Vex VersaFrame

Team 4618 this year made our robot almost entirely with the versa-frame, bearing blocks, and gussets this year. I can not say enough how amazing this system is.

The ability to take a system design and have it built and ready to go in under 30 minutes is amazing. It only takes a couple of kids, a chop saw, and a rivet gun to produce a robot part with extremely high precision. The gussets just simply line up the stock for you.

The ability to easily integrate any of the vex products with the system is second to none. It allows teams like mine to not have to worry about our lack of machining, all we need to do is buy the proper gussets (which are extremely well priced) and we can mount gearboxes like the pros.

I just want to really thank the Vex-Pro guys for coming up with this system. Our team built by far the best robot that we have ever built and simply put it could not of done it without the Versa-Frame.

I urge any team that may have cold feet to try versa-frame out. It allowed us to build a robot that in the past we could only dream about, and it will most likely do the same for you.

I would like to second the Versa Frame love. It was definitely an enabling technology for us, given our meagre shop resources.

I would agree completely that the VEX frame is the best thing allowing low resource teams to produce high quality and competitive robots. We ended up using the 2x1 for our base frame with a set of the versa blocks and a set of the WCP bearing blocks. This allowed us to not spend time on the frame but rather the gearboxes and elevator.
Adam Heard has always said that COTS parts can make a very limited resource team, very competitive and I 100% agree. This allows for no more box on wheel style robots.

We’re also huge fans of the versaframe line of products. We used the WCD sliding bearing blocks, the plastic clamp on gearboxes, numerous gussets - just about everything except the 2" x 1" VEX railing itself. It has undoubtedly allowed us to have flexibility in our design and is definitely a reason we have been as competitive as we have been. Plus it has really changed the way we think about making parts and assemblies as a team. We are sold on rivets and only use bolts where necessary. Thanks VEX!

A couple tips on how to make this look good (that I may have picked up from 1318’s robot, but I’m sure other teams have figured this out, too)

As soon as you get your parts, paint the gussets one team colour, paint the rivets your second team colour. For added effect, why not paint the structural parts in a contrasting colour? Black works, but so does something more neon.

THEN assemble.

It is zero effort, but it actually makes your robot look like you went out of your way to make it look nice.

I’m torn between admiring the simplicity and rigidity of the VEX system and whining “it wasn’t like this in the OLD days… you actually had to have some skills to make a nice, sturdy, robot.” :slight_smile:


We love it too. Just understand its limitations.

Air tube frame + Aerial Assault = you’re gonna have a bad time

We didn’t get so fancy as to paint the rivets, but pretty powder coat sure makes the VersaFrame look eye catching.

Almost exclusively built from VEXPro components. The arms are stock 2x1 because we wanted 1/16" wall for weight, and we do have generous water jet sponsors that helped us out with the plate, but neither of those things would be any good without the base provided by the Versa system.

Even with access to CNC machining and laser cutting I love the Vex VersaFrame/Chassis system.

We chose to use the Vex clamping bearing blocks over the traditional WCD blocks as we usually start work on the drive train before our robot is fully designed. This came in super handy in both 2014 and 2015 when we had to quickly enlarge the shaft clearance slot so we could tension the chain properly.

We even designed aour own clamping style gearbox

I love the versa frame. My only is issue with it is the fact that it uses 5/32 rivets. What my team chose to do was by the gussets and then make the tube with a cnc. I however see us cnc plasmaing the gussets next year to save money and all allow for 3/16 rivets. I am just such a big fan that I design custom drivetrains after it.

We also were not fans of the 5/32 rivets, so we just drilled everything out to 3/16th as needed. It was a little more time consuming but it made for really robust structure.

I can only add what others have already said here. We’ve won two regionals
and been finalists twice since we started using it. Our robot last year had been thru two regionals, CMP and an off season event with hardly any trouble at all. We even won the quality award at one of the regionals. Its held up very well last year even with a sprung catapult in our robot. Its very adaptable. We’ve been able to integrate 3/4" square tubing, 80/20,30x30 and 20x20 into it.

Last years robot was the first we ever had that used the belt and clamping block system. The only down side we’ve had was with the plastic clamping blocks slipping on the frame and the nuts turning in their places in the blocks.
We ended up using the cams to keep them in place. On last years robot we used the metal blocks and they never slipped.

We’ve learned to keep a good stock of both 5/32 pop rivets and hex bearings
on hand. This year we bought a pneumatic pop rivet gun to make putting
the frames together much easier. Both last year and this year we also made
a practice robot with it too. We’ve made custom gussets where needed.

We also love the Versaframe and general VEXPro product line.

We also drilled everything out to 3/16 rivets, we like them because it’s the same size as a tight fit for #10 bolts too.

Out of curiosity what rivets are you all using? We use some rivets in non-frame parts, but they always seem to loosen up over time, and we end up welding. I’m assuming you dont have this problem.

We used 5/32 rivets unless we really need some extra strength, then we may increase to 3/16.

We have found the best way to have solidly attached rivets are to make sure your holes are drilled properly and to the correct diameter. If you’re using 5/32 rivets, purchase a few #20 drill bits. If you’re using 3/16 rivets, purchase a few #10 drill bits. I always refer to table 1 on this website and it has never steered us wrong:

It takes way more effort to CNC plasma cut gussets than it does to drill out COTS gussets for a larger hole size. Especially because you’ll probably already have to drill the plasma cut gussets out to get the hole size just right. We just have new students drill out gussets for us when we use COTS gussets.

We’re lucky to have a sponsor with a sheet metal laser cutter and CNC brake, so all of our flat parts this year that were 1/8" thick or less were cut by them. Saved us a little money in exchange for a week of turnaround time.

We’ve never had rivets come loose, except for 5/32nd rivets installed on areas exposed to robot impacts. We use a mixture of 3/16th aluminum and 3/16th “high strength” aluminum rivets on our robots. Ensuring proper installation (properly drilled holes, rivets as flush with the plate as possible, installation of several rivets per part) is a big help, and creates a joint that is both more rigid and lighter than some bolted joints can be.

I assume your “high strength” rivets are the interlock style like these from McMaster. We use 5/32 most places, and those 3/16 where we want a bit more strength. The nice thing about those high strength ones is they’ll provide a bit of pull-up and clamping when you set them. The hardest thing to get through to my students and other mentors was that rivets won’t always clamp a joint together for you, and a gap between the two surfaces is a common cause for joints loosening.

My team has the cnc plasma in shop so for us it ends up being fairly fast compared to delivery. As for drilling them out, it is a fast process, all you need to do is clear it with the right size bit and a hand drill.