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Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Activity Outline

  • This exploration will introduce students to basic programming of the V5 Clawbot's Claw Motor.

  • Learning to program the Claw Motor enables students to properly control how the V5 Clawbot grasps objects in its environment.

The V5 Clawbot is ready to grasp!

This exploration will let you start creating some cool projects that use the V5 Clawbot's claw to grasp objects.

  • VEXcode V5 Python commands that will be used in this exploration include:

    • claw_motor.set_position(0, DEGREES)

    • claw_motor.spin_for(FORWARD, 90, DEGREES)

    • claw_motor.set_timeout(2, SECONDS)

  • To find out more information about the command, select the question mark icon next to a command to see more information..

    Image of the Help in VEXcode V5 open in a Python project window

  • Make sure you have the hardware required, your engineering notebook, and VEXcode V5 downloaded and ready.

Materials Required:
Quantity Materials Needed

VEX V5 Classroom Starter Kit (with up-to-date firmware)


VEXcode V5


Engineering Notebook


Clawbot Template (Drivetrain 2-motor, No Gyro) example project


Aluminum can

Step 1: Preparing for the Exploration

Before you begin the activity, do you have each of these items ready? Check each of the following:

  • Are the motors plugged into the correct ports?

  • Are the smart cables fully inserted into all of the motors?

  • Is the Brain turned on?

  • Is the battery charged?

Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

Model each of the troubleshooting steps for the students.

Step 2: Start a New Project

Before you begin your project, select the correct template project. The Clawbot Template (Drivetrain 2-motor, No Gyro) example project contains the Clawbot's motor configuration. If the template is not used, your robot will not run the project correctly.

Image of the file menu open in VEXcode V5 with Open Examples highlighted

Complete the following steps:

  • Open the File menu.

  • Select Open Examples.

  • Select and open the Clawbot Template (Drivetrain 2-motor, No Gyro) example project.

  • Since we will be programming to control the claw, rename your project ClawControl.

  • Save your project.

  • Check to make sure the project name ClawControl is now in the window in the center of the toolbar.

Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

  • Since this is a beginning activity with programming, the teacher should model the steps, and then ask the students to complete the same actions. The teacher should then monitor the students to ensure that they are following the steps correctly.
  • Make sure that the students have selected Open Examples from the File menu.
  • Make sure that the students have selected the Clawbot Template (Drivetrain 2-motor, No Gyro) example project. You can point out to the students that there are several selections to pick from on the Examples page. As they build and use other robots, they will have a chance to use different templates.
  • You can ask students to add their initials or the name of their group to the project name. This will help differentiate the projects if you ask the students to submit them.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Stop and Discuss

This is a good point to pause and have the student groups review the steps that were just completed on starting a new project in VEXcode V5.

Step 3:  Program the V5 Claw to Open

We are now going to begin by programming the claw to open!

Image of a started VEXcode V5 Python project with a set claw motor position command

  • Write the claw_motor.set_position() command as shown above in the programming area to set the starting position for the claw.

Image of a started VEXcode V5 Python project with a set claw motor timeout command added

  • Add the claw_motor.set_timeout() command as shown above.

    • Notice that this instruction appears before the claw_motor.spin_for() command. Its purpose is to set how long the Claw motor can run and stops it after that time. So even if the motor doesn't move a full 60 degrees, the project stops the Claw motor after two seconds have passed.

Image of the started VEXcode V5 Python project with a spin claw motor command added

  • Write the claw_motor.spin_for() command as shown above to open the claw 60 degrees.

  • Select the slot that the project will be downloaded to on the V5 Robot Brain by selecting the boxed 1 icon to open up all available project slots and select the desired slot.

  • Connect the robot to your computer or tablet. The Brain icon in the toolbar turns green after a successful connection has been made.

  • Click on the Download icon next to the Device Info icon to download the project to the V5 Robot Brain.

  • Check that the ClawControl project has downloaded to the brain in the slot you chose.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Model First

Model running the project in front of the class before having all of the students try at once. Gather the students in one area and position the Clawbot so that its claw can be seen by all. If you plan to demonstrate more than once, you can gently push the Claw closed between runs.

Tell the students it is now their turn to run their projects.

  • Run the project on the Clawbot by making sure the project is selected and then press the Run button. Congratulations on creating your first project for moving the Claw!

Step 4: Try This: Close the V5 Claw

Now that you have programmed the claw to open, you will now program it to close.

Now that you can open the claw, you will want to close it as well.

  • Return to your ClawControl project and add an additional claw_motor.spin_for() command to have the Claw Motor spin closed for 30 degrees. The claw should close half of the way because it originally spun open for 60 degrees.

  • Test that your revised project has the claw open for 60 degrees and then close for 30 degrees by downloading and running your ClawControl project.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Solution

Previously, the Claw opened for 60 degrees. Included in that project was a set motor timeout instruction because it is an important practice to set a timeout when powering a manipulator that could have its movement restricted in some way. Setting a timeout prevents unnecessary wear on a motor.

The following is this step's solution:Image of a sample solution for opening and closing the claw in VEXcode V5 Python

Step 5: Try This: Sequencing Multiple Movements

Not everything that you pick up with the claw will be the same size. Try opening the claw to different positions along the range of motion.

  • Spin the motor in order to:

    • Open for 70 degrees

    • Close for 20 degrees

    • Open for 10 degrees

    • Close for 30 degrees

    • Close for 25 degrees

  • If the Claw Motor starts at 0 degrees, how many degrees is the Claw Motor open at the end of the project?

  • Begin with the Claw Motor closed.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Solution

The solution to this step is presented below.
The Claw Motor is still open at 5 degrees at the end of the project: 70 - 20 = 50 --> 50 + 10 = 60 --> 60 - 30 = 30 --> 30 - 25 = 5 degrees.Image of an example solution to spin the claw motor for varying numbers of degrees in VEXcode V5 Pyhthoe

Step 6:  Completing the Lock Tight Challenge

The Lock Tight Challenge

  • Program the Clawbot to securely close the claw on an empty 12-ounce aluminum can without crushing the sides.

  • Have the Clawbot hold onto the can while it raises and lowers its arm for 45 degrees.

  • The Clawbot should then release the can and back away from it.

  • Start the challenge with an opened claw and an empty can within it.

Teacher Tips icon Teacher Tips

  • Have students start the challenge with an opened claw and an empty can within it.
  • If the can gets crushed or falls out of the claw, the challenge must be restarted after adjusting the project.

Teacher Toolbox icon Teacher Toolbox - Solution

Here is an example solution: Image of an example solution in VEXcode V5 Python

  • The project sets the timeout, closes the claw around the can, lifts and lowers the can, releases it, and then backs away.
  • Programming Rubric

     (Google Doc / .docx / .pdf )