Vex robotics kit???

Hi,
Anyone have one? Comments?
Is it possible to program it without buying the programming kit? Can I build my own interface and
cables? What about the software, compiler, etc.?
How reusable is the remote control. Looks the the PWM hardware is not in the receiver, but rather in the controller interface box. Unlike a hobby R/C unit that generally has everything built into the receiver. So, if you want to use other receivers, is this possible? Will it work with other company's receivers?
Thanks,
Win
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Win Heagy wrote:

Meccano that died and went to heaven.

The quick answer is "yes". Google "vex mplab" and "vex easyc" and you'll get a lot of hits. A couple of places to look for information are <http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f 6> and <http://www.vexlabs.com/forum/ .

The receiver outputs signals encoded as PWM that are interpreted by the onboard controller and acted upon. The servos are controlled directly by the PICs--you can program it to operate autonomously with no receiver at all.

Possible, yes, but likely more effort than it's worth unless there's some compelling reason to do so. There's a serial port on the controller that's intended for programming but there's no reason it can't be used for a control interface instead--that would likely be an easier route for alternative remote control.

--
--John
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I briefly explored this while I owned it for a couple of days --- then I took it back after researching various questions like the ones you are asking. I emailed the guys at Vex Labs ( http://www.vexlabs.com/ ) hoping I could use the Pic Quick Start kit to do the programming, but the bad news is that you do need the programming kit itself. The guts underneath the hood is just a Pic chip, and I would guess that some serious Vex hacking will be coming to the net in the near future, but for now I'd say you probably need the kit. It's only 99 bucks at Radio Shack. I would also guess that after Christmas you might see quite a few Vex odds and ends on eBay - so then might be the time to snatch them up !
From what I could tell, you needed to have the receiver plugged into the controller unit, since it uses a phone handset type cable. You could not plug the servos into the receiver. The transmitter was nice - 6 channels and various adjustments for trimming output !
The guys at Vex labs were very helpful in answering my questions and determining that it was not what I needed for my near term projects.
Hope that helps.
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Well, this link - as given by J.Clarke - discusses hacking it up yourself, but for $99 it might be worth just spending the extra cash: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?s šbf310e5feb7bcf9fd11535a 3ccc204&t7660
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this link might be less likely to break:
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t7660
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Yup! :-)
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    --Thought about it but I still prefer the Parallax equivalent because it's a hundred bucks cheaper and the documentation is much better.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Nihil curo de ista tua
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : stulta superstitione...
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What is the Parallax equivalent? Not sure I'm familiar with that.
Win

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If he meant the BOE-bot, it's a real apples-oranges comparison.
The strong point of the VEX system is that it's modular and open-ended. There are lots of structural pieces, gears, wheels, belts, etc., all designed to be compatible with each other. The gears and wheels fit on the motors and servos. The motors and servos fit into slots in the rails. The rails come in all sorts of sizes and have the same hole spacing. It's a modular system designed for rolling-your-own robot. See, for example:
http://www.botmag.com/articles/mythbusters_test_the_vex_robotics_design_s ystem_1.shtml
Another nice thing about the VEX system is you'll be able to run down to your local store and buy the individual pieces you need today. And we'll be able to say to each other, oh yeah, you need Radio Shack part no. xx-xxxx here and attach that to Radio Shack part no. yy-yyyy using a Radio Shack part no. zz-zzzz.
The strong point of the BOE-bot is the documentation. If you want to learn about using microcontrollers in robotics, that's a great place to start. But the BOE-bot isn't meant to be an open-ended, modular robot construction system any more than the VEX system is meant to be an introductory course in the use of microcontrollers in robotics.

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