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Build Your Own Flying Lawn Mower 284

Ant writes "Ever seen a flying lawn mower (streaming; download 5.1 MB WMV file) before? I haven't. The WMV video file description says: 'FlyingThingZ Sky Cutter .40 V2 flying at Moon Lake's Annual Make a Wish Foundation Airshow for 2004'. More information can be found on the official Web site. Seen on Blue's News. My good friend, KaT, brought up a good question: 'Since lawns (also known as grass) live usually less than 6" from the ground, how would flying help them do their job better?'"
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Build Your Own Flying Lawn Mower

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  • Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:05PM (#10606290)
    in case of slashdotting on that site and to reduce slashdotting on my site (I get 25 GB per month... i'll use about 20 this month)... tack on the filename in the 5.1 MB file link to "http://www.calcgames.org/site/pub/" and it'll be there. Please, if you have bandwidth, mirror it to your site, and PLEASE do NOT post a linky to my site.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:05PM (#10606294)
    ... to not just mow the grass, but to give my neighbor a haircut!
  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:06PM (#10606298) Journal
    What's that in the sky?

    Is it a bird?

    Is it a plane?

    It looks....it looks like a lawn mower!


    *Mower "Mows" through field of humans*

  • Okay, relax (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:07PM (#10606301) Journal
    It's just a model airplane, not a real lawnmower.

    My niece was killed by a flying lawnmower when she was 4. The thing leapt off the ground after hitting a stump and the rotation of the blades created enough lift to set it into flight. You'd have expected the automatic cutoff to kill the motor, but my brother in law held on to the thing and it just took off. She was playing on the second floor balcony when my BIL and the mower caught her upside the temple. Took her scalp clean off.

    She's better now, but those first few hours were pretty harrowing.
  • Video File (Score:5, Informative)

    by Combuchan ( 123208 ) <sean.emvis@net> on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:07PM (#10606302) Homepage
    The video file is likely to slashdot the server, so I've created a mirror at http://emvis.net/skycutter40-1.wmv [emvis.net]. Enjoy.

  • by thedogcow ( 694111 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:08PM (#10606313)
    Yeah, but can it mulch?
  • by theparanoidcynic ( 705438 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:08PM (#10606314)
    Made the part of my brain that knows things about fluid mechanics shut down and the other part go get a drink. I'm beyond baffled as to why the thing not only flies, but apparently handles pretty well.
    • by tentimestwenty ( 693290 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:18PM (#10606368)
      I'm still waiting for the flying toaster.
      • You can keep waiting. The flying toaster was killed in the great purging of 1990s computer gimmicks. It's as dead as hampsterdance, although less deserving of its fate.

        Of course, it couldn't be that hard to launch a toaster with a trebuchet . . . . . .

        Scratch that. A toaster filled with fireworks!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        My niece was killed by a flying toaster when she was 4. The thing leapt off the counter after hitting it with a fork and the rotation of it created enough lift to set it into flight. You'd have expected the automatic cutoff to kill it, but my brother in law held on to the thing and it just took off. She was playing on the second floor balcony when my BIL and the toaster caught her upside the temple. Took her scalp clean off.

        She's better now, but those first few hours were pretty harrowing.
      • Re:Early adopter... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by goneutt ( 694223 ) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @01:56AM (#10607009) Journal
        I'm still waiting for the flying toaster.

        Ah, a /. challenge. First one with a working real world flying toaster gets to have his server crashed.
    • by bleckywelcky ( 518520 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:26PM (#10606411)
      A guy at my local flying club where I used to live had built a flying mower, although it was red, not green. Really, the thing is just very lightweight and the thrust from the prop-engine is capable of supporting the weight of the craft (ie, it could fly in a vertical position like a helicopter just fine). You'll notice that during most of the flight, the thing has a fairly high angle of attack in order to provide the lift necessary.

      Actually, there was another guy (not sure if this was at the same flying club or some other place) that built a plane that looked exactly like Snoopy sitting on the top of his dog house like the Red Baron. Except, you could not tell what the lifting surface was (except for the bottom of the dog house). There were no wings sticking out or anything. It just looked like Snoopy sitting on his dog house. Pretty cool stuff.
      • by merlin_jim ( 302773 ) <James@McCracken.stratapult@com> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @12:58AM (#10606817)
        If you look carefully, you'll notice that the body itself is an airfoil, with two horizontal control surfaces out of the back.

        I'm guessing the handle plus the square dome on top (which if you notice is completely hollow) function as vertical stabilizers.

        But yeah if you look at his flight, his stall angle is very close to vertical. I'd say about a 80 degree angle of attack... indicating that the engine is in fact providing most of the lift throughout flight... he's definitely doing some fancy tricks with those stabilizers to keep the lift up. When he goes into level flight is in the middle of the video when he bounces off the ground hahaha

    • I'm beyond baffled as to why the thing not only flies, but apparently handles pretty well.
      It flies well because it's grossly overpowered. It's basically just a low aspect ratio flying wing, with some extra stuff thrown in for show.

      Kill the engine, and it will be landing pronto.

      • Makes sense. I guess I'm just not familiar with the power-to-weight ratios available in those little engines. I mean hell, they're basically the simplest Otto Cycle engines that can exist and can be had for under $100. I would never have expected that they'd work that well.
        • They're useful for many things. An uncle of mine built a hovercraft out of one, one capable of lifting a man off the ground with 6" of clearence between the ground and the hover-skirt. fun fun fun.
        • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <DStaal@usa.net> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @12:27AM (#10606692)
          Pound for pound, model airplane engines have the highest horsepower of any internal combustion engine. Realize they are basic in design, with high-quality tolerances, and the bare minimum of metal to contain and cool. All unnecessary weight is dropped: there is no battery, no starter. The throttle works directly on the airfeed, which pulls the fuel by suction. (Occasionally helped by pressurized tanks.)

          They are simple. But they only have to do a simple job, and they do it well.
      • Kill the engine, and it will be landing pronto

        Well, duh! Kill the engines of a 747 and...well, lets just say if i had to pick between being under a falling mower and a falling airplane, I'd pick the mower.

        • Well, duh! Kill the engines of a 747 and...
          Obviously you don't fly many R/C planes. That's fine. I do.

          Some glide extremely well, and others fall out of the sky the moment the engine dies. This flying lawn mower probably falls into the latter category. Running out of fuel doesn't mean you'll crash (even a helicopter can land safely with no power) but let's hope you're not far from the field, or you'll be looking for your plane.

    • I think it's because it's a model airplane, not a real lawnmower. Albeit, a very odd shaped model airplane.

      As for the fluid mechanics, I'm with you - quite baffled. One wouldn't think it would be capable of flying.

    • by Fizzl ( 209397 ) <<ten.lzzif> <ta> <lzzif>> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @04:10AM (#10607485) Homepage Journal
      Nothing very exciting actually :)

      I've built my first RC airplane recently, and thus have roamed the appropriate forums. You wouldn't believe what kind of contraptions these guys build.

      I have to admit the skycutter was the best one I have ever seen. (Was linked in my local R/C airplane forum few weeks back.)

      The thing is made of debron, the ultimate end-all material of indoor and other wacky fliers. It weights next to nothing and is rather durable. It is a foam, used mostly in insulation of floors and fast food packaging.

      By the looks of it, I'd say the skycutter weights under 2 kilograms. Which is quite easily taken airborne with .40 cc glow engine running with 70% methanol, 15% oil, 15% nitromethane. ;P

      Planes this light don't actually need any kind of airfoil. Flat control surfaces are enough to adjust where you want the lift to go.

      So again -- With enough static thrust, you can fly a rock.
  • When I was a kid I saw a commercial hovering mower called the "flymo" or something like that. It did have the advantage of being easier to maneuver around corners. For some reason it never caught on though.

    I imagine it burned more gas than a regular mower, since it had to hover as well as cut. I suspect the real reason it didn't catch on was the difficulty of getting an even cut when you throttled the thing back to stop. It couldn't bag either. The problem of the thing riding down as it accumulated c

    • Trust me, hovercrafts fare quite poorly on grass. Grass is, by hovercrafting standards, quite porous. The craft's skirt cannot form a tight enough seal with the ground for it to hover evenly. Instead, grass keeps the front-pointing driving edge from moving. This causes the vehicle to buckle forward and start to dig into the ground. In a bizarre attempt to compensate, the prop begins to spin more rapidly, ultimately succeding only in draining the remaining battery.

      It's futile to bother with anything bu
    • all the ones i ever saw were electric
    • I used one from when I was 10 until it died when I was 19. Thing mowed great. There was no throttle (most basic push mowers have a fixed throttle even now). It was light enough to hang on the wall of our shed. As to bagging, as long as the blade was sharpened regularly (seasonally), then it mulched the grass to a very fine grade, which in turn kept the grass fertilized. We had 3/4 of an acre of grass, some of it on a ~45 degree slope. Instead of pushing a mower up and down, I would go side to side, st
    • Uh... Maybe in the USA they still use some sort of lawnmower equivalent to those huge gas-guzzling cars, but over here in the UK most people I know use the incredibly light, easy to use flymo varients for mowing their lawns.
  • Nothing that amazing (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:09PM (#10606318) Journal
    Just a small model of a lawn mower made out of balsa and foam with an engine tacked on.
  • Yeah, right, put a link to a 4.9MB file on the front page of slashdot. Gooood idea.

    Like shooting fish in a barrel.
  • This has to be the coolest thing I have ever seen. Seriously. How is it even possible? Isn't it dangerous? In any case, I'm lucky that saw the movie before it is slashdotted, because I have surely never seen anything like that before.
    • What's so cool about it? A .46 size engine has a lot of oomph. One veteran of the hobby joked that you can get a chair to fly if you stick a big enough motor on it. This thing isn't made of metal: it's just made to look like a real lawnmower. Underneath its skin, it's probably balsa and foam. Nothing exciting.

    • Every time I watch the movie it seems even cooler. It should definitely go to the British Invention Show [slashdot.org].
  • This is news? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mOoZik ( 698544 )
    C'mon, hobbyists have been making and flying this for years and years. I'd be impressed IF they implemented some kind of a height-restriction system to keep the "mower" some distance above the ground, say a few inches or a foor or whatever. But there is nothing unique about this. Sorry.

  • Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

    by graffix_jones ( 444726 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:12PM (#10606343)
    I've discovered that I really have a liking for 'Industrial Squaredance' music...

    /me makes an appointment with his psychiatrist.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you like Cotton Eye Joe (by Rednex), check out Swamp Thing (by The Grid).
  • by otterpop378 ( 254386 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:12PM (#10606346)
    If a lawnmower had wings, it wouldnt bump it's ... wait... that's not right.
  • by HawkinsD ( 267367 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:13PM (#10606347)
    I assumed that "flying lawnmower" meant somethinglike the ill-fated HoverMow device: a British invention, I think, that eliminated the wheels on the lawnmower by making the blades create a strong downdraft. A flexible rubber skirt retrained the air cushion, and voila! a lawnmower that moved effortlessly, even over moderately uneven terrain.

    It did NOT, however, cut grass effectively, since the fan-effect tended to smush the grass down out of the way of the blades.

    So I was already writing the standard Slashdot "This is old news! I know all about this already" sneer in my head when I clicked on the FA.

    But then I saw this startling thing of... yes, of beauty. Fastinating. Even a lawnmower can be graceful.

    I am humbled.

    Oh, and Fljúgandi....ehhh....sláttuvél? also.
    • I used one of the HoverMow in England. It worked, but was rather underpowered compared to a standard 3.5 HP Brigg & Stratton. I agree that sumultaniously trying to cut grass while blowing it down is not a great idea. The other thing i found was that it tended to drift without wheels, so I was forever trying to keep in on a line.
    • I did a search for hovermow and hover mow on Google, came up with nothing. Have a link for any additional information on this topic? It sounds neat.
      • Flymo [flymo.co.uk] make a variety [flymo.co.uk] of hover (and convential) mowers as well as other gardening equipment.

        Years ago we had an electric hovering Flymo and it seemed to do the job and was more "fun" than the wheeled variety.
  • Lets hope the actual flying lawnmower stays up longer than the server did..
  • The flying lawnmower's been a staple design in the the "fun fly" catagory of RC (radio control)for years. Always a head turner for those not into RC. Since they tend to fly like a brick outhouse, this one was either very well designed or flown by a really good RC pilot (or both). Nice video too.
  • overkill (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:14PM (#10606357) Homepage
    how would flying help them do their job better?

    I'm still trying to figure out how combustion engines or electric motors help grass cutters do their job better, let alone propulsion mechanisms to compensate for the weight of the motors... which require even more power to compensate for their own weight, and nuisance safety mechanisms which have to stop the engine if you loosen your grip on the controls... in a viscious cycle that deploys so bloody much energy at trimming such little blades of grass. Personally, I get pretty good results - and a nice, trivial amount of peaceful exercise - from an inexpensive, quiet, low-tech reel mower [reelmowerguide.com].

  • (no text)
  • I don't know how....but I am sure shit that there is something that we aren't being told about this...

    Correct me if I am wrong, but that is no ordinary flying "lawnmower". (It looks more like a model plane made to look like a lawnmower. For all the /. crowd, a regular hand lawnmower is quit heavey, and would be pretty hard to make is fly like the one we saw on that site.

    Just my .02$
  • Another Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 )
    Another mirror for that WMV, courtesy of MirrorDot.org.

    skycutter40-1.wmv [mirrordot.org]

    "This shit really works!" -- Possible MirrorDot slogan

  • <Brandybuck slowly looks over at his bottle of Jack Daniels, slowly pours it down the drain, and swears off drinking forever>

    Holy Crap! It's a flying lawnmower! I'm rubbing my eyes to take a second look, and it STILL looks like a damned lawnmower. Where are the wings? Rotors? Is there some guy in an ultralight outside of the frame dragging it around with fishing line?

    p.s. Love the background music
  • by Katz_is_a_moron ( 197780 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:34PM (#10606459)
    You can appreciate the details. [flyingthingz.com]
  • Lawn Sky (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:34PM (#10606462) Homepage Journal
    Amazingly, I just recently recorded a song about flying lawnmowers [tom7.org] as part of the album-a-day project [spacebar.org] . I never thought it would be topical on slashdot...
  • by atarione ( 601740 ) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:38PM (#10606482)
    a. that thing is hella kewl

    b. it will surely teach my neighbor to STFU about my lawn care habits, when it flys by his 2nd story window.

    c. who needs c? a and b are convincing enough for me

  • How clueless are people in this world that these guys need a disclaimer at the bottom of their page:

    ...For those who do not understand what we do, all our products fly, not mow...
  • this is very unfortunate this is just a toy. My own lawn mower broke three times this summer and twice parts were in backorder. There is too much bumps and roots under the soil surface and the wheels tends to break after a year or two. I am looking for a solution and, no, I cannot asphalt 2 acres of land. And, anyway, I am just renting this property.

    And the lawn mower is not a toy thing for 6000 sqft properties.

  • 'Since lawns (also known as grass) live usually less than 6" from the ground, how would flying help them do their job better?'

    Sod and other grass roofed houses. Now able to be trimmed neat for a better looking neighborhood?
  • ... but i can tell you it is unsafe.
  • Yeah, and Jennifer Love hewitt is a small eskimo boy.
  • Ahh, mediocrity+ detection tool installed.

    Friday night surrelity patch applied.

    Your evening is protected from mundanity.
  • by Caraig ( 186934 ) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @12:44AM (#10606764)
    "This must be what going mad feels like."
  • ROFL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goeland86 ( 741690 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `68dnaleog'> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @02:29AM (#10607134) Homepage
    is that stupidly genius or ingeniously stupid? I spent 3 minutes of the video wondering if it was a real lawnmower casing or not, then I saw the landing gear underneath... The illusion's great though! Skycutter... I wonder if it'll work to cut off the typhoons or the hurricanes. Ideas?

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.