Rookie Team Questions


Maybe we shouldn’t give engineering students too much free time, or they find ways to fill it up.

Our organization is returning to the VEX HS Robotics Competition after a 3 season hiatus. We had some questions on restarting our team.

  1. What extra parts should we order?
    a. Our organization already has lots of old Cortex parts made of steel (we are associated with a PLTW school) and has some newer V5 electronics. We do have some aluminum parts, but not many. We happen to have some flex wheels in stock, but were looking to possibly order more, as these seem to be a popular part on robot intakes these days. We want to know what are the more common flex wheels that are used on robots (of course, we will still work our way through iteration and testing with different flex wheels if we have the time and resources, but we do not want to order parts that we are very unlikely to need/use) Our team was also wondering what the frequency of use for gussets were. Are gussets only used when parts don’t seem to hold themselves square after breaking, or when?
    b. Another related question to this is are there any Cortex parts that we should not use in competition? We are aware that we cannot use the Cortex microcontroller, MC29, motors, servos, really old three wire motors, and/or flashlight. Are there any other parts (especially structural parts) that we might have missed and aren’t clearly brought up in the game manual section on (dis)allowed cortex parts?

  2. How do teams begin/style their notebook?
    a. We looked at the 515R notebook that was posted on recently, and have also looked through the judges rubric and notebook template on, but we aren’t sure where to get started as a rookie group of robotics students.
    b. Our team has already begun writing notebook entries in a google doc, but we aren’t sure whether to continue with our current notebook format or change over to the published ones.

  3. CAD Libraries?
    Our school taught us Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor, so we are comfortable using CAD software. For our team, we believed that using Fusion 360 would be the best method of explaining our ideas and modeling. One roadblock that we faced when beginning to model our robot, however was trying to find an updated CAD library. We wanted to ask if any community members could point us towards a complete VEX CAD library. (we already have added field assemblies/game pieces from this year).

  4. Mentor time-commitment?
    How much do your teams’ mentors commit to your team each week? We are looking to minimize the load on our mentors, and want to create a student-driven team. What are some ways we can work to accomplish this goal?

  5. Programming Language(s)
    We noticed a lot of discussion on the different ways VEX robots could be coded including PROS (C++), python VEXCode, and blocks VEXCode. Many members of our team have taken AP Computer Science A, and as such have experience with the JAVA programming language. We would prefer to use a text based language and look at all options that we can use before selecting one to code our robot with. Are there any other coding languages/programs that we missed?

  6. Are there any considerations that we may have missed as a group of students who are restarting a VEX Robotics Competition High School team (we know what kind of time commitment we are taking — kind of at least)?

We can’t wait to have the chance to compete with other teams, are planning on having a lot of fun participating in the VEX Robotics 2023-2023 Competition Season in Over Under!

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As for part you are definitely going to want aluminum especially this season cause robots need to be light to climb efficiently
For cad invetir is good if you find a library but another good program is protobot its designed specifically for vex
As for mentor time ive heard of parents swaping out son kids could be there
And c++ is probably the best programing language

Get plenty of spare 2-wide c-channel, you will need a lot of that. 1x1 aluminum angle is very helpful for making a light but sturdy robot. Make sure to get a lot of screws, nuts and standoffs, which can be bought from for cheap. I highly recommend the shoulder screws and color coded screws if you are buying more screws, those are very helpful. Make sure to get spare V5 batteries and motors, and some of the 5.5 watt motors (while they are in stock). It’s up to you if you want to purchase pneumatics if you don’t have any, though they are currently out of stock so good luck.

I would recommend getting a decent selection of all sizes, but stick to 30A durometer (the light grey ones) unless you have a very specific plan for them.

I rarely use the 90 degree gussets, as there are often more efficient ways to mount things at an angle. But they are useful sometimes, so it is worth it to pick up a pack. I would get the 45 degree ones ( the old steel ones with the round holes), as those are very useful.

Cortex parts really only refers to the electronic parts, there are no structural parts (to my knowledge) that are banned. You can always check the vex website and see if a part is labeled as “legal for use in VRC” if you are unsure.

I personally use for my digital notebook, I like it a lot but it does take some effort to set up.

I personally prefer Inventor, it is (IMO) the most efficient cad for handling large assemblies like vex robots, and has the most updated libraries. The most updated Inventor library can be found here:

It is a little out of date, though, and hopefully they will release a new one soon.

I’d say that the mentors should be there at least on practice a week, just because it often helps to be able to bounce ideas off of an adult who… may think a little differently in some ways… especially about rebuilds…
Of course, the mentors should stay pretty “hands off” with the robot, and should really only provide ideas, feedback, and support in different ways.


The purdue sigbots library on github is being constantly updated, up to a few days ago with the “new” 5.5w motors:

If you download the zip directly from github, though, theres a chance that the files get corrupted, so I would recommend using something like Github Desktop to download the library


Thanks for the responses.

After looking through our organization’s inventory, our team realized that we have very limited aluminum stock (about 6 pieces of 2-wide by 35 c-channel) and will make sure that we put some aluminum structure pieces onto our budget/wishlist.

We also will probably look at getting new V5 batteries, as our current ones have been acting a bit funny, and don’t provide power to the brain unless they are hooked up to the wall (we have not tried diagnosing with a battery medic yet, and this is on our to-do list).

Our team really values being able to allow all members access to the CAD to make changes/view progress, and as such probably will be sticking to fusion 360 (especially after the recent discontinuation of GrabCAD, which we used for some smaller CAD-sharing projects previously). Our team has experience with not crashing large Fusion 360 assemblies too frequently for complex assemblies, but we may pivot to Inventor if we find that Fusion doesn’t like us.

Once again, our team appreciates the helpful responses, and will use them to help guide our decision-making.

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