Understanding VEX IQ Beams and Plates

Beams, Specialty Beams, and Plates make up the structural components of the VEX IQ System. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of VEX IQ Beams and Plates and their functions. Although the Beams and Plates in the (1st gen) and (2nd gen) kits vary slightly in color and variety, they function in the same ways.

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This picture illustrates IQ (2nd gen) Beams and Plates.

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This picture illustrates IQ (1st gen) Beams and Plates.

The VEX IQ structural parts include:

Beams

1x Beams

The 1x Beams are the narrowest of the structural components. They are ideal for assembling specialized structures such as the grabbers for a claw assembly or as a general part to make connections on the robot. For example, a 1x Beam can be used to make a supporting connection between a tower and a drivetrain. The 1x Beams are not as structurally rigid as the other structural pieces, however they can be connected together in layers with one another which will significantly help them from bending and twisting.

They have a width of one pitch unit(12.7 mm / 0.5"), which in this case equals a width of one mounting hole. The 1x Beams come in both even and odd pitch lengths ranging from 2x pitch through 20x pitch. In most cases, the pitch length equals the number of mounting holes running the length of the Beam. There are three exceptions to this rule, these are the 1x2, 1x4, and 1x6 and 1x16 (2nd gen) Beams. These three Beams all have a center mounting hole in addition to their other mounting holes. 

Grabbers of a Claw Assembly Supporting Structures 1x2, 1x4, and 1x6 Beams
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2x Beams

The 2x Beams have a width of 2 pitch units. Each 2x Beam has 2 rows of mounting holes running the length of both outside edges, plus the beam has a set of center row holes. These center holes also run the length of the beam, however they are offset by ½ a pitch from the outside rows of holes. This arrangement of mounting holes allows for a multitude of assembly options. The 2x beams are ideal for assembling robot chassis, lifts, and arms. They are compatible with all of the Corner Connectors, however using the 2x version of Corner Connectors provides two points of connection which creates a better attachment between parts.

Robot Chassis Robot Arm
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The 2x2 Shaft Lock Plate is often confused with the 2x2 Beam. In most cases this is not an issue. However, if the center mounting hole of the beam needs to be used for a Connector Pin, Standoff, or Shaft, the 2x2 Beam must be selected because this location on the Lock Plate is a square hub.

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Specialty Beams

Specialty Beams are uniquely shaped and angled beams. There are Right Angle, Offset Right Angle, and Tee shaped Beams which provide a solid 90 o corner. There are 30o, 45o, and 60o Angle Beams which allow the VEX IQ building system to have numerous options for assembly angles.

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In an assembly which may need extra strength, these Beams can be connected together in layers which will significantly help them from bending and twisting. The Angled Beams look very similar to one another and can be easily misidentified.

To assist with a correct beam identification, it can be helpful to match the beam up with the illustrations on the Kit Content Poster or use the Check Angle diagram found in the beginning of most VEX IQ Robot Build Instructions. Specialty beams can be used in many different robot structures such as mounting a VEX IQ Brain, building a claw, or creating a hook for the robot to hang from a bar.

Mounting VEX IQ Brain Robot Claw Hook for Hanging
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Plates

Plates are great for adding structural support to a robot. They are available in a variety of lengths and widths. Plates have a mounting hole pattern which matches the 2x Beam mounting hole pattern. This pattern is a line of mounting holes and then a line of mounting holes which is off-set by ½ a pitch. Plates are ideal for building robot towers, plows, and any other application where a strong structural component or a large mounting surface area is needed.

Robot Tower Plow on a Robot
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For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus