VEX The Next Level

I think that at many points in a young mentor’s career in FIRST, he or she wishes they had just one more shot at getting behind the sticks and going for glory. Its an ache that lives inside of us…reliving those incredible moments behind the lexan, it plays in our heads over and over.

Speaking to those mentors…those who have moved on from the ranks of high school student…and even those mentors who may never have been a student, and yes, even those who are still students…

What if you had another shot?

What if there was a way to experience all the excitment of competition just like you used to, or always wanted to?

Until now, doing such a thing was not cost feasable…however with the invent of VEX, FIRST may have opened a door for us.

Here is the scenario…

A group of ::ahem:: NERDS might get together one day and create a game with the Vex design system in mind. The game might be a FIRST style type game. Who can play? Anyone who owns a Vex kit. Competitions could be run by anyone who has a field and a place to do so…anywhere in the country. Maybe even hold a National Competition type dealie at some point.

My question to you is…is this something you would do?

There is nothing concrete at all at the moment, but ideas have been flowing through the old squash lately (not to mention many diabolical game designs for such a competition if it were to happen). I just was wondering how people felt about the idea.

Have a great holiday,
Andy Grady

If I were remotely near any such activities, I’d be game.

grady, i think that you know my answer…the real question is do you think we can “borrow” kits from the kelso’s :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn’t this kind of what the Milwaukee League did? They were seperate from the official Half-Pipe Hustle this year, and it seems like they had great success. That considering, something like this would probably go over well.

I’d love to do have a mentors competition some time. It is hard to be in the stands and wonder what the heck they are doing down there. I wish I could just jump down there into the alliance station and grab the controls and show em how it’s done. :smiley: I don’t think I’d spend $300+ on Vex stuff for just one event, but if I knew it would happen in my area a couple times per year at least on a continuing basis, then I would.

I would assume if done, that this would be a multiple time a year thing, not to mention the kits will last you through multiple game designs.

The Milwaukee VEX League was for HS and MS students to use as a training ground for the approaching FIRST season. This is how the Fall WIRED Robotics Challenge (the event held on December 4th) will be used in the future, assuming it doesn’t interfere too much with the official FVC schedule.

However, what Andy is proposing here is something that we have discussed and are in pre-planning for. An “open division” may be in place for next year’s fall event, or more likely, may have its own competition as early as late May/early June. We don’t yet know if we would use the Half Pipe Hustle game, Uber Tuber game, 2005 Savage Soccer, or something completely new. The “open division” would be just that - open to anyone that wants to enter: students (if they feel up to it), parents, mentors, former drivers (I WANNA PLAY!!), etc. If the event happens in the spring, we may test out a new format for the competition as well, with several “events” in addition to the competition itself, that would be incorporated into the league in the fall.

Andy, I am very interested in this idea. See my PM coming later tonight or tomorrow for further thoughts.


While part of me thinks this is really cool (I’d certainly like to get to drive robots again:)) another part of me thinks it’s far more important for current FRC (or VEX) mentors to focus the vast majority of their efforts on mentoring students, and not their own separate competition.

Time is certainly a factor here and I agree with the concern, but I do like the posibilities. HS students mentoring/coaching the grown ups? Reverse the roles for the preseason? Training the rookies? Colud be a lot of fun.

You did hit something on the head which I did want to make a point about and forgot. Anything like this would definately be in the off-season of FIRST. I know for many teams FIRST is a year round deal…but I think the simplicity of VEX kits would make it fairly easy for most of us to find time to throw something fairly good together.

'til the end of december the buy in is $200 plus. rat shack has the starter kit on sale for $250 with a $50 rebate and free shipping. of course, if you pick one up at your local 'shack, you don’t get the free shipping.

A FIRSTer (I think his title is FVC Regional Coordinator) has ideas for a “Tournament in a Box”. A mobile Vex competition which ships to a site and has everything; instructions, field components, field control hardware and software, tournament software, etc. The thought was that anyone, even without any serious tournament organizing experience, could open the box and run a tournament. Andy, your proposal would be perfect for “tournament in a box”.

The other thought was to use this “unofficial” tournament as a recruiting tool. Off-season is definitely what’s needed. The plus side is that such a tournament would be a great tool for recruiting new mentors, colleges, and maybe new sponsors, to FIRST. Individuals, schools, and companies would certainly be looking for bragging rights from this type of event.

Andy, is this a new life for NERDS?


Do you have any more information about this tournament in a box type deal? I was furthering my ideas and thinking about ways to make a low cost event and field that could be run by just about anyone in the country…very similar to how off-season competitions are run. Things like PVC field borders as well as many reusable field elements would be a key part of making something like this work in a successful manner on a yearly basis.

As for the new life of the NERDS…believe it or not this idea isn’t really incorperated with the current idea of NERD…however it was something that I felt could possibly be a project of the NERDS in general.

I would love to hear more ideas and constructive criticism about doing such an event. Also, Art, with your Vex experience I would like to discuss more about this with you because your knowledge would be helpful in game and kit design.

Andy Grady

“game in a box”, “tournament in a box”, and the larger FVC Regionals are all in discussion at this point between FIRST and Radio Shack. However, there will be nothing to learn about these concepts for awhile.

In the mean time, you’d do best to set up a game, tournament, league of your own or use a version of Half-Pipe Hustle that works for you.

I am sure that FRC team 131 would lend out their kits to their mentors as long as I can play too.

Hmm…knowing those UNH kids, they would be interested too. They have kits.

Now, can we add bigger motors, more weight, and another battery?

Maybe, yes, and yes…

I am working on the logistics of the proposal which I hope to release next week. I have recieved tons of positive feedback (moreso than any other of my looney ideas) so I’m thinking this has a chance!



You know I’m with you!

And not only do we have plenty of kits to support some mentor efforts, we also have considerable experience making these small Vex-sized tournaments happen, and I know plenty of people (myself included) that would be willing to offer their knowledge in this area to help make it happen.

But don’t worry, I know you taught me everything I know :wink:

See ya soon!

Oh man… if this goes down I’m in. I’ll help with anything you need… if you need anything. I’ve always wanted to design a FIRST type game! WINK WINK