Interfacing technology and electronics with the real world is often fairly tricky. Complexity and edge cases work their way in to every corner of a project like this; just ask anyone who has ever tried to operate a rover on Mars, make a hydroponics garden, or build almost any robotics project. Even those of us who simply own a consumer-grade printer are flummoxed by the ways in which they can fail when manipulating single sheets of paper. This robotic lawnmower is no exception, driving its creator [TK] to extremes to get it to mow his lawn.
[TK] actually had a platform for his autonomous mower ready to go thanks to a previous build using this solar-powered robot to explore the Australian outback. Adding another motor to handle the grass trimming seemed simple at first and he set about wiring it all up and interfacing it to the robot. After the first iteration he found the robot was moving too fast to effectively cut the grass, so he added a more powerful cutting motor and a gearbox to help the mower crawl more slowly over the lawn. Disaster struck when his 3D printed mount for the steel cutting blades shattered, but with [TK] uninjured he pushed on with more improvements.
As it stands right now, the mower can effectively cut the grass moving forward even with the plastic-only cutting blades that [TK] is using now for safety reasons. The mower stripped its reverse gear so there still are some improvements to make before this robot is autonomously cutting the lawn without supervision. Normally we see lawnmowers retrofitted with robotics rather than robotics retrofitted with a lawnmower, but we’re excited to see any approach that lets us worry about one less household chore.
Thanks to [Rob] for the tip!
Continue reading “Autonomous Mower Hits Snag”
It is easy to take a Raspberry Pi and treat it like a cheap Linux PC or server. Running an ad blocker or a VPN gateway is simple and doesn’t require any real interfacing. However, it is a big leap to actually use the Pi to control something and a good example can go a long way to helping you develop your own projects. [Joeseph Luccisano] posted a tutorial with just that aim. The goal: build a low-cost lawn watering system.
It is an interesting project since it has hardware and software components, of course. But it also has a hydraulic part, so you have to deal with all three domains coming together.
Continue reading “Raspberry Pi Waters Your Lawn, Serves HTML”
[nodemcu12ecanada] is serious about saving water, which is why they built this strange lawnmower that can cut grass taller.
Short lawns are one of those clever marketing victories, like convincing people to eat a lot of sugar, that’s been doing more harm than good ever since the victory was won. Short grass is weak grass, with shallow roots, weakness to weeds, and a lot of water requirement. On top of that the grass is always in a state of panic so it grows extra fast to get to a more “natural” height. It’s great if you want to sell fertilizer, seeds, and lawnmowers. Maybe not so great for the environment.
Most lawnmowers can’t even be set high enough for healthy grass so [nodemcu12ecanada] took three electric weed whackers and bolted them to an angle iron frame. It has a lot of advantages. It’s light. You don’t need to sharpen a blade. It’s quiet. It’s electric. It’s strange appearance will scare your neighbors off from borrowing any of your tools. We love it!
Sure, mowing the lawn is a hassle. No one really wants to spend their time and money growing a crop that doesn’t produce food, but we do it anyway. If you’re taking care of a quarter acre in the suburbs it’s not that much of a time sink, but if you’re taking care of as much grass as [Roby], you’d probably build something similar to his autonomous skid-steer mower, too.
This thing isn’t a normal push mower outfitted with some random electronics, either. This is a serious mower that is essentially a tractor with blades attached to it. Since it’s a skid steer, it turns by means of two handles that control the speed of the left or right drive wheels. Fabricating up some servo linkages to attach them to specialized servos takes care of the steering portion, and the brain is ArduPilot hooked up to a host of radios, GPS, and a compass to allow it to drive all around the runways at the airport without interfering with any aircraft.
This is a serious build and goes into a lot of detail about how servos and linkages should behave, how all the software works, and the issues of actually mounting everything to the mower. The entire project is open source too, so even if you don’t have a whole airport runway to mow you might be able to find something in there to help with your little patch of grass.
Thanks to [Vincent] for the tip!
Continue reading “Skid Steer Mows Airport Grass Autonomously”
Perhaps one day our robot overlords will look back on all of the trivial things that humans made them do and take retribution on us. Until then, though, there’s no problem having them perform all of our chores. [v.loschiavo] is also exploiting our future rulers and built a robot that mows his lawn automatically as his entry into the 2018 Hackaday Prize.
The robot uses a rechargeable battery system to drive a nylon blade for grass cutting. It also has an obstacle detection and avoidance system that allows it to find the borders of your yard and keep from getting stuck against shrubs and flower beds. And don’t worry about safety, either. There’s a built-in system of sensors that prevents any injuries from occurring. The robot also has a 10 Watt solar panel on the top that helps recharge the battery, but it can also recharge at a base station similar to a Roomba.
The whole robot was 3D printed with the exception of some parts like the cutting motor, solar panel, and gear motors. While nothing except for the pictures and a general overview of the robot has been posted to the project page yet, we hope [v.loschiavo] updates the project with the G-code files, code, and schematics so we can build our own.
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.