Q: How robust is the Smart-Tamp?
A: In short, very robust, especially considering it houses fine tuned electronics. There are a few reasons the Smart-Tamp can withstand lots of abuse. Firstly, it was designed with ruggedness in mind. Every part of the structure is made of either heat treated aluminum or stainless steel--no injection molded plastics. This makes for a tough and corrosion resistant body. What about the electronics? We designed custom chemical resistant and tight fitting shock mounts for them. Lastly, even though we haven't officially certified the Smart-Tamp for water resistance per any of the internationally recognized standards, we put seals of various kinds--mostly O-rings--on every ingress point and we are confident that the Smart-Tamp will stand up to any harsh café environment (just make sure the base and handle are attached).
Q: How long will the batteries last?
A: It depends on how often you use the tamper. For instance, if you use the tamper twice a day every day, the batteries will need to be replaced after 3 months. If the tamper sits without being used at all, the batteries can last 7 months or more, and in fact in this particular case only one battery needs replacing (see the next question).
Q: I left the tamper sitting on my shelf for a long time and now I'm getting a low battery light. What gives?
A: When the tamper is in sleep mode--i.e. the mode it goes into after 10 seconds of no activity--it does consume a tiny amount of power from the batteries. If you leave it long enough the batteries will become low. In this case, where the batteries are low after several months of non-use, it turns out that only one battery needs to be replaced because only one battery is actually being used in sleep mode. The other battery should be good as new. The picture below shows which battery needs replacing.
One tip here is that if you're planning on not using the tamper for a long period of time it's probably best to remove the batteries so they don't drain.
Q: Is the tamper always on?
A: Yes. Once you put the batteries in the tamper it "boots up" and is always on until you take the batteries out. This is because of the wake-on-shake functionality. The tamper goes into sleep mode after 10 seconds of no activity. In sleep mode it uses a minuscule amount of power, but the tamper is still on.
Q: The batteries are sort of hard to remove. How do you recommend removing them?
A: It is true that the batteries are tightly held by the battery holders. We wanted to make sure the batteries never come out while you shake the tamper to wake it up. The image below illustrates the easiest way to remove the batteries. A paper clip, thin screw driver or similar object can be used to gently pry the batteries out. Be sure to insert that object on the side of the battery shown in the picture below. It won't work if you pry it from the other side.
Q: How do I "reboot" the tamper?
A: Removing the batteries and putting them back in will reboot the tamper. See the previous question regarding the best way to remove the batteries.
Q: Why do I hear something jiggling inside the tamper when I move it around?
A: We know it sounds weird, but that "jiggling" is by design. The load cell inside the the tamper is designed to tare--or zero--itself every time you wake it up. A good tare requires that the load cell be free of any load during the taring process. To accomplish this, we carefully designed in a controlled amount of load cell clearance when the tamper is unloaded and this is the jiggling sound you're hearing. This is the same reason that digital bathroom scales need a few seconds between the time you turn them on to the time you step on them: they need to tare without load to set an accurate zero point. The Smart-Tamp takes milliseconds to tare so you don't have to sit there and wait.
Q: Why does the handle feel like it is slightly loose?
A: The answer to this one is very similar to the question about load cell jiggle. The handle has a little bit of clearance around the load cell so that no load can be imparted on the load cell during the taring process. This is because it is important that the load cell is completely free of any load during the tare.