Competitions - Technology Student Association (TSA) Challenge
For questions relating to the TSA competition, please post at the TSA Forums
Below you will find a description of the TSA Challenge
What is the TSA?
The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design, and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs.
The Grand Challenge is a staff designed course which is not revealed to participants until the day of the competition. Before the competition, participants are provided with a list of conditions and situations to prepare their robots for. On the day of the competition, the participant’s programming knowledge and preparation are put to the test as they work to traverse the course in a limited amount of time. The robot that makes the most progress without stalling out or deviating from the course wins! In this iteration of the Grand Challenge, the Cortex-based robot must:
To accomplish it’s task, the Cortex-based robot is equipped with:
Instructions for building this robot can be found here. If you’d like ideas for creating your own Grand Challenge, check out this document for some inspiration. Note: All materials are part of the VEX Cortex Video Trainer. Check it Out!
Listed below are a combination of PDFs and videos which will help you get started using the VEX CORTEX. They will take you through building a robot, getting the CORTEX up and running, and writing code.
Build a robot
Dont have a robot built yet? Here is a simple design, complete with step-by-step building instructions.
Preparing the Cortex System
ROBOTC requires special firmware to communicate with the Cortex and Joystick controllers.
- Download Cortex Master Firmware [Video] - Update the Master Firmware on your Cortex using ROBOTC
- Download VEXnet Joystick Master Firmware Part 1 [Video] - Download the latest firmware to your Joystick
- Download VEXnet Joystick Master Firmware Part 2 [Video] - Part 2 of downloading firmware on your VEXnet Joystick
- Pairing the VEXnet Joystick with the Cortex [PDF] - Pair a VEX Cortex microcontroller to a VEXnet Remote Control
- 4a. VEXnet Joystick Calibration [PDF] - Procedures for calibrating the joysticks
Download ROBOTC Firmware to Cortex [Video]
- 5a. Driver Installation [PDF] - How to install the USB-to-Serial-Cable Driver
Download a ROBOTC Sample Program
Sample programs provide already-working examples of how to program in the ROBOTC language, and can be downloaded over VEXnet or USB.
Option 1: Downloading over VEXnet
Option 2: Downloading over USB
Modifying Code Examples
Make changes to a sample program to see how your modifications affect the robots behavior.
View FREE Webinars!
Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Academy will be offering a webinar on how to get started programming the Cortex controller. The webinar series will last 6 weeks and is designed to help you to learn how to get your cortex Controller up and running.
Links to the webinars can be found below:
- Week 1: Resources and ROBOTC Features
- Week 2: Remote Control Programming
- Remote Control Sample Program (Right-click, Save As)
- Week 3: Moving with the Shaft Encoders
- Week 4: Moving Straight with the Shaft Encoders
- Week 5: Wireless Debugging and Competition Templates
- Competition Code (Right-click, Save As)
ROBOTC for Cortex
This set of lessons is currently under development and should be complete by the end of October. This will get you started.
Carnegie Mellon VEX Curriculum
The VEX curriculum is a one stop shop for students that want to learn how to get the most out of their VEX hardware and software.
To learn how radio signals are sent, how much current that your robot will draw, how much weight will a motor lift, or the relationship between gears, speed, and torque go here:
To learn the logic behind how to program your robot, how your VEX sensors work, and how to program in ROBOTC go here:
To learn how to use a multi-meter, how to solder, how to crimp, how to fasten parts to your robot, or how to tap a hole go here:
Teaching ROBOTC for IFI VEX Robots
This set of lessons assumes that you are a new programmer that is just beginning to use ROBOTC and VEX hardware. Move step-by-step through these lessons learning about fundamental programming logic, how to control your robot’s movement using code, how to program your robots radio and how sensors work. Invest a little bit of time with these units and you will be
programming your robot to do all kinds of cool things.
If you are having issues with the PIC or Cortex microcontrollers and using ROBOTC please check here:
The forums provides a place where you can quickly find answers to your questions. If you are having issues with code and cant find the answer, search the forums or post your question and others can help.
Click here if you've never used a forum and want a quick guide to logging on, posting questions, and using the built-in search function.
Learn about what the community is doing with ROBOTC go to the ROBOTC Blog.
Never used a forum before? Click here
There are specific forums for different competitions. We can add forum support if you request it.
Looking for VEX hardware? Browse through our online store to find what you need: