VEXnet Preview (09-15-2008)

What is VEXnet?
VEXnet is the name for the new VEX wireless system using 802.11g. VEXnet wireless will be used in the following products: the VEXnet Upgrade Kit, the VEX 2.0 Microcontroller, and the VEX PRO (qwerk) Microcontroller.

What competitions will use VEXnet this season?
Most events this season (2008-2009) will use the existing VEX crystal radios. The VEXnet Upgrade Kit will be tested at several Elevation events in 2009. Event names and details will be released in the next months. The 2009-2010 competition season should be mostly VEXnet events. Small events may elect to run crystal radios. The VEX 2.0 Microcontroller will not be used in competitions this season (2008-2009).

What is the VEXnet Upgrade Kit?
The VEXnet Upgrade Kit allows existing VEX systems to be upgraded to the 802.11g wireless system. See this document for more information.

When will the VEXnet Upgrade Kit be available to buy? What is the price?
The VEXnet Upgrade Kit will be available for purchase in early 2009. Price and availability are TBD.

What is VEX 2.0?
VEX 2.0 is the next generation of the VEX Microcontroller that will have VEXnet built in, instead of as an add-on kit. The transmitter will also be redesigned to use USB joysticks. See this document for more information. Price and availability are TBD.

Do I have to upgrade to VEXnet for home and classroom use?
Home and classroom VEX users do not have to buy the upgrade, they will probably find that crystal radios and receivers work just fine in their situation. Your existing VEX transmitters and receivers will in no way become obsolete for home or classroom use.

Do I have to upgrade to VEXnet for competition use?
As described above, most events this competition season (2008-2009) will use existing VEX crystal radios; and no upgrade is necessary. Events in 2008-2009 that use VEXnet will have the Upgrade Kits provided as loaners for the event. Teams will not be required to buy VEXnet upgrades this season.

In the 2009-2010 season, many events will begin using the VEXnet system which will enable the smooth operation of tournaments with hundreds of teams, facilitate more match play and unlock innovative new game play. Each competition event must either be 100% crystal radios OR 100% VEXnet; all competitors must use the system specified at the discretion of the event organizers. VEXnet events will require each team to utilize a VEXnet system for their competing robot (a VEXnet Upgrade Kit or a VEX 2.0 Microcontroller). Many events may continue to utilize VEX crystal radios but all major VEX Robotics Competition events will be utilizing VEXnet in 2009-2010 due to the large number of teams participating.

Will my software programs have to change when I use the VEXnet upgrade?
No, VEXnet is reverse compatible; your existing programs will work.

Can I still use easyC, ROBOTC, or MPLAB to program with VEXnet?
Yes. We are working with all software partners to ensure future compatibility.
VEXnet-Preview-2008-09-15.pdf (279 KB)

I’ve been hoping to do some projects that involve the transmission of sensor readings rom robot to a host computer, analysis, and transmission of control information from computer to robot. Will VEXnet include a software toolkit to support this? I am hoping to have my students investigate how to use robots for remote sensing and exploration.

So does the Vex Net Upgrade tie into the TTL Serial Ports on I/O Ports 17 and 18, or into the Programming Port on the RJ25 Connector??


The VEXnet upgrade (at the robot side) will connect to the Programming Port (6-pin RJ12) on the VEX Microcontroller.

Interesting - I had assumed it would plug into the two radio ports (4-pin RJ). This does raise hopes of sending data from the microcontroller back to the host, though, since the Programming Port is two-way.

Since it plugs into the Programming Port, VEXnet can’t be used with the signal splitter. The signal splitter can only be used with the current crystal-based transmitters.

Thanks for the advance info!

  • Dean

The 4P4C connector on the Vex Controller (e.g. RX1, RX2) is Unidirectional communication. So I knew that they would not be used for Vex Net because the VEXnet-Preview-2008-09-15 references Bi-Directional Communication on Page 2.

Thanks for the Info… I am working on Vex Controller to Vex Controller communication, and want to make sure that it all can work together.

Wow - I can’t wait to get the new VEX 2.0 Microcontroller and Transmitter!

Thanks for the update and keep up the good work. Having I2C and USB along with the original ports will really make it great and having the transmitter strap on your belt is a really great idea too.

I’m going to start saving my money now!

Now, if I could only come up with an idea for a really cool robot to build.

Thanks for having a well-planned technology transition strategy laid out for the next few years. We run five teams at our school and thus have a fair bit invested in VEX components. Upgrading over several years IS an option, but doing it all at once is not.

Don’t know why this wasn’t apparent to the organizers of certain other robotics competitions… but thanks for laying it all out in the open here.


the new controllers look like they’re from the Xbox 360. Nice!

And thanks from us down the street from Jason (he got me involved in all this you know).:eek:

We have the same problem of many teams so when you upgrade we may have to make a gradual transition:cool:

Maybe I missed it, but is there an upgrade to the processor itself, and of course capabilities?


Sorry, this missed my eyes somehow.

Excellent, I really can’t wait for the VEX 2.0 microcontroller and/or VexNet.

Question: As the picture shows, can we expect USB controllers like the FTC Logitech controllers to replace the Vex brick controllers? I really think this would be a good move.


It is possible that the new signal splitter due in Mid October (I think) is compatable with Vexnet?

That would be cool.

Just a thought…

Just out of curiosity, what happened with the old signal splitter? I remember reading something about them not working.

They were somewhat faulty. Some people reported that the servos were jerky when they were plugged in. Besides that I don’t remember any other problems.

Oh, well as long as they weren’t catching fire or anything, I don’t feel too bad about recommending them a while back. Thanks for clearing that up.

Nice. When is it going on sale?

I blew several fuses on my HB-25s working this issue. It’s the only vex product I haven’t been happy with…:frowning:

I am used to using pairs of crystals in my classroom. I’m sick of crystals getting lost and damaged and I didn’t enjoy tracking down missing competition crystals at events. However, I’m familar with how they work.

I am excited by the prospect of never worrying about two kids using the same frequency or chasing down competition crystals.

However, I’m uncertain as to how VEXnet will manage this. Do the dongles come in pairs like the crystals, just with unique IDs?

If not, how do we make sure VEXnet connects the correct transmitter with the correct robot controller?

Can we assign each robot controller and transmitter a unique ID number (like Vex team number)?

How does it all work in competition situations with field control for multiple fields?