The current state of leaf mulchers/grinders/choppers/chippers/eaters innovation is still stuck in the last century. And these relics come in three basic flavors: handheld vacuums, push mower mulchers, and lift-and-drop leaf grinders. Each of these devices is less than ideal.
The handheld vacuum system typically features a long-tubed device that you carry around the yard, sucking leaves up into a grinding chamber. The pulverized leaves are then blown into a holding bag. This is a very dusty process and one that requires you to carry along a growing bag of chipped leaves. In difference to the increasing weight that is inherent to this collection bag system, most manufacturers opt for reducing the size of the bag. And who’s left holding the bag? You are; by frequently returning to a dump site, emptying the bag, and resuming your leaf removal activity.
While the push mower mulchers are more friendly to your leaf raking chores, they are crazy big and usually single-focus in their application (i.e., you can’t mow the lawn with them). They also have a nasty habit of nosing into the lawn as you push them into piles of leaves, forcing you to pull the mower rather than push it. Also, just like the handheld vacuum systems, these mulchers have a collection bag attached to the mower’s handle. Although this bag is much larger than its handheld sibling, it can get very heavy and actually tip the mower over backwards.
Finally, the lift-and-drop leaf grinders seem like the ideal leaf disposal solution. Just plant the grinder where you want the leaf chips to fall and begin raking leaves (NOTE: there is an optional collection bag that can be placed underneath some of these grinders.). Unfortunately, then you have to bend over, collect the leaves, and drop them into the grinding chamber. Sticks, small rocks, wet leaves, and other yard debris can turn this simple process into an ugly chore. Who forgot to pick up after the dog?
Welcome to the 21st century! Now we have robots to handle this chore for us. Err, ah, what robot? Why the robot that we are going to build for the Servo City #Actobotics Home Automation Challenge, of course. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to attempt to design/build/operate a leaf mulching robot. This entire process is going to be completely open to your viewing pleasure so that you can snicker along at/with my endeavor. Be sure to take good notes, however, because if it works, you might just want to build one for yourself.