Getting Started with the RoboLabs Artist

If you've just ordered or received your RoboLabs Artist machine, then consider this article "required reading" because this revolutionary machine is truly "not like the others" in many key aspects.

From the beginning.....

Once you power on the machine please notice that for the first 12 seconds the motor will run at full speed.  After this, it will adjust to whatever speed you have set using the Motor Speed dial on the front panel.

Note that increasing the motor speed will also increase the upward air flow that propels the floss into the air.  It's suggested that you start with a lower setting as you get used to the Artist and become more proficient in making cotton candy with this machine.

Adjusting the Minimum Motor Speed

Your first task should be to turn on the machine and wait for the full motor speed 12 seconds to elapse.  Then, twist the Motor Speed dial all the way to the left (lowest speed) and then very slowly back up to the maximum.  Do this very slowly as there is a lag between the dial setting and the motor adjusting to match the setting.

If the speed range feels acceptable then no adjustments are necessary.  However, if you feel the floss head is spinning too fast at the "lowest" setting, then this can be adjusted.  You can do so by first turning the Motor Speed dial all the way to the left and then by looking at the left-hand side of the machine where you will find two holes in this panel. The one one top is marked with a "M" for Motor and the other "H" for Heat (which will cover shortly).  Using either needle nose pliers or tweezers, turn the recessed adjuster to the left to reduce the motor's slowest setting or to the right in order to increase the lowest speed at which the motor and floss head will spin.  Make very small adjustments as this dial is very sensitive, and again the motor will lag somewhat in its response to changes in this input.

Note that there is no "correct setting" other than to suggest that the lowest setting should still allow the motor to spin without running so slow as to be irregular or stopping completely.


Adjusting the Standby Voltage

One awesome new feature of the Artist is the "Standby" switch which will drop down the voltage being sent to the heating element to a level that will be low enough to stop producing floss, but high enough to keep the both the sugar and floss head very warm.  This may sound trivial at first, but the ability to stop the sugar from melting while still keeping the heater close to the melting point of sugar means that you can add more floss to an empty floss head without the risk of it burning, while at the same time being ready to resume production very quickly as the floss head is kept close to operating temperature.

To test this feature, activate the Heater switch and use the Heat Rate dial to adjust the operating voltage sent to the heating element until the meter is displaying at least 70 volts.

Now activate the Standby switch and notice the voltage meter will drop to a lower value.  It should drop to somewhere around 60 Volts or less.

If the Standby voltage is either too high or too low, you can adjust this setting by using the adjustment rod that is behind the hole in the left-side panel marked with the "H" the same as you did with the minimum motor speed setting above.

Again, there's no one correct value.  Depending on your floss sugar, ambient temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure and altitude you may want to set this higher or lower than the default suggesting of 60 Volts.  You can make small adjustments (and wait a few minutes to account for thermal lag) up or down until you find the sweet spot where the sugar isn't melting yet the floss head is still warm enough that you can quickly begin producing cotton candy after deactivating the Stand By switch.

The Nuance of Heat vs Speed

It's important to realize that there's a balancing act between the motor speed and the heater voltage.

As you increase the motor speed, you'll notice the floss stream will begin to become less dense and spread out. Too much motor speed and the floss will lose its structure altogether and blow apart like a dandelion petals in the wind.

On the other hand, if the motor speed is running too slowly for the amount of floss being produced, it will wind together very tightly, almost like a string of yarn.

 Increasing or decreasing the voltage sent to the heater has the same effect as you're either adding more or less to the existing flow of air provided by the motor fan.

As a practical matter, this means that you'll usually want to increase the motor speed and heater voltage in tandem so that if you're increasing the air flow, you're also increasing the amount of floss being produced, and vice versa.

In every case, be sure to make very small changes as there is an outsized response to the floss production and also a thermal lag involved as well.  Just as turning up a stove top from low to high doesn't immediately cause water to boil, increasing the heater voltage takes 30 seconds or so to have full effect.