Vex Competitions details

Hi everyone,

does anyone know the details of the Vex competitions? It says it is 100 dollars to register, and another 150 dollars to compete. Does that include parts, or would we have to buy them from another place. If so, what would you say is the best place to buy the parts? Any information on the VEX competition is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

You need to purchase parts separately from or another vendor (you want the VEX EDR line for VRC competitions). There is no Kit of Parts in VEX. The control system alone will run you $400. I would estimate that to be competitive is anywhere from $1500-2500 dollars in parts, although a lot can be reused year to year.

The competitions themselves are definitely a lot more low key than FIRST events, but they can be a good option for teams that don’t have the resources to pursue FRC, or as a training ground for up and coming members.

The cost of competitions are mostly determined by the group hosting the events.

The parts are very restrictive (but fun to use) so read the rules about what can be used.

The Place for information.

The Vex forum is probably the best place to ask questions.

I competed for 5 years (my former team were world champions) but i have to say as crazy as this sounds First is cheeper (or it has been for the teams i was on) in vex we had a working budget of 10k and 20 students on 5 teams with new parts and batteries to run in the top tier. (only two teams were really any good) in first we recently ran off around 7.5k with our registration fee. again 20 students (only 5 or 6 really dedicated). the biggest difference is that you can get usable materials donated from local business in first (someone has some scrap bolts and a little 80/20 they would prefer to give you over a hundred bucks). although the build and competition season is longer in vex its no where near the same experience for you our your students. but this was about the price of a vex team so here’s my break down

1 team
$3-5k parts (to start)
$300-750 practice field ($250 for elements yearly)
$0-2k replacement/new design parts
$200 tools (allen wrenches, dremel, vice, ect.)
$250-1.5k competition (we went to 6-8 plus worlds if you make it)
$5k travel (for worlds)

My good friend joe said that the parts are reusable some are but most are not, we broke between 3 to 6 gears monthly in prototyping, every competition we burnt a motor or two (although that was with 5 teams) we cut the metal further and further down ( a beam that started at 18" and would end up as 1" bracket) bent axles from dropping the robots (yes this happens, every month someone would accidentally knock/drive one off a table) screws strip, kids can even ruin micro controllers (I’ve seen a v0.5 smoke im still unsure how). the biggest problem i have with vex over first is that you can’t get vex parts locally, some things are overpriced and although vex parts are well engineered. (message me and ill tell you the ways we got around some parts of the monopoly (legally don’t worry Karthik))

But with all this being said I’ve seen a team with 5 year old parts with rust on them beat a team with a $5k parts budget its all how you do things (again I’ve got tips) regardless of all this competitive robotics are expensive but many companies will help fund you if you pitch it the right way.

I apologize for being all over the place with the reply and any spelling or grammar

I would say this is at the very high end of a VEX team budget, at least for a single team (single robot).

Even as a member of a VEXU team I couldn’t imagine spending this much money on one robot.


Paul’s old VEX team operates in a very high-end way :). Some of us on other teams bent our axles from heavy robots when we couldn’t afford aluminum, not from dropping it! :stuck_out_tongue:

In my experience, the difference between VEX and FRC robot budgeting is that in FRC, you make the majority of your purchases explicitly for the robot in question as it is designed, just because you can put just about anything you want on it. Only teams who have extensive in-house fabrication capabilities, or teams that have large elements of their design “style” really locked in place can afford to do it otherwise. In VEX, it’s much more practical to have just about anything you’d ever want to put on your robot on hand, due to the limited number of legal parts. As a result, many well-established VEX programs, often those with multiple teams, strive to do exactly that, and have a vast stock of VEX parts available to their students that far exceeds what would ever be the sum of their robots’ parts. This also helps with the extreme iterative nature of VEX, where complete robot rebuilds several times a season are commonplace for most of the more competitive teams. One way to offset this a little is to emphasize prototyping using dirt-cheap means, like wood, cardboard, PVC, and duct tape like we do in FRC, rather than using VEX itself as the prototyping system when parts aren’t available.

5k in parts, plus 2k for new designs may be quite a bit much if you’re just starting out with one team, but there are also far too many people who will tell you “VEX is super cheap, just register, buy a $500 Dual Control starter kit, and you’re good to go!”. You simply won’t be able to compete on any meaningful level without investing quite a bit more into parts. A practice field makes a world of difference as well.

This goes for any robotics competition based around a kit and a limited subset of parts. Plenty of FLL and FTC teams exist that just work off a barebones kit, but the teams that strive to be the most competitive, and in my opinion, the teams that open their students up to the greatest opportunities, strive to go well beyond this and push the limitations on parts to their limits.

It adds up quick especially for your first year 4 standoffs are $20 i used like 40 on my best bot.

thanks, i think haha.

Its true you could get a protobot to do the challenge every year with little modification but to truly get the most out of it you have to aim not to only be competitive but to strive for greatness. if its worth doing its worth giving 100%. My team was a bit extreme we put 20+ hours in a week had weekly rebuilds of major subsystems and two weeks before any competition the robot had to be 100% done, tested and the auto working or we would be forced to cancel (unless it was our home competition) most times we had a second robot built just to play around with different concepts. once we even divided up the team and fielded both for fun. the crazy part was there was only three of us.

We didn’t have first at my school (we did the year before i was a freshmen) so we ran a vex team like a first team and did things a bit differently than most.

This year, we’re spending about $10,000 to start 6 Vex teams. This includes a 20-seat RobotC license, and one full official playing field perimeter and elements for the six teams to share. We’re starting just with 6 of the Competition Super Kits. The annual operating costs will be much lower, in the neighborhood of about $400-$500 per team (hopefully).

This is actually not true. Here is a link to the product page:


This is much more in line with I typically see. The typical VEX team around here spends $2000 in their first year on parts. In subsequent years they’re spending about $500 a season on additional parts. Team registration fees are either $100 (first team at the school) or $50 (additional teams at the school), while event registration fees run from about $25-$200. Just like in FRC, there are some very high end teams that are spending big money, but that’s far from the norm.

//Edit: Full disclosure. I work for IFI and VEX Robotics, and am the Chairman of the VEX Game Design Committees

Definitely this. Last year for our large 24" college bot we spent maybe around $3500, and that was not only a larger college level vex robot, but it was also probably the densest robot any of us have ever worked on.

That $3500 also included raw materials we had to buy such as delrin, sheet metal, etc. which aren’t components high school teams get to use.

Finally we lumped in a bunch of new tools into that amount as well as last year we were stuck building the robot at my apartment, definitely no machine shop.

We’re on pace to spend less than $1000 on our college robot this year, and that is including all of the custom parts (machined delrin, sheet metal, 3D printed, etc.).

Also, if you’re smart about where you buy things, things can get cheaper quickly. Things like standoffs, fasteners, zip ties, rubber bands, latex tubing, velcro, foam, spacers, washers, pneumatics, and tools can all be bought at other online retailers/distributors such as McMaster, MSC, etc. or even at stores like Walmart, etc. As long as you make sure a component is identical to what VEX sells, you’re okay. There’s even more provisions for things like fasteners, where they opened the rule up and said:

Maybe the best example of where you can save money is the pneumatics. Rather than have to buy one of the kits on VEX robotics, you can buy individual pneumatic components that you need directly from SMC and you’re cost will be greatly reduced. You just have to be very careful that the parts you order from McMaster are also offered and identical to what VEX sells.

In general, look over <R7> in the manual to get an idea of what parts it is okay to use outside of items sold by VEX. Also make sure, only VEX Robotics Design System products are legal. You cannot use VEX IQ or VEX Pro parts on your robot.

Hope that helped some.

-Nick is a great source for information. Take a look at these past threads for some incredibly detailed sample budgets.

Sorry about that, i haven’t been competing for 2 years before it was normal for teams to use as much identical parts. I believe at one point standoffs were around that price for the 4" so we would buy them from also PWM cables were much more expensive than they are now so we used the Hanson hobbies servo connector kit (a must for any first team) to make our own. It seems as though the prices for vex components has fallen over the last few years probably from a rise in demand. when i first started in 2008 it was really pricey (back in the time of bridge battle) the parts really came a long way since i first started. i remember throw away all the chain because it would always break. then cutting off the treads on tank tread to get a usable material, now there is HS chain with a ton of different ratios. I’m jealous of the new kids getting to work with the parts and more powerful motors (10 393’s we could only dream of such power) and even with all those new parts i look back at it and my old teams and see them all copying a NZ design, it really saddens me. But enough about that. I still think if you really want to get enough parts to fully engulf yourself in the design process it would be between 3 to 5k.

2.5k to start (initial parts to get a feel for the system)

I know its not all necessary, i could probably shave $500 off but you spend almost 1k on batteries, the cortex and motors alone. pneumatics are not required but pretty common on robots (i wish they would sell the air tank separately because thats what you really need sometimes (also wish they would consider a plastic tanks like the ones we have in first))

$500 for the first robot (all the parts you didn’t get enough of)
$500 for improvements and repair (your not always happy with what you had at first.

But as a disclaimer I’m not talking about the type of team that meets once a week for an hour. I push my students to the MAX during competition season and i did my teammates back on the vex team. Its ok to fail if your design didn’t work or parts break, its not ok when you didn’t give it 110%. i used to hear “its not fair your robot is better” and they would go on to tell me that they didn’t have the funding or the skills. our team raised our own money (wrote and visited companies and got donations) we were self taught (vex forum, competition videos and talking to people about there robot) its all doable its all in how much time and effort you want to put into it. anyone can be a world champion but its by no means easy.

sorry, I missed this post, there are a bunch of teams out there who operate on budgets similar to the one mentioned but its amazing the difference a few hundred bucks can make. if your in an industrial area its not that hard to raise the money to make it to that level.

i would like to point out that the robot was drawn up on cad before so they only budgeted what they needed for that robot, when your starting up you usually don’t have students who know cad and you need parts to prototype with that may not make it to the final robot. so a starter kit may be necessary and also i remember my first robot in high school no cad, barely any math, just kinda fooled around with parts until i came up with something that almost worked. and even if you cad your robot, you go through several iterations to really get it right.

you cant develop robots like these on a $1500 budget.