Building with VEX V5

The VEX V5 system has been designed from its conception for an easy, entry level, and there are many resources that will help you get started with your new system.

For more information on VEX V5 Kits refer to this article: Select a Robot Kit - Get Started with VEX V5.


This article will provide you with some resources which will help you with assembling your first robot.

Note: Throughout this article, you will find links to other VEX Library articles and resources that will provide more detailed information about each of the subjects.

Getting organized

As you start to unpack your VEX V5 Kit, the first thing that becomes obvious is there are a lot of parts. The first steps to success are to identify these parts and organize the parts.


Identifying the Parts

VEX Robotics separates its VEX V5 parts into three categories:

  1. V5 Electronics
  2. Structure
  3. Motion

The V5 Electronics include devices such as the V5 Robot Brain, V5 Controller, V5 Smart Motors, V5 Robot Battery, V5 Robot Radio, sensors, and cabling. The Structure parts include things like metal C Channels, U Channels, Angles, Plates, gussets and fasteners. The Motion parts include all of the things which move, such as wheels, gears, sprockets, and other accessories.

One way to identify all these parts is the inventory found at the beginning of the builds for each of the kits:


Another method of identifying parts is to search on the part name/part number from your kit’s part list and match them to the images of the parts found on the VEX website.

How to Organize Your Parts

It is important to develop a method of storage and organization for your VEX V5 system. Many users keep their system in a storage bin. VEX has a storage bin which provides a good option for storage and organization. The VEX storage bin has a storage tray which nests conveniently within the top of the bin and a top cover molded to allow storage bins to be safely stacked on one another. The compartments within the storage tray work well for the smaller parts from the kit. Whereas, the larger parts can fit conveniently under the tray.


If you have multiple kits, such as within a classroom environment, additional organization can be helpful. Once you have established an organizational system for each kit, it may be helpful to create labels or labels with pictures to help students return the parts in the kit to their assigned location.


Labeling each of the kits with a unique name is also helpful, such as Kit A, Kit B, Kit C etc. Labeling the V5 Robot Brain, V5 Controller, V5 Smart Battery, V5 Robot Radio, and V5 Robot Battery charger with the unique kit name will help establish which device belongs to which kit.

Initial Kit Setup - Get Started with VEX V5 is another helpful reference.

Powering Up

After you become familiar with your kit’s parts and organize your kit, the next step is to prepare your V5 Robot Brain and V5 Controller for use. This will include:

  • Charging the V5 Controller.
  • Charging the V5 Robot Battery.
  • Connecting the V5 Robot Brain with the Battery power cable to the V5 Robot Battery.
  • Connecting the V5 Robot Brain with a V5 Smart Cable to the V5 Robot Radio.

In addition, your V5 Controller will need to be paired with the V5 Robot Brain and your V5 Robot Brain will need to have its firmware updated.


To assist you there are VEX Library articles providing details on how to accomplish each of these tasks. The articles are listed below.

Charging the V5 Controller

Charging your Controller is accomplished with the USB connection.


For more information on your Controller refer to:

Charging the V5 Robot Battery


The next step in powering up your VEX V5 system is to charge the V5 Robot Battery. This is accomplished with the V5 Battery Charger.


The V5 Robot Battery can be firmly secured to your robot using the V5 Battery Clips.


The V5 Robot Battery has LED indicators to report the status of the battery.

For more information about charging the V5 Robot Battery refer to:

Connecting the V5 Robot Brain to the V5 Robot Battery


After the V5 Robot Battery has been charged, it will need to be connected to the V5 Robot Brain. This is accomplished using the V5 Battery Cable. The V5 Battery Cable has a locking tab and can only be inserted in one orientation. The cable needs to be firmly inserted into the V5 Robot Brain and the V5 Robot Battery until it locks in place.

For more information about connecting the V5 Robot Battery to the V5 Robot Brain refer to:

Note: The Battery Cables are available in different lengths.


Connecting the V5 Robot Brain with a V5 Smart Cable to the V5 Robot Radio


The V5 Robot Brain and it's V5 Controller communicate wirelessly by using the V5 Robot Radio. The V5 Robot Brain and V5 Robot Radio are connected with a V5 Smart Cable between the Smart Port of the V5 Robot Radio and any of the 21 Smart Ports on the V5 Robot Brain. The V5 Smart Cable has a locking tab and can only be inserted in one orientation. The cable needs to be firmly inserted into both devices until the tabs of the V5 Smart Cable connectors locks in place.


The V5 Robot Radio has LED indicators to show the status of the radio. For more information refer to, Connect to the Competition Field - Competition Robots for VEX V5.

The following articles can assist with connecting the V5 Robot Radio


Pairing the V5 Robot Brain and V5 Controller


After the V5 Robot Brain and the V5 Controller both have charged batteries, you will need to pair the two in order to establish communication. This is accomplished by tethering the two together with a V5 Smart Cable and powering up the V5 Robot Brain.

Once a V5 Controller and a V5 Robot Brain are successfully paired this will not need to be done again. For more information regarding pairing a V5 Controller with a V5 Robot Brain refer to Wireless Connection (Pairing) - Controller for VEX V5.

Updating the Firmware

Many VEX V5 products contain their own internal processors and run on a special Operating System. This software is the VEX V5 Firmware and is called VEXos. It is important to update your new equipment’s firmware in order for it to function correctly.


For more information on updating your firmware refer to these two articles:


Help with Instructions

There are a number of options for building your first robot. Whether it will be the V5 Clawbot whose instructions came with the Classroom Starter Kit, one of the many builds found on the VEX Robotics site, or one of the builds found in the STEM Labs; it is recommended to start with a set of instructions in order to familiarize yourself with the VEX V5 system before assembling your first custom-designed robot.


Overview of Build Instructions

One of the types of instructions to build a robot are called Builds. Some are referred to as ‘Hero’ builds. These are starter robots for the VEX Robotics Competition.


Builds are either a printed document such as the Clawbot V5 Build Instructions which comes in the Classroom Starter Kit or a .pdf which can be downloaded from the VEX Robotics site.


Each of these builds includes a set of helpful hints, a complete inventory of all the parts needed, and detailed steps which will guide you throughout the build process.


Overview of the STEM Lab Build Instructions

STEM Lab Build Instructions are part of the V5 STEM Labs fun and educational activities. These instructions include all of the information found in the other builds.


Some of the Web versions of the STEM Lab builds have additional navigational aids.


  • Slide show index- navigate by selecting a slide.
  • Slide show menu bar - navigate by selecting the circle which is linked to the slide.
  • Advance/Back arrows - advances or backs up the slide show one slide.
  • STEM Lab navigation - provides navigation for the STEM Lab.

Helpful Hints for Using Build Instructions

A crucial part of the design and the educational process is making mistakes. As you build your first robot you will be experiencing this process.

Here are a few hints to help limit some of mistakes that can be made:


Inventory of parts - Be sure to collect all the correct parts prior to starting each step.


Green lines - Many of the illustrations for assembly will have green lines to indicate where parts should go.


Orientation of parts - Pay close attention to the orientation of parts within the illustrations. For example, a gear placed on the wrong side of a C channel will not work because it will not line up with the driving gear on the Smart Motor that will move the gear.


Notations for connecting cables - When connecting Smart Cables between a device and the V5 Robot Brain the number notation indicates the Smart Port number on the V5 Robot Brain the cable needs to be plugged into.

Assembly Tips

In addition to the many tips which are provided in the build instructions, here are some additional general assembly tips which will assist you with your first robot.

Information on Parts

The VEX V5 system has many different types of parts. Substituting the wrong part for an instruction set in most cases does not work. An understanding of the V5 parts can be very helpful.

Assembling Chain and Tank Treads

The VEX V5 system has chains and tank treads which can be used with sprockets. These parts are assembled by connecting individual links together and this allows for custom lengths to be used between sprockets. The links can be assembled by bringing two together at a slight angle, aligning the hole on one link with the boss on the next. Then twist the two links until they snap together as a unit.

Example of High-Strength Chain.

Example of Tank Treads.

To disassemble to chain/tank tread links, reverse the procedure.


One technique which may help when connecting the two ends of an assembled chain/tank tread is to lay the chain/tank tread on a sprocket while connecting the two ends.

What is Next?

Once you have assembled your first robot, you can now program it! The Coding with VEXcode V5 - Get Started with VEX V5 article will help you get started with programming your robot.

The next adventure will be designing your own robot. When you are ready to start building your first custom-designed robot, the following articles will assist you:

For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus

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