RC Lawnmower Is Built To Last

Mowing the lawn is one of those tasks that someone will always be optimizing or automating. To allow him to mow the lawn while seated comfortably in the shade, [Workshop from Scratch] built an RC Lawnmower in his signature solid steel frame style.

The chassis consists of a heavy welded steel frame from square tubing, with a pair of knobbly go-kart wheels on the back and large caster wheels on the front. The actual grass-cutting part is a 173cc petrol lawnmower engine with a steel hull, mounted on an articulating subframe which can be remotely raised and lowered using a linear actuator. The rear wheels are attached to a pair of custom sprocket hubs, driven via chain by two 200 W geared DC motors to allow skid steering.

The motors and electronics are powered by a set of 18 Ah lead-acid batteries wired in parallel. The petrol engine can also charge the batteries, but its current isn’t enough to keep up while mowing. However, it does help to extend the range. All the electronics are housed in a plastic enclosure with a power switch, key start for the engine, and battery charge indicator on the lid. The power from the batteries runs through a pair of automotive relays connected to the power switch and a set of fuses for protection. For safety [Workshop from Scratch] wired a relay to the engines’ coil to shut it off remotely, or when the radio link to the controller is lost. An action cam was also mounted on the electronics box to stream a first-person view to a smartphone over WiFi.

Overall this is a very well built project, especially mechanically, and looks like the perfect platform for further self-driving using Ardurover. [rctestflight] has demonstrated the capabilities of the open source autopilot with several rovers, including a tiny lawnmower that cuts grass with Exacto blades.

17 thoughts on “RC Lawnmower Is Built To Last

  1. “To allow to mow the lawn while seated comfortably in the shade,”

    at some point I will fall asleep, leaving the mover to roam the neighborhood.

      1. Global warming did not cause humans to suddenly start taking more siestas. Human societies living near the Equator have always taken breaks when it’s too hot to work, such as napping or having a dedicated time for meditation and prayer. Working continuously for 8 hours in the daylight is a cultural adaptation for northern and southern temperate climates, where most of the year people schedule their activity to avoid the coldest time of the day, and midday is more often at the best temperature for work.

        Some of the hottest places on the planet have also historically been home to the longest standing empires and most dense metropolises. The heat hasn’t been an impediment for their continued existence and growth, they have simply always known to just schedule their activity around the hottest time of the day. Many other common tasks in hot climates are also improved by scheduling them at dawn or dusk, such as weeding, plowing, watering, and harvesting fields, so you can’t simply add work hours to midday and expect the same result.

        RC drones and robots are neat, but they can’t do work at all hours of the day even if we wanted them to. Plants and animals need to rest in the midday heat, too.

    1. No, 173cc originally to be a self propelled thing that spins the blades. The extra power headroom serves the double purpose in this build of extending the battery range when running.

  2. Built to last?

    No. This appears to be built around an AMC (‘American’ mower company) mower. Sold at Wallyworld for $240.

    It’s good for two years _maximum_. AMC mowers are just as bad as MTD.

    Two rules for buying mowers:
    1. Never buy a mower with two blades, they have timing belts and the blades will eventually hit each other, totaled. 1 and 3 blade mowers are the good ones.
    2. Never buy a mower built by AMC or MTD. Beware, they buy a new brand each every 3 or 4 years, after they have run the last one into the ground.

  3. That type of steering is usually called differential steering since the front wheels are idle casters. Skid steer usually means there’s 4 driven wheels that don’t turn.

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