With the options for programmable robot kits is growing, I figured I would provide a review of the Vex IQ and compare it to another popular robotics kit. Of course, a complete review can’t be done until the programming software is released. However, since Modkit Micro is an option for programming the Vex IQ and since Modkit Micro is based on Scratch, I could see a logical progression: younger kids learn Scratch and then migrate easily to programming with Modkit Micro.
As a first attempt at evaluating the kit, I built a robot that duplicates the functionality of a robot that was used in an FLL competition. It took about 90 minutes to build the entire robot which is pictured in the showcase section of the forum. The primary comparison here will be between an NXT Mindstorms robot and the Vex IQ. Note that there are absolutely no compatibility between NXT parts and Vex IQ parts - even the connector plugs have different locking pin orientations.
- Beams come in a wider variety of lengths from 1” (2x2 beam) to 8” (2x16 beam). The longest NXT beam is 4.5”
- Beams come in single and double widths. Using double widths beams allows for constructing a sturdy chassis and attachments.
- Nine different styles of corner connectors that allow parts to be assembled at 90° angles. These corner connectors, especially the chassis corner connector, have very tight fits so the assembled parts are very durable. (See con below)
- Standoffs allow parts to be easily spaced apart from each other. With a Mindstorms kit, standoffs can be made using axles and a variety of connectors, but the resulting standoff is not as stiff as the ones provided in the Vex IQ kit.
- The compact motors are relatively easy to design into a robot compared with the large, odd-shaped NXT motors. Motors also appear to be more powerful than an NXT motor.
- The box is larger than a Mindstorms box
- More useful components – beams, corner connectors. No minifigure or lights.
- A 2 x 2 connector pin allows sandwiching 4 beams compared to a maximum of 3 beams on an NXT.
- Sturdy - the robot shown in the pictures can be picked up by the front bumper, the standoff above the front bumper, the shaft supporting the arm and a variety of other places without.
- The corner connectors can be difficult to disassemble, especially the chassis corner connector. Younger youth may not be able to take them apart. Following the tip on page 6 of the user manual coupled works with some connectors. Sliding a shaft through the holes in the connector can also be used to gain leverage to pull the part out of a beam. (The kit is now being evaluated by several different robotics clubs with younger youth)
- Not enough shafts, especially 4x length (although for $9.99 you can purchase additional shafts).
- No shaft connectors.
- Not enough bushings.