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Mark McLeod
12-14-2006, 01:08 PM
Dear Teams,

There has been some concern recently over some of the announcements made regarding the Vex Programming Kit and also the new Innovation First partnership with Revell. I would like to address those issues and clear up some of the confusion.

For teams that prefer to use EasyC as the programming tool, EasyC v2.0 has been the requirement since the registration system was opened this year and since the FIRST Vex Challenge was unveiled. At that time Innovation First and intelitek were still working on an agreement to update the Vex Programming Kit to that version. Now that a deal has been reached, those companies have graciously agreed to upgrade all the Vex Programming Kits bought as part of the FVC Bundle Kit. Those are the only programming kits that FIRST and Innovation First can determine were sold directly to FVC teams. The Vex Programming Kit is a very powerful tool, and has been even more powerful with the addition of EasyC v2.0. At this point, all the Vex Programming Kits shipped by Innovation First, as part of FVC Bundle Kit or not, are shipped with the new version.

Users that bought the programming through RadioShack will need to upgrade separately. We’re told the vast majority of programming kits sold by RadioShack went out the door at half price, so most of those buying the upgrade to 1.1 are still paying roughly $99 total. You can contact intelitek, support@intelitek.com, to purchase an upgrade. Teams that competed last year in the FIRST Vex Challenge should already be using EasyC v2.0 as it was a requirement for that competition also.

FIRST is making every effort that it can to limit what teams need to purchase to compete. Unfortunately to properly support this year's game we must have the competition templates that are only available in EasyC v2.0. Teams that used EasyC v2.0 last year during the FVC competition do not need to upgrade EasyC. Teams only need to download the master code for the Vex Controller and follow the instructions to update it.

I'd also like to say a few words about the Revell announcement that was made this week. The partnership between Revell and Innovation First has no impact on the current Vex product and will not cause teams to need to upgrade existing kits. The kit shown in the Revell announcement is an additional Vex product for the mass consumer market. It is a product that should be available through a number of retail stores. It does not replace any of the products currently sold by Innovation First. The existing platform will continue to the basis for educational and competition opportunities around the Vex product. The new product will not be available until the Summer of 2007 and will not cause any changes for the 2006 FVC season. Further, Revell has agreed to include information on FVC in every consumer Vex kit sold which will greatly improve the visibility of FIRST and the FIRST Vex Challenge!

For the 2007 FVC season, the Game Design Committee will evaluate the production models of the new Vex product. FIRST will determine at that point whether the new product is competition legal. The existing product will be supported in the 2007 competition. Innovation First has assured us that the existing products will not be discontinued. Quite to the contrary, they are reporting that sales are brisk and accelerating ahead of plan.

If FIRST has to incorporate new technology in the competition to keep it fresh and exciting, we will do so in a structured and determined manner. Similar to FIRST LEGO League, any major change in technology would occur over a period of years where both old and new technology would be supported. That however, is not happening at this point in time.

Finally, let me say that the release of these two announcement this week as a matter of coincidence. FIRST worked with Innovation First and intelitek to release information about the programming kit as soon as it was finalized. The Revell release is completely independent of this and they are in no way related.

I hope this clears up some things. We expect this to be a great competition season and wish you luck with all your designs. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have more questions.

Sincerely,
George Marchant
Director, FIRST Vex Challenge

Sent: Mon 11/6/2006