Starter programmable set for 1 child

Hi I’m new here. For individual use at home for 1 kid (not public school classrooms or team competitions) who is a beginner to robotics, which one is better for programming and can grow with him: Cortex programmable starter set, V5 classroom starter set, or Lego mindstorm EV3? My kid wants to program the robot to solve Rubik cube or turn it into an electric guitar,.

I would recommend EV3 except lego is soon retiring the mindstorms EV3 kit. EV3 has both a rubik’s cube option as well as an electric guitar. Also, EV3 is a lot simpler then both Cortex and V5, especially for a beginner. I would rank it in this order:
Cortex would be dead last due to the lack of a graphical user interface.

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Did Lego replace EV3 with a newer set? When I searched, only EV3 showed up. Will my kid grow out of it more quickly than the V5?

For personal use, yes. They are now switching to something called robot inventor.
For education, they are still keeping EV3.

To answer the second question, yes. EV3 is great for basics in programming, but V5 definitely has more knowledge to be derived. V5 can also teach mechanics as well while EV3 is just legos, which is great for basics but you can’t really make more complicated mechanisms.

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the lego Mindstorm and EV3 are meant for beginners and teaches basic coding with blockly rather than text. the V5 uses both but can become more complex as the person learns more about the system.
the Mindstorm and EV3 are great options especially if the child is just starting. the downside is that child learns too quickly with either kit, and the kits can get expensive. that said V5 would be too much and require constant questioning on the forum which isn’t bad its just that they would need a lot of help quite a bit of the time.

Wonder why the robot inventor is cheaper than the EV3. Does the inventor have all the options that the EV3 has? What are the programming languages for the lego vs. vex? I’d prefer text coding than block coding. Mine is currently taking intro to python class.

Cortex/V5 and EV3 aren’t really equivalent platforms, the VEX equivalent to EV3 is the VEX IQ line. Compared to the education EV3 kit (which is the only EV3 kit you should consider), the IQ super kit is significantly cheaper, which is nice.

Not quite true - an education version of the 51515 kit has also been introduced (actually, the education kit came first) - it’s called SPIKE Prime. But it has significant technical disadvantages compared to the EV3, and I don’t believe they’re planning to discontinue the education EV3 kit at this point.


blocks has pre-programmed ‘blocks’ of code that you can mix and match, the text is c++ or python depending on your syntax preference. I use c++ text and I am able to easily transfer blocks to text as its similar to regular sentences

if(Controller1.Axis1.value() >= 1){
motor1.spin(forward, 75, percent);

i basically told it that if axis 1 on the controller is more or equal to 1 then it turns the motor forward/clockwise at 75% of the maximum speed
this is it converted to blocks
Screenshot 2021-01-12 at 12.29.40 PM


If you are focusing on text coding, then you should take @holbrook advice and take the IQ super kit. The IQ super kit is nice because it can not only be used for competition(if your child wanted to) but it also can use both text and blocks through VEXcode IQ. There is also the added benefit of being able to also use robotc.


I’m assuming based on the description of your child’s planned projects that they are around 8-12 years old. For them, I would recommend the Lego EV3 Mindstorms because they are simpler for kids to build, cheaper, and more easily integrated into other things. There are several Rubik’s cube-solving robots that already exist with instructions. A guitar is one of the 5 main builds. This is also better if you have a large number of legos already.

If not, and you want something more … powerfull, then I would also recommend vex IQ. It’s a bit more expensive, but nothing compared to Vex EDR cortex or V5.

I would not recommend vex EDR for this use case due to their high cost (Can reach a few thousand dollars for competition robot’s parts. A classroom kit very likely would not have all the parts your child would want, and in addition to that, you need tools and organization for the parts. )

If you are looking toward getting Vex EDR, I would caution you against cortexes. . . I’ve used them in the past and they’re not great. While the V5 is far from perfect, it is orders of magnitude simpler than the cortex. The cortex’s vexNet Key is very touchy and they overall don’t work well. On top of that, the programming software for the cortex is antiquated and not free. The V5 is programmed in basically standard C++

I have actually used 3 out of the 4 programs I talked about (I’ve never done Vex IQ) So I’m happy to provide more information if necessary.


Keep in mind, too, that VEX (and VEX IQ) offers “driver control” in addition to pure programming. For a Middle School or younger kid, I’d go with IQ, and, since the same programming can be used with V5, its just a matter of getting some new equipment to advance from “plastic” to “metal.”

You’re IQ equipment would have good resale value (at least 50% of your value back) on the Forum, too, if you wanted to sell it.


Personally I would recommend EV3 if your son already has legos, because those are mostly comparable. For the price, I think Vex IQ has the best price-performance ratio. After having both an NXT (previous generation LEGO mindstorms), and the EV3, this new one LEGO released is kind of disappointing. It would depend on the age of your child, but I would buy a second-hand EV3 kit online, or an NXT (if you can even find one for a good price). If you want to buy new, VEX IQ is a good option.


From all the advice, EDR/cortex is bad; V5 is the best but starts out too expensive; the Vex IQ seems to be the best bet. But where can I find instructions, build ideas, or programming lessons on the Vex?

How many builds can you create with the EV3 (31313, 45444) vs. the Vex IQ?

Posted just today on Facebook, Carnegie Mellon has a good curriculum that our organization (VEX Team 3547:VIRUS) has used for summer camps has used in the past. It’s just been updated:

"Hi everyone! My name is Tom and I am one of the developers of CS2N, by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy. Over the years, we have provided curriculum and activities for free for all. We recently have updated one of our VEX IQ curriculum with VEXcode IQ programming and would like to share it here for those that are curious and interested.

Access is entirely free and you don’t even need to make an account! I was a part of a small team that help put it together so please free feel to let me know of anything that you find. If nothing else, try to break it 🙂

On the other hand, we do also provide certified training for educators! You can find out more here:

Have a safe and happy new year!"


Additional activities are here:

And a variety of basic trainers have plans here:


Personally, I’d highly recommend the Vex IQ line. With a modest starter package I think there are a handful of free build designs to use as base ideas, but you can (and should) just start with those builds as a base and change them (like in Legos - you can build the kit or you can use the pieces to just…build). You can build a 4-wheeled moving Clawbot (the “standard”) or you could build a 4 (or 2 or 6 or x)-wheeled moving car or boat or blob instead.

We used IQ for many years before moving up to Vex VRC, and I found it to be a great learning experience for a child interested in robotics. My older used it for competition from ~9-13, but I actually had my younger using it during off-seasons for general robotics learning as well. There is a large support base, including build plans, programming instructions, and forum trouble-shooters, and the robot complexity can grow right along with your child (especially if you are willing to invest some in more hardware). Programming-wise, you can start very simple (graphical, drag & drop) and move up to very complex (non-graphical, pretty much as advanced as needed - can operate a complex IQ competition robot with different drivetrain configurations and multiple mechanisms). The cost is very reasonable as well, with much potentially available used. I’ve never used EV3, though, so I don’t know how it compares to that.

I would modify that to ‘V5 (VRC line) is the best for long-term use by older children, preferably with robotics experience in building and programming, but is both expensive and potentially difficult for quick learning by a younger child (say, under 12) who is just starting to get involved in robotics.’ Also, please note that the small Vex starter kit would only be minimally useful without buying additional hardware (and that can get very expensive very quickly!).

The Vex Cortex definitely wouldn’t be a great choice; it was just the older control unit (pre-V5) for the VRC line (same hardware) and it has the same issue of expense and difficulty as the V5 plus it has a much less user-intuitive interface.

As an additional insight to the VRC line (including both the Vex V5 and the outdated Vex Cortex) - I expect my teenager to likely continue to use V5 in competitions even up through college (VexU).


Since the topic of EV3 vs. IQ has come up, here’s a document I worked on a few months back with some more info and comparison between the two platforms:

EV3 vs. IQ.pdf (1.8 MB)

The goal of this document was to explain why we chose IQ over EV3 for a specific project we were working on (and it was one section of a long writeup on the whole project) but I think it also has some utility as a general comparison between the two platforms.


"The EV3 platform holds an advantage over the VEX IQ platform in terms of choice of programming language. "

Can VEX IQ bot be programmed in python and java too or only C++?

RobotMesh Studio can program IQ robots in python. IQ robots can not be programmed in Java.

What we meant by that line was mostly that if you’re willing to do a fair bit of tinkering, there’s a build of Debian Linux that runs on the EV3, and if you boot into that then you can program the robot in any language that runs on ARM Linux and supports file I/O (i.e., basically every language).

But in terms of languages you can use easily out of the box, the two platforms are pretty equivalent.


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