The Vexmen of Brandywine Robotics

Blog Post

Breaking Down The Vex Online Design Challenges

Each year Vex offers a set of online design challenges that allow students to explore CAD design, making a fun second robot, tearing apart a piece of electronics, and teaching others about robotics. These challenges are due January 13, 2016 and can take some time to put together a quality production. The Virtual World programming skills entries are due March 1.

It can win you an entry to Vex World Championships too!

Learn more about the challenges here: challenges.robotevents.com/

Another important note before we get into each one. If your team does make it to compete at Vex World Championships, your team must have completed two online challenge entries to be eligible for the Excellence Award. Since we will be completing one entry for the club, this means you only have to complete one additional challenge. Some Vexmen teams from previous years have failed submitting a design challenge and were not eligible for Excellence. We want to see any of our teams that make it to world championships be eligible for the top award so please keep this in mind.

Club Level Challenge Entries


These challenges will be submitted by the club so you do not need to enter these. We will take these on. The website counts for the entire club. Mr Schneider will be assembling the Promote Award video for the Vexmen this year and needs old video from everyone.

Website Challenge
Vex Promote Award

IQ-Only Challenge Entries


This is our first year with Vex IQ teams and there is a team promote video just for IQ. This is open to all the IQ teams to show why it is great to be in Vex IQ.

IQ Promote Award
IQ Virtual Worlds Programming Challenge

The IQ Promote award is

Last year’s winner:

The virtual world programming challenge uses Robot C Virtual Worlds to try and score the most int he virtual worlds. It is not clear to me right now if it is autonomous or driving but I will update this once I find out.

Team Challenge Entries

These are the main challenges each team should be thinking about completing. Some are much easier than others.
Some you will need Autodesk Inventor which is a professional CAD software. As a student you can download Inventor Professional for free. It is a steep learning curve and make sure you have a capable PC with at least 8GB of memory, a good graphics card, and a fast disk (an SSD really helps but is not necessary).

Vex Photography Challenge
(Take It Apart) TI Electronics Challenge
Educate Video Challenge
Vex Virtual World Programming Challenge
Robot Construction Challenge
Make It Real CAD and Build Challenge
Game Design Animation Challenge

These are in order of easiest to toughest with the first challenge being particularly easy. You take a picture, write a few sentences about it, and then upload it. It should be of Vex content but most likely a picture you would be using in your engineering notebooks. The downside is that winning this is not a ticket to worlds but a gift certificate for Vex parts. It is open to IQ teams as well as VRC teams so every team should be able to enter this one.

The second item is a new contest this year. Texas Instruments wants kids to take some electronics apart and tell them what they find and detail the parts and what they might do. “We want to challenge you to look at your world with the eyes of an engineer and explore the inner-workings of an electronic device of your choice. Once you choose a product, you will deconstruct the device, catalog what you find inside, and then submit a final report with your findings on what you discovered.” You will need to write a short report about what you found inside which will be fun if you don’t expect the item to continue to work afterwards. (Also open to middle school IQ teams)

The next is an Educate video where your team will describe some important Vex competition or build item that is the secret sauce to your success as a team. This year they want to have information on how you mange your team during build time or during events. They really want something that would be useful to other teams to learn from you. A three minute video seems long at first but once you get rolling you will have to find ways to edit it down. (Also open to IQ teams)

Another new challenge this year is Virtual Worlds programming skills competition where you use Robot C virtual worlds to program the robot in there to score as much as possible within the game time. You will need Virtual World license and a joystick like a Logitech F310. Your code and score will be submitted to ensure there were not glitches in the virtual world being overcome.

No come the tougher entries. The Robot Construction Challenge has you build a robot that will help out in the classroom in some way. It can be a caddy, a board eraser, or an automatic gum scraper. The overall size is limited to a 72″ perimeter so it can add up sooner than you want. You need to use Vex parts primarily but can augment the robot with a few non-Vex items.

The make it real challenge will have you design a new Vex game part and then 3-D printing it. They would like to have an assembly if possible too. So this gets tricky real quick – especially if you have not used CAD before. There are some 3-D printers at the high schools so we can ask once you CAD it. (also available to IQ but this is a daunting task for anyone)

The last one is the game animation contest. The rules ont his are wide open for you. You have to come up with a Vex game that will “incorporate a principle of mathematics or physics in a meaningful way in the scoring and game play of your entry. This might make use of limits, Fibonacci series, mechanical advantage, discrete mathematics, ballistics, Boolean logic or anything else you can think of that falls within the bounds of math or physics. The best games will require the participants to understand the underlying mathematical and physics principles involved to be successful at the game.” So you need to have a game that uses a math or physics principle as its basis. Then you need to draw the game in 3-D and animate it. No one at the Vexmen has submitted one of these animation entries in the past.

For those challenges requiring CAD, you can get Inventor here: www.autodesk.com/education/competitions-and-events/vex/all-products.