Lawnmower Engines, Mesh Networks and Lathe reconstruction commences

With the mower deck now all painted aside from the flappy chute thing I could now start to reassemble it. First step was bolting the mount for the exhaust and the motor back on to the deck. I had elected not to paint this and I think that it looks quite nice in contrast to the blue. When I had initially started spraying on the blue the color was nowhere near the color of the cap and I thought there was no way that it was going to change the amount needed, but thankfully after three or four coats its come up a deep blue that should go well with the red shroud.

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After that it was a case of squirting the gasket stuff into the 2nd half of the exhaust and then letting it dry before bolting together.

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Apparently this Blue Max stuff isn’t recommended for exhaust applications but whats the worst that can happen, It’s good for the temperature and is only a lawnmower after all.

Next step was tackling the dirty lawnmower engine shaped elephant that’s been sitting in the corner since the project started… I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned based on the amount of built up grass, dirt, oil, and unidentifiable gunge on most surfaces.

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This is after about 30 minutes of gunge removal. This and the next few pics were taken to increase the odds of getting it back together again.

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Two hours of rags, brushes and petrol though gave the following result, quite an improvement.

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I’m now waiting on some gaskets to arrive before further re-assembly, when I got the motor there was a two stroke leak from somewhere and I figure whilst it’s mostly apart the gaskets may as well be replaced to hopefully stem that. More to come when that happens.

Something else that I’ve been looking into recently is home automation / smart home systems. It seems that there is a lot that is coming out in this area now with the ease of access to smart LED bulbs and wireless door locks etc but at the same time not anything that is reasonably priced to implement and able to cover both a wide range of input methods (sensors, human control…) and outputs (lights, TV, blinds, arcade machine…) I suppose because any system would need to be fairly bespoke and therefore pricy. Since the interface between a micro-controller and whatever its controlling would seem to be the easy part (and also the part that would require customization depending on the output) I figured a good place to start would be with the network (I also decided that I wanted something wireless and reasonable easy to retrofit).

Looking around the internet I found a blog about how to network together a whole lot of Arduino nodes with the nRF24l01+ radios. http://maniacbug.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/rf24network/ This method ticked most of the boxes that I had, low-cost per node, low power consumption, easily expandable and versatile in regards to inputs and outputs.

To that end, after making a tweak to the design I sent the board off to iTead Studio to have a number of the boards produced, the bonus was that I was able to fit 4 of the nodes on the 10 x 10 area ordered from iTead resulting in 40 individual boards (once cut up…). These arrived on Friday.

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A couple of days before the boards arrived I had received new toys (the components) from Digikey so no time was wasted soldering one up to test before putting together another 6.

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Bootloader burned thanks to Arduino ISP sketch.

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I’m still waiting on some headers to arrive from China and then Ill plug the radios onto the boards and have a play with the network layer that maniacbug has put together before tweaking it for my own purposes.

On the lathe front, re-assembly has now commenced on the bed. Over the next couple of days as parts dry they’ll be fitted back on.

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It seems that the parts that were sprayed don’t have the same level of gloss as the brush painted parts but aside from that the color of the two seems to be a pretty good match.

Arcade machine has not been plastered and after sanding tonight or tomorrow painting can commence!

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