Archive for January, 2010

Cortex Microcontroller & VEXnet Joystick Beta Test Announcement

Monday, January 25th, 2010

With the release of the Cortex Microcontroller and VEXnet Joystick in April rapidly approaching, there is a new opportunity for VEX Robotics College Championship teams to assist us in final beta testing on these products.

Beginning on March 1, we will begin shipping beta bundles to all College teams registered and paid to participate in the 2010 VEX Robotics College Challenge World Championship (being held April 22-24 in Dallas).  This event is capped at 36 teams.

Teams participating in the beta test will receive the following hardware to test and compete with at the event:

-2 Cortex Microcontrollers
-4 VEXnet Joysticks
-4 VEXnet 802.11 Keys
-All required cables (2 handset cables, 1 USB A-A Cable, 1 Programming Hardware Cable)
-Access to a beta version of the new easyC for Cortex
-Access to a time-limited, beta version of RobotC

Participating teams will not need to return their beta test equipment (each beta package has a retail value of over $1200) as we expect these teams will put it to good use.

Any team that registers and pays for the VEX Robotics College Challenge World Championship will automatically be contacted by VEX Robotics (around March 1) and provided more information about the beta test.

Teams will be required to designate someone as a lead technical contact and provide this person’s contact information to the VEX Robotics Team. This person will be responsible for communicating feedback and also will have access to VEX Robotics engineers for technical assistance.

A big thank you in advance to all of the teams that will help test and improve these new products before their general release.

Questions about this beta testing program can be directed to John V-Neun via email at, subject line: “2010 Beta Test”

-The VEX Robotics Team

VEXpro Victor 884 Speed Controllers now available for discounted price

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

VEX Robotics and Innovation First International have been proud supporters of FIRST and FRC teams for many years and, as such, are always on the lookout for ways to assist the robotics community.

In an effort to extend our support of FRC teams, I am pleased to announce we are offering a discounted price of $89.99 on VEXpro Victor 884 (12V) Speed Controllers, an FRC-legal item, effective immediately.

Since 1999, VEX Robotics and IFI have supplied approximately 60,000 VEXpro Victors to FRC teams and we will continue to support FIRST and its teams for many years to come.

We hope this decision assists teams as they move forward with purchases for their 2010 robots. Remember to check out the more than 30 FRC-legal, VEXpro products at

Good luck during the rest of the build season!

Paul Copioli
President, VEX Robotics, Inc.

Victor 884 Speed Controller FAQs

What is the VEXpro Victor 884?
The VEXpro Victor 884 is a FRC-legal, 12V speed controller.  The VEXpro Victor was designed specifically for FIRST and has been used in robotic applications since the year 1999.

How many VEXpro Victors have been used by FIRST teams?
Since 1999, FIRST teams have used more than 60,000 VEXpro Victors.
What is the success rate of the VEXpro Victor?
From 2000 to 2008, Innovation First sent at least one representative to each FIRST event.  As such we were able to keep an extensive database of failures.  The success rate for the VEXpro Victor is over 99.9%.

What has allowed the VEXpro Victor to avoid the typical speed controllers failures?
All surface mounted components on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) and the board itself use conformal coating to isolate and protect the components and the PCB from short circuits due to metallic particles entering the housing.  This is especially crucial for use in FRC, where extensive robot work after the VEXpro Victors are installed raises the chance that they could be exposed to metal shavings.

How large is the VEXpro Victor 884?
The VEXpro Victor weighs approximately 0.25 lbs and occupies a footprint of approximately 2.5″x2″. This footprint is approximately 1/3 of the size of comparable speed controllers. The VEXpro Victor is the smallest DC H-Bridge speed controller used in robotics competitions.

Is there a special price for FRC teams?
Yes! VEXpro Victors are now available to all FRC teams for $89.99, 22% off the regular price.

IFI Names Executive to Lead Global Expansion of the VEX Robotics Design System

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Innovation First International Names Executive to Lead Global Expansion of the VEX Robotics Design System
New Corporate Structure and Management to Facilitate Continued Rapid Growth

Greenville, Texas – January 6, 2010 – Innovation First International announced today that Paul Copioli has been named president of VEX Robotics, Inc.   This newly formed and wholly owned subsidiary of Innovation First International and the position of president have been created to accelerate and manage the global expansion of the VEX Robotics Design System and related programs.

Mr. Copioli has more than 16 years experience in robotics, engineering and management and a strong background in competition robotics for education.  After receiving his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the US Air Force Academy, he received a Masters degree in engineering from the University of Michigan.  He joined Innovation First after working for Lockheed Martin and subsequently heading the mechanical product development group at FANUC Robotics America.  A long time mentor to school robotics teams, Mr. Copioli was recognized in 2005 by FIRST as the national Woodie Flowers Award winner.  The highest honor among mentors in the FIRST robotics community, the award celebrates effective communication in the art and science of engineering and design.

“Paul is a tremendous talent and is well respected as a leader among the professional and educational robotics communities,” said Tony Norman, president and CEO of Innovation First International.   “He is well suited to lead the further global expansion of VEX Robotics and the new corporate structure will allow us to focus our resources toward this end.”

“There is a pressing need to involve more students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs,” said Paul Copioli, president of VEX Robotics.  “VEX has proven to be a powerful catalyst to engage and motivate students and educators alike.  I look forward to serving the wide range of students, classroom teachers and organizers of co-curricular and extracurricular robotics competition programs currently using the VEX platform.  I’m also excited to lead the expansion of our global distribution network to reach even more students.”

The VEX Robotics Design System was launched in 2005 and has expanded rapidly in the United States and beyond.  VEX is the platform of choice for many middle and high schools that have adopted robotics in the classroom and for extracurricular competitions.   Intelitek, Carnegie Mellon and Autodesk have each developed extensive classroom curriculum based on VEX and are authorized resellers of the product line.  To meet growing global demand, the company is currently setting up additional sales and distribution partnerships in Europe and Asia.

The VEX Robotics Competition is the largest and fastest growing middle and high school robotics program globally with more than 2,000 teams from 20 countries playing in over 170 tournaments worldwide. The VEX Robotics Design System is affordable, robust and offers an assortment of over 200 of the most advanced educational robotics products available today.  See for more information on the VEX Robotics Design System and the VEX Robotics Competition.

About Innovation First International

Innovation First International, a privately held corporation, was founded on the belief that innovation very early in the design process is necessary to produce simple and elegant product designs. Innovation First began producing electronics for unmanned mobile ground robots and is now an industry leader in the hobby, competition, education and toy markets. The company’s award winning VEX Robotics Design System, HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures and RackSolutions span the education, consumer and business-to-business markets. In 2007, the company launched, an online portal dedicated to the advancement of educational and competitive robotics, which provides comprehensive information on the latest robotics competitions, educational workshops and information for teachers and mentors. The company also created the VEX Robotics Competition in 2007, designed to give a diverse group of students the chance to celebrate their accomplishments and share their passion for robotics with each other. Leveraging the company’s core competency in electrical and mechanical engineering, the RackSolutions division works closely with all major computer OEMs to provide custom mounting solutions and industry-wide rack compatibility for data installations of all sizes. In 2009 the company added offices in Hong Kong, China, and the United Kingdom to better serve the global marketplace. With an advanced in-house metal fabrication plant, distribution center, and corporate office located together in a 13 acre complex in Greenville, Texas, the company is poised to continue on a rapid growth path. Please visit for additional information.

Download PDF of press release.