Vex Beginner Questions

Hi guys,
I am a second year- frc team student member and I am looking into purchasing a vex kit to play with during the off season. I am selling some of my old Lego Technics and I have been looking on ebay for a new or used Vex starter kit.

My question is are the Vex kits such as this one

that are labeled the V-5 design kit the same as the Dual-Control PIC Starter bundle that is on the Vex website?

Would this kit come with everything necessary(PIC, motors, programming hardware, crystals) to build a robot, other than the programming software itself?

I was recently at a vex competition and I was also wondering if I was to enter a competition would I be able to use the PIC or would I need the Cortex?

Thanks in advance for your answers to my questions.

The old “Starter Kit” that you saw featured was from 2008 or before and is similar to the dual control starter kit w/PIC that is currently sold. The electrical system is the same, but there are a few cosmetic differences – an extra motor here, more structural metal there.

This thread and this thread discuss a few of the differences.

A complete Starter Kit comes with everything you need to build a few simple robots, and some examples are featured in this guide. In theory, a robot built from this kit could compete in an event that uses crystals – there are some local events that use allow either Vexnet (Cortex) or crystals (PIC).

In reality, it’s likely that many events will transition to Vexnet only within the next year or 2, and the major events (Nationals, Worlds) are Vexnet only. Also, a Starter Kit (or the Starter bundle) is very limited in the number and variety of parts, and you’ll almost surely want to add on to be competitive.

If you can acquire a used kit cheaply, you’ll probably get your money’s worth in metal, motors, and gears, even if you upgrade to Cortex in the future. The motors also have been upgraded, but the old ones are still being allowed, and the Cortex is “backwards compatible” with them. If you’re just experimenting and not concerned about being competition compliant, there’s a lot of good learning to be had in an old Vex kit.

The software would have to be upgraded (for use from PIC to Cortex), but the orange programming cable is reusable.

Thank you Manic Mechanic for the answers to my questions. I will probably buy the PIC just because it is so much cheaper than the Cortex and will still allow me to build some pretty good robots. The link to the old starter kit forum was very helpful.

A few other questions that I have:
Beyond the starter kit(which has the PIC, Transmitter+Reciever, structural elements, motors, and sensors, gears etc) are the only things that I will need to have a fully programmable robot the Programming Hardware Kit, Batteries, and the software itself?

Do you think that I would be better off to buy rechargeable AAs to power the robot and the transmitter or should I just buy the 9.6v and 7.2v ones that Vex sells?

i would not recommend the AAs
go for the ones vex sell
they are worth it
or you can get other brand identical batteries but you will not be able to use them in future competitions

Thanks for the info.

Yes, that’s correct.

It depends on how long you plan to use the PIC. The NiCd batteries which were formerly used with the PIC are being phased out. The 7.2v can be used in both PIC and Cortex, but the 9.6v transmitter battery is not used in the Cortex joystick – it will be obsolete if you upgrade. (You’ll need 6 AAA’s with charger for the Cortex joystick).

There are lots of teams that are trying to unload 9.6v batteries, so if you buy a new 7.2v with smart charger, you might able to get a used 9.6v cheaply.

Finally, if you buy a used old-style charger, you cannot use it to charge the new NiMH 7.2 batteries.

Thanks for the answers guys. I have one more question. If I bought a kit I may use the robot next year in competition but I will possibly not because my school will (hopefully) be buying the vex kits. Do you think I would be better off to save up a little and buy a Cortex Starter Kit ($550) or buy an older starter kit with the PIC from eBay($250)? I would not need the programming cable if I bought the cortex and I would be set for competition. At a VexNet only competition, do you think they would supply me the PIC to VexNet converter thing? From seeing the posts on here, it seems like the Cortex is definitely not problem free.