Fail Of The Week: The Little Remote-Controlled Snowblower That Couldn’t

[Punxatawny Phil]’s prognostications aside, winter isn’t over up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the snow keeps falling. If you’re sick of shoveling the driveway and the walk and you don’t have a kid handy to rope into the job, relax —  this rapidly assembled junkyard RC snowblower will do just as crappy a job while you stay nice and warm inside.

This build seemed to have a lot of potential at the start, based as it was on a second-hand track-drive snowblower, something that was presumably purpose-built for the job at hand. [Lucas] quickly got to work on it; he left the original gasoline engine to power the auger but took most of the transmission off so that each track could be driven separately with a wheelchair motor.  That seemed like a solid idea as far as steering goes, but the fact that he chose to drive the 24 volt motors with a single 12 volt deep-cycle battery worked against him out in the snow.

With a battery upgrade for better traction, the snowblower actually got around in the snow pretty well. [Lucas] also added some nice features, like a linear actuator to remotely engage the auger — a nice safety touch when kids and pets are around — and a motor to control the direction of the chute. Even these improvements weren’t enough, though; it worked insofar as it moved snow from where it was to where it wasn’t, but didn’t really move it very far. To the casual observer, it seems like there’s just not enough weight to the machine, allowing it to ride up over the snow rather than scraping the driveway clean. Check out the video below and see what you think.

Now, we’re not picking on [Lucas] here. Far from it — we enjoyed this build as much as some of his other stuff, like his scratch-built CO2 laser tube and his potty-mouthed approach to Kaizen tool organization. We still think this one has a lot of potential, and we’re glad he vowed to continue working on it for next winter.

17 thoughts on “Fail Of The Week: The Little Remote-Controlled Snowblower That Couldn’t

    1. Flamethrower is a great idea! I especially like the flamethrower part. The concept of a flame being thrown at the snow should be explored in great detail. With a flamethrower.

  1. I have considered a few times upgrading my snowblower to RC, but I know well enough how much physical effort is needed to keep the snowblower doing the job where it should when there is enough snow to warrant the use of a snowblower. Weight is the main issue. While a think for a solution, I am looking out for a tractor with a blade and a heated cab.

  2. Come to Australia….. Don’t snow much here….
    Even in the ski “resorts” they have often to resort to making their own….
    Bring yer own sun screen and mosquito repellent….

  3. It would be nice to see the ability to lift the auger and tip it back for more traction when the front gets stuck.
    I see a caster installed that probably caused much of the issue. A screw drive to the back of the tracks to pivot on the axle would be nice (if the tracks are long enough to balance the weight.)

    1. Been following him for a couple years now, and his delivery is every bit as good as the stuff he hacks together. Found him when doing some research on building a DIY CNC laser cutter… Guy made his own dang laser tube!

  4. I think weight isn’t so much the problem as weight distribution. For instance the batteries are mounted rearward, this might explain the tendency of the machine to climb vs plow. The battery weight has taken away the weight of the auger and chute assembly.

    Thing is he was working within the confines if what he had and implementing the above would require significant modification of the chassis.

    Awesome build. Will subscribe to see how this progresses in the future!

    1. Agreed about weight distribution. Putting the batteries on the front, over the augur, would keep the front end down, but then it catches on every single tiny obstacle, like the dividing line between concrete slabs. Running a snowblower is kinda complicated, in that you’re doing a lot to keep the blade engaged.
      I’m wondering if some diagonal rubber strips under the front lower lip would work to scoop snow up into the blower, without getting hung up on every obstacle.

  5. Ck to see if the snow blower pivots front to back. Track drive snow blower pivots for different types of snow and transport. Maybe it can be locked down with the pressure on the front auger. If it’s hanging up on the driveway adjust the skids on the auger to 1/4 inch clearance on the cutting blade. Make sure the belt is good and run the gas engine at full throttle. Your on the rt track it will be awesome when you get the bugs worked out

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