Although first presented to the world as an April 1st joke, [Jotun]’s IRC-enabled lawnmower began life as the result of casual bantering among folk on the Undernet IRC network. When the project worked out better than probably anyone could have expected, it was presented as the Green Future of Undernet on April 1st. Joking aside, the project actually is pretty interesting and well-executed.
At the core is a Remington RM110, a fairly basic gas-powered push lawnmower. After years of use it wasn’t running so well any more, so [Jotun] took it apart and cleaned the engine, despite never having done so before. With that grimy task completed, a subsequent remark in an Undernet channel about linking the lawnmower to Undernet led to a Raspberry Pi 4 and various other components being ordered.
The write-up by [Jotun] provides a pretty good overview of the project’s history: from getting the Raspberry Pi 4 working with a UPS add-on, to getting the IRC server software working and serving clients, and putting a weather- and dust-proof box together with enough filtered ventilation to ensure that the freshly mowed grass doesn’t clog up the Raspberry Pi while keeping everything cool.
As a bonus, the system tracks the wheel revolutions so that [Jotun] can keep track of the square kilometers of grass he has cut, and reports this with an IRC bot to anyone interested on Undernet, in the channel #lawnmower. The only thing that isn’t working well yet so far is the live camera feed from the lawnmower, due to the obvious vibration issues, but [Jotun] reckons that can be solved in time.
To get started, [Daniel] fitted X-acto blades to a brushless outrunner motor, and tested their ability to cut grass. Satisfied with the performance, he built a trailer to tow behind an RC tank mounted to such a setup, with some success. With the concept beginning to bear fruit, he went with a clean sheet design for maximum performance.
The final build relies on an RC rock-crawler chassis, fitted with a brushless motor using field oriented control for maximum torque at low speeds. This allows the RC mower to slowly push through the grass without overwhelming the cutter heads. As for the cutter heads, the final rig has eight motors, each sporting two blades to chop down long field grasses with impunity.
As a kid, one of the stories my dad told me was about mowing a fairly large field of grass on the farm with a gas-powered push mower. One day, some sort of farm tool was left in the field and the old industrial mower shredded it, sending a large piece of sharp metal hurtling toward his leg. Luckily for my dad, the large plastic wheel managed to stop the piece of metal, destroying the wheel. My grandfather was frustrated that he needed to repair the lawnmower but was grateful that my dad still had both feet attached.
Of course, this story was used as a lesson for me not to gripe about having to mow the lawn when it was my turn, but there was also the lesson that lawnmowers can be dangerous. [DuctTape Mechanic] took it upon himself to see if he could prevent that sort of accident altogether and has created an automatic safety shutdown mechanism for his family lawnmower. (Video embedded below.)
This uses an inductive sensor that can detect metal before it gets sucked into the mower itself. The sensor trips a relay which forcibly shuts the mower down by grounding the ignition coil. While it doesn’t physically stop the blade like other safety mechanisms, it does prevent a situation from escalating by turning off power to the blade as soon as possible. Getting to the ignition coil wasn’t easy as it required getting deep into the engine itself, but now [DuctTape Mechanic] has a mower that could be expanded further with things such as with a capacitive sensor or more smarts to determine if it is detecting underground or above ground metal.
Someday we’ll have robotic mowers, but until then, we laud the efforts of hackers out there trying to make the world a little safer.
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!
This glorious conversion required a lot of frame work, but it’s obvious this wasn’t [peterbrazil]’s first rodeo. He got some tires and tie rods from a friend who used to race lawnmowers (yeah, really) and went from there. He wanted this rat rod to be totally slammed (lowered as far as possible), but that would prohibit [Mrs. peterbrazil] from riding it ’round the farm after her parade dust settles. Instead, he went for the raked look, which means the front is lower than the back.
We love all of the reuse here, which includes a wheelbarrow cleverly cut into a seat and a dashboard, an old mailbox for a bed/cargo box, and a pitchfork grill. There are some modern touches as well, like a 3D printed mailbox shift knob with a working door, printed ignition switch box for the dash, and an adapter that makes room for a huge cone air filter. The seat cushion is a nice touch, too—the sunflower fabric adds both femininity and farm flavor to the build.
Mowing the lawn is a chore that serves as an excellent character building excercise for a growing child. However, children are expensive and the maintenance requirements can be prohibitive. Many instead turn to robots to lend a hand, and [Rue Mohr] is no exception.
[Rue]’s creation goes by the name Mowerbot, and was first built way back in 1998. Steel angle and brushed DC motors are the order of the day, helping the ‘bot get around the garden and chop the grass down to size. Being of such a vintage, there’s no Raspberry Pi or Arduino running the show here. No, this rig runs on the venerable 386, chosen primarily as it can run off just 5 V. The original build ran off a 5 1/4″ floppy, though it was later upgraded to CF card storage instead.
It’s not the first robot mower we’ve seen, but is likely one of the longest serving. It’s still in use today, though [Rue] reports it’s due for some new batteries. Given it’s been chewing up the grass for over two decades now, that’s fairly impressive performance. We hope to see this 386-driven beast still cutting away long into the future.
It’s that time of year again, at least in the northern hemisphere. Everything is alive and growing, especially that narrow-leafed non-commodity that so many of us farm without tangible reward. [sonofdodie] has a particularly hard row to hoe—his backyard is one big, 30° slope of knee-ruining agony. After 30 years of trudging up and down the hill, his body was telling him to find a better way. But no lawn service would touch it, so he waited for divine inspiration.
These heavenly trimmers have been modified to use heavy nylon line, which means they can whip two weeks’ worth of rain-fueled growth with no problem. You can watch the mower shimmy down what looks like the world’s greatest Slip ‘n Slide hill after the break.