Re: [mowbot] nifty ideas/Infrared/Mail volumes

Dominic Peterson (d.peterson nospam at
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 11:11:59 +1000 (EST)

Robin wrote:
>Dominic Peterson <d.peterson nospam at> wrote:
[ snip - "What about rain?" ]
>I think it's going to have to be quite well sealed against the elements
>since its environment is so mucky. But yes, a rain sensor would be handy,
>since I suspect a big problem with any relatively low-power cutter is it
>getting gummed up---and that's much more likely to happen when everything
>is wet.
>Extending the idea (into the realms of fantasy perhaps:-), we could record
>sunlight hours (useful for figuring the solar charging time and deciding
>when to rest). What about temperature and barometric pressure?
>Armed with all these data, Mowbot could learn to predict rain before
>it arrives!

While the prediction bit is probably unlikely (I think you'd need more than
just local observations for a start) there's no reason why the 'bot can't
do some weather observations - e.g. "What was the weather like today?" -
"Boss, you're lucky you where in the office all day. It was 101 in the
shade while I was out slaving away...". Oh great! Just what I need - a
robot complaining about his working conditions! :-)

Seriously though - I have visions of the Mowbot performing general
surveilance/security functions as it wanders around e.g. motion detector
notices movement - B&W CCD camera (<< $200) watches and transmits via
short-range wireless link (Rabbit?) to VCR in house - TaDa! instant
surveillance cam.

In the "Infrared ranging" thread Robin also wrote:
>"Wayne Talbot" <awt nospam at>, aka Josie jmt nospam at {8-) wrote:
>> IR location and detection is problematic under daylight conditions.
>> Not a problem if you were going to run under a charge at night.
>Or if you use modulated light, like TV remotes do. I have used
>some of these sensors as near-object detectors, and they continue
>to work perfectly in full sunlight.

>That gives me a great idea: we could use a TV remote as the numeric
>key to disarm the Mowbot anti-theft alarm, and indeed to give it other

Now that belongs in the "Nifty Idea's" thread! Universal IR remotes are
common and cheap (2 primary attributes for anything to do with this
project) and info on IR signal transmission/reception/etc is common on the
Net. I'll dig up some URL's for the Web page if anyone else thinks it's

On the separate topic of mail volumes:
I have a fast, permanent net connection on my office machine so high email
volumes don't bother me much. I have a filter set (in Eudora) to direct
all mowbot mail into its own mailbox to deal with when it suits me.
However, at present (including the original email messages to/from Ray
Skarrat et al before the list was established) there are 199 messages in my
mowbot mailbox, totalling over 600Kb! And most of this is all in the last
8 days. For people on a modem connection who only collect mail every day
or 2 this could be (obviously is, for some) a major turn-off.

Question: Can we, or should we try to do anything about it? I know Robin
suggested we try to keep volumes down (I'm trying to do that by replying to
several messages in one). I think the initial enthusiasm (particularly
until we establish a basic design and get a FAQ started) is going to result
in mail quanities much like this for the next week or two. Hopefully,
then, things should settle a little. So, hold onto your hats boys and
girls, and change the oil in your modem, there's lots of ideas out there
and no stopping them :-).

Best regards,

Dominic Peterson Email: d.peterson nospam at
(c) 1996 - Copyright remains with the author unless explicitly stated
-- All opinions are mine and do not reflect those of the University --