ICA has created two sets of FAQs to address commonly asked questions. These FAQs are:
Prospective Purchaser FAQ - Addresses common questions about the ICA product offering, projector selection, projector mounting, etc., that people have asked as they consider purchase of an ICA Training System.
ICATS FAQ - Addresses common questions new users have asked about ICATS, as well as provides some useful "tips" that aid in the use of ICATS.
Prospective Purchaser FAQ
Q: What is included with the ICA Training System? What else do I need to purchase?
A: Included in the ICA Training System is:
Pool Training System & Power Supply – a Raspberry Pi system with the Pool program which runs the projector
Keyboard / Trackpad – to control all the features of, and interact with, the ICA Training System
HDMI Cable – connects the ICA Training system to your projector
Content – Included with your purchase are over 100 drills including "ICA Starter Module", Dr.Dave's BU Exams, and a selection of “trick shots”, letting you immediately start your training!
Required, separately acquired by the user:
Projector – ICA evaluated numerous projectors and are recommending two projectors (one end-mount, one side-mount) for use with ICATS that work in a variety of table/room conditions and give best performance for reasonable cost. See HERE for details. Other projectors can work with ICATS and if you want to use another projector please contact ICA to ensure the projector is sufficient for your table size and room conditions.
Mounting HW – suitable projector mounting hardware must be selected for your unique room situation. Click HERE for information on mounting height and distance recommendations for projectors, table sizes and projector orientation (side-mount / end-mount).
Q: How much does a basic system purchase cost?
A: A basic ICA Training System requires: 1) the ICATS microcomputer unit ; and 2) a projector and mounting HW, sold separately (HERE, bottom of page). The preceding links contain the pricing information.
Q: What else is available from ICA to challenge my pool skills?
A: ICA offers a full spectrum of drill modules, professionally prepared by Master Instructor Robin Dreyer, for the beginning player to the advanced player and covering a variety of pool skills. See HERE for the ICA product offerings. Additionally, ICATS supports 3rd party content from notable industry players including Tor Lowry (Zero-X Billiards), Dr. Dave (Billiard University), Jackie Karol, Jeremiah Gage (Bullseye Billiards) and more! Click HERE for 3rd party content.
Q: Which Projectors work well with the ICA Training System? Can I use any projector?
A: Not all projectors have the right specifications for this application and may not work well for all room configurations and table sizes/orientations. See HERE for details and recommendations or contact ICA if you have a specific projector in mind.
Q: What is the best way to mount the projector?
A: Different rooms require different approaches. The good news is that there are a number of excellent methods to mount a projector that will work in virtually any table/room conditions! See HERE for photos and descriptions of several methods.
Q: Can I display my own layouts and diagrams on the pool table?
A: Yes! ICATS at its heart is a “table layout editor”, allowing you to create your own layouts using all the ICATS editing tools. Furthermore, any JPEG or PNG file with a 2-to-1 ratio table surface image, and rails of constant width around the 2:1 surface can be loaded. ICATS calculates where the rails are, removes them, and displays the diagram's table surface onto your table. This gives unlimited possibilities to how you use the system!
Q: How does ICATS work with different table sizes?
A: ICATS uses a procedure called “Calibration” to adjust to 7’, 8’ and 9’ tables. The process is simple, and requires using the trackpad to move four calibration points to the four 1-by-1 diamond intersections on your table, allowing the program to calculate the necessary parameters. Once calibration is complete, images are automatically adjusted to fit on your table!
Q: Is ICATS easy to use?
A: If you are comfortable with use of other computer programs, you’ll find ICATS is much like any other computer program you use. It is menu driven, with a simple and intuitive user interface geared for editing and displaying pool table layouts. The only difference is that your “screen” is an actual pool table! In addition, an extensive set of “shortcut keys” allows all commonly used features to be accessed with a single keystroke, further simplifying use of ICATS. ICA offers a full set of documentation for use of the program (HERE) and video Tutorials (HERE) that will help you learn the full capabilities of ICATS. You'll immediately be able to load ICA or 3rd party content, or create your own custom layouts, for hours of pool fun!
Q: How does ICATS work on a well-lit table?
A: One of the critical specifications for the projector is how much light it puts out. The two recommended projectors have good luminosity and work well in every situation ICA has encountered.
Q: Does ICATS work on all felt colors?
A: ICATS has many successful installations on blue, green and red felt. Blue and green provide slightly better contrast, with red also working quite well. ICA doesn’t have direct experience with the “less common” felt colors, but would expect ICATS to work well.
Q: Can't a projector be mounted directly above the table?
A: It would be desirable to put a projector directly above the table. However, most projectors can't mount vertically due to thermal reasons, and laser projectors that can mount vertically cost >$1000. And then of course there is a pool table light that would compete for space and interfere with the projector.
“Lost” Menu – Occasionally a menu "gets lost" behind the table display and the system appears to be locked-up. Pressing the key with the label "F3" (do not simultaneously press the "FN" key in the bottom left) will bring the menu back to the foreground allowing it to be properly closed (either clicking "x" in the top right corner, or finishing the desired operation).
Q: Is additional information/help available to learn how to use ICATS?
A: Yes! The two most useful resources are: 1) the Pool Program User’s Guide (HERE); and 2) video Tutorials (HERE). These will help you learn all the ICATS features and functions. And don’t forget the convenient “short cut key” sticker on the back of your keyboard! For those that have purchased Target Practice, the User's Guide is available HERE.
Q: How do I calibrate the ICATS to the table? How can I fine tune the calibration to get it “perfect”?
A: Calibration and fine-tuning is discussed in detail in the document HERE, starting on page 4.
Q: How often do I need to re-calibrate my system?
A: As long as your table and projector do not move, the initial calibration should hold. However, bumps and vibrations occur and can have an impact. An occasional calibration may be needed.
Q: Should I back-up my ICATS SD Card?
A: In typical use, there is no need to back-up your ICATS SD card. The system is very reliable and, if something were to happen, ICA could replace a card/content in the time it takes to mail to you. If you create your own content, you are encouraged to back-up your created content to prevent any loss. The easiest method is to copy your content files to a USB Stick.
Q: Should the ICATS and projector be turned off after each session?
A: As a rule, the projector should be turned off after each session as the projector bulbs have a “lifetime” and wear out over time. The ICATS takes minimal power and can remain on with no harmful effects. If you want to turn off the ICATS, make sure to shut it down properly with “Right-click / Quit / Shutdown”. Removing power from a running ICATS is not recommended as it could cause the SD Card to fail, though typically no harm occurs.
Q: In several drill folders I see the file "#LASTDRILL". What is #LASTDRILL for?
A: You will likely find a #LASTDRILL in each drill folder and its' purpose is to remember the last drill loaded or saved in that folder. This allows you to easily resume your workout where you left off. Simply use shortcut key "l", or menu "Drill/Load" and load #LASTDRILL to restore the last drill used in that folder!
Q: Can I load a JPG/PNG Table Image as a Drill? Why would I?
A: Drill (“.drl”) files, with all the flexibility, tools, and layout functionality available, are the preferred method of using the system. Table images should generally be thought of as static "cloth", with all other elements sitting on top, and hence a JPG/PNG is often loaded "as a Table Image". However, if you have a set of JPEGs that comprise a lesson, loading the JPEG through Drill-Load provides the benefit of mouse wheel or arrow key next/previous drill and “r” for a random selection.
Q: What do the Drills, Table Images and Targets Folders hold?
A: These are default system folders as follows:
Drills - Default folder for Load and Save drill functions
Table Images - Default folder for loading Table Images
Targets - Default folder for loading Target Images (not in-system circle, triangle and polygon targets)
If you load your own content, load it in the appropriate directory for easiest access.
Q: What is the Update folder?
A: The Update folder is a "system folder" used by the program during the Update process. Though the program is designed to be resilient in its use of this folder, the user should avoid using or modifying the Update folder.
Q: Why is a "table size" in the Settings menu useful? Doesn't calibration handle everything?
A: Calibration's purpose is to ensure the 2:1 length/width ratio is dialed in. However, it does not help with setting the visible diameter of balls. Providing the table size allows the program to calculate the proper ball diameter as a proportion of the table size, resulting in a 2.25" ball image on your table.
Q: Occasionally a ball image is partially on-the-rail, in addition to on-the-table. Why is this?
A: If this occurs on rails other than the rail nearest the projector, the system is out of calibration and must be re-calibrated. If this occurs only on the rail nearest the projector, this is normal and expected behavior of ICATS and is due to the angle of the projector and the rail raised above the table surface (~1-1/8"). This indicates you should place the corresponding ball directly against the rail. Alternatively, you can press “v” on the keyboard to vertically flip the layout, resulting in the ball(s) displaying against the far rail.
Q: Why doesn't the Table Image flip when I flip a layout horizontally or vertically?
A: With ICATS elements (balls, targets, etc.) a layout can be flipped easily while maintaining the correct orientation of text. However, flipping an image results in a "mirror image" of the Table Image, with text flipped and difficult to read. When flipping, most users are trying to reorient the entire layout to get an unobstructed shot in a tight room situation. If you have a Table Image with Text, the best way to do this is: 1) right-click in an open table area and select "Rotate Table Image"; and 2) press an "h" (horz flip) and a "v" (vert flip) on the keyboard. These steps rotate the entire layout, including ICA elements and the Table Image, giving an unobstructed shot.