What to buy for a new team?

I was going to post this in the VEX in the Classroom section, but it gets next to no traffic, so I thought I’d try my hand over here.

There’s a new team starting up in my area, they want to field 2 robots. They asked for some recommendations as to what to purchase for the season.

Regardless of their budget (which is $5000 by the way), I started scanning through the VEX website in each section, placing parts onto a spreadsheet and calculating total cost.

I chose these parts based on what my team uses as well as what I’ve seen at competitions. I hope I’ve compiled what is a highly competitive and all-encompassing list of parts that a brand new team needs.

You’ll notice that there is hardly any steel and I’ve neglected the classroom or competition starter kits. This list was meant so that the parts they order today will be competitive for years. On our team, steel is hardly ever used anymore and I think it’s a waste to buy “cheap” now when it won’t be competitive later. I know you can still be competitive with a steel chassis, but when they buy more aluminum next year, it would quickly fall by the wayside.

So I’ve listed this here for two reasons.

  1. I hope this helps new teams.

  2. I wanted some opinions on which parts could be steel and whether or not I’ve missed anything at all. I’m trying to get this down to maybe 4000-4200 total since tax and shipping is going to be significant.

I appreciate any input!

Here’s the link:

There are all sorts of good kits to purchase, as I am sure you are aware of. My two pieces of advice are to:

(1) Purchase what you will definitely need, and do not spend a lot of money on what you may not require. For example my team this year purchased several tank tread kits, assuming that we were going to prototype with them, however we never ended up using them. Don’t purchase super specific items for the sake of it.

(2) Leave extra money in the budget after the first order. Don’t spend the $5,000 all at once, because you may find you need something extra, or more motors, or pistons, ect. Leave enough money leftover so that you can have a second order with specific items you may not know you needed initially.

Good luck!

Do they have 5000 just for parts? Or is that their entire budget for the year?

Also Robotmesh.com (free shipping over $75)

Look hard at the clawbot dual control starter kit and run the numbers. There is way more than $499 in parts when you consider the vexnet bundle, motors, batteries and chargers.

Wow you’re right :smiley: I feel so foolish for overlooking these kits :o. It’s going to seriously drop the cost. Thanks!

EDIT: So after removing the parts that are already included in the Dual Control Starter Kit, the total cost is about $3932, I can’t thank you enough!

Alright well I pulled something together that includes pistons (sometimes these are essential for being competitive) however a power expander is not and price is around $4000. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmElCnoHzP2udGo4d19lajF2RmQ0Q2ZpRVZVTEVIOWc&usp=sharing

Another thing I will do is message you another way you can save money.

Your list looks good, and as you said they will have the parts to be competitive, but if I were in your position with this team I would also give them the knowledge to be competitive (i.e.: bar linkage systems, the 1103 elevator lift, the 3018 4 bar from 2010, haulonomic drive, h-drive, 6 wheel drive, etc.).

I don’t know if you have thought of this already, but I thought that I would at least put it out there.

A perennial question… some of the kits discussed in this thread have since been updated, and there are a few new parts, but if you follow it through you might find some insightful advice from people who know more than I.



We are planning to mentor this team as best we can, although there is a bit of distance between us. Such is the way in LA, the city of the commute.

You might want to invest in some more batteries, since you have two power expanders in the order already. The extra batteries can either be used to allow faster rotation in a tournament (especially during lengthy elimination rounds) or saved for later as brand new batteries for a bigger / harder tournament where every advantage can help.

We will definitely work with them to teach them some of the mechanisms made over the years. I think the clawbot kits will help familiarize themselves with the parts.

Because this team has a pretty decent amount of cash to start, I wanted to avoid steel. Eventually, teams end up using all aluminum with a little bit of steel for the weird stuff they’re not sure will work or for prototyping. And I don’t want them to have a surplus of steel with no purpose in the future.

However, if anybody thinks that they need more metal, more steel really, then I’m all ears. The point about pneumatics is a good one and one I’ll try to work into this budget.
The list is good to get them going with 4-bars and hopefully whatever mechanisms they come up with, thats what I hope.

I’ll up the battery to 8 total, should be good for them for a comp. I think $1000 should last them the year, though I have yet to confirm with them whether thats the entire budget or parts budget.

Many of the smaller hardware components can be purchased in specific sizes and quantities outside of vex. I see that you have 10 standoff packs, that’s probably not the best way to get standoffs.

We got asked this question enough that we wrote down some advice on what to buy for people who want to start up competitive teams.

I removed the prices because we have them listed in NZD and i thought that would be more confusing than helpful. It’s not a list of what to buy, it’s general advice on what’s important and what’s not. Hopefully it helps :slight_smile: and if you spot anything you disagree with, we’d like to know so we can improve it.