Well here we are, we’ve reached that time of year again at which our yearly ritual of resuscitating small internal combustion engines from their winter-induced morbidity is well under way. It’s lawn mowing season again, and a lot of us are spending our Saturday afternoons going up and down our little patches of grass courtesy of messers Briggs and Stratton. Where this is being written, the trusty Honda mower’s deck has unexpectedly failed, so an agricultural field topper is performing stand-in duty for a while, and leaving us with more of the rough shag pile of a steeplechaser’s course than the smooth velvet of a cricket ground. Tea on the lawn will be a mite springier this year.
When you think about it, there’s something ever so slightly odd about going to such effort over a patch of grass. Why do we do it? Because we like it? Because everyone else has one? Or simply because it’s less effort to fill the space with grass than it is to put something else there? It’s as if our little pockets of grassland have become one of those facets of our consumer culture that we never really think about, we just do. Continue reading “Something To Think About While You’re Mowing The Lawn”
Your local hardware store or garden supply center probably has everything you need to install landscape lighting all around your property. What’s a little less likely is coming out of that situation with fewer holes in your wallet than in your yard. And even then, it’s pretty much guaranteed that any off-the-shelf equipment won’t send you a text message when your landscape lighting isn’t working properly. [Mark]’s landscape lighting system does, though!
Powered by a Raspberry Pi, this landscape lighting system has every feature imaginable. It can turn the lighting on at sunset and turn it off at a set or random time later in the evening. There’s a web interface served from the Pi that allows further user control. The Raspberry Pi also monitors the lighting and can sense when one of the lights burns out. When one does, the Pi uses Twillo to send a text message notification.
There’s not many more features we can imagine packing into a setup like this. Of course, if you don’t have a spare Pi around you can probably manage to get the job done with an ESP8266, or even an old-fashioned Arduino.
A pal of [Kyle’s] was regularly leaving his sprinkler on for too long. He also had forgotten to turn the water off while topping off his pool a couple of times, an embarrassing and wasteful situation. Being such a good friend, [Kyle] offered to make him a water timer. This isn’t a regular water timer that turns the water on and off at the same time every day. This device allows the user to push a button to have the unit switch on a solenoid valve, permitting water flow. After a predetermined amount of time the unit removes power to the solenoid valve which stops the water flow, successfully preventing pool overflows and excessive watering.
[Kyle] started off his design using a 555 chip to do the counting. He quickly became worried that timer lengths over 10 minutes would cause inconsistent functionality due to the leakage current of the capacitor and the charge current of the resistor. There are ways around this, but rather than complicate the design he switched to an ATtiny microcontroller. The added benefit of the ATtiny is that he could connect up a potentiometer to adjust the on-time without replacing parts or making a new unit. When the potentiometer is turned, the on-board LED will flash a number of times which corresponds with the delay in minutes. Ten flashes means a 10 minute delay. It’s a simple and clear interface.
As if the home etched PCB wasn’t cool enough, [Kyle] 3D printed up a case for the unit. The case permits access to the screw terminals and has provisions for the indicator LEDs. Check out the integrated flap in the top of the case. When this portion of the case is pushed in, it presses the PCB-mounted on/off switch.
If you are interested in making one, all of the files and code are available on [Kyle’s] site.
via [dangerous prototypes]
[AmpEater] spent the summer converting yard equipment from internal combustion to electric power. The conversions run from a relatively tame Wheel Horse, to an insane Cub Cadet. The Wheel Horse lost its Kohler engine in favor of a hydraulic pump motor from a crown forklift. 48 volt power is supplied by MK lead acid gel cells. An Alltrax 300 amp controller keeps this horse reigned in.
On his Reddit thread, [AmpEater] says he is especially proud of his Cub Cadet zero turn ride on mower. For those who aren’t up on lawn implement terminology, a “zero turn” means a mower with zero turning radius. Zero turn mowers use two large wheels and tank style steering to turn within their own radius. We bet this style mower would also make a pretty good robot conversion, however [AmpEater’s] zero turn is still setup for cutting the grass.
After pulling the V-twin motor the 48 volt Motenergy ME-1004 was put in place. Batteries are 3 x Enerdel 48V 33 amp hour lithium ion packs. The packs are wired in series to provide 144V nominal. Right about here is where our brain started to melt. A 48V motor on 144V has to mean magic smoke, right? This is where the motor controller magic comes in.
Continue reading “Electrified Yard Equipment Hauls Grass”
Challenged by hot days and steep turf [Grayson Sigler] modified his reel mower to use electric motors. The end product will be radio controlled but he lacked the necessary parts to make it wireless right now. Not to be deterred, he used a wired controller for prototyping and testing that should be easily replaced once the parts arrive. Sadly, the grade of his yard causes the small wheels to slip so he tried inserting screws into the tread for added traction. The small mower lacks the weight and footprint that the Lawnbot400 enjoys. That being said, solar charging is one of the future goals so this build, which he named RoMOW, wins out on the green scale. We’ve included the prototype video after the break that shows the blades spinning away.
Continue reading “Remote control reel mower”
[Torx] wrote this instructable on how to convert a lawnmower to another useful tool. We’re not sure what language he natively speaks, but we doubt it is english, so you might be better off just looking at the pictures to figure out what he’s doing. To summarize, he has lowered the mower and reversed/bent the blade to scrape the ground. He has also added thick rubber edges all around to try to keep debris from coming out. You might be wondering why he would need something like this, but the last page sums it up pretty well. We could imagine this possibly getting some use in the garden as well. This one does look pretty dangerous though, so don’t blame us if you cut off a hand or lose an eye to some debris. Then again, a regular lawnmower looks pretty dangerous too.
[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?