Solutions For Unsticking Your Newgy Robot

Jena Newgarden

By Larry Thoman

This column will consist of questions that have been asked of the staff at Newgy or our replies to questions posed on the table tennis newsgroup, month's question was posted on the newsgroup under the title, "Newgy Robot Gets Stuck?" by Jake. We encourage readers to send in your own questions.. You may email us at or fax or write us. All questions cannot be answered, but every month we will pick out one of them to answer in this column.

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.

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 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 Amount Of Spin From Your Robot

Jena Newgarden

By Larry Thoman

This column will consist of questions that have been asked of the staff at Newgy or our replies to questions posed on the table tennis (ping pong) newsgroup, This month's question was asked in an e-mail by Ray Miskimins , who is a USATT Certified State Coach from Reno, NV. We encourage readers to send in your own questions. You may email us at e-mail, fax or write us. All questions cannot be answered, but we will pick out one of them to answer in this column.


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



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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Jena Newgarden

While there are many ways to hold a racket, the shakehand grip is the most versatile and universally used of all grips. Therefore, I recommend using it for learning table tennis. If you have not used this grip, it may initially feel awkward. Please persevere, as this grip will permit you to develop all the strokes these articles willdiscuss and illustrate. Other grips may hinder or limit your development.

Lesson 1: Learning the Shakehand Grip

To use this grip, you essentially "Shake hands with the racket." Fit the edge of the blade snugly in the "V" of your hand between your thumb and forefinger. Grip the handle with your middle, ring, and little fingers. Finally, place the forefinger flat on one side of the racket head close to the bottom and the thumb sideways on the other side of the racket head. See Photo 3 and 4.

Hold the racket with just enough tension to keep it in place. Another person should be able to take the racket out of your hand and feel just a slight resistance while you maintain your grip. It is important not to grip too tightly. Too tight of a grip causes excess tension in the arm. The excess tension will, in turn, slow down your strokes and make it harder to adjust the racket angle to compensate for various spins and angles. This is not to say, however, that hand tension is constant, never shanging. Hand tension should increase just before ball contact on a hard hit shot and it may decrease on soft touch shots or serves.

Hold the racket so the edge of the racket is perpendicular to the floorand tilt your wrist slightly down. The wrist should remain in this downward tilt position throughout all your strokes. Do not force this downward tilt, but rather let the racket naturally fall into this position by relaxing the hand muscles. While we're talking about the wrist, do not let the wrist flop back and forth or up and down as you stroke the ball. Letting the wrist flop is one of the most common causes of mis-hit shots.

Photo 3: Shakehands Grip, 
Forehand Side

Notice how the side (not the 
) of the thumb lays across 
the top of the handle, and only three 
fingers wrap around the handle. Also 
notice the downward tilt of the wrist.

Photo 4: Shakehands Grip, 
Backhand Side

Notice how the knuckles lay on top 
of the handle, and the forefinger lays 
close to the bottom of the racket 


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Jena Newgarden

By Larry Thoman

This column will consist of questions that have been asked of the staff at Newgy or our replies to questions posed on the table tennis newsgroup, This month's question was posed by Dave Shook on the TT newsgroup. We encourage readers to send in your own questions. You may email us at or fax orwrite us. All questions cannot be answered, but every month we will pick out one of them to answer in this column.

I just moved into a new house and plan to put a table in the basement. The room is 17' wide and 22' long, so I already know from the recent posting on "space needed for a table" that it should be larger, but that was the best I could do. Anyway, I need to install lighting and the obvious choice for a novice like myself would be fluorescent lights. Any other recommendations? Track lighting?


It's great that you've decided to add a Table Tennis Room (TTR) to your house. Your room dimensions are very similar to the TTR in my house. As is typical in many American homes, these are the average dimensions of a two car garage, which can be converted into a decent table tennis room.

To situate your light fixtures, I would start with one mounted in the center of the room directly over the center of the table when it is positioned in the center of the room. Then I would add lighting going towards each of the 17-foot walls. Recessed light fixtures are best, but commonly, most converted garages will dictate surface mount fixtures because of the ceiling height and the direction of the ceiling joists.

In situating the lighting, give priority to positions close to or over the table, where the majority of rallies will take place. Lighting close to the wall is less critical because your body will be taking up space in front of the walls in addition to the space required for your backswings. Your eyes will be 2 to 3 feet away from a wall even when your "back's against the wall".

As a minimum, I would suggest at least one 4-foot double tube fluorescent fixture centered above the table net and another similar fixture centered with the table about 2 feet in back of each endline (See Layout A). All fixtures are parallel with the endlines of the table. Fixtures should be shielded by an opaque covering to prevent glare from direct eye contact with the bulbs.

To improve on this minimum, 4-tube, 4-foot or 2-tube, 8-foot fixtures could be substituted. The 4-tube fixtures will concentrate more light over the table, while the 8-foot fixtures will spread out the light more evenly across the entire room. Another option would be to add 2 more fixtures (Layout B). In this case you could have one fixture in the center, 1 at each end of the table and 1 lighting up the playing areas in back of the table. This would be ideal.

Also with only 22 feet of room, it will be difficult to play a competitive match without feeling quite hindered (only 6.5 feet of backup room for each player). That is however, an ideal amount of room for robot play. With a 9 foot table and approximately 1 foot for the depth of the robot attached to the end of the table, you would have 12 feet of backup room to practice strokes and footwork relatively unhindered if you push the table up against a wall.

I'll give you one more tip here too, although it has nothing to do with the lighting. If you have a choice of flooring, go with wood. One of the least expensive wood floors is a wood parquet floor. Home Depot and Lowes have wood parquet flooring for under $2.00/sq. ft. This is cheaper than many linoleum flooring materials. This is what I used for my TTR 3 years ago and I've been extremely happy with it.

Happy Ponging!

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