On these scorching days of summer, why not let Onshape cut your lawn for you?
Well, even though our agile development team is churning out new features and enhancements every few weeks (Have you seen the latest “What’s New” blog?), I can confirm there are no plans for us to ever compete with Toro or John Deere.
However, Onshape has been instrumental in transforming Kansas City designer Blake Hodgson’s front yard.
“It’s been a goal of mine ever since I was 9 years old to make a robot lawnmower,” he says. “It all started with a memorable scene in the movie, ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.’ Now I finally have the technology and the know-how.”
Using Onshape and an old mobility scooter motor, Hodgson created the “Lawn Da Vinci,” a remote-controlled mower with precise tank steering (see his public Onshape Document here). He named his invention after his favorite inventor and his 5-year-old son’s favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Leonardo.
There are already several commercial robot lawnmowers on the market (such as the Robomow), and for liability reasons, Hodgson has no intention of further developing one. Instead, he uses the mower as a product sample to promote his side business, KC Proto, which is devoted to building prototypes for startups, entrepreneurs and inventors.
A full-time project manager for a healthcare IT company during the day, Hodgson taught himself CAD using Onshape’s online training resources, which include live webinars, how-to videos, and tutorials.
“Onshape was really easy to learn,” he says. “I basically went from scratch to being able to design very complex things in a very short period of time. There’s tons of reference materials and if I get stuck or want to know how to do a specific thing, I can go to the Onshape Forums.”
Hodgson, who creates primarily prototypes of consumer and electronic products, chose a $125/month Onshape Professional account to keep his client designs private.
“I use Onshape to make photo renderings to show them what their product will look like before we start making it,” he says. “I find the collaborative tools to be really great working with my clients because many of them aren’t CAD users. Being able to instantly share my model and having them being able to pull it up on their iPads or phones and give me immediate feedback has been really valuable for me.”
“My clients like to be able to monitor the process,” Hodgson adds. “I’ll start making some conceptual sketches and then some quick models in Onshape and say, ‘Is this what you had in mind?’ Onshape has made the design process a lot quicker, a lot easier, and cheaper for everybody.”
Meanwhile, back at Hodgson’s lawn, the neighbors are jealous.
“They push their mowers and watch me sit on my deck sipping from my beer hat,” he says. Sure, there may be some slight resentment, but what can you do?”
(Want to make your own robot lawnmower? Blake Hodgson offers step-by-step directions here.)