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Butterfly Amicus 3000 Table Tennis Robot

The Man Against the Machine...

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)

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Photo of Butterfly Amicus 3000 - Front View

My Amicus 3000 and Netting - Ready to Go To Work!

(c ) 2005 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
From time to time on the table tennis forums, I have noticed requests for reviews of different table tennis robots. Since I have purchased a Butterfly Amicus 3000 Table Tennis robot, I thought I'd give a comprehensive review of how useful I've found it to be. (Note: The Amicus 3000 has now been replaced by the Amicus 3000 PLUS)
In general, I've been pretty happy with it. Although I still haven't really got into all the advanced features, I've managed to get some good training out of just using the basics. I'm sure it would be even better if I took the time to learn how to use all the bells and whistles.

I've listed below a number of the Amicus 3000's features below.

Price

First of all, it's not cheap - over $3000 Australian ($2250 US). The main difference between this and the lower priced Butterfly Amicus 1000 seems to be the programming capabilities, where you can program various sequences of balls with different spins, speeds and placements.

As I said, I'll eventually have to master all the programming in order to get my full value for money out of the robot. Those of you who can't be bothered to get into anything too complicated might be better off with the simpler Amicus 1000, which can still do the basics without any of the fancy stuff than you might never need.

Set Up

Setting it up was pretty easy, the pictures in the manual are quite good and there really isn't all that many parts to put together, so it's hard to go wrong. It took me about 15 minutes or so - 10 minutes to carefully read the manual and 5 minutes to actually put it together.
Photo of the Control Panel

The Control Panel

(c ) 2005 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Manual

The manual is OK - good in some places and not so great in others. As I mentioned previously, the set up part is pretty good, while the explanation of how to program the advanced features could use a rewrite by someone with English as their first language! This is the main reason I haven't used the advanced programming yet - it's hard to work up the enthusiasm to tackle the manual and try to decipher how it works.

Ease of Use

Main Controller

Despite the problems with advanced programming, the Amicus 3000 is actually pretty easy to use. As you can see from the photo, you have 4 balls that can be set quickly and easily using the sliders in the top left to adjust the ball length, the knobs in the bottom left to control the speed and spin, and the sliders on the top right to control the left-right placement. The 4 circular buttons on the bottom left can be used to select how many balls of each type to send out. For example, you could set 3 of Ball A, 2 of Ball B, 4 of Ball C, and 1 of Ball D.

It's also possible to set random placements, or random selections of Ball types, just by pressing a few buttons (these are the 'Place' and 'Ball type' at the bottom middle-right. In fact, this is probably the real reason I don't use the advanced programming much - I can get just about all I need by setting the Ball A, B, C and D and then choosing the random options to mix things up when I want - it only takes a few seconds.

You've also got a controller at the bottom right for adjusting the ball frequency, and Play and Pause knobs just above it, which control how long the machine shoots out balls for, then how long it waits to give you a rest!

Remote Control

There is also a remote control which can be seen draped over the net in photo at the top of the page, which is used to pause the machine from your side of the table if you need a break. You can also use standard D-15 and D-9 computer cables to place the main controller on your side of the table if you want, although I haven't bothered to do this.

Photo of Butterfly Amicus 3000 - Side View

There's a Hole in the Bucket....

(c ) 2005 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Ball Return and Ball Capacity

The ball return mechanism works by having the nets catch the balls, then run them into the bucket at the base, which has a hole in the bottom where the balls are fed through into the pipe and lifted up to be shot out by the revolving heads at the top. It all works smoothly - I haven't had a problem yet in over a year of operation. The ball capacity of the bucket is fine - probably over a couple of hundred balls. I bought a gross (144) balls when I started and there was still plenty of space left in the bucket. When you add in the ball return you won't have to worry about running out of balls too often!

Mobility

As you can see from the photos, the robot itself is pretty compact. It has rollers under the base, which allow you to roll it forwards and backwards pretty easily. To move it side to side it's usually easier to grab it along the pipe and lift it - it doesn't roll sideways at all. The robot is not that heavy though - you could easily use it as a travelling robot and lift it in and out of a car without trouble.

Interested in purchasing a Butterfly Amicus 3000?

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