We are trying to spend our money according to a plan of what is useful…perhaps one should ask what Vex components are NOT useful?
I also wonder…how useful are the omniwheels?
Thanks for any further advice you can offer.
For smooth surfaces only,
Omniwheels are nice- they make great castors, and allow for smoother differential drive manuevering. They are also necessary for holonomic designs, which are fun to explore. However, if you are looking to save money in the wheel area, you can get a similar benefit(except perhaps for holonomic designs) by taking the tread off of any of the wheels, which gives you a smoother plastic surface that will slide reasonably well on smooth floors. Just not as well as an omniwheel.
If you are trying to put together educational kits for driving designs only, I’d put most of your money into as many starter kits as possible, the starter kit alone is the best value for parts if you have a bunch of students or teamates. You will need the crystal kits in order to run more than one robot at a time, though. You can also have one robot controlled by two people, using two radio control transmiters (the Vex controller has ports for two recievers, and the built in software supports 4 motor conrol functions per controller)
For more elaborate mechanical designs, the chain drive kit is great, I would say essential. The tank tread at $15 is a steal.
As for what is not “useful”- that depends on the level of autonomy you guys desire, and how much you’ll be programming. If none at all, then all you need are the touch sensors that come with the Starter kit. Otherwise, out of the sensors, it of course depends on what you robots need to do.
The only accesory I have not purchased is the extra radio- for a bit more money getting the whole kit is a better deal.
Also- good quality tools will help protect your investment. Get higher quality hex keys from vexlabs or good hardware stores. I swear by screwdriver-type hex drivers and socket wrenches as well. The keys that come with the kit are rather soft and lead to stripping of bolts rather easily.
If you elaborate on your needs, we can be more specific about what would and would not be useful for you. Hope this helps