SP Star service return practice configuration

beernutz

Hall of Fame
I bought a service cart from Harbor Freight for about $60 this week to take my ball machine and all the other necessities for hitting to my neighborhood courts. While there for the first time I had the idea to put the machine on top of a bucket my Tretorn balls came in to raise it even higher.

I cranked the speed up to almost 7 of 10 and used close to the maximum amount of topspin and it was able to produce some pretty realistic kick serves to practice returning. They were almost all hitting in the service box and kicking up to head high (I'm 6 feet tall).

I need to work on a way to angle the throw downward a bit more from that high position so I can crank the speed up to the max, cut down on the topspin, and simulate a reasonably fast flat serve. I took a cell phone video for the amusement of the forum:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvA8h3XwfzI
 

gully

Professional
Looks good. I'd think if you could do this with the machine close to the baseline, the experiment would be more realistic, with the reduced reaction time you face against a serve.
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
Looks good. I'd think if you could do this with the machine close to the baseline, the experiment would be more realistic, with the reduced reaction time you face against a serve.
That's a good point. After briefly playing around with the speed and topspin settings, that position of the cart was used to allow the balls to land inside the service box. To move the cart to the baseline I think I'm going to have to find a way to tilt the machine further downward while it is on top of the Tretorn bucket, but the last thing I want is to destroy my machine by having it fall off its perch.

As is I'm having enough difficulty consistently returning the big kickers and when that improves I'll work on the reaction time.
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
If anyone decides to buy that HF service cart www.harborfreight.com/material-handling/service-carts/24-inch-x-36-inch-steel-service-cart-5770.html I would recommend reenforcing the handle and putting locktite on the bolts which hold on the wheels. I drilled completely through the handle and added support bolts as it was too easy for the handle to come off the cart otherwise. Here's a couple of pictures of the support bolts I added from the front and from underneath.




On my second trip to the courts, three nuts came off the bolts which hold the four wheels onto the cart and several others were loose despite my initially tightening them as much as I could. I found some replacements at Lowes for the ones which fell off and retightened all 16 of the nuts after adding locktite thread lock to them. So far so good as everything was still there and still tight after the trip I took to the courts yesterday.
 
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marcub

Banned
Cool setup!
You might want to pick a different angle for shooting the video... as is it doesn't do justice to a 7/10 speed, it looks much slower than it actually is.
 

beernutz

Hall of Fame
Cool setup!
You might want to pick a different angle for shooting the video... as is it doesn't do justice to a 7/10 speed, it looks much slower than it actually is.
That's true plus I have the topspin almost maxed out in order to generate big kick. I almost never use the machine at the 7 of 10 speed setting or higher without a lot of topspin since the balls come out so fast they won't land in the court no matter where you position the machine.
 
I just noticed your post, and thought I'd comment on your set up.

It is remarkably like the one I use to practice returns.

The only concern is that the Tretorn bucket looks unstable as the base for you SP lite.

I bought a Rubbermade storage bin to sit on top of my Sears tray cart:



It's rectangular base allows for all the legs/wheels to sit on top. The lid is depressed on top to prevent the legs/wheels from easily sliding off.

I keep my Tretorn balls stored in it rather than in the original bucket.

A nylon belt and some bungee cords seem to secure the bucket to the cart and my SP lite to the storage cart.

Also rather than using loctite, I replaced all the original nuts with nylon lock nuts. (Harbor Freight sells a box of 150 for 9 bucks, and I use them for any type of vibrating [lawn/garden/power] equipment).




I just would hate for your Star to take a tumble.


By the way, I usually leave my Lite just on top of just the cart (without putting it up higher on the storage bin) to practice groundstrokes and volleys.
Having it up off the ground allows one to really crank up the speed and still keep it no further back than from the baseline. (Otherwise have to move the machine well back from the baseline, even with maximim topspin.)


I havn't figured out a way to angle the machine lower without causing it to jam. Hopefully you will solve the puzzle.
 
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beernutz

Hall of Fame
Thanks CF! I actually have a spare one of those plastic bins I may try out on top of my cart. You are correct that putting my Star on top of the Tretorn bucket on top of my cart makes it a bit precarious. I did have it tied down with some straps but I wasn't 100% confident in it's stability.

I haven't figured out a good way to angle the ball machine downward more either. I put some plastic one inch tubing under it but that was too unstable.

Hey let me ask you, do you keep your battery charger plugged in at all times? I just replaced my second dead battery in two years (the first was sent to me by SP but the second one I bought) and I've been keeping mine plugged in all the time, except when playing of course, but I am having doubts about whether this is a good practice given my battery problems.

Thanks for your other thoughts/feedback.
 
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I have the older model L lite that allows you to pop the battery out easily from the top. So I rarely plug my machine in. Instead I leave my machine in the garage and recharge my two batteries inside the house with a "smart charger":

"In order for us to consider a battery charger a 'smart charger' it needs to know when a battery has reached its charge capacity and then shut the charging off or switch to trickle charge mode. Negative delta V is one of the most common methods used. Smart chargers usually use more than one method to detect cell state; temperature sensors, discharge and conditioning features, battery test features and even timers to limit the total length of the charge so even if you leave it plugged in, it turns itself off after a preset time."
- http://www.batteryjunction.com/smfachse.html

I assume SP uses "smart charger" technology for their machines, especially since they sell:

"Fast Smart Charger $79.00
Can be kept connected indefinitely.
For Edge Sport and Star.
Also for Scoop Rival, Quest and Smart."


Checking on their site, this is all I could find, however:

"3. When properly cared for, the internal battery that powers the machine has a life span of 3 to 5 years, after which it needs to be replaced. Care for your battery by stopping play when speed drops, recharging the battery as soon as practical, and keeping it topped up."
- http://www.sptennis.com/manuals/Edge.pdf


But Silent Partner is famous for its great customer support, and Steve has always answered my questions promptly, so why not check it out directly?
Email: sptennis@on.aibn.com
phone 1-800-662-1809




I'm sure there is no end to the ingenuity for devices to get the ball machine higher and higher. I remember a post where a someone mounted a machine on top of a ladder. But so far, the cart with a storage bin on top and the topspin cranked up has worked well enough for me without risking my machine taking a tumble.
 
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beernutz

Hall of Fame
Thanks for the response. My newer model Star purportedly came with a smart charger and in fact when I first had battery charging problems about a year and a half ago, Steve sent me a different charger which he said was more advanced and also smart (for free) before we determined that it actually was just a dead battery issue. He then sent me a replacement battery which is the one I used for another 15 months before it lost capacity. I then bought my own replacement battery.

I believe the charger SP sells is just a replacement for the one which came with the machine as it looks like the one Steve sent me. I don't think it is more advanced than the original charger but I'll call Steve and confirm that.

I agree about the great customer support from Silent Partner. I just figured since my machine is out of warranty I'd ask on the forum first before calling them.

I have the older model L lite that allows you to pop the battery out easily from the top. So I rarely plug my machine in. Instead I leave my machine in the garage and recharge my two batteries inside the house with a "smart charger":

"In order for us to consider a battery charger a 'smart charger' it needs to know when a battery has reached its charge capacity and then shut the charging off or switch to trickle charge mode. Negative delta V is one of the most common methods used. Smart chargers usually use more than one method to detect cell state; temperature sensors, discharge and conditioning features, battery test features and even timers to limit the total length of the charge so even if you leave it plugged in, it turns itself off after a preset time."
- http://www.batteryjunction.com/smfachse.html

I assume SP uses "smart charger" technology for their machines, especially since they sell:

"Fast Smart Charger $79.00
Can be kept connected indefinitely.
For Edge Sport and Star.
Also for Scoop Rival, Quest and Smart."


Checking on their site, this is all I could find, however:

"3. When properly cared for, the internal battery that powers the machine has a life span of 3 to 5 years, after which it needs to be replaced. Care for your battery by stopping play when speed drops, recharging the battery as soon as practical, and keeping it topped up."
- http://www.sptennis.com/manuals/Edge.pdf


But Silent Partner is famous for its great customer support, and Steve has always answered my questions promptly, so why not check it out directly?
Email: sptennis@on.aibn.com
phone 1-800-662-1809




I'm sure there is no end to the ingenuity for devices to get the ball machine higher and higher. I remember a post where a someone mounted a machine on top of a ladder. But so far, the cart with a storage bin on top and the topspin cranked up has worked well enough for me without risking my machine taking a tumble.
 
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