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Expressing relative blade speed

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berndt_mann View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berndt_mann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 6:09pm
I still retain some knowledge about music theory, though its been 52 years since I last studied music theory at the Cleveland, Ohio Institute of Music.  It never occurred to me, however, or any other table tennis player I knew to try to measure the amplitude or frequency peaks of any of the blades I used while also studying classical defensive table tennis theory under six-time Ohio State Champion and two-time National Doubles Champion Danny Vegh.

Now, however, my curiousity has been piqued.  I'm wondering what the scale (modal, pentatonic, hexatonic, microtonal) might have been for the American birch/basswood/birch 3-play Hock No. 74 blade I played with affixed with British Leyland hard rubber for most of my training or the Cor DuBuy red oak/European birch/red oak Loop Drive blade affixed with Butterfly D-13 sandwich sponge inverted rubber that I took along with me as well as the Hock when I enlisted in the Army.

Polytonality, perhaps between the two?  Twelve-tone serialism?  A pity I shall never know.


Edited by berndt_mann - 06/30/2017 at 6:33pm
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arg0 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 6:22pm
Originally posted by berndt_mann berndt_mann wrote:

I still retain some knowledge about music theory, though its been 50 years since I last studied music theory at the Cleveland, Ohio Institute of Music.  It never occurred to me, however, or any other table tennis player I knew to try to measure the amplitude or frequency peaks of any of the blades I used while also studying classical defensive table tennis theory under six-time Ohio State Champion and two-time National Doubles Champion Danny Vegh.

I suspect recording and spectrum analysis equipment was less readily available, then.

Studying mechanical response of the blades is interesting to some. Does it make you a better player? No. Does it give you at least one objective criterion to assess blade characteristics? Yes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 7:25pm
Cool, arg0's done this before!

Garaydia ZLC (85g): 1830

So far, very true to expectations.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 8:28pm
Originally posted by slevin slevin wrote:

I suggest putting down your blade weight (if you know it). A 80g Viscaria shall show different readings than a 92g Viscaria.

Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon (88g): 1571
Butterfly Marcos Freitas ALC (87g): 1464


It's not just weight though. I have two Viscaias of the same weight that have a different tone when I knock them against my head, and it would certainly show up on this measurement. And yes, the one with a higher pitched tone is faster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 8:31pm
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

Yes, amplitude will change as the drop height and the tightness of grip goes up and down, but the overall waveform will stay the same as the blade will vibrate at its natural frequencies. The location of impact will have a larger influence as that will have an effect on the modes excited. If the ball hits the node of a certain mode, that mode will not be excited.


Very good point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 8:36pm
Originally posted by arg0 arg0 wrote:

Originally posted by berndt_mann berndt_mann wrote:

I still retain some knowledge about music theory, though its been 50 years since I last studied music theory at the Cleveland, Ohio Institute of Music.  It never occurred to me, however, or any other table tennis player I knew to try to measure the amplitude or frequency peaks of any of the blades I used while also studying classical defensive table tennis theory under six-time Ohio State Champion and two-time National Doubles Champion Danny Vegh.

I suspect recording and spectrum analysis equipment was less readily available, then.

Studying mechanical response of the blades is interesting to some. Does it make you a better player? No. Does it give you at least one objective criterion to assess blade characteristics? Yes.


Including the range of mechanical responsex seen for different samples of a particular type of blade.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 8:42pm
Other than the speed, the mode of vibration can reveal a lot about a blade.

The 1st bending mode is usually within the first few hundred Hz, lower for a clamped blade, and higher for a freely-suspended blade, with the real-world grip resembling the latter, but with higher damping.

The 1st torsional mode follows closely. The 2nd bending mode comes next, and so on. The membrane mode doesn't come in until much later.

The 1st bending mode contributes the most to dwell/feel as the handle vibrates the most at that frequency. That mode is also related to the sweet spot as one node(least vibration) is somewhere in the upper center of the blade head and another node where the handle meets the blade head.

The 1st torsional mode gets agitated the most when the racket is hit off-centered.

As the mode goes higher, the role it has in the racket-ball interaction diminishes. Looking at the data, it looks like the mic is picking up the membrane mode the most, which contributes the most to the sound of the blade.

Edited by zeio - 06/30/2017 at 8:47pm
Viscaria FL - 91g
+ Neo H3 2.15 Blk - 44.5g(55.3g uncut bare)
+ Hexer HD 2.1 Red - 49.3g(68.5g 〃 〃)
= 184.8g
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BigFatLoop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 8:55pm
Sure, yeah!! ... I agree with everything you just said so please put me down as the co-author.   Handshake Thanks!


Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

Other than the speed, the mode of vibration can reveal a lot about a blade.

The 1st bending mode is usually within the first few hundred Hz, lower for a clamped blade, and higher for a freely-suspended blade, with the real-world grip resembling the latter, but with higher damping.

The 1st torsional mode follows closely. The 2nd bending mode comes next, and so on. The membrane mode doesn't come in until much later.

The 1st bending mode contributes the most to dwell/feel as the handle vibrates the most at that frequency. That mode is also related to the sweet spot as one node(least vibration) is somewhere in the upper center of the blade head and another node where the handle meets the blade head.

The 1st torsional mode gets agitated the most when the racket is hit off-centered.

As the mode goes higher, the role it has in the racket-ball interaction diminishes. Looking at the data, it looks like the mic is picking up the membrane mode the most, which contributes the most to the sound of the blade.


Edited by BigFatLoop - 06/30/2017 at 8:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote berndt_mann Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 9:24pm
Holy crap!  Blade amplitude theory is a lot more complicated than Werner Von Braun rocket science. 

What ever happened to a good old simple game of ping pong?

Damn.  Do y'all take along an IBM Watson to make sure that the physics, acoustics, chemistry, and even meteorology are just right for your respective styles before contemplating entering the U-1800 event at the Whistlestop, Wyoming come one come all two-star invitational (free chocolate chip cookies, homemade lemonade, and you get to ride a Mustang [a real one, not the car])?

(Lots of involuntary head shaking from your no longer fearless author)


Edited by berndt_mann - 06/30/2017 at 9:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 10:38pm
At some point I predict people will be providing this number for blades they sell here.

I think this will be really useful for comparisons within a blade class-- comparisons of one all wood to another, or comparing two different ALC/ZLC blades.

Zeio is right to remind us that how or if the blade is secured will potentially affect tbe result.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote h0n1g Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 10:55pm
Agree with what Baal says, i think it is an excellent indicator. Is it the final truth? No, but I think it will provide people with a better idea of what sort of "speed" they are actually after.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/30/2017 at 10:59pm
IMHO certainly better than anything we have had before. Especially given that the apps are free.

Congratulations to those of you who independently came up with this.


One thing that occurs to me to add.  I have about nine or so Viscarias, but one is amazingly better than all the others to play with.  It is the best blade I have ever played with and I am really lucky to have it (I bought it here by the way).  It is not just the weight, and it is not just the pitch when I knock it against my head.  I have a couple of other blades that are similar in terms of weight and pitch (although a lot of them have a higher pitch and don't feel anywhere close to as good).  Somehow this blade's sound seems to be a lot more "pure" and seems to resonate longer.  Next time I change the rubber I will get this app and compare it to some of its lesser brethren to see if some difference shows up in its spectrum (I expect this would show up in the higher components of the spectrum).  Might be awhile though, the rubber that is on it refuses to die and is playing great right now, so I don't want to mess with anything. It may depend a lot on how good the pickups are in my phone. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote h0n1g Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 12:24am
I've added all submissions to the sheet I posted. 

Also added two of my blades:
Timo Boll ALC and Apolonia ZLC



Edited by h0n1g - 07/01/2017 at 8:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote h0n1g Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 3:09am
I've also added arg0's list to the sheet
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Magic_M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 4:09am
Sorry guys, I really like the idea, but some of the results have nothing to do with my former impressions.
  • Donic Persson Powerplay = 1.188
  • Donic Waldner Senso Carbon = 1.221
  • Donic Persson Powerallround  1.240
  • Nittaku Tenor 91g = 1.291
  • Avalon P500 80g = 1.303
  • Stiga Clipper Wood = 1.313
  • Butterfly Timo Boll ALC  = 1.450
  • Butterfly Mizutani ZLC = 1.475
  • Butterfly Keyshot Light 83g = 1.555
  • Butterfly Michael Maze = 1.566
  • Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon = 1.571
  • Butterfly Timo Boll ZLC = 1.576
Do you really think or believe, that a WSC and PPA are faster than a PPP ?
Does it sound realistic, that a low weight P500 (80g) is as fast as a 91g Tenor or as a Clipper Wood?
OTC is as fast as Boll ZLC and faster than Mizutani? Maze and KSL are also faster than Mizutani?
For me the OTC is slower than Boll ALC and Mizutani is as fast as Boll ZLC.

I don`t know the reasons (different kind of balls, different distance form ball to smartphone, different hight, different kind of bouncing, ....), but fact is, that a buyer will be extremely surprised if he relied on these results. 

I would like to see his eyes, if he is playing an OTC now and is looking for something slower. So he looks in this docsheet and decides to buy the "slower" Mizutani ZLC. Another one plays the Tenor and wants something lighter, but as fast and decides to buy a P500. I am sure, both will have "interesting" results in their next training-session. Big smile

Once again: the idea is really great, but the test-conditions have to be as equal as possible. Otherwise the results are not worth anything.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 7:24am
Re: Magic_M's concerns:

  1. Re: faulty measurement, as much as possible, we should first standardize testing equipment (ie: which app we use on Android or iOS). Most apps should show same readings for a blade but you never know if I download a new untested app, it might show faulty readings and that might smear our comparison table a bit. IMO, ball brand difference would not result in different readings. Ball height is interesting: perhaps it makes a difference on a blade whose outer layer differs markedly from its core? I'd say 2 feet height is better than 6 inches
  2. Another kind of difference you'll find is in flexy vs stiff blades. This tool does not measure the effects of relative flexion (case: MJ vs Viscaria). But we should know that.
  3. However, as Baal said, this tool is incredibly useful in testing similar types of blades. Here is an example: now we know that all standard Viscaria type ALC blades have similar readings (1450 to 1550). Example: A new Viscaria clone comes out (Tibhar Drinkhall Powerspin Carbon) with slight difference in 2nd layer. Say, I test the blade and let the TT community know that: (a) its reading (1571) is higher than that of Viscaria (1507), and (b) it is flexier than Viscaria (2nd layer is Ayous instead of Limba). They should then conclude that it is almost surely faster blade than Viscaria. 
  4. This is similar to many medical tests that sometimes show a false positive (stress tests) or can't detect a problem (culture test for toenail fungus). That does not mean that we should do away with them.
  5. I definitely see very good value in providing these readings while selling blades. Along with this number, one could certainly mention how relatively flexy / stiff the blade is, to further help the prospective buyer / EJ.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hozuki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 8:59am
I know why the measurements are faulty.

First of all, impact strenght or ball type or height does not matter.
Secondly, a blade does not have a single pitch. It has multiple pitches.
The ones that are most dominant are the prime, third and fifth of the underlying scale.
And that's why there is confusion here, as nobody bothers to identify the prime of the scale. Instead ppl would measure either one of those three dominant tones, yielding a variation of up to half an octave, or 1.5 times the frequency. For example, arg0 measured the OC with 1100 Hz (fifth = C#), while I knew that the prime is F# from my own spectal analysis, so I posted 1400 Hz instead. And surely, somebody would happen to measure the third (A# = 932 Hz), since it is quite dominant as well.

I argue that measuring the prime instead of randomly measuring the 3rd or 5th instead will yield much more reliable data.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 10:12am
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

As the mode goes higher, the role it has in the racket-ball interaction diminishes. Looking at the data, it looks like the mic is picking up the membrane mode the most, which contributes the most to the sound of the blade.

Yes, the highest peak in the audio spectrum is typically the frequency of the membrane mode.
Sound amplitudes at lower frequencies are normally deadened by the hand holding the blade.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 10:17am
Originally posted by Magic_M Magic_M wrote:

Sorry guys, I really like the idea, but some of the results have nothing to do with my former impressions. [...]
Once again: the idea is really great, but the test-conditions have to be as equal as possible. Otherwise the results are not worth anything.

The frequency of the highest peak does not vary much under different test conditions.
But it is not directly related to speed, not even when taking weight into account.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 10:26am
Some theory of blade mechanics with some great illustrative images are in this thread
http://mytabletennis.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=60725

Where's John Staley, aka JRSDallas? We miss you!
I wonder whether he further elaborated on/published his theory.










More recent scientific articles exploring the relationship between blade mechanics and acoustics
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705814005840
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705812017316


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Edited by arg0 - 10/27/2017 at 4:03pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 11:42am
There is a really cool animation here, int this case of a circular membrane under tension, but still really interesting.

http://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/Demos/MembraneCircle/Circle.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote h0n1g Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 12:18pm
I don't think the distance to the blade has a direct effect on frequency unless you are recording multiple meters away and with objects blocking the sound path. I've recorded mine about 10-15cm away from the phone.

Again I think we can't expect laboratory conditions and results but I still think this gives a good indication of what kind of speed to expect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 4:08pm
BTW, the frequencies below about 1000 Hz are deadened/absorbed by the player's hand only if the blade is gripped tightly.
When recording the sound, I normally tend to lay the blade flat between two fingers (see picture; and no, the picture is deceiving: my index finger touches only the handle), so that the grip force is minimal and few vibrations are absorbed by my hand.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 4:13pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

There is a really cool animation here, int this case of a circular membrane under tension, but still really interesting.
http://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/Demos/MembraneCircle/Circle.html

The animation is cool, but this is not how a table tennis blade vibrates. In the circular membrane animation the whole outer perimeter is fixed. In a blade, the only relatively fixed part of the blade face is where it meets the handle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote apodra74 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 4:47pm
I tested my blades again today what I noticed that can make your measurements go all over the place is if you hold the blade lightly or really tight.
Btw I tried with Donic ball p40+ and with a Nittaku Premium 40+ similar results with both balls loose grip, the blades I tested:
Stiga Ulf Tickan Carrlson allround AN 82gr (30 years old)  = 1184
Donic Ovtcharov Carbospeed FL 88gr                               = 1674   
Butterfly Schlager Carbon ST 95gr                                   = 1943    
Butterfly Schlager Carbon FL 100gr                                  = 1948   
Xiom Axelo FL 87 gr.                                                       = 1981


Edited by apodra74 - 07/01/2017 at 5:04pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote h0n1g Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 5:17pm
Added to the list. Just by looking at the numbers submitted from a number of different people, there is no doubt that this will be a decent indicator for blade speed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arg0 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 6:20pm
Originally posted by apodra74 apodra74 wrote:

I tested my blades again today what I noticed that can make your measurements go all over the place is if you hold the blade lightly or really tight.
Btw I tried with Donic ball p40+ and with a Nittaku Premium 40+ similar results with both balls loose grip, the blades I tested:

Loose grip is key! also see my post above.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 6:54pm
The most surprising thing I have seen so far is how far the Koto ALC blades are from blades like the Korbel or the KJH. I hope someone has put in an HL5 now.

This is great stuff and I commend slevin for getting this started. Over time, it is possible that frequency, top ply hardness, overall thickness. Handle dimensions etc. Might lead to an overall blade specification that predicts ahead of time whether someone will like a blade or not.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 6:56pm
Originally posted by zeio zeio wrote:

Originally posted by h0n1g h0n1g wrote:

First slightly questionable result: Xiom Vega Tour: 1299 vs. Xiom Vega Pro : 1399

Sounds about right. Xiom official site states that the Pro is faster than Tour.

Vega Tour


Vega Pro


Hmmm... That looks different from what so remember and the Tour I had was faster than the Pro. But again, blades are blades.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JacekGM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/01/2017 at 7:53pm
This is all great, for some kind of blade comparison, especially after the method of measurement is somehow standardized.Thumbs Up

... but guys, we play with RACKETS (blade + glue + rubber) NOT WITH BLADES Embarrassed . 
How a racket feels to me or "plays" will depend on so many other factors than just the vibration frequency of the blade.


Edited by JacekGM - 07/01/2017 at 7:55pm
(1) Juic SBA (Fl, 85 g) with Bluefire JP3 (red max) on FH and 0.6 mm DR N Desperado on BH; (2) Yinhe T7 (Fl, 87 g) with Bluefire M3 (red 2.0) on FH and 0.6 mm 755 on BH.
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