Jul 28 2013

Robomow vs iRobot·

(aka the follow up to
Lennert was really helpful in dropping by and providing us with some extra isolaters for the cable... the RoboMow is now doing it's work nicely again.

Yet we ran into another hickup. for some reason the Robomow stopped. The bleeping sound indicated yet another cable cut .. but I couldn't find it ...until I opened the the docking station ... where I saw the cable had loosened , after fixing that ... everything started working fine again ..

Now somehow the docking station of the RoboMow doesn't close good anymore , it really is a hassle pull it tight .. you need to lift it a bit and pull in the lid from the inside ...with the risk of needing to realign the dockingstation with the cable again so the mower can find it's way home again .

Also last week I got a new battery for our Roomba, and some things dawned on me. The Roomba does not need a cable to find it's way. It uses lighthouses to create borders, aka virtual walls or detects stuff where it runs into and rides back. Much easier to install than a cable in your garden. Also a virtual wall can't be cut by a knife.

The Roomba is also capable of finding it's base station with no cables. It's actually pretty good at that if you tell it to dock it goes straight to it's target.. no need to first find a cable to follow back home.

The Roomba we have is almost 4 years old , so it's not like this is bleeding edge technology. So it makes you wonder why a RoboMow needs a cable anyhow..

Also by putting the sensor on the robot outside of the mowing area it would make life a lot easier When you read this you might think I`m not really satisfied with the Robomow, on the contrary ..

Like a lot of technologies it takes a while to settle in to your environment and to tune it so it fits your needs better. RoboMow is no different .. once you have the layout of your cable solved (digged in preferrably) it works awesome .. it provides us with some free time we didn't have before .. It's just that for a 4 week test you don't want to go trough the trough the trouble of actually digging it in .. specially since we opted to not install it on the front lawn yet and it will need rerouting then anyhow.

As you might notice this post is a couple of weeks late ... and obviously you want to know the final verdict,

Well .. as you might have figured .. the Robomow is still happy mowing my lawn .. we're figuring out if we are going to redesign our garden before adding the second area in the front or not but fundamentally it's a great device that helps us a lot and we couldn't live without anymore.

May 22 2013

Testing the RoboMow 510

A couple of weeks ago I noted fellow geek Peter Vanwelkenhuysen was talking about his #robomowtest experiences. obviously I wanted to know how he got to test one.

Some tweets and mails later I was making arrangements with Lennert van der Pols from Friendly Robotics too.
I've been thinking about buying a RoboMower for years . always have been delaying the purchase since we were planning to move
Since we moved, my wife has been a bit sceptic

So last week Lennert came by and gave us almost an hour of explanation on , he guided us trough the basic functions of the Robomow, gave us some advise on where to lay the cable.
And how to operate, the device. He also explained us that we could make a hole in the fence and have the Robomow , mow the front part too , rather than pick up the mower and move it manually.

Don't be surprised we got an Albino one :)

I didn't really have time to install the wire till later that evening.

Pinning down the back part of our lawn (we opted not to do both front and back during the test period) , took me about an hour. Some of the pins broke during the installation

We have a cherry tree with some big trunks and they could be troublesome .. so we evaded that part. as it was near the back of the garden and
Also in the left back behind the swing there is more moss than grass so we opted to lay the cable before the left back pole of the swing.

So after the first attempt of pinning down the cable in the ground , it was time to power on the Robomower , I was greeted with a pretty straight forward menu to configure it.
I`m one of those persons who really doesn't like user interfaces in my natvive language , Dutch. So I have pretty much all of my electronics in English... the problem with the
Robomow and English is that it assumes you live in a country that doesn't understand the metric system. So I had to convert the size of my garden to sft.
(I checked for options in the menu later, but Lennert confirmed there's no option to put to the metric system )

It takes a couple of times to align the basestation with the wire, but after the Robomow starts testing if it can crawl along your garden.

I have to admit that the frustrating part of the installation starts here. Around the trees we had some parts where the trunks were creating a little to steep trail, it took me about 4-5 runs before I eventually got
it right. The Robomow really takes its time to get stuff right. One of the problems we had was that one of the corners didn't really have that much grass, and each time the
mower passed it made the ground softer so after a couple of runs it actually got stuck I had to tighten in the corner.

So after installing the Robomow it was a good time to let it mow for the very first time, it ran for about an hour.

I was in the middle of a Hangout with some collegues as I suddenly noticed that the Robomow had stopped.
Apparently even while I had been very carefully putting the cable in I hadn't been carefull enough... The Robot had cut it's own wire and decided to call it a day.
(this was wednesday evening) .

On thursday morning I tried quickly tried fixing the cable as described in the video below...

However at my first attempt the blue isolater failed to actually lock the cables inside and I had to rush to work.

Fast forward to saturday evening.. the first timeslot I had to actually fix the cable... with a bit more patience I actually managed to secure the cables again , and the robot started doing it's work again.
I reprogrammed it to leave it's base every day at 8 in the morning rather than the default 1300, that way by the time the weather is good enough for the kids to play outside the lawn has been mown.

Monday and tuesday morning it rained ... on tuesday I saw the robot come out for a short while.. then decide to do the smart thing and go back to it's base station.
Today however the weather was dry.. so the robot had time to go on a suicide mission again ... yes that's right .. it managed to cut its cable again ...