help with final decision on ball machine?

Discussion in 'Other Equipment' started by kingswild, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    That machine will be lobster elite 5 ltd edition, but accuracy of that machine is very poor on flat shots & location (18 or 24 something on panel)..also 35 mph min speed. you can't change speed for many drills..all pre-define..not very useful
     
    #51
  2. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Yeah - it seems like the "pros" of the SFP2 definitely outweigh those of other machines. That said, randomizing spin seems like it might be good to make you adjust. That said, it also might be unnecessarily tough as in a real match, you can see the opponents stroke and know what kind of spin is coming. With a machine, you'd have to guess from the ball flight which may or may not be of value.
     
    #52
  3. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    I agree. I am happy with grooving my shots to various spins that I set. Then hopefully my muscle memory will remember when that spin comes towards me in a game.
     
    #53
  4. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    Btw, it seems that for machines that do have the feature that randomizes spin that the degree of change in spin is so slight from one ball to the next so as to be hardly noticeable and certainly not from topspin to backspin/slice from one shot to the next. I think only major changes are really useful if one is going to randomize spin. Otherwise it is just a feature that can be advertised but actually doesn't do much.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    #54
  5. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Good to know and definitely interesting.

    For anyone with a SFP2 - what balls are you currently using? I have some Penn pressureless that I use for various drills just because they're so inexpensive. Did you shell out a couple hundred bucks for a couple sets of Juice / Babolat / Tretorn balls? Are they really that much better? Is there "grease" on the Penn's that the SFP2 literature mentions might affect the throwing wheels?
     
    #55
  6. JBH

    JBH New User

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    This has to be the case. When you position your unit and select the shot parameters, there will be a limited parameter window of speed, spin, and launch angle that will keep the full range of shots on the court.
    Since the machine no understanding of either its position on the court or the effect of spin variation on shot dispersion, random spin will only generate random frustration as balls go into the net or the back fence.

    IMO it isn't a feature you really want let alone need.
     
    #56
  7. JBH

    JBH New User

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    The Tretorns have two advantages that won't necessarily be obvious until you use them, particularly outdoors.

    - They're slightly heavier than regular balls.
    - Their density or solidity is greater than standard balls.

    What that gives you is much less shot-to-shot variation, particularly where wind is a factor.
     
    #57
  8. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    I am on the fence regarding pressurized and pressureless balls. It seems the opinions are all over the place about which to use. Some say they use regular balls in machines all season with no problem. Others say they go flat too fast. Still others say they can't stand the pressureless ones. In any event it is partially also a money issue because if you keep having to replace the pressurized balls regularly that is going to cost a lot. How long they last depends on how many balls you have, how often you use the machine and how old the balls are. Anyway, rather than me shelling out a hunk of change for just 72 pressureless balls when I have no clue what they are like, the distributor has agreed to give me a dozen used pressureless balls to test against regular balls. I am going to put both types of balls in the machine and test them out and maybe that will help me decide which way to go.

    But of course I first have to get the damn machine and I am still more than 2 weeks away from getting one.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    #58
  9. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    Actually, this can be taken care of through the software controlling the machine as the machine logic can be designed to adjust for topspin, which makes the ball drop faster, or backspin/slice which makes the ball go higher. It's just a bit of complicated programming as elevation and speed changes will also have to be adjusted as the spin varies. I do not think it matters that the machine not know where it is on the court as long as it sends balls to the location you want when you first set it up, which of course you determine and adjust yourself initially. From that point on the machine would then adjust it's various parameters as required based by the spin change.

    Changing the degree of spin so that it is truly random from ball to ball requires the two motors driving the throwing wheels to change their rotation quite quickly. I would suspect these motors cost a lot more than the ones used now in ball machines and this is why no manufacturer has implemented this feature to provide truly random variations in spin, not to mention it just may not be a feature that has been in demand. The current motors can make small rotational changes in a short period of time but not large ones so spin variation is not that great and therefore not truly random.

    I wouldn't mind having the feature but only if it can be truly random.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    #59
  10. JBH

    JBH New User

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    IME pressureless cost roughly 2x but outlast roughly 4 to 6x.Pressure die due to pressure loss, pressureless due to felt loss. Tretorns don't feel like standard balls and if you mix them you won't prefer them. However, they fly very similarly to standard balls and that is what really matters.

    When you first get your machine you will likely use it all the time. After a month or two, probably not as much. Pressureless balls don't degrade with time. When you go to use your 124 standard balls after letting them sit unused for a month your opinion may change as to the better approach. Don't ask how I came to that conclusion...
     
    #60
  11. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    Probably the same way I will! LOL
     
    #61
  12. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Oooh!!! Just got my shipping confirmation for my SFP2!!! Time to order some pressurelesseses!!!
     
    #62
  13. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    Be sure to let us know what you think of the machine.
     
    #63
  14. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I would go with sports tutor. Their customer service is the best in business, I just had a problem with mine and James gave me some great advice.
     
    #64
  15. eaglesburg

    eaglesburg Professional

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    How can you say it is the best without having owned a different machine? Spinfire/mamba service was top notch for me but then again that is he only machine I have owned.
     
    #65
  16. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    Exactly, aside from the fact that support should not be the single determinant for buying something and that you didn't not give any feature comparison to anything else. That's like me saying buy Spinfire (still waiting for my machine to arrive) just because they have excellent support, which they do actually. I bought Spinfire because it has internal oscillation and I could not find anything else at that price that does, not to mention its other features equal or exceed those of competitive machines.
     
    #66
  17. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    I guess you are busy hitting balls with it as we haven't heard from you. Mine is supposed to arrive next Wed the 17th. I can't wait!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
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  18. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I've owned a prince and a lobster in the past. If anyone has dealt with sports tutor then they'll understand what I'm talking about. They really do stand behind their product.
     
    #68
  19. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    So got to take it out for the first time(s) this weekend. First impressions:

    - Really attractive unit. Well thought out design with the pull out handle and roller wheels, though the wheels could be bigger and softer, while the handle feels a little flimsy. We'll see how they hold up. They could also use a hole in the hopper to enable you to charge while the hopper is upside down. Not a big deal, but minor design oversight.

    - Unfortunately they appear to have some known software defects. Apparently they were supposed to be fixed, however mine will not do 2-line mode. It fires one to the left, and then fires all the rest to the right. My Spinfire Rep was extremely responsive, though there's no resolution as I just reported the issue last night and she got back to me this morning. That said, really responsive thus far.

    - The remote is functional and typically works without extending the antenna. I wish it had speed, spin, and interval controls, but overall it's pretty good. Lightweight, up down, left right, and really everything you need. The new remote should be out soon.

    - Internal oscillation is a great feature. You can still see where the ball is going, but you have to look pretty closely.

    - Consistency is good, but definitely not perfect. I'm using Tretorn Micro X balls, and there is definitely some variance in terms of depth. Total estimation here, but depth without changing settings varies 5 - 10 feet in some cases. Usually pretty good tho.

    - Intervals can get pretty fast at the fastest setting. I'm not in great shape at the moment, but at top interval, I got winded EXTREMELY quickly. I actually turned the machine all the way down to practice forehands.

    - The last 6 or so balls come out pretty sporadically. Not a huge deal, but I have yet to have all balls fire out from the machine. The best I got to was one ball left in the hopper, but that was only once. Definitely not perfect hopper design.

    - I've really only tried topspin shots at medium speeds thus far. Haven't tested lobs, slice, oscillation, etc. Will report back after I've tested everything else.

    - Overall I'm pretty satisfied with the machine at the moment given that it came broken. That said, the real question is going to be how quickly we get it working properly, and longevity. Build quality seems pretty good, but who really knows? Is it $1k better than a SP? I'm not really sure. I guess it depends on how much money matters to you. I think I'll have a better idea of that after I get all features up and running correctly.
     
    #69
  20. superstition

    superstition Hall of Fame

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    Are there any pressureless balls that are just as soft as a good-quality pressurized ball and the same weight?

    My elbow and wrist are not fans of hard heavy balls. I don't care much about shot-to-shot variation.

    I have tried Gamma pressureless and they were awful in comparison with Tretorn X. But, I would much rather have a pressureless ball that feels like a nice soft pressurized tennis ball.

    BTW... I am quite pleased with the performance of the Tennis Tutor Model 2 I got used through CL. The only drawback is the weight from the batteries.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
    #70
  21. JBH

    JBH New User

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    5-10 feet of variation defeats the main purpose of the unit, which is to groove your swing mechanics through repetition. My Lobster E2 has a shot to shot variation of less than a foot in calm conditions with Tretorns. I would hope that isn't representative of the unit's intended capability.
     
    #71
  22. JBH

    JBH New User

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    Not in my experience, but I've certainly not tried them all.

    Elbow and wrist pain are in good part from impacts outside the racquet's sweet spot. Since the ball machine should be putting balls repeatedly in the same place(s) at the same speed with the same spin, your pain producing shots should be significantly reduced.
     
    #72
  23. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    I received mine yesterday. I haven't had a chance to test it (and it's raining now). It is a very attractive unit, probably the nicest looking of all the ones out there.

    The handle is somewhat flimsy, but I tried the Silent Partner's and it is no different, nor is the handle on my carry on luggage. I wonder if this is more a constraint of a short chassis size than anything else. Also, quite easy to repair if need be as the entire assembly is external. Not a biggie. I agree that wheels could be larger and more rubbery.

    Many have drilled a hole in the hopper to accomodate the charger plug. Not a biggie and of course it can be charged with the hopper off.

    I am looking forward to the new remote too.

    Even though I knew the weight, it is lighter than I expected and that is not just because I ordered the unit with the external battery, which comes in a zippered carry case with cables, pocket for the remote and shoulder strap. This allows me to only take the battery and not the entire machine out of the car to charge it. Btw, the battery can be changed from internal to external as a DIY after the fact by ordering the carry case and cables.

    The Spinfire Pro 2 and SP is not an apples-to-apples comparison as no SP model has internal oscillation. That is a major differentiation factor. Also, the proper comparison would be to the SP Smart which is $1,749 USD vs the Spinfire Pro 2 at $1,899, so the difference is $150 not $1,000 as you mentioned. The Smart does have a couple of extra programming modes (which are not that much of a benefit as far as I am concerned) but cannot be retrofitted to external battery, external battery + AC, or AC-only like the Spinfire. The Spinfire also has a few other advantages over the SP Smart and wins hands down in my books for only $150 more, not to mention it is a much better-looking machine.

    I wonder if anyone has the 'balls left in the hopper' situation resolved. SP has an even worse problem with that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
    #73
  24. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    I agree with your premise. I'll report back on this in a few days as both of my first two sessions were extremely windy. I had to aim far right just to have the ball curve back to somewhere near the T. That said, the variance I'm talking about is on depth when the wind didn't SEEM to have much impact, though I could be mistaken. More details in a few days.
     
    #74
  25. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Anyone know the most recent version of the Spinfire Pro 2 firmware? I have 3.3.0
     
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  26. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    When I power up my machine it shows M 3.3.0, H 3.4.0, V 3.3.0. Do you not show all 3 too? Btw, did you buy yours from Mamba in the US or ?
     
    #76
  27. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Mamba US. Susan has been very helpful and will send a motherboard I can swap in for the update. Looks like the 2 line was an issue with 3.3.0 that has been fixed in 3.4.0
     
    #77
  28. eaglesburg

    eaglesburg Professional

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    I have the balls left in the hopper situation as well on my spinfirepro 2.
     
    #78
  29. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    Did they send you updated motherboard for free or charge you?

    Also anyone one with last year order got new motherboard or firmware upgrade (free or charge)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
    #79
  30. nn

    nn Hall of Fame

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    mine has old firmware of 2.8.xx...does new firmware do something better...can someone with who got new firmware confirm
     
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  31. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Susan said she would send me an upgraded motherboard free of charge with a return label for the old one. Seems like a design flaw as one should be able to upgrade firmware without taking the machine apart.

    That said, she's been very responsive, and it's certainly not her fault that my machine missed the upgrade, and she seems to be doing everything possible to make sure I'm taken care of. A bit of a pain, but customer service is good so far (although one really shouldn't need to use customer service out of the box, but it feels minor to me. That might change depending on how difficult it is to change the mobo).
     
    #81
  32. nycjsw

    nycjsw New User

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    Any updates on the consistency? The 5-10 ft variation is terrible. My SP Smart can deliver balls in about a sq ft area. Does the internal oscillation make it less consistent? Perhaps other members who have machines can provide input.
     
    #82
  33. TorontoTennis

    TorontoTennis Rookie

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    I am still awaiting my supply of pressureless balls so I cannot make any determination yet. I am currently using a mixture of old and new pressurized balls and of course, given that, the balls being inconsistent are to be expected.
     
    #83
  34. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    I am using old balls, green dot & orange balls without much issues. One of the big surprise slice drill which won't dump a single ball in net (once you set the parameter according to your level). If I compare to lobster (which has horrible slice settings where two or three ball goes into net for sure) It has infrared auto calibration based on machine location & most of my setting has a great consistency. Only issues with random horizontal & 2 line drills should be taken care with latest firmware update (mine is 18 months old version).. even that is not big issue if you move machine away from center line by few inches etc
     
    #84
  35. nycjsw

    nycjsw New User

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    Unless something is wrong with his machine the inconsistency the reviewer mentioned has to be related to his tennis balls - 5-10 ft is just too much. I don't get what infrared auto calibration does? Does it read the net location? My machine auto calibrates itself back to some middle point but it doesn't use scanners.
     
    #85
  36. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    You have to put a lobster machine on the center mark to calibrate before using for any drills. You don't do any of that with spinfire. If you are on the center of the court doing one set of drills & move machine away from the center mark by few inches it will auto-calibrate using infrared. You don't spend a second on calibration no matter which drill, location or change of setting during the drill.
     
    #86
  37. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Wat? The infrared calibration simply makes sure that the machine fires up pointing straight ahead. With external rotation machines (as I understand it from the TW AUS vid) you have to make sure to turn off the machine when the wheels are aligned with the pivot or the balls will fire out wider to one side than the other.

    With regards to consistency, I'm using 2 batches of 70 brand new Tretorn Micro X balls, so it's definitely not the balls. I do play in some windy conditions, however there is definitely variance in depth. I probably overestimated at 10 feet, but it's certainly not accurate to one square foot. More like 3 - 5 I think.

    I've also received and installed the new 3.4 mother board, however since installing it, the machine seems to vibrate more. I thought it was my imagination at first, or perhaps that I just hadn't noticed before, so I reinstalled the 3.3 MB and sure enough, the vibration stopped. Swapped back the 3.4 and the vibe came back. Really strange. It seems like the new board has some odd resonant frequency or something.

    I haven't tested the 2 line drill. Might head out tonight and give it a shot.
     
    #87
  38. nn

    nn Hall of Fame

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    i agree with tennissavvy on calibration part because lobster was real pain in that department. You will get the idea after using machine for long-term. Lobs and slice are so easy to set compare to other machines.
     
    #88
  39. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    It looks like you never used lobster machine. Check out "Court Placement / Test Button " mode at this link http://www.lobstersports.com/img/grand-iv-grand-v-owners-manual1.pdf

    I never did that with spinfire pro2..just put the machine at the center mark & start your drills 2 line or horizontal or straight line or right/left i.e. FH/BK combination. You can move the machine to other locations of court without doing anything placement test like lobster or SP or TT machines.
     
    #89
  40. nycjsw

    nycjsw New User

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    It's a little hard to understand what tennissavy means. My SP Smart will automatically center itself when I turn it on but I have to always place it on the same spot for my memory presets. If I moved it 5 ft forward I would have to adjust the machine - it seems like tennissavy is saying you wouldn't have to on your machine? That seems weird to me b/c how does the machine know you aren't moving it to add shot variation??


    Snipe - you better test your machine on a day with no wind or indoors. It's looking like there might be something wrong with it.
     
    #90
  41. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    If you move the machine left or right of the center mark you don't have to make any adjustment (unless you are using wide setting on 2 line drills)

    If you move the machine forward all you have to do is adjust speed, elevation & spin to make sure ball lands inside the court.

    I am not sure what you are looking for in spinfire pro2 unless you are comparing with SP smart & saying it does few things better than pro2.
     
    #91
  42. eaglesburg

    eaglesburg Professional

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    Tennissavvy I am super confused with what you are saying. I have a sfpro2 also. The only thing I notice is that the wheels go horizontally back to the center. So say I then moved the machine to the corner facing The same direction(straight ahead). Where would the whees calibrate to? Would they automatically point to the center?
     
    #92
  43. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    you are understanding "test" mode of lobster in wrong way. What lobster ask you to do is align machine using a white plastic strip with baseline and center mark. Once you do that check the ball land close to T on the other side within 2 inches or something). You don't do such thing with spinfire pro2 (one of the big time saver for me)

    Now you are doing horizontal (M/W) or 2 line drill (M/N/W) putting a machine on the center mark. In another instance, you are doing Forehand/Backhand ONLY drill putting a machine on the center mark. So keeping a machine on the center mark you might be doing lobs, slice, topspin & many things you can imagine. Now you want to move a machine in ad-side or deuce to create cross court rally or 2 line narrow drill or horizontal (medium) where machine never needs another placement test. You may move machine inside the baseline and different locations to create unlimited drills (make sure to change speed/spin setting to keep the ball inside the court). I can certainly understand it is hard to explain in words but easy to demonstrate on the court. I have used beginners to advance drills for different age & abilities without any major issues. Internal oscillation keeps you guess at every drill.
     
    #93
  44. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    I think it's a language thing with TennisSavvy. At first I thought he was saying there were some type of infrared sensors that detected court position, but the more I read his responses, the more I think he's simply agreeing with what I said above. The infrared thing simply aligns the internal oscillation to where you have it programmed to be. Often this will be straight ahead, however I *THINK* he's adding that if you have it setup for crosscourt forehands, and turn the machine off, it will save the last settings used so you can go right back to that drill next session. I'M UNSURE OF THIS LAST STATEMENT AS I'VE NOT TRIED IT.

    The advantage here is that it's often slightly easier to position when starting a session.

    As some additional info that infrared is NOT a magic court position sensor, I submit the following (in addition to the Youtube clip linked above)

    From one vendor description:
    Calibration:
    With its own infrared sensors, the Spinfire Pro 2 has the ability to calibrate itself before each use. You will simply need to place it in the center of the opposite side of the court. The triple oscillation will also switch back to its standard position when you will turn the machine off.

    From another:
    Calibration
    Utilizing infrared sensors, the Spinfire Pro 2 will calibrate itself before every use, allowing you to line up the machine to the center of the court. When turning off horizontal or vertical oscillation the machine will calibrate itself back to its original position.

    From Owner's Manual (the only note of Infrared)
    Machine fails to initialize (VCAL or HCAL error)
    If you experience a failure when turning on your machine, please check for a ball jam (remove if one exists) and then try pressing the “reset” switch under your machine (next to the master power switch). If you feel the reset switch “click”, then this will most likely resolve the issue. If it does not click, then there may be a problem with an infrared sensor inside your machine. As a short term fix, please try starting your machine in “manual mode” (as
    Page 12 Manual Revision 2.8.7
    described earlier in this manual under “hidden features”). You may be able to operate perfectly in manual mode.
     
    #94
  45. Snipe

    Snipe New User

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    Actually, it's hard for this to be language:

    "you are understanding "test" mode of lobster in wrong way. What lobster ask you to do is align machine using a white plastic strip with baseline and center mark. Once you do that check the ball land close to T on the other side within 2 inches or something). You don't do such thing with spinfire pro2 (one of the big time saver for me)

    Now you are doing horizontal (M/W) or 2 line drill (M/N/W) putting a machine on the center mark. In another instance, you are doing Forehand/Backhand ONLY drill putting a machine on the center mark. So keeping a machine on the center mark you might be doing lobs, slice, topspin & many things you can imagine. Now you want to move a machine in ad-side or deuce to create cross court rally or 2 line narrow drill or horizontal (medium) where machine never needs another placement test. "

    This is simply untrue in my experience, though there is a non-zero possibility that I'm a dense moron lacking in experience.
     
    #95
  46. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

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    If you are naive in ball machine thing that's all, but if you want to call people out who try to help in that situation you are a moron and not worth responding.

    It is the same problem with many here who are new user but act as if they know everything & accuse people who try to help.

    I don't need info or need to clarify because I know how it works & using it for training juniors for months without issue.
     
    #96
  47. nn

    nn Hall of Fame

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    someone need his head check because I am also doing the same thing as @tennissavvy mention. Some drills & combination are easy to demonstrate than explain in text. He was the one who posted useful stuff on spinfire last year when few owners posted info.

    Infrared sensor is not magical but it can work wonders if you use your imagination. I have done so many drills not mention anywhere with this machine. It is one of the main reason to buy it take out calibration part out of picture.

    You can always check with Susan, who knows everything about operation & how it works. Sometime you find few things or combination they never heard of because they go by manual.
     
    #97
  48. tennissavvy

    tennissavvy Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2013
    Messages:
    153
    exactly some new users are not aware of it and keep posting nonsense...ignore
     
    #98
  49. Snipe

    Snipe New User

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    Messages:
    64
    Lol? What just happened? I'm going to blame the language barrier again.

    That said, if things actually worked how you've attempted to explain them, wouldn't there be some type of documentation? Video? Text? Instructions? English explanation (non-broken)?
     
    #99
  50. eaglesburg

    eaglesburg Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2014
    Messages:
    1,356
    Susan says, "There is not really an infrared sensor."
     

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