Vex Compatible

This forum has been newly created to discuss 3rd party Vex products, as well as misc products which will integrate and function within the Vex Robotics Design System.

Will the Microsoft Robotics Studio be compatible with the Vex controller or the other way around really?

Currently Microsoft is talking with Innovation First, Inc. about bringing the Vex product line into their Robotics Studio. We’ll post more information when we have it.


Excellent! Thanks.

I am new to Robotics. Is the studio and animation tool?

Thank you

It will be a development environment for robotics…sort of like easyC…hopefully much better and easier to use. You can download a CTP…but it has no GUI…you need C# to use it now. When they release the final product it will hav a nice GUI.


I notice the original post (and reply from Vex) is kind of old. I just purchased the starter kit and am wondering myself if the hardware is/will be compatible with the Microsoft Robotics Studio. This is a Christmas gift for my son, but I am a software developer and eager to check this out and do some of the programming for his designs. Any info is great.




I haven’t heard anything about it being compatible since, but you can use a C programming enviroment as well as a graphical enviroment to program it. Either way, big thumbs up on buying your kid this for christmas.

You’ll probaly get sucked in as well. At least its cheaper then cars. :slight_smile:

As you can see previously, there has been some reference to Microsoft Robotics Studio, but as one who has some experience with Cross Compilers, the Microsoft Robotics Studio will need to generate PIC Assembler Instructions and Link with or include PIC Libraries. Some “tight integration” will be required to get this to work correctly…

I would buy the Vex Programming Kit (for the Dongal) and then Download the “free” MPLAB or if you like working from the Command Line, some Make Files and a Make Program.

Also you might read Starting with MPLAB.

Thanks for the info. I will probably just break down and buy the IDE that VEX has put together to simplify the whole coding issue. I actually went out and bought two more of the starter kits today. Radio Shack had them on clearance for $99.97. That’s where I bought my son’s. After checking prices for accessories, I figured it would be more cost efeective to get an additional transmitter/controller and receiver to just buy the additional kit :). When I got there I figured I couldn’t pass up the deal and bought the last two in our state. Can’t wait for Christmas!

The transmitter and reciever kits on ebay seem to go for very inexpensive, does anyone know if these are the real thing?

I bought one. It is genuine.

Great. I’m building this animatronic monkey head and I may need multiple transmitters.

I went to have a visit at the Microsoft Robotics Site, and there is no mention of Vex? Did the ‘talks’ fall through?

I am looking to program the Vex Micro Controller using C# with the Visual Studio 2005. Once the Vex Micro Controller is in ‘online’ mode, can this be done without the dongle?


Just now starting to get into VEX. My son is interested and I am planning on sponsoring a team for his school for next year’s competition.

I am an experienced VisualStudio programmer, so any update on Microsoft’s Robotics Studio or VisualStudio compatibility?


First read my post about Visual Studio.

Next, does “can this be done without the dongle”, mean
Placeing the Vex Controller INTO ‘online mode’, or
Communicating with the Vex Controller IN ‘online mode’??

To download the Online Code, you need the ‘dongle’.

The Vex Controller communicates and is programmed through a Serial Interface, the type developed over 30 years ago (This means that is is very Documented and Very Standard), but at Voltage Levels for Micro-Chip to Micro-Chip connections, thus it is called TTL or Transistor-transistor logic.

The ‘dongle’ has what are generically called a Level-Shifter. Because the Micro-Computers of the last 20 years have a Serial Interface that communicates using the RS-232 Standard.

Recent Laptops and Some Desktops have Dropped the Standard RS-232 Serial Port (and some the Standard Parallel port) in favor of just the Univeral Serial Bus (USB) which is for the most part Plug-and-Play. That is where the USB to Serial Device comes in.

Unless there is a Embedded “PIC” Processor with a USB interface “built-in”, or added to the Circut Board of the “next” Vex Controller, there will need to be some sort of adapter board/box/dongle to connect your PC to the Vex…

I am real interested is seeing how Visual Studio will generate Code for the current Vex Controller… I would suspect that Visual Studio will really be more of an IDE, Like Eclipse, that uses the MCC18 compiler from MicroChip to generate the code that is then downloaded to the Vex Controller…

Wecome to the world of programming “small” Embedded Systems…

MarkO - Just to clarify, your description almost implies that the sole duties of the dongle are USB to/from Serial protocol and RS-232 to/from TTL voltage conversions. It does a little more than that to put the Vex Microcontroller into a state in which it can be reprogrammed.

If you just put USB-to-Serial and RS-232 to TTL hardware between a PC and the Vex Microcontroller you still won’t be able to download code into the Vex Microcontroller.


Yes, that is the MOST important part of the Dongle, since that is the hardest to replicate… I was focusing on what their ultimate goal was…

I’ve posted an interface to allow the VEX to be controled by MSRS at It can use either the dongle or if you have a wireless modem (e.g. BlueSMiRF or ZigBee), wirelessly.