The Vex Robotics Design System challenges your problem solving skill as you design and construct radio-controlled devices that push the boundaries of experimental intelligence.
The Vex Starter Kit is filled with three variable-speed motors that can rotate continuously clockwise or counterclockwise, one servo motor that moves forward and back through a 120-degree arc, multiple gears, multiple wheel types and sizes, a configurable chassis-well. Vex robots do use plastic for wheels and gears, but all other parts are constructed mostly from metal what makes them much more sturdy than many other robot kits.
With over 500 parts, the Vex Robotics Starter Kit lets you create virtually any robotic device your mind can conceive. Simply roll over a part to find out what it is. To control it you can use the remote control only, let it operate autonomously, or have some combination of the two.
Building a robot has long been a difficult, expensive, time-consuming thing to do. Thanks to the Vex Robotics Design System, robot building has hit the mainstream. You can control the robot using the RC controller or you can try your hand at programming it using the included microcontroller. Remote control with alternate frequencies lets you operate multiple robots at the same time. The maximum operating range is about 35 to 40 meters.
The Vex set is more than a little intimidating at first: hundreds of small pieces, sensors, wheels, battery pack etc. but with some help from the large website full of photos, videos, manuals you quickly start out building something.
Everything is crafted very well and fits together well and there are plenty of additional pieces you can buy- better motors and wheels, more sensors. All pre-formed plates and angles are riddled with holes so that no drilling or machining is necessary. Unlike Legos, it can be really hard to translate your ideas into a Vex architecture- it is much harder to just sit down and play with the robotics kit than Lego Mindstorms. The Vex kit is aimed at high school ages or above.
When buying this kit take the manufacturer's advice and invest in rechargeable battery setup (sold separately) which includes a charger.
Wit this kit it's rather easy to incorporate all sorts of additional equipment including components not specifically designed for the Vex system. This flexibility makes Vex different from that other popular general-purpose robot construction systems.
The Vex kit was developed by RadioShack in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, in Pittsburgh.
The program contained inside the Vex Controller can be changed. This allows you to configure your robot to behave to any situation it might encounter. To change or program the Vex Controller, you need the easyC Programming Kit or our Prototype Programming Kit. With easyC relatively young kids can program robots to get them to do what they want them to. The programming is transferred to the robot's microprocessor by way of a serial cable plugged into the computer. Unfortunately the easyC does not allow you to create your own subroutines. The more advanced Prototype Programming Kit includes a prototype Programming Module, cables, the Microchip MPLAB IDE, the Microchip C18 Compiler for Vex use, and the Innovation First IFI Loader.
The Controler module contains two PIC18F8520 microprocessors with sixteen ports that are shared among analog and digital input/output functions, and eight more are dedicated to driving motors. One of the processors can be programmed by users to control the robot while the other processor takes care of housekeeping tasks, such as looking after the controller's communications systems. The controller module can also be configured to use a basic, but fully autonomous, preinstalled program that enables a robot to feel its way around a room on its own.
The Vex Starter Kit contains only 4 sensors: two rugged bumper switches and two more sensitive microswitches intended for detecting such things as whether a gripper has grasped an object. Advanced users will probably want to buy such Vex accessories as the light sensor or the ultrasonic range finder.