Solar powered robot mows your lawn while you chill indoors

solar-powered-lawn-mowing-robot

We’ve heard quite a number of radio ads lately trying to sell an automatic lawn mowing robot (like a Roomba for your grass). But wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to hack your own from an existing lawnmower? That’s what [Daniel Epperson] did. In fact, the project has been ongoing for years. But he wrote in to share the latest development which adds solar charging capabilities to the robot mower.

First off let’s discuss the fact that this is not an electric lawnmower. This is the Prius of lawnmowers, bringing together hybrid technology to cut the grass with the gasoline powered motor, and to propel the rig with electricity. [Danny's] worked hard to shoe-horn just about every feature imaginable (other than autonomy) into the thing, and that’s why the batteries can be charged from mains, an alternator powered by the gas motor, and now from the PV panel mounted on top of it. Get the entire project overview in his roundup post.

This a wireless video feed and the mower is driven by remote-controlled. So you can give your yard a trim without getting sweaty. After the jump we’ve embedded a clip of an earlier revision demonstrating that remote control. If you’re not interest in having all the features you could simply build an analog version.

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Electric tricycle build log is like hacker crack

electric-tricycle-burns-rubber

This tiny little scratch-built electric tricycle is a insanely powerful. Some might think you don’t need a crash helmet for testing a trike, but seeing the video after the break where [Ben Katz] is flying through a parking garage while slaloming between the support beams proves that this ride has some pep to it.

Looking through the presentation post linked above is fun, but when we started digging though the six build log posts we felt ourselves getting sucked into the project. It’s a delight every step of the way. It started with an aluminum box which will host the two rear wheels, drive train, motor, and battery. [Ben] decided to go with A123 Lithium cells, and after testing to see how many he could fit in the space available he started making choices on the motor and driver circuit. When he finally got his hands on the actual cells for the project he took on the fascinating process of constructing his own battery. Dozens of them were hot glued, then soldered together before being encased by placing them in soda bottles and hitting the plastic with a heat gun. And we haven’t even gotten into the bicycle hub-gear transmission system, disc brakes, differential, chain-drive, and motor… you see what we mean about sucking you in.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering this is not [Ben's] first electric vehicle build. Last year he was showing off his all terrain scooter.

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Faceless child’s engineer father builds him a breathtaking ride

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Okay, the kid does have a face, but it looks like Dad blurred it for his protection. The real story here is the killer ride built by his engineer father. It’s far nicer than the cars driven by the Hackaday team, but then again, since it cost more than a BMW 3 series that’s no surprise.

[Lingzi] lives in China and does custom car work for a living. So to take on this project for his son was more of a stretch of the pocketbook than of his skill set. The car features a custom frame with rack and pinion steering, disc brakes, a rear differential, and a reputable suspension system. The body of the vehicle is crafted from carbon fiber. The lights all work and there’s an electric motor and transmission mounted just behind the driver’s seat. Unfortunately there’s no video of this in action (China blocks YouTube). But do take a look at the album above for pictures of the final paint job. There is also a little bit more information to be found in [Lingzi's] Reddit discussion.

Double-kettle boiling rig for and easier brew day

[Dave] built a controller that lets him boil two kettles at once when brewing beer. The setup uses electric heating elements in each of the kettles. We prefer to use gas as it’s a bit easier to control temperature. But an electric system like this can be used inside during the winter months while propane is relegated to the outdoors. The other thing that immediately comes to mind is partial mash recipes that require steeping in one kettle, then sparging (rinsing off the grains) with water of a different temperature. That kind of thing is a snap since the two are controlled individually by the trimpots on the front of the control box.

Inside you’ll find two 220V solid state relays. The box itself plugs into the 220V outlet in his basement which is normally occupied by his clothes dryer cord. So as not to blow a fuse, the MSP430 chip driving the relays switches back and forth between them rather than turning both on at once. The system uses entirely manual control, but it should be an easy modification to add a thermocouple and PID algorithms if so desired.

After the break [Dave] shows off the system in a video clip.

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Motorizing this trycicle

[Kaj] wanted to help out an aging family member by building them an electric tricycle during international Hack Day back on August 11th. He mixed in some reused parts with some new ones and ended up with bike that lets the rider troll other cyclists. Apparently when serious riders see an older man on a trike gaining on them they pedal like mad to make sure they don’t suffer the embarrassment of being passed. But there’s enough power and range to overtake the strongest of non-powered competitors.

Many of the parts came from a non-functional electric bike sold on Craig’s List. [Kaj] reports that the bike was trashed, but the motor system was mostly salvageable. He replace the batteries and charger and hooked up the motor to the rear axle. The initial install placed everything but the motor in the basket behind the rider. The weight and placement made the thing unstable when cornering. The solution was to house the batteries in a tool box and strap it below the basket. The lower center of gravity makes sure the trike is easy to handle, and now there’s still room in the basket for your groceries.

This would make a perfect platform for some road messages printed in water.

Fauxrarri is the PPPRS Champion

The Power Racing Series (PPPRS) is an electric vehicle competition with a $500 price ceiling. This is Fauxarri, the 2012 Champion. It was built by members of Sector67, a Madison, WI hackerspace. To our delight, they’ve posted an expose on the how the thing was built.

It should come as no surprise that the guys behind the advance electric racer aren’t doing this sort of thing for the first time. A couple of them were involved in Formula Hybrid Racing at the University of Wisconsin. That experience shows in the custom motor controller built as an Arduino shield. It includes control over acceleration rate, throttle response, and regenerative braking. But you can’t get by on a controller alone. The motors they used are some special electric garden tractor motors to which they added their own water cooling system.

If you want to get a good look at how fast and powerful this thing is head on over to the post about the KC leg of PPPRS (it’s the one towing a second vehicle and still passing the competition by).

Electric paint brush loads itself with paint

Meet [Jahangir Ahmad]. He’s a 19-year-old from India who recently won third place in a contest put on by the National Innovation Foundation. Here he’s posing with the electric paint brush which he developed after seeing some local painters struggling with brushes and buckets at the top of a ladder.

His system uses a 1 hp motor to pump paint from the bucket directly into the brush. Once it enters the handle a distributor splits the flow into four parts so that it reaches the bristles evenly. The pump of the paint is actuated by a controller which can be worn on the painter’s belt. When you get a little low on paint, just hit the button and you’ll get boost. Since the base of the bristles is meant to hold a small reservoir of paint, this has the potential to be better than dipping in a bucket.

[via Reddit via Home Harmonizing via Damn Geeky]

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