Top Things Someone New to Vex Should Know

Hi, I’m new to Vex. What are the top things I should know?

You can always do research about Vex, on the Vex website, you should first get a V5 kit to get started.

There is currently a group working on documentation to help newer people to Vex. I am unaware of its currently progress level, but I can only image school is a big help to this seemingly lack of progression.

https://vexwiki.org/ is an older version of this same attempt at documentation to help newer teams.

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Start simple before going big. It takes a bit to learn to make a bot

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thank you very much, i appreciate it

Is the new wiki link accessable to the public?

no the new “wiki” is really just going to be a collection of google docs and slides since they require no monetary upkeep and are relatively easy for anyone to suggest a better way to present an idea etc.

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Plan on how you’ll build the bot, and how it will look, then plan what you’ll do on the following days. Saves on a lot of time.

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the quality of your robot is determined by a few factors.
the first is your skill in building. to build a good robot, you obviously need to be good at building. Now, this is probably the hardest aspect to master, as it takes time and repeated failure to develop. The best way to quickly boost your build quality is to learn basic tips and tricks, like screw joints, using nylocks, using aluminum, using bearings, using mostly c channel, I could go on. The forums is a great place to pick up building tricks, and the search bar is your friend.

the second factor in how good your robot will turn out, is how well you plan your robot. I speak for experience when I say that if you don’t plan ahead, your robot will be bad. For some people planning ahead can mean writing down and sketching the robot in detail, for some it can mean CADding out the entire robot before even touching a part. I do a little of both.

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I’ll add that every time you build something you’ll get better at it. Don’t be afraid to rebuild, because every time it’s a learning opportunity. Just make sure you leave time for yourself to get everything done. The night before a competition is probably not the best time to redesign your robot.

On that subject, make sure you leave at least a week to program/practice before a competition. Building robots is great, but if you want to succeed there’s a lot more to robotics than just building robots.

Lastly I’ll just say that we’re glad to have you aboard! Always feel free to ask questions here; one of the things that makes robotics special to me is that everyone wants to see others succeed. Even between rivalries people are willing to help each other out. The supportive environment within the vex community is a really special thing. I look forward to seeing you on the forum in the future. Before you know it you’ll be the one helping people out. :​)

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Very important, if you notice something just isn’t working and it’s really coming down to a rebuild, don’t waste time finding workarounds. Tracing the root of the problem and fixing it from there will save time.

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Use the VEXWiki… the CTO of IFI literally already expressed interest and they have a support staff… Putting everything in google docs does not have any sort of SEO and could literally die if one users revokes a file…

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I would make sure that you are familiar with the rules. And don’t get disheartened if your first robot does not work, or if you do not perform as well as you thought you would in your first competition. It is all just a part of the learning experience.

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Ooh, yeah. If you haven’t read the manual it’s definitely worth taking the time to read. You can access the manual and all its appendices through links at the bottom of this page.

Andother helpful thing to know would be that you should always look to see if a question has been answered already before starting a new thread to ask it. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times people will ask repeat questions.

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Make sure your team is good at cooperation.

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As you go to higher level competitions, you’ll realize that coding plays a bigger and bigger role. Early season, it might just be simple if else commands but later on at worlds, teams will have tracking wheels and odometry among other crazy things. Make sure there is time to code and practice driving. However, understand that the quality and level of vex robots has been increasing for years and still is. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of information there is about building or coding. It took me three years to get to the point I’m at now and I only just started to learn odometry. Also, you only get what out of vex what you put in. Team dynamic is also incredibly important and can help everything. In fact, before doing anything, MAKE SURE THE TEAM DYNAMIC IS GOOD. It will absolutely ruin you if it isn’t.

PS in case you didn’t realize, I don’t have a good history with being on a team.

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Please realize that there is no “how-to” manual to walk you through everything. A lot of the fun of Vex is learning new concepts, and then applying them in your own unique way.

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A super quick building hint is to avoid friction at all costs. If something doesn’t free-spin when a motor isn’t attached, considered that your axle (or screw when possible) might not be supported correctly and try to rebuilt so that it can free-spin.

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The most important thing you need to know is that you’re here to learn. Don’t ever assume that because you did this one thing one way before you can do it the exact same way in vex. Just because you fasten things this way in real life doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best way to do it in vex. Just because one thing works now doesn’t mean there’s a better way to do it.

Accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Make everybody on your team accept that they’re going to make mistakes, and allow your entire team to improve upon these mistakes without making anybody feel bad for making them. The team is going to make mistakes. You’re going to lose matches and maybe tournaments because of that. Being sad about that isn’t going to help, you need to have a plan for moving forward. Have a plan for what should be done when, and set realistic goals. Budget twice the time you think you need for everything, and remember that a good robot with a great driver is always better than a great robot with a driver that has 1 hour of practice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Any kind of help, on anything. It doesn’t have to be just about the robot, or the programming, it can be about how you structure your team, or how to handle the stress at a competition, knowing full well that the answers people give back to you might be right, might be something completely novel that might work out super well or super terrible, or might straight up be infactual and incorrect. Be prepared to take some other ideas and manipulate them to form your own. Don’t be afraid to leak your robot and ask for help, especially your first season. The feedback that you get from the community will be worth 1000 times more to you than the fact that nobody else in your region knows what your robot is like. You should ONLY hide your robot if you’re confident that there is something you don’t want the community to see, and even then, other parts of the robot can be shown to the community and they can give you feedback.

Understand that there are costs beyond money to vex. You’ll have to work hard, spend a lot of time on it, and you may end up sacrificing other things for vex in order to do well. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon that can last up to 10-12 years. VEX isn’t just about winning one or two competitions, it teaches you a lot more than that, and it teaches everybody that’s a part of it something completely new. Take what you learn each day, each week, each competition, and apply it to the next part of your vex career and encourage the rest of your team to do the same. be open to feedback and criticism, don’t hide issues and blame others.

Most importantly, have fun.

Cheers!
-Anni.

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