So I have wanted to build a remote control snowblower for a long time.
Standing outside in the cold, getting covered in blowing snow, and tweaking my back on occasion was enough motivation for me to finally take the plunge and build the project this year!
As I went I also kept a video build log of the whole process. More or less it went pretty smoothly. I have also left in my mistakes so you can learn from them as well.
Total build cost was around $1300 US. You can find an itemized parts list here
Originally I used an arduino and some driver boards to control the chute, actuator, and relay (code here) but I latter switched over to another sabertooth for simplicity. (See part 10 updates for final electronic configuration). I also ended up modifying my Flysky controller so that the left stick (throttle) became self centering which is much more natural and easier to use for this application. This also frees up an extra channel which I switched over to control the LED flood light :)
As of 12/25/17 I am now 4 tanks of gas into the winter and have added a maintenance and insights section at the bottom of this post.
If any of you guys ending up creating a build of your own I would love to see it. Feel free to ask questions or post links to your own builds in comments!.
For those who just want to see it in action I will link the live demo videos first:
And now without further adieu the complete build log..Enjoy!
Part 1: Components and RC test
Part 2: Drive Train
Part 3: frame reinforcement
Part 4: Blower Attachment
Part 5: actuator, balance, chute, battery
Part 6: chute bearing
Part 7: mechanicals complete
Part 8: electronics & live test
Part 9: complete and live test
Part 10: Updates and Upgrades
linear actuator - for Compression only
RC Snowblower year end review
Maintenance and Insights
had to adjust cutting edge 3x so far - hitting lip in concrete somewhere
lost spring for chute tensioner - now zip tied
lost drive axle keyway after a couple tanks of gas - added lock tight to set screws
120rpm chute motor went bad - bad component, used 50rpm as stand in
now using 250 rpm chute motor - seems like perfect max speed
keeping chute bearing, all chains, and drive axles coated in grease and oil to prevent rusting.
very impressed with machine, extremely capable and working perfectly
compact length and width is highly maneuverable and very controllable
absolutely need the ability to raise and lower blower body/cutting edge
upped speed on left right to 100% now that I am used to controls. way more aggressive turning and more fun!
glad I dont have a caster in the back for stability
300lbs + tracks = never stuck yet
longer power connector out of electrical box would be better
1:1 drive ratio from motors to tracks is perfect speed and power
lever from actuator to body could speed up lift
people cant stop staring lol
maintence mode: ability to jack front tracks off ground with body actuator, then lift up on back and place block under frame - perfect for maintence and testing if you need tracks off of ground. The body angle also gives you decent access to sprockets and set screws. Without this replacing that keyway might have required tear down!
xt-60 disconnects on the drive motors was a good call for the same reason, better for testing/maintenance.
any thin spots in the paint will identify themselves with rust spots..
maybe park it on a slight ramp to allow snow on top of skid plate to drain? moisture could end up trapped between plastic skid plate and bottom of frame..should inspect in spring.
reason i went with this sized blower is because it felt like a good match with the track size and suspected machine weight. I was trying to keep it all in scale with emphasis on traction and not getting stuck. I also needed something that would fit in my cramped garage and that I could park next to my car without being to big.
maybe I should have used two linear actuators for the body, the shaft now has 1/2in of play in it. I will tear it down in spring or when it breaks which ever comes first. must be worn threads. probably steel acme thread on aluminum nut. I have been using it hard and ramming snow banks lol. Might have to develop my own linear actuators.
so the ability to have the cutting edge go down far enough to jack the tracks off the ground a couple inches is important for more than easy maintenance. Today I had about 3in of hard pack where the mail man drove over the plow pile by the mail box for a couple days. The tracks were just riding over it. Putting the cutting edge at max negative angle allowed the blower to dig down through it and literally break up and spit out the chunks. Had to go slow but it was amazing it did it!Tried the same technique on roof pile and it didnt try to ride up the bank and didnt have to ram it (only 17in this time though)