Vex Power Expander Discontinued

The vex power expander is going in for a redesign and will no longer be sold the way it was. If you ordered one in the past week it may not ship ever. The whole stock is gone and vex will not sell any sort of power expander for the next several months.

Where did this information come from?

One of our subteams ordered a power expander last minute for a competition and never received a confirmation code. They called in today and after a while got connected to a person internally that had the last power expander on his desk. This was going to be shipped to another vex location for R & D. After some smooth talking and begging it is now being shipped to us 1 day shipping.

I’m not more informed than anyone else on this, but it seems unlikely to me that VEX would change a core component and have no hangover stock so close to the world championships & heart of the season.


Seems pretty odd, there’s not much to it, shouldn’t take very long .

If this information is correct then I can only assume the PIC became EOL or something.

Checked the PIC status, still in production, 41,000 available at digikey (although I didn’t check the package).

Weird - I wonder if they are dropping it entirely, or if it will emerge as a completely different product (e.g., 4-port I²C servo controller).

If any teams are stuck needing one, I’ve got an unused power expander I’ll sell at the retail price. IM me and we can arrange the details.


  • Dean

Now that would be cool, however, introduce the new product first or at least keep some stock until the beginning of the new competition season.

Don’t you think JVN would’ve made an official announcement about this?

There were supply problems with the power expander at this time last year. I had ordered one in February but did not receive it until May, perhaps one of the components is hard to source and now they have concluded that a small redesign is necessary.

Try iDesign Solutions

We had a similar issue, but living within 30 minutes of IFI we have the luxury of going straight there to get parts. They are in fact out of power expanders and have been so for about a week. What I was told that their sales have grown at almost exactly 50% per year since they started with the VEX line, and this is always the projected sales growth they anticipate when preparing for each years robotics seasons. This year however the sales skyrocketed by over 70% almost overnight catching them off guard and leaving them in a situation where their logistics could not move fast enough.

While I get frustrated when I need parts, it’s a bit encouraging to see this growth in robotics competitions! We certainly need to step up on STEM education. The U.S. will be graduating 70,000 engineers from it’s universities this year, and China will graduate right around 700,000.

I placed an order for an extra power expander with a VEX re-seller, and 2 day’s after getting an email that the item had been shipped I got another email saying it was on back order. I have not found one on eBay either :frowning:

Population of U.S. -> 300,000,000
Population of China -> 1,400,000,000
But I do get what you are saying.

The Power Expander is not discontinued, it is not being redesigned, it is simply out of stock due to unforeseen (and incredible) demand.

We are rushing to get more stock built as quickly as possible.

I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause some teams.


Your version of the story sounds exciting, but may not be 100% true.

While we did ship out a Power Expander to someone who called in yesterday, this PE was not supposed to go to “another location for R&D” and the person on the phone didn’t need to beg or smooth talk.


Doesn’t success suck?! If you don’t meet order needs and it costs you on left over inventory rotting away with carrying costs. If you sell out, customers get cranky (no 12 tooth gears, no power expanders, etc etc). Your business may not have the capital to fund that next huge step change order (or want to shell out that capital) to expand inventory on what some might think are overly rosy projections. I am not sur eof the margins on some of these parts to help fund that next step change growth organically. Classic J-curve growth issues!

Keep growing IFI! It just shows people want your product and are interested in Vex and STEM activities.

I wonder what the right projection factors are for Vex parts? Is it team registrations or is it school systems incorporating Vex? Number of events? Hoobyist vs active teams may be harder to determine. Teams in year 2 or 3 or 4 might be wanting different part types than brand new teams. You don’t need new cortexes every year but metal and motors are typically re-ordered. Keeping up with the Joneses may mean you step up to the power expanders, aluminum, pneumatics, etc in a Vex arms race IFI is only too happy to supply.

The game itself also puts demands on different types of products too. This year you have 90+ 1/2 pound sacks which means more lift and power needs than holding up to 7 1/2 pound ball/barrels in gateway or a stack of 5 rings in round up.

So many factors go into this we need to be thankful Vex is so wildly popular and be encouraged by this. The last thing you want is for these guys to shell out more than their sales can actually handle (and go bust with too much inventory). Look up Peoples Express Airlines as this is the classic example of over-building rapidly and going bust.

However, let’s also look at ourselves too. I always seem to have to tell our kids - “did you order that 393 motor you just asked for?” Implying we are supposed to have an infinite supply of everything. My club is lucky in having a ton of inventory having done this a few years, but you still run out of stuff a lot.

Planning ahead on the teams is just as important as ordering mid-season just in time. It sure is nice having Fed Ex deliver that part in 2 days but shouldn’t we have planned on a power expander a month or two or three ago? That way you can absorb the shipping delays a bit better. Unfortunately that is one of the other unfortunate lessons in real life engineering too - project planning & logistics. :mad:

The power expander is a brutal part to forecast. It is not in any of our big kits and its volume the last few years has been pretty unpredictable.

Add the fact that the game rules were changed to use 10 393 motors, which caused a ridiculous spike in power expander demand (like a 300% increase). We should have probably predicted that spike, but we didn’t. That failure is on me as I approve all forecasting and orders. We are trying to rush these units here, but we will not have them until mid March.

Like John said, there is no planned redesign for this item, we are simply out of stock.

I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.

Teams who are absolutely desperate for a power expander, and know how to make a printed circuit board, should be able to replicate the core function of a power expander with a few header strips, a battery connection and an hour or so of etching/drilling/soldering/wiring.

The resulting part wouldn’t be VEX legal for competition, and would lack several of the cool features (like battery monitoring) of the power expander but would certainly allow teams to prototype and test while awaiting the next batch of power expanders.

I won’t go into any more detail here… if you’ve got the ability to build the board, you should definitely have the ability to figure out how to build it and assess the risks and benefits of doing so for yourself.

And Paul… empathy for you from British Columbia… after taking six years to get up to sixty teams in BC, this year we have jumped close to 100. It took us four years to build up to forty teams… and now, BANG! forty new teams in one year. Several times this year we’ve been grateful that our challenge is in coping with growth (sure beats the alternative!)… but it is a challenge, particularly when it is unpredicatble.

And it is cool that both you and JVN are still able to respond directly and honestly to customer concerns.


This is true .Our robotics club teacher was telling us about this .I know they don’t work because every power expander my school has had never works

It could be that you are using them wrong. We thought ours went bad, but when we took it to IFI it tested fine. We brought it home and it still didn’t work so we took the whole robot to IFI. Eli looked a the robot and noticed we were using “Y” cables going into the power expander. Eli explained a few other things about the Cortex that we didn’t know such as motor ports 1-5 and 6-10 being on separate circuits for overload protection etc…

We re-wired the power expander using only 3 wire extensions from the Cortex and it has worked perfectly ever since. The power expander is very simple and there is little to go wrong with it. If you have a Power expander not working I suggest you look at how you wired it first before you declare it dead.

Ours worked for the first competition with “Y” cables which is why we thought it went bad, but the fact is that it shouldn’t have been used with “Y” cables to begin with.

after what I have learned I would guess that if everyone on this site sent me their “BAD” power expander, a large percentage of them will work.
With that being said, the tech support at IFI rocks and someone will take the time to help you trouble shoot and correct problems if you give them a call.

You do know I tested them and they work fine. The only time I’ve seen our power expander not work is when it’s wired wrong.