VEXU should not be V5 only

So now that there is an updated timeline for V5 and teams have the opportunity to transition over the next year or so I wanted to point out a flaw. VEX is giving VRC teams 2 years to transition and giving classrooms however much time they need to transition. However VEXU teams are required to use V5 this year.

Using VEX official estimates a new foreign VEXU team should expect to receive a kit 3 months from now (assuming they order today and don’t wait any time to get funding). That would mean receiving the V5 kit at the beginning of December. They are completely banned from competing without V5 so they are not able to compete until ⅔ of the way through the season.

(April - December) can’t compete
(December - April) can compete

In the beginning when V5 estimates were “all shipped by end of the summer” the idea of VEXU being V5 made a lot of sense. The newest timeline (even assuming it goes perfectly) seems to really hurt growth of the VEXU program. I would suggest completely removing this restriction from VEXU. If VEX/RECF would like to make the restriction exist for Worlds only that would be satisfactory as well. If Worlds had this restriction and normal events did not I would suggest prioritizing the 80 teams that make Worlds should there be more V5 availability issues.

@Paul Copioli @Grant Cox

I should clarify that I am reasonably confident VEX will meet its newest predictions for V5 shipping. I am just noticing that those predictions can be quite harmful for the VEXU program.

While I do agree with you. I’d like to point out that a new VexU team would be forced to wait for V5 simply because Vex is out of stock on 393 motors and the old cortex bundle is estimated to ship in 4 weeks.

Unless they opened up the use of non vex motors, the new teams would till be stuck twiddling their thumbs


One thing about U-teams, though, is that there is usually some proficient CAD designers, so there is a lot of work that can be done prior to getting parts. For our U-team, I’m hoping at least to get them some motors piggy-backed onto our MS/HS VRC orders, so they can do some early building, too, even before they have their own brain/controller.

There are several ways for a team to get a cortex and 393 motors not just new from I expect many teams will be happy to sell their old motors on cheaply and you can get second hand cortexes on eBay as well.

To the comment about the difficulty of even getting 393 motors, you can buy them from other teams or if re-sellers happen to have them in stock.
Regardless of doing CAD, August-December is competition season. During that time, it is expected that competitions should run and teams should compete. Although that is a worst case for international teams, only allowing V5 annihilates those teams’ chances of competing (and regions, too!) and significantly inconveniences even the US teams that aren’t going to be the first to have v5 shipped. Considering how much of a presence international teams have in VexU, I’d think there would be some form of remedy necessary.

Or the school could have already owned cortex kits, or the students could own kits. There are so many ways a new team could get their hands on cortex equipment. Even if some potential new teams are not helped by the proposed change, I think the majority would be.

Some time ago I asked the question about using the V5 with 393 motors (via a power expander) since I’m sure teams are going to get stuck in a kind of no-man’s land of having hardware already built based on 393 motors but no old Cortexes to use. I presented that question to the general forum a week or so ago to get a sense of whether this is a practical idea, but I haven’t asked officially.

This change to VEXU stopped us from having a team this year. We have plenty of cortexes and 393’s to make a 2 robot team, but as a club team don’t have the money for all new electronics let alone the availability issues. We aren’t their target audience, college clubs are. I get it, it’s a biz decision and I don’t fault them for that, but it kinda sux.

BTW, we have a bunch of 393’s in different levels of togetherness. May offer them all up in one sale if a team is interested. Would need to be an experienced team that is used to swapping out components and such like we did. And zip tying motors.

I don’t see the reason why VEX hasn’t reverted their “no v4” ruling. These VEXU teams are expected by VEX to have the funding to buy the new control system on a dime; shouldn’t they be able to expect VEX be able to deliver v5? And while us competitors can sympathize and understand that there have been understandable delays, isn’t it VEX’s responsibility to solve the issue, not the teams? Why do the teams have to take the hit in season time when it’s VEX that couldn’t deliver fast enough? I have to admit I’m personally unaffected, but it’s saddening to not even see an official statement addressed to VEXU.

Well said. 393s and cortexes for Vex U just makes more sense. The more vex prevents teams from building, the less students are interested in the program and the less they get out of it.

Yeah forcing V5 for VEX U isn’t going to encourage more teams to do it, if they don’t have the product in front of them. I agree.

Having all the “freedoms” this year doesn’t mean anything if you don’t actually have the product to make use of all those freedoms.

Indeed. There are a lot of things going on “outside” in the maker world, lots of off-the-shelf stuff just waiting to be cobbled together into educational experiences. Any idea of strong-arming people to buy into the latest product and accelerating the transition might just backfire if they are too hard about this. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been feeling around to check where the ejection handle is, you know, just in case. :slight_smile:

Even for college clubs (like our own team), it takes time to actually receive money from the time of request (up to a month in some cases). Even then, there’s no guarantee your funding request will be granted. We’ve had to strategically plan funding, cortex-trade in, and V5 shipment delays into our timeline for the season. We likely won’t be able to start fabrication of robots until the start of November.

If the V5 only rule is here to stay, I would strongly advise the RECF not to have any official qualifying tournaments for worlds in 2018. Teams will have significantly less time to work on robots with the V5 delays. VEX U teams usually get one shot to qualify for worlds. I’m sure everyone wants to make sure they’ve built a quality robot for that qualifying event.

Right, this is an active barrier preventing more teams from competing.

I know sitting in the VEX U session at the EP Summit they really wanted to expand VEX U.

VEXU teams have more limitations on meeting times and build availability.

I know of a few VEX U teams that won’t really have the time to build a quality robot.
I really think the decision should be made to allow Cortex equipment to be used at the VEX U level.

I agree. Unless there’s some concern with allowing the Cortex that I haven’t heard of, I think VEX U teams should definitely be allowed to use the Cortex.

I couldn’t agree more with this post!

A little bit of background on myself as I do not post frequently, skip the next paragraph if you don’t care:

I have been competing in VEX since Gateway with a uber competitive mindset. Every year earning a spot to the world championship and doing fairly well there. I am an event partner and I also help run a good majority of all of the robotics events in Virginia.
Sack Attack - Division champion - 1575D
Toss up - Division Semi-finalist - 1575D
Skyrise - Division Design award - 1575A
Nothing but Net - Division Champion, Division Design award - 1575A
Starstruck - Division finalist, Division Design award - MASON1
In the Zone - Division finalist - MASON1

There are a few issues with the forced V5 usage for VEXU teams.

  • College Financial Stuff and Cooperation
  • Compressed Event Preparation Time
  • Diving into a World of Unknown

College Financial Stuff and Cooperation

Some universities are ok with spending money for clubs outside the school year and some aren’t. This means that some VEXU teams are required to wait until the beginning of the fall semester before they can even get their school to place an order. In some cases that means they might not be able to even request an order until the beginning of the fall semester. This leaves teams stuck waiting until December to even begin trying to understand and harness the power of the new control system. This is a problem that for some VEXU teams is unavoidable just because of the way the university handles money. The only thing a student can do to combat this is take up the responsibility of purchasing the equipment on their own and then file for a reimbursement from the university. However, that assumes that the student is financially able to do this and wait until the semester begins to try and schedule a meeting to explain why they need to be reimbursed. As a college student I don’t think many would be open to this financial burden.

Compressed Event Preparation Time

The VEXU season is already fairly compressed and the world isn’t dying to host more VEXU events. VEXU teams season are normally defined by the proximity of different events. This means if there are only 2 events that are close enough for your team to travel to then those 2 events define your entire preworlds season. We normally plan to attend up to 3 competitions every year because of the travel distance. Normally these events are between in February or March which is not too bad if we were to get our V5 in December and were a High school team who had significantly more free time. However, because college students have a lot less time to commit due to class and work related responsibilities that really just leaves maybe 4 meetings assuming a once a week meeting schedule and an early February event. On the more competitive side you would get 3 meetings a week so maybe you can get 12 meetings before your first event and then maybe a 2-3 weeks before your next event. This is not the recipe for achieving new things and taking advantage of all the new capabilities of the V5 but instead having a mad dash to build something, anything that works and can be quickly practiced and maybe given an auton that works sometimes. I think with the current restriction of only using V5 combined with the further compression of an already compressed season we will not see teams taking full advantage of all the different freedoms that V5 is supposed to let them unless they are the first few to receive their V5 or pour a lot of hours into exploring their freedoms at the cost of them not being ready in time for the competition.

Diving into a World of Unknown

I understand that the V5 is supposed to be superior to the cortex in many ways but one thing that the cortex does have over the V5 is understanding. It has been around long enough for people to understand the workings of it. I know V5 has the knowledge database and that there are help documents and forums but because we are all new to the system it will take time for the knowledge to flow so that teams are able to compete at a higher level than they were with the cortex. Not a major issue but we should still consider that because teams are new to the V5 that it will take time for them to be able to use it to empower them beyond the limitations of the cortex.

I’m sure I missed a few things or did not perfectly articulate the ideas but in short I think that VEXU should be given some transition time instead of being forced immediately to use V5.

I would expect event partners to have “Special Event Rule Modifications” in the situation of many teams not having V5s(or at least for scrimmages).

I agree with the premise of this idea completely, but it does have one major flaw. Because of the trade-in program, my two VEXU teams have already sent in a total of 4 cortex systems to get the discount codes for V5. So even if the ruling was changed now, my teams would be in double trouble. On one hand the ruling to allow the use of the cortex system would not do us any good due to trading our systems in, and because of how our university handles finances, we are not allowed to spend any money until at least late September - early October. On the other hand, if they did not change the ruling my teams will still have to wait for funding to come in to order more systems and then wait for them to ship to us. With a tight financial budget each year, money is better off spent towards the new, more powerful system.

I see and understand that struggles the other VEXU teams are going through, but changing the decision about the use of V5’s only at this point in the game could put VEX Robotics in a worse position. I am very pleased to hear about the updated shipping estimates and I believe that VEX will make those without further delays. I just do not think that changing a rule as big as that one will fix everything. A lot of us are already in the process of switching to V5 and changing the ruling could really disrupt that for a lot of us.

I’m not trying to play devil’s advocate here, but both sides of the situation should be explored in depth. If more VEXU teams can share their experience here, a bigger picture can be seen.