Last summer it was brought to my attention that you could buy nearly everything you needed for automated lawn care but a seed spreading robot. This intrigued me. For starters, why on Earth would anyone make lawn care robots in the first place? There are countless reasons this seems like a bad idea. Secondly, a seed spreading robot sounded like a bizarre robotic cross between Wall-E, and Johnny Appleseed. The idea clearly had potential.

So, when asked if I wanted to actually take on the challenge of building one, I obviously responded with a definitive yes. Even though I personally don't own a lawn (my backyard is concrete and weeds), it seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up. In terms of actually using it, I found a willing victim in Glenn Derene of Popular Mechanics. He was more than happy to let this thing loose on his lawn (along with a slew of other robotic lawn care contraptions). So one fateful day last summer, I tightened the last bolt, wrote the last line of code, packed it up safely, and shipped it cross country to meet whatever fate lie in store.

Albeit I only later saw a video of it in action, it is my understanding that it performed about as well as you would expect an experimental DIY seed spreading robot to perform on its initial run; in short, not very. Rather than a cross between Wall-E and Johnny Appleseed, it is more of a cross between Johnny 5, and the groundskeeper in Caddyshack.

Nonetheless, I think the structural design of the robot is solid. If the code is tweaked a bit, and the rangefinder repositioned, I think this robot could spread seed like a champ.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) Lynxmotion Tri-Track Chassis Kit
(x1) Earthway EV-M-Spred Seed Hopper (or similar)
(x1) Arduino Uno
(x1) Arduino Motor Shield
(x1) Parallax Ping Rangefinder Sensor
(x1) 1/4 Scale Servo
(x1) Lynxmotion 12v battery
(x1) Vex battery charger
(x1) M-type plug
(x2) Multipurpose Prototype Circuit Board
(x1) Dual Mini Prototype Circuit Board
(x1) 7805 voltage regulator
(x1) Heat sink
(x1) Thermal transfer paste
(x1) 10 uF capacitor
(x4) 0.1uF capacitor
(x1) 1K resistor
(x20) Header pins
(x1) ATS177 hall effect sensor
(x2) 1/8" rare earth magnet
(x4) 1-1/4" aluminum spacers
(x4) 1-1/2" x 6-32 nuts and bolts
(x1) 12" x 24" x 1/8" acrylic
(x1) 6" x 6" x 1/4" plywood
(x12) 1/4" nylon spacers
(x12) 1" x 6-32 nuts and bolts
(x4) 1-1/2" x 4-40 nuts and bolts
(x8) 1/4" nylon spacers
(x6) pens
(x6) 1/4 x 6" nuts and bolts
(x4) 1-1/4" aluminum spacers
(x4) 2" x 6-32 nuts and bolts
(x1) Assorted zip ties
(x1) Assorted shrink tube
(x1) Krazy Glue (gel)
(x1) Thread lock
(x1) 24" x 24" cardboard sheet

You will also need to download and cut out the following files:

SensorHolder.eps -- cut out of 1/8" acrylic and etch away the black square 1/16" down
HopperDrillBracket.eps -- cut out of cardboard
TopBracket.eps --  cut out of 1/8" acrylic
ServoBracket.eps -- cut out of 1/8" acrylic
ServoConnector.eps -- cut out of 1/4" plywood
BottomDrillBracket.eps -- cut out of cardboard
PingBracket.eps -- cut out of 1/8" acrylic
I really "hate" you for this PERFECTLY illustrated instructions, and I hope you win. keep up the good work.
By The Way This is a great job. <br>My previous post was meant for the post monitor. <br>I have a couple of joystick operated electric chairs and I would like more info on the track system.
You just like to take all the fun out of stuff....[:0)
This is probably the most detailed instructable I've seen. Great work, I'd love to try some of those techniques in other projects.
I must say that this is the best use of one of my spreaders I have ever seen! As the sales manager at Earthway I fully endorse the project. If anyone has video they can forward I would like to feature at a tradeshow.
Great Job! I went through all 65 steps and just kept being amazed at the detail that you designed and created the seed spreader. I had a larger lawn once and found it easy to attach a seed spreader to the back of the mower. <br> <br>I have a couple things to ask: <br> <br>1. Would it be difficult to add a random mode to the code so that the seeder would not be on the same track? <br> <br>2. When you were designing and building this did you ever come across a unit that already had a motor and tracks that you could just attach the revolution counter, the spreader bucket and the wall sensor to? I am going to look around myself because that part of the build had many parts to it and I want to see if there is anything that will make a build like this easier. <br> <br>Again, Great Job.
If your looking for an easy to break down tracked chassis you might consider something like this: <br>http://compare.ebay.com/like/130789699664?var=lv&amp;ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&amp;var=sbar <br> <br>They are rather cheap and easy to remove parts from. They are, however, of significantly lower quality than the track assembly used in this instructable.
Very nice.
super cool.....!
Hi Sir!.Grate job, do you have any video to see how really it works with expaned code? <br>thx!
Good one!!!. Last month i tried a project with arduino. Me and my wife planned for a three weeks vacation. We had few potted plants and we seeded them two months ago.. we were worried who is going to water them daily when we are gone for vacation. Then i used arduino and ethernet sheild to access the waterpump from anywhere in the world and water is when ever needed :) <br> <br>Initially i planned to have a modified remote car carrying the water hose to each plant and watering it but i bought a small CAR which did not withstand the weight of the hose with water. So i had no time to buy a new one and do the experimnet but still i hooked up the hose to all the plants, made some holes and it will water all the plants at the same time <br>
In one picture i see that the seeds are spread on the front side.. did the Ultasonic range finder sense them as wall?
This did not seem to be the problem from what I could tell.
VERY cool design,like the use of lynxmotion tracks ,i am using one to build my own johnny five design with on-board computer <br>i build and collect a lot of robots <br>also a great board to use and program easy is EZ-ROBOT
Hello, <br>I will throw in my 2 cents: <br>My roomba goes around in a spiral, then bumps into a wall and goes to a different space covering algorithm. It might work for the lawn, too. Or you might try to establish the perimeter first, then fill in the &quot;gap&quot; which is the center. This sounds like a fun project.
Haha!! <br>
Very cool! Send me one..... :-)
I don't think your lawn is the right layout.
You are probably right. But The digs would love baking at it. <br>
Once again: Awesome! I will build one of these after I finish my &quot;Wack-A-Mole&quot; and &quot;Vein Finder&quot;! <br> <br>Nice job!!!
Really cool. And after you have spent enough time mowing the lawn, you start wishing you had 3grand for a lawn bot. Poop patrol, imho, is the pinnacle of yard robotics.
Poop patrol, imho, is the pinnacle of yard robotics. <br> <br>Oh please build one of these! <br>
Yes, this is a GREAT IDEA!!!
This would be fun to &quot;release into the wild&quot;, but, you mentioned a video? <br>
The video is not mine to post. Perhaps it will end up on the Popular Mechanics website. Not sure. Have not taken my own video.
You could ask nicely, or at least add a link when it's up elsewhere...
I can see this being modified for lawn mowing. edging etc. <br>I was thinking about your issue with the sensor detecting the ground, maybe you could get it to detect an obstacle then stop then try to detect it again if its stopped, if nothing there when its stopped then it continues forward if there is something there it turns.
It actually accounts for something moving in front of it briefly in the code. I think what is happening is that it is seeing the lawn as a wall. I wasn't there for the trial run, so I was not able to do any real testing.
Awesome!!!! I love it!
You're amazing - I'm amazed!!! Great job! :)
Excellent! Now to fill my robot minions with dandelion seeds, and send them into neighboring lands! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Great !!! Wish I had this one last summer, my lawn looks like homers head :) <br>
That is great. But you really could use a video.
Using an hammer to crush the ant. I definively love this XD ! <br>I find your design clean and i love the hall sensor on the frame, if the motor is dead, just swap it. <br> <br>
awesome,thx for sharing sth which is beneficial to Mother Earth.

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Bio: My name is Randy and I run the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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