini version to display.

You could actually make some pretty cool thank you gifts for sponsors like that, each year one with that robot!

Why not just get a metal 3d printer an print all the metal for your robot :eek:

I’m a bit late to this thread, but here’s what I think.

Firstly, I think the current rule (two 3x6x6 parts) is an improvement on the previous rule (two 3x6x12 parts). Cody justified that well here:

As he said, these parts were pretty much unprintable (for most teams).

In my opinion the most interesting opportunities for innovation in Vex U are in sensing and programming, not 3D printing. Something that came up a couple of times when discussing this was that most 3D printed parts for Vex U are only 3D printed because the rules say they have to be - they could also be easily manufactured in other ways. In fact, other ways of machining parts would in many cases give a better quality result, leading to a situation where some teams might actually be better off just printing out a solid block of plastic and then machining the part they wanted from that.

I understand the GDC wanting to force teams to use 3D printing for the 3"x3"x3" and 3"x6"x6" custom parts, because 3D printing sounds very technological when advertising the program even when it isn’t the best solution to a problem. As I said before, though, my opinion is that electronics and software are more interesting opportunities for new ideas.

I think if the GDC did want to encourage teams to use 3D printing in innovative ways, allowing a greater number of parts is more important than allowing a greater volume.

I also disagree that the Vex U program is too restricted. As Lucas pointed out, as long as Vex U shares a field with VRC you can’t open the restrictions up too much or teams will reach the game’s end state too quickly. And in previous seasons, many of the opportunities that exist for teams to go beyond the Vex system haven’t been explored in much depth. I agree with what was said here: if you want to play the Vex game in a much more open format, CREATE sounds like an ideal competition.

For it to be legal, it would have to be identical to vex parts. Some alloy, thickness, length, hole size, etc…

EDIT: I have been corrected, it is illegal all together.

No, there was a Q&A ruling several years ago stating that you cannot make your own vex parts, even if they are identical. I think the reason was for safety.

Questions from last year:

In one of them Karthik says the materials would be different. But I don’t think they were talking about metal, so I guess not that helpful . . .](

I’m pulling myself out of this in a big way. Not to make a stink, or a point, or to protest, or anything.

I’m out, I’m done with VEX U. Simple as that. I informed my team yesterday, you guys today.

I was already on the fence, this put me no longer on the fence. I’m happy to discuss what I think VEX U should be, but I’ve found that I don’t represent the majority here. Turns out VEX U teams want more of the same, which is amazing to me.

I guess I’ll just volunteer, or not go, or something. Right now idrc/k.


As you could tell by my reaction at Champs, it surprised me as well. I thought for sure the teams would be clamoring for more unrestricted rules. I lost a lot of bets that day.

Also, I really think you should reconsider you’re “I’m out” attitude on this one. There may be more people like you that want a more unrestricted VEX U, but have not spoken up. If you leave, then that is one less person to speak up. This is just something you should think about.


Hi Cody,

Your courage and fortitude for stating your opinions and standing on your principles in regards to “questionable” Vex/GDC regulations is a fine example to all of us–it’s what makes our country/civilization great. We should always be ready to stand up for what we believe in–whether others agree or not. Many people probably agree with you–they just haven’t voiced their opinions.

The GDC has increased the restrictions on our teams to try to maintain a level playing field, but in some cases those new rules have limited innovation and not really helped anyone. Take the new “2 air-tank limit” for example. Why two and not three? Two tanks may not provide enough air for more than one critical system, but setting the limit at 3 or 4 tanks would have given teams enough air to implement really innovative systems on their robots. Perhaps the GDC has a good reason for this limitation, but I haven’t yet seen it in print.

Lastly, some people have concerns about rule-changes accidentally “breaking the game” where one robot becomes so overwhelming that it crushes all who oppose it. While I think that would be an amazing thing to see, it would only last until the next competition when the super-robot in question would have to face a clone of itself. I think the excitement would be worth the risk…:smiley:

I hope you will seriously reconsider withdrawing from the Vex community, Cody. We need more competitors like you–not less…

Let me address SWilson_TeamXtreme first,

First, thank you for the encouragement.

I’m actually not going through a great time right now. I’ll skip the details, as they don’t really add to this conversation.

Regarding principals, yeah I’m kind of a brick wall. I think and think and think and eventually, like my renders, a solid feeling, stance or idea emerges. I suck in the world around me and evaluate it. It’s just what I do.

You can see however that once I’m made up my mind, it usually takes a lot to change it. It’s because I tend to not make decisions on a whim, I’m much more calculated. When I do change my mind, it’s usually because something underneath, a variable in the equation, changed.

I have a strong opinion about what VEX U should be. I’m with Paul. Let’s make mini-FRC happen. It makes sense, completely 100%. I’ve wanted it the whole time. But thats me, I understand the GDC’s position here. They don’t care about what Cody wants, they correctly care about what the majority of people in VEX U want. I get that, that makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is what I’m seeing here. Most people seem to want things to stay the same, and that’s a problem. Actually, well really it just shifts blame. Now I’m angry-ish at the rest of the VEX U people, not the GDC. Karthik’s ruling will go through, not because the GDC has the wrong attitude, but because people in VEX U made it so. They wanted this, apparently.

It’s a tradeoff. This is a game afterall. Games must have, A. players, B. rules. Every rule, big or small, shapes the game. I’ve studied theory on this. It’s a very connected, one thing influences everything kind of world.

Limits are good, I actually would like to see limits placed on VEX U. I just want limits that aren’t so restricting that they eliminate so many design possibilities that only a handful of them are workable. I feel like this could be a major factor in the design convergence problem VEX is facing.

Now Paul, it means so much to see you jump in here, it really does. I have so much respect for you.

I actually missed your talk. Things with NAR were crazy, we had a bad season. I was probably frantically programming in the practice fields. I heard about the talk second hand from a friend of mine from Purdue. They gave me the scoop. I was so angry, I wanted to be there. I just missed it.

I’m not leaving VEX, I leaving VEX U. My minds made up, I don’t want to build robots anymore. I want to finish my degree, continue working on my web-app startup and ultimately move my life forward.

This leaves me in a bit of a difficult place. I don’t want to leave the community, nor VEX. I need to find a way to fit in that doesn’t involve being affiliated with a team.

There’s an opportunity here, I just don’t know exactly what. I think I’ll let myself drift a little until something works out. I get the feeling someone will approach me with a proposition soon enough.

That’s just where I am in all of this. Regardless of whether or not I’m competing, I’ll argue up and down for change in the VEX U program. It needs to happen, and I dearly hope that people start to speak up because I just know that this is their chance.


It’s not the possibility of one team dominating the others. That would be a good thing, because it would raise the level of competition.

The problem would be if maxing out the game became too easy, making games between high-level teams boring to play.

I agree. People who are motivated to push the limits of what can be done within the rules are good for the program. I think it’s unfortunate that you want to leave.

That said, there are a bunch of things you can do within the community that don’t involve competing. AURA hasn’t competed at Worlds for two years, but our club is as healthy as ever and we’re looking forward to Worlds 2015. You can always come back. In the meantime I’m sure you can find opportunities to volunteer, or create online content, or whatever interests you.