Lawnmower+stake+rope=Analog robotic lawn service

[Kirov], a regular reader and one of our most notorious commenters, tipped us off about this lawn mowing hack. On one hand we’re wary that this is bait for a huge flame war, but on the other hand it’s a hack that brings a smile to our mischievous faces. By pounding a stake into the center of the yard and connecting a mower to it with a piece of rope, [Korey99] has achieve an automated lawn mower. He tied the self-propelled mower’s throttle bar down to make the machine run unattended. There’s no kill switch or any kind of remote control for the lawn mower so we wonder what happens when the rope gets all wound up?

Comments

  1. Voice of Wisdom says:

    Fail

    Actually a pretty cool hack.

  2. The Manatee Miltia says:

    Awesome. I half expected to see a kid or a dog walk into frame.

  3. MadAndy says:

    This was in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics a million years ago. Maybe 30 years ago. Geeze I’m old.

  4. Dan says:

    “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

  5. Csae says:

    Yeah i remember this being a pretty old hack on TV.

    Wonder if one can get sued if a dog happens to walk into the yard and meets the machine… i would imagine smart animals would survive it without a scratch but i can see some annoying little yap thingy meeting it head on….

  6. Darkfibre says:

    MadAndy: You are quite correct: It was Popular Mechanics, the Dec 1948 issue, 3rd item on page 161.
    I remember it clearly now. :)

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NtkDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA161&dq=lawnmower+spiral&lr=&as_pt=MAGAZINES&ei=RhLWS5_oAoWOzASOhKHaCQ&cd=2#v=onepage&q&f=true

  7. Hirudinea says:

    This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  8. PsyKotyk says:

    Lovit. Simple and it works.

  9. vonskippy says:

    Wonder if he used math or Tlar to figure out the diameter or the center rope winder.

    As others have mentioned, that “hack” probably occurred the day after the first self propelled mower hit the streets.

  10. Bob says:

    There I fixed it ;)

  11. anon says:

    and your serious,

    a mower on a rope.

  12. B1rdm4n says:

    This is awesome. I’m not concerned about the safety, but cutting the grass in the same lines is not good for it…

  13. Jtaylor says:

    OK, if he is using this it’s probably obvious that he doesn’t care about the grass…most likely he is like me and views it as a nuisance. I say burn it all and pour green tinted concrete…..

  14. dooglehead says:

    Wasn’t there a TV commercial recently with a lawnmower tied to a stake, just like this.

  15. legendeveryone says:

    My next door neighbor has been doing this for years. I thought as a kid that he must’ve been a genius, but now I see that he probably got the idea from Popular Mechanics

  16. T313C0mun1s7 says:

    @B1rdm4n Naw, next week just move the stake over a foot.

  17. Kurt Neufeld says:

    Seeing as most properties are square it won’t get your entire yard, and that stake has to be well driven in otherwise the neighbor’s cat is going to get a haircut. But otherwise it’s a simple yet ingenious hack. Good work!

  18. Kurt Neufeld says:

    Also I’m certain that if you know how long it would take for this contraption to mow your lawn down to the second you could figure out a way to release the throttle bar just in time. Frozen Rubber bands that you know will only last for so long, or some robotics maybe.

  19. haineux says:

    What will happen when the rope runs out?

    A) Nothing, the mower will just sit there, perhaps spinning its wheels.

    B) The mower will manage to rip the stake out of the ground and continue in a straight line until it hits an obstacle.

    My bet is for A then B. I don’t think it’s likely at all that the mower runs out of gas.

  20. Luke says:

    True hackers do it the lazy way!
    Seriously though it is great.

  21. Commander Dave says:

    I remember this from an old movie or TV show where a kid(?) was an inventor… but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was.

    I do remember thinking how cool it was and how much I wanted to try it, but alas, we didn’t have a self-propelled mower in those days!

  22. Stpq says:

    What if it unwound itself from the stake, and, in addition, had a slightly shorter length of rope that tied to a sort of clamp that would work its way off as the mower got too far away? Thus, enabling it to turn itself off when its work was finished.

  23. supershwa says:

    @dooglehead – yes, the commercial you’re thinking of was by Discovery Channel, which related to their “I love the world” commercial. The actor was singing the song, while hammering a stake into the ground, tying a rope up to his mower, then kicked back in a lawn chair while the mower did circles in the yard.

    I didn’t know about the Popular Mechanics reference (then again, I wasn’t around in 1948…)

    Mike — you pullin’ a Krafty Caleb? ;P

  24. Tyler says:

    Diameter of the post=(Diameter of your mower deck MINUS 2 inch overlap)/pi

  25. dooglehead says:

    @supershwa – Yes! that was the commercial I was talking about. I remember it now.

  26. greycode says:

    Hey Wile E. Coyote! Put the ACME catalog down and step away from the lawn mower! You know this is going to end with you missing a lawn mower sized strip of fur up the middle of your back.

    No matter how many times you watch the cartoon, it always ends the same way.

  27. kirov says:

    Would be better if it had some kind of throttle throttle control to kill it when it got to the end of the rope. I suppose it moves at roughly the same speed and it would be very simple to attach a timer to turn it off after a couple of minutes so you could set it and come back later.

    Or you could go the high tech route and get some sort of proximity sensor to shut it off at exactly the right time instead of ballparking it, but that doesn’t mesh as well with the ghettofabulous stake and rope nature of this hack.

  28. fanulous says:

    That is absolute genius.

  29. gcat122 says:

    The CIRCUMFERENCE of the spool should be less than the mower swath. And the rope wrap makes it change as the lawn gets mowed. Fun! Add a kill switch and watch for safe operation and wandering darwin candidates.

  30. Nate says:

    This was on the Red Green show and I’m sure other places, not really that innovative of a hack.

  31. 24601 says:

    Just figure out the mower’s fuel consumption rate, then give it just enough gas to get to the center post, where it runs out of gas and dies. too easy.

  32. bemis says:

    As I watched the video all I could picture was “Towlie” of South Park fame, eyes blood shot with a joint clutched between index finger and thumb just a few inches from his mouth saying “This is a really good idea!”

  33. BigBubbaX says:

    Being able to remote control a lawnmower still appeals more to me, but a thrifty hack nonetheless.

  34. namek303 says:

    Hmm I will throw 30 of these on eBay.

    First bid $20

    Automated string and stake set for modding lawnmower for autonomous use.

    *lawnmower not included.
    **may cause injury or death if used while unattended.

  35. Tane says:

    I love the simplicity of this!
    @ Kurt Neufield – the simplest solution to all of these problems is to just give the mower exactly the right amount of fuel, so that it runs out when it hits the center. :)

  36. Cray says:

    Fake !

  37. Anon says:

    Hurrrrrr look at me, I’m posting hax.

    Jeez I know you were trying to start a flame war as you said, but c’mon, get with the times.

  38. musso says:

    Shutting it off is too simple… use and electrical mower… wind the power cord up with the rope and have the mower go from the inside out instead of the other way round… when it gets to the end it’ll unplug itself. The gas powered equivalent would be to tie a string to the gas line leading to the mower’s carburetor.

  39. VIPER! says:
  40. Mav says:

    You can tell a load of Americans hangout here
    “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen”
    God I hate the American attitude to Sue everyone and anyone for anything.

    Blame the State and Sue them for putting up a lamp post you walk into as its their fault for putting it there ! When really its the dumb asses fault for not watching where their going thats what EYES are for.

    My view would be this… A little yapper goes onto my lawn and gets turned into mince meat by this sort of madcap contraption.
    It’s the owner fault for not keeping it on a leash as it shouldn’t be on my property in the first place.

    FLAME BAIT :D

  41. PKM says:

    All the people wondering how to shut off the mower at the appropriate point- this is not a hack for leaving unattanded, this is a hack for watching from a lawn chair with a beer, basking in
    a) sun
    b) your own inventiveness

    When the mower finishes, you get up and stop it.

  42. captain obvious says:

    Accurate and simple kill switch is not difficult and does not require retardedness like proximity sensors. Add a bumper switch to the side (think the front of a roomba) that will hit the spool when it is all wound up and have that switch ground the coil.

  43. James says:

    Doesnt work on my triangular garden, I now have no bedding plants… :)

  44. Richard says:

    I think I’ve seen Goofy do this in a Disney cartoon.

  45. davo1111@work says:

    Awesome, but there is no arduino :(

  46. strider_mt2k says:

    Now THIS one is SURE to back up into the mains and killaguy!

    AAAACK!

  47. theodore says:

    This is how the robot uprising starts! LOL

  48. chrelad says:

    :D This is awesome!

  49. Dubious says:

    Is it me, or is that mower really – really fast? I was going to say it was sped up video, but the pitch of the audio was about right.

    hmmmmm.

  50. Dubious says:

    Oops. Duh. Just watched on Youtube, video sped up by 4x. Guess I got to clean my ears, or have more coffee.

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