Starting a Vex Team Solo

Hi guys,

After watching this past season and going to a local Vex competition, I have become hooked on Vex. I own a nice kit and I am considering starting a team to compete in the 2011-2012 season. However I have talked with a teacher at my school (he teaches engineering classes) and while we will be getting Vex kits next year it sounds like we will do classroom competition only. I am also competing on an FRC team.

I am wondering how hard it is to run a Vex team by oneself. I want to be able to control all the designs and I am very independent; I would prefer to do everything on my team especially since it is my kit. I have seen a few people who have successfully done it (look at 1103) but I am mainly concerned with funding and fundraising. What do you guys think of competing in Vex with a one person team? Do you have any tips for me as far as fundraising goes?


I would definitely talk to Josh (1103), maybe send him a Private Message or something. He was able to do a tremendous job (like you said), and was able to get grants for parts and registration fees and whatnot.


You bring up a good conversation. I would like to talk to 1103 myself about this. Obviously design/building/programming wise it’s not a problem (look at how he’s done). However I’m curious to know how he got the extensive amount of money. My guess is that you just have to find sponsors.

I always thought that judges wouldn’t like solo teams because it doesn’t demonstrate how one learned “teamwork” but 1103 has proved me wrong in that idea. I myself was thinking about doing it solo next year as well. Next year we will have at least 3 other VRC teams but my organization caps teams at 4 and the people I used to be on a team with are gone.

It would be cool if 1103 saw this and could explain more about how his “team” functioned.

Dude the best thing to do right now is to be known in your community. Talk to some neighbors and tell them that you are trying to persue an engineering career. Ask the people on your FRC to help out with the funding and see if anyone can help you out in general. Also one tip once you are fully done and go to a competition next season, make sure to bring a parent, sibling or some friends to help out. Trust me, josh on 1103 trys to get as many people as he can to go with him to a competition. Hope things go your way and you can start your own team. So you on the feild. :cool:

While teamwork is one of the biggest things, keep in mind you have to work with random teams at competitions! (And then your alliance partners, hopefully! :P)

But yes, I’d say doing it by yourself is sortakinda hard… Funding might be your biggest challenge, but just make sure you have at least one adult… It can be very VERY hard, as an minor, if you don’t have an adult who is fully supportive, and maybe even lending funding… :smiley:

I think a solo team would be a great idea. As a solo team myself, I love building the robot by myself, yet at competitions I need at least 2 people to help me out. First, 1 to coach me. One who will give me directions of what to score, where to go, and a 2nd person to count the scores. This helps if we’ere whooping them, and then we need sp points, so we score the other team’s color.

Now funding is hard for me. I think I might be able to get a sponsor soon (hopefully) One think you might want to do is fundraise. A good idea is to sell hexbugs, or (if you can rally up some friends to help you) you might even be able to do a car wash at a gas station. My main sponsor is me. I own a lawn bussiness with my brother, and we have saved up a good bit of cash. :smiley: Also, on the side, we buy and sell cars. My dad also helps sometimes to pay for expenses.

I hope this will help you in makking a team!

Our team may or may not go solo as well, because 9th grade is considered a middle school team in our district, but it is high school, and our middle school supervisor has decided to stop taking high school kids, and at the moment, we have no high school supervisor( our middle school one did both divisions). Your best option for getting money is to ask your local grocery/department stores to fundraise outside. We fundraised $1,300 in 2 days!!! As the average robot costs between $2,000 and $4,000, I reccommend funding yourselves. You can easily make enough to build the robot, and if you raise every weekend, you will have more than enough to go to California for the VEX 2012 World Tournament. I hope this information helped!

Also, it requires no selling, buying or effort. You literally just stand there with a poster that says VEX Robotics (Your Team Here) and a bucket. You may have to ask a 10 year old for help. They generally get more success that the average 17 year old, as old people like them more. Also, contact your local nerd and ask them to provide you with a website where your team can be advertized and donations can be submitted. No offense to the nerds.

I think the hardest thing about being a solo team comes at tournaments, and the larger the event, the harder it is. As a solo team, you will either be driving or working on your robot most of the time. A team with five members will have a driver (or two drivers), a coach, a full-time scout, and someone to manage the pit area – keeping batteries charged and helping with maintenance and marketing. If you aren’t in the top 10-12 robots (1103) it’s hard to have the same overall success at a tournament as a team would. Good luck this season!

Thanks everyone for the ideas and suggestions.

I will be working on getting sponsorship and fundraising this summer. One question that I have is this: does Vex still send the Team Registration Welcome kit (talked about in this thread: ) to new teams? If so would it include the ball and barrel for Gateway?


When you register your team number at, they will send you a welcome kit that contains a ball, a barrel, a hexbug, 4 license plates and a few other things.

If you pay the registration fee ($75 I believe?), they will send you the welcome kit, which does include one sphere, one barrel, and a pack of license plates.

EDIT: Didn’t see Ryan’s post, my bad.

I think your estimate is just a bit high. Maybe you have been able to put that much money into a single bot; but I tell people that a rookie team has more than enough money for start-up parts, batteries, tool boxes, tournament fees, etc. if they have $2000.

The robot won’t be made from pure aluminum, and it won’t have 10 gyroscopes or 8 heavy duty sprocket kits on it; but it will be fine. In the next season, you can buy the 10 gyroscopes and other exotic parts.


I’m with Blake. I’ve done detail pricing on two robots that did well. The first was four years ago in the pre-aluminum days, and a championship-level robot used $750 worth of parts. Last year, we did a similar exercise for a “modern” all-aluminum, Cortex, one-joystick robot loaded with parts, and came up with a $1,500 kit. Exothermic is a very well-equipped program with enough parts to build 10 competitive robots, and there is NO way we have $40,000 in parts. If you have a one-robot team and want all the goodies, I can see a total parts collection of $2,000, but you don’t need it to win, and certainly don’t need it to be competitive. I’ve seen plenty of teams with great records that are clearly drawing from a parts collection in the $1,000-1,500 range (with Cortex controller).
I can’t event imagine how you could spend $4,000 per robot, unless you are going to World Champs and include all your team and registration fees, plus an allowance for travel.

I’m not arguing that there aren’t some one-robot programs with a $4,000 parts kit, but I AM saying you don’t need it to do well.

Our travel for Worlds cost $4000 per team member. Just saying.

Also, teams with fewer robots are naturally going to be much more expensive simply because random variation in the parts that are used that year will be reduced for larger teams. US$2000 probably isn’t a bad estimate, but you might not have access to everything the bigger or older teams do. A lot depends on how well you predict what you are going to need.

I this year my robot is gonna be really $$$. I don’t get how it got to be this expensive, but here is a (low) estimate: $3,000. I guess it’s because I’m gonna use pnuematics, and aluminam, and TONS more metal. My robot for last year only costed $1000 though.

May I ask where you are getting all your funding for this 3k robot? :wink:

hopefully lowe’s, if not my dad and my bussiness, and some fundraising.