Clean Your Robot For Best Performance

Newgy Robo-Pong

"When setting up your Robo-Pong take time to clean the area properly. Block off areas where you might easily lose a ball. If it is a pleasure to use the robot, you will use it much more often and have a better time, while increasing your skills and improving your health."

Technical note: Another advantage to playing in a clean setting is that maintenance on the machine is greatly reduced. Depending on the amount of dirt in the room with the robot, the robot must be periodically cleaned, in particular, the Ball Discharge Wheel, Friction Block, and the Ball Feed Transfer Gears. The reason these parts get dirty is that when balls roll on the floor they pick up minute amounts of dust and dirt. These particles fall off the ball as they travel through the machine, ending up on one of the parts mentioned above. The worst enemy of the machine is hair (e.g., pet hair), dust balls, and carpet fibers. These can become entangled in the Ball Feed Transfer Gears and stop the machine from pushing balls up the ball chute. In the case of someone playing on the robot in a carpeted room who also has pets running around, that person might have to clean the Ball Feed Transfer Gears once a week. In the case of someone without pets who plays on a tile floor that is mopped weekly, that person may only have to clean the Ball Feed Transfer Gears once a year, or even less!

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Robot Set-up Tips

Newgy Robo-Pong

This first tip is very basic. Since half of your points (in singles) starts with your serve, it's very important. After you have played with your robot for a while, you usually have to go around and pick up some balls. What I do is collect the balls in a bucket and then serve them back to the robot. If you make a habit out of this, you will, with very little effort, improve your serves. It also gives you a chance to check the balls for any dirt they may have picked up.

(Editor's Note: Dirt is the main reason for your robot malfunction. Doing this step first will permit you to pull off any long hairs, fibers or other dirt clinging to the ball before putting the balls back into the robot. This should greatly assist in reducing the maintenance required to keep the robot performing correctly.)

The second tip is for those of you who worry about the robot feeding you the same speed and spin, which is unlike the "natural variation" you get playing a human. What you can do is have a mixture of old and new balls in the robot. I don't like the idea of using cheap balls; but, even a good ball like the Newgy balls, will over time become slightly smooth. The robot will not throw the older balls quite as spinny or fast as the newer balls resulting in some variation.

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Solutions For Unsticking Your Newgy Robot

Newgy Robo-Pong
Question: 

I just tested out the Newgy robot over at Attila Malek’s new training center. I noted that it gets stuck, every once in a while. This is the same problem that I had with the Sitco robot.

Any suggestions? The floors are a bit dusty.

Answer: 

In my experience of servicing Newgy robots for over 10 years, the vast majority of problems with our robots are caused by dirt buildup inside the machines. Dirt normally enters the machine when balls roll on a dirty floor and then are thrown into the machine. As the balls are pushed through the robot, the dirt falls off and get wrapped around the ball feed gears and motor hubs or accumulate on the rubber Discharge Wheel and Friction Block.

The Discharge Wheel and Friction Block are very easy to keep clean. We recommend using our Rubber Drive Cleaner to clean these parts. If you have thin fingers, then you can usually clean these parts without disassembly. Simply wet a cloth with some cleaner, push it into the discharge hole with one finger and rub the cleaner on the rubber surfaces. For the wheel, it will also be necessary to insert a finger from your other hand to prevent the wheel from turning while you are cleaning it. If you have large or thick fingers, then you will need to disassemble the robot’s head to access these parts.

Particularly troublesome are carpet fibers, pet hairs, and other filamentous materials. This type of dirt can wrap itself around the hub of the Ball Feed and/or Ball Speed Motors and strangle the motor to death. This is often hard to spot and always requires disassembly. In 1999, we improved the Ball Feed Mechanism to prevent dirt from getting to the Ball Feed Gears and Ball Feed Motor that are located at the base of the robot body where it picks up balls from the trays. This new "Dust-Free" mechanism can be purchased separately for older Newgy robots that lack this improvement.

Another common problem is the use of new balls. New balls are coated with a gritty powder that is left on the balls during the manufacturing process. If new balls are placed in a Newgy Robot, they often times can cause a ball jam. The solution is to wash new balls in lukewarm soapy water and dry them off before placing them in the robot’s trays. Occasionally, even after washing and drying, new balls can still cause the robot to run erratically until their surface gets further worn down and "slicker".

To speed up the process, run the balls through the machine at high speed by setting the ball frequency at 10, the ball speed to @2.5, the spin to "backspin", and aiming the head at the middle of the table net. The balls will hit the net, rebound, and roll back into the robot’s ball trays (for robots with recycling net systems). For robots mounted in ball buckets, you will need to catch these balls by hand or in a tray or box and then return them to the ball bucket. This procedure will further "rub the balls down". Continue this rub down procedure for at least 5 minutes, and then return to normal operation. Well worn, slick balls work best in our robots.

Another possibility is that some balls are badly out of round or too large. Robo-Pong robots with recycling nets include two go-no go gauges for testing balls. The gauges are located in the Ball Dams that are used to block off the ball trays during storage or repair. Each Ball Dam contains a hole that is exactly 38mm or 40mm in diameter, depending on the robot model.

To test the balls you are using in your robot, pass balls one at a time through this hole, rotating each one along several different axes. The rotation is necessary because lopsided balls may pass through along one axis, but not along another axis. If the ball passes through this hole, it should be OK to be used in the robot. If a ball hangs up in the hole at any time during this test, do not use that ball in the robot.

If the above suggestions don't solve the problem, go to http://www.newgy.com/Support/Troubleshooting.html. I recently updated this list and it will help you to narrow down the potential solutions. Keep your robot clean and you'll get top performance from your Newgy for many, many years. To reduce the dirt entering the machine, it is highly recommended to keep your playing area clean and to block off dusty areas into which balls can roll. Periodically cleaning the balls you use in the robot will further help. And ALWAYS wash new balls before using them in the machine.

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Controlling Static Buildup On Your Robot

Newgy Robo-Pong
Question: 

In using the Robo-Pong 2040, the static charge (in dry Arizona) builds to such extremes that the balls will 'stick' to the ramps and not roll back into the pick-up well. They actually repel each other and station themselves neatly in rows on the ramp and refuse to roll.

Have your engineers thought up a way to drain this charge? Where would be the best place to try to do so--on the return trays, at the discharge opening, or ???

I'm sure I'm not the first with this problem, so I am hoping you can give me some hints on how to stop this problem. It really ruins an otherwise really good practice session. I would be willing to experiment under your suggestions, but , of course, don't want to void my warranty.

Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Answer: 

Yes, I have seen that problem, although here in normally humid Tennessee, we only see this problem occasionally during the drier Winter months. There are actually several things you can do to reduce or eliminate static electricity on the balls and robot. Try one or more of these:

  1. Order the Tray Liners from Newgy. These are soft rubber liners that cushion ball impact and will not by themselves carry a static charge. These will reduce, but not eliminate the effects of static electricity on the balls.
  2. Place a humidifier next to your robot. Inexpensive ones can be found at Wal-Mart and other department stores for $20 to $40. Sufficient humidity will prevent static electricity. If these inexpensive units won't work, you may need to get a more heavy duty unit that can put more moisture in the air. Of course, the downside of humidifiers is that you have to replace the wick on occasion and you have to keep the unit filled with water unless you can find a unit that connects into your water supply (usually much more expensive).
  3. Use an anti-static spray. The kind we use here at Newgy is "Static Guard". This can be found at Wal-Mart as well. Spray this over bare plastic trays and center trough and the balls. Only use this occasionally because you don't want the residue to build up on the balls and robot parts. This would not be something you would want to use every time you practice.
  4. If you're mechanically handy, you could attach a grounding strap to the bottom of the right tray and then attach the other end to a ground. You could start by finding a wide (the wider the better) copper strap. Attach this to the bottom of the right tray with duct tape or some other strong tape. You want as much surface to surface contact as you can get between the tray and the strap. Make sure the strap is secured tightly to the bottom of the tray. Leave several inches of strap not covered by tape.

Now you need to attach the copper strap to an electric ground or common ground. You will need a long copper wire to go from the strap to your grounding point and also a way to secure the strap to this wire. The best way would be to solder the two together but you might get away with using thin copper wire to wrap the strap tightly to the ground wire. Another more elegant connection, and one that would be much handier if you take your robot off the table very often, is a some type of pin and plug connection. That way, you could easily disconnect the robot from the ground when you're ready to take it off the table. If you are not sure what a suitable ground is, contact a licensed electrician for installation.

Your robot will now be grounded and all static electricity will be dissipated. If balls in the left tray exhibit effects of static electricity, you may need to extend the strap to the left tray as well.

I hope one of more of these solutions will work for you. Good luck and happy ponging!

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Adjusting Backspin When Learning To Loop

Newgy Robo-Pong
Question: 

How much backspin do you recommend to put on the ball so that I am able to practice looping off of backspin?

Answer: 

When learning to loop backspin, I would suggest the following settings in progression: 

Head angle "C", Ball Speed 2.75. Ball should bounce on robot's side of table first, clear the net by about 2 inches, and then land about a foot or foot and a half from your end of the table.

Head angle "F", Ball Speed 3. Ball should clear net by 8 to 12 inches and land about a foot from the end of the table. Ball lands first on player's side of the net.

Head angle "E", Ball Speed 4. Ball should clear net by 1 to 2 inches and land about a foot from the end of the table. Ball lands first on player's side of the net.

Be sure you can consistently loop the ball at each setting before trying to use the next setting. Setting 3 simulates a hard driving heavy chop return of a good loop. Setting 1 simulates a long low chop serve. Also please realize that these settings will vary slightly from robot to robot so start with these suggested settings and then modify from there. 

Another setting you may want to try after level 3 is to take the robot off the table, set it on the ground or a Robo-Caddy about 8 to 10 feet in back of the table and have it deliver backspin balls from this distance. You'll have to experiment to get the exact head angle/ball speed settings but you want the balls to land close to your endline. This is a better simulation of a typical return by a chopper, but you lose the ball catching ability of the net system. 

Good luck!

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Controlling Amount Of Spin From Your Robot

Newgy Robo-Pong
Question

I received the Robo-Pong 1040 that I ordered from you last week. I got it set up and running and find that it works very well. It is more user-friendly, more consistent and more trouble-free than the $1000+ one I had 10 or 12 years ago. It is very easy to control the type of spin, the speed, the ball frequency and the oscillation of this robot. I have enjoyed hitting with it and I'm sure will find it very useful when coaching.

I have one question that you may be able to help me with; is there any way to control the amount of spin? When it tosses topspin, it pretty much is at a loop level; when it tosses backspin, it simulates a pretty severe chop. In the reality of table tennis play, topspin varies from almost no-spin (so-called "dead ball") to the extreme produced by the best of the loopers; backspin varies from near no-spin to the extreme you see from some good pushers or choppers. I have the impression that there is no way to vary the amount of spin the Robo-Pong 1040 produces (only the kind of spin). Is that correct? Does speed variation have any significant effect on the amount of spin? Does distance you set the robot from the player have any effect on the amount of spin (that is, will tossing the balls from well behind the table affect it)? Is there any way to get the machine to toss a nearly dead ball?

Thanking you in advance for your attention to these questions,

Ray Miskimins
USATT Certified State Coach

Answer

Ray,

Thank you for purchasing a Newgy Table Tennis Robot and for your kind comments. To answer your questions about controlling spin on the Newgy robot, here are some resources that discuss this issue on our website:

Robot FAQ's

Learn About Spin To Improve Your Game

Adjusting Backspin When Learning To Loop

Also read the "Robot Positioning" section on page 12 of the Owner's Manual that came with your robot. (Click Here to download a PDF version of the Robo-Pong Owner's Manual) It will explain how to position your robot and the advantages and disadvantages of each position. Also the "Ball Spin" section on page 8 is worth reading to better understand how to adjust the spin settings on the robot and the limitations imposed by the robot's design.

Since speed equals spin with Newgy robots, the lightest spin you can get with a Newgy robot is at Ball Speed setting of 0. You will then need to adjust the robot's position and head angle to achieve the desired trajectory. If you have the robot mounted at the end of the table so the ball first strikes the table about a foot and a half from the table net, the ball will bounce over the table net, and by the time it bounces on the player's side, there will be little spin left on the ball. Of course, the ball will be very slow as well. Use topspin if you want the ball to go off the end of the ping pong table or backspin if you want the ball to bounce twice on the player's side of the table.

There is one other thing you can do to simulate dead balls and other such variations. Build a device that has a 6 inch by 6 inch flat surface that can be placed on your table tennis table and be adjustable from about 15 to 60 degrees. Cover the top of this device with some type of rubber cover and place it in front of the robot on your ping pong table. Put your robot in the serve position and aim the head at the ramp. By using different covering materials, such as regular inverted, sticky inverted, sponge only, hard rubber, pips out with sponge, long pips, and other like materials, you can achieve an interesting variety of ball effects. For each different material you will have to experiment with the head angle, the ramp angle, and the ball speed setting to get it to simulate the type of shot you want to practice against.

Good luck.

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