I have been working with the Vex System for quite a long time. The microcontroller has always met my needs, but I always considered the possibility of having a small section of the microcontroller to be a solderless breadboard. This would allow users to make circuits and attach accessories w/o having to wire stuff up to the other slots. A breadboard would make things a lot easier for extra accessories such as RC time circuits, potentiometers, LEDs, chips (such as the 555 timer and analog to digital converter), cameras, and much more. This would take the Vex Platform to whole new level, because it would add complexity to the kit. It would also encourage kids and adults to learn how to wire and program circuits. It would be even better if the whole microcontroller consisted of the solderless breadboard. A person could either choose to buy the original microcontroller, or the more advanced enthusiast could choose the buy the breadboard microcontroller.
IFI engineers, would this even be a possibility in the future?
Forum members, in general what do you think?
I built some break-out cables that have the Vex connector on one end, and the other end has separate one-pin connectors for each wire. I’ve used these to hook the Vex uController to a breadboard many times and it is tremendously handy
It would be a lot cheaper for IFI to offer a set of break-out cables and let the developer provide their own breadboard of whatever size they want.
They are easy to make - or just use three of these.
I have been using solderless breadboards with Vex for a while now, but I rarely use the Vex controller at all any more.
The Vex controller is a marvelous design. The circuitry is well protected, mechanically and electronically, to be used by robot builders in the target market, ie - Primarily inexperienced experimenters with little or no knowledge of electronics. You aren’t likely to burn something up with improper connections, accidental shorts, or ill-conceived designs. The dual processor architecture nicely isolates some of the finicky time-critical software tasks from the user, simplifying the programming considerably.
But the same circuitry that protects the Vex controller also limits its ability to connect effectively to some circuitry. The lack of a published schematic of the controller and the lack of published source code for the second processor limits its usefulness for more advanced hobbiests.
My current setup uses three PIC processors connected via I2c. One processor handles the radio and communications, one handles motors and their associated limit switches, one is used as a high-level master controller. I can add or subtract processors as needed for LCD displays, sensors, stepper motors, etc. If I need another processor, I just plop it onto the breadboard and wire it up.