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?

75 thoughts on “Lawnmower+stake+rope=Analog Robotic Lawn Service

  1. 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….

  2. 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.

  3. 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…..

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. @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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!”

  15. 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.

  16. 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. :)

  17. 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.

  18. 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.


  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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