I’ve just graduated high-school and now myself along with a few friends from my class and other schools are creating a team at The Ohio State University. I’ve paid attention to Vex U in the past and knew what made it different from the high-school level but this year all the changes open up even more possibilities! Does anyone have any tips or links for a new Vex U team? Can’t wait to compete with you all!

My recommendation is to contact your RECF Regional Support Manager and see what they can do to help facilitate your team startup. Also, get buy in from OSU - it will go a long way to help support a competitive VEXU team.

Will do, thank you!

For U teams that have tried sensors with V5, how did you connect the sensors to the brain? Back in Cortex we had UART port and stuff but I think V5 only have 3 pin digital ports.

One easy thing the V5 has is USB port. Any computer coprocessor can just plug directly into the USB port for robust communication.

PROS also lets users use smart ports as generic com devices so you can talk to any sensor directly through that.

PROS exposes and documents the functionality, you can actually do that from any programming solution but we consider it very advanced and have chosen not to promote it too much yet.

Any guidance on how to implement this for a VEXU team? We would love to be able to hook up a Raspberry Pi to the V5 Brain and have communication between them.

Ok, PROS has some documentation on this I think, perhaps @edjubuh could link to that. If you are using VCS let me know and I will post something in a separate thread. We have had a V5 communicating with a RasPi quite successfully for several months, you will need to translate the V5 smart port RS485 into something the Pi can accept.

You may want to get a MAX 485 module:

I actually suggest using the USB port between the Raspi and the v5. It’s a lot easier and gives some fringe benefits. USB is a more robust communication system than running some uart line into the Raspi and doesn’t require any extra module or electronics.

You now get wireless downloading. You now get wireless pros terminal.

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I do use VCS due to PROS not staying installed on campus computers. I would love to learn more about how to do that!

That would be great if I could use PROS. Because wireless downloading is a missed feature for me for V5.

Also very interested.:slight_smile:


You can interact with a generic device on a V5 Smart Port with PROS by using a file stream and associated commands. The file stream can be retrieved using the


prefix and then the port number, i.e.

FILE* read = fopen("/dev/11", "rw");

. From there it’s possible to read/write to the port like any file. Additionally, you can use the fdctl function from the extended api to configure the port’s baud rate and check for when data is available to read.

So hardware wise, what is this looking like connection wise? Are we just taking v5 cable and soldering the ends to a board with a RS485 pinout, or what?

@jpearman Is there any chance of you expanding on communication with an RPi with VCS anytime soon? I’ve got a machine learning algorithm running on a raspberry pi that can find/detect flags pretty accurately, but I still have not figured out communication with the V5 brain.

What are your thoughts about VEX Unlimited adult involvement? Right now VRC is student-centered, where adults may not touch the robot without students being present and actively participating. But I have friends in other competitions that when their students fall behind schedule, the adults jump in and solder and weld late into the night after the students have all gone home. So when you say Unlimited, do you mean for the adults as well? And if it is unlimited but student-centered, how do you handle someone saying it is too complicated for a HS student without watching an adult do it for them? Is that really student-centered? How unlimited is unlimited?

I’d fall back to it is ok for adults to help as long as they’re doing it with students actively participating.

That said, it being VEX Unlimited or not, that adult involvement will always be an issue. There are likely numerous adults in VRC who work on the robots without students around, and fix their issues.

As an FRC alumnus as well, we had adult help. Some things we kids couldn’t do, and we had mentors to help guide or us or do things we weren’t capable of doing. That said, it was always from a place of learning, to where it wasn’t a focus to just getting something done.

I think really when someone says something is too complicated for a HS student to do without an adult doing it, maybe the 1st thing we should do is talk to the students? I’ve found that in my time in robotics, a lot of these students are capable of incredible things, even with adult help.

VEX Unlimited should still be student-centered, but with the proposed nature of it, cognizant that there are situations and periods where for safety or other reasons, an adult could have a little more involvement.

I thought the U in VexU stood for University, as in college teams?

Additionally, what if Vex established another open program for adults or anyone to join? Would there be enough interest? Would it severely detract from available mentors to assist student teams? Maybe this should just get another thread, but…

It does.

At the EP Summit this summer, Paul Copioli and mentioned that they had plans for a similar open style competition called VEX Unlimited, for HS students. Basically think of something similar to the Open Division at the CREATE US Open, or as I’d call it, FRC Lite.