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My 10 year experience with an RL500

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  • syschuck2
    I m a computer geek with a leaning towards the hardware side and bought a Friendly Robomower RL500 a little more than 10 years ago. I m here to testify that
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 21, 2013
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      I'm a computer geek with a leaning towards the hardware side and bought a Friendly Robomower RL500 a little more than 10 years ago. I'm here to testify that mine is still running Yeah! I paid the special introductory price of $499 for it. It's been the best $500 I've ever spent. I have 4 sections wired up; each about the size of tennis court, one about 1/2. My robot who my wife and I call 'Curly' (from Moe (mow), Larry and Curly) is like a regular in neighborhood. People will still stop their cars as they drive by and just watch Curly do his job. He is absolutely fascinating to watch as he goes through his motions.

      Tyler Ramage was the regional distributor at the time (Best salesman Friendly ever had IMHO) and helped me get setup that first time. As good as the instructions are, there is nothing like a tutorial lesson from someone experienced in an installation. Tyler pointed out all
      of the Gotcha's when wiring a lot, and all of the car a feeding this robot needs.

      Well to sum it up, over 10 years, I've had 5 line breaks, a broken gear box, 2 perimeter switches killed by rain, 3 battery replacements, and 1 charger die, and the latest event; a broken varistor lead on the circuit board you put in the hand controller. I'm a technical guy, so I don't mind taking apart my RL500. My latest mystery is the charger on the mother board has gone south. If I plug old 'Curly' into the charger, the controller will report "Charging" and about 30 seconds later, will beep annoyingly and say "Charging Failed". It''s something on the main motherboard; so I now charge with an external charger.

      Two thing's I've learned over these 10 years is how to take care of batteries, and how to maintain the blades. Anybody that has an electric mower (or gas for that matter), the sharper you keep your blades, the more efficient your mower will be and the more effective your cut will be. So to anyone using a robo mower, Do buy a blade sharpener and keep them sharp. There is less energy expended cutting the grass and it helps the lawn recover quicker too. It's less traumatic to the grass mowing with a razor sharp blade.


      Our land is pretty flat except for the Moles and tree roots.
      Moles drive me nuts. If you ever saw the movie "Tremors", if you shrink them down to the size of a hamster, and let it loose in your yard, that is what damage they do. They are a royal pain to get rid of too. Once they breed, they will get every yard for blocks! One of my rituals is to flatten mole hills before mowing. The robot will handle most things but mole hills (or anything like a mole hill) are a problem for the bot.

      10 years after using it, how would I rate it; 4.2 out of 5.0 It works as specified
    • kpdies
      Sounds like you ve had a good run. Don t forget to check the yellow wires going to the charger socket. I had the same problem and found a wire broken inside
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 22, 2013
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        Sounds like you've had a good run. Don't forget to check the yellow wires going to the charger socket. I had the same problem and found a wire broken inside the insulation.

        --- In RoboMower@yahoogroups.com, "syschuck2" <syschuck2@...> wrote:
        >
        > I'm a computer geek with a leaning towards the hardware side and bought a Friendly Robomower RL500 a little more than 10 years ago. I'm here to testify that mine is still running Yeah! I paid the special introductory price of $499 for it. It's been the best $500 I've ever spent. I have 4 sections wired up; each about the size of tennis court, one about 1/2. My robot who my wife and I call 'Curly' (from Moe (mow), Larry and Curly) is like a regular in neighborhood. People will still stop their cars as they drive by and just watch Curly do his job. He is absolutely fascinating to watch as he goes through his motions.
        >
        > Tyler Ramage was the regional distributor at the time (Best salesman Friendly ever had IMHO) and helped me get setup that first time. As good as the instructions are, there is nothing like a tutorial lesson from someone experienced in an installation. Tyler pointed out all
        > of the Gotcha's when wiring a lot, and all of the car a feeding this robot needs.
        >
        > Well to sum it up, over 10 years, I've had 5 line breaks, a broken gear box, 2 perimeter switches killed by rain, 3 battery replacements, and 1 charger die, and the latest event; a broken varistor lead on the circuit board you put in the hand controller. I'm a technical guy, so I don't mind taking apart my RL500. My latest mystery is the charger on the mother board has gone south. If I plug old 'Curly' into the charger, the controller will report "Charging" and about 30 seconds later, will beep annoyingly and say "Charging Failed". It''s something on the main motherboard; so I now charge with an external charger.
        >
        > Two thing's I've learned over these 10 years is how to take care of batteries, and how to maintain the blades. Anybody that has an electric mower (or gas for that matter), the sharper you keep your blades, the more efficient your mower will be and the more effective your cut will be. So to anyone using a robo mower, Do buy a blade sharpener and keep them sharp. There is less energy expended cutting the grass and it helps the lawn recover quicker too. It's less traumatic to the grass mowing with a razor sharp blade.
        >
        >
        > Our land is pretty flat except for the Moles and tree roots.
        > Moles drive me nuts. If you ever saw the movie "Tremors", if you shrink them down to the size of a hamster, and let it loose in your yard, that is what damage they do. They are a royal pain to get rid of too. Once they breed, they will get every yard for blocks! One of my rituals is to flatten mole hills before mowing. The robot will handle most things but mole hills (or anything like a mole hill) are a problem for the bot.
        >
        > 10 years after using it, how would I rate it; 4.2 out of 5.0 It works as specified
        >
      • aceomeg
        ... My experience exactly! I find people drive over just to see it. If I m out, I ll answer their questions. They really do get excited and say You mean it s
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 6, 2013
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          --- In RoboMower@yahoogroups.com, "syschuck2" <syschuck2@...> wrote:
          >> My robot who my wife and I call 'Curly' (from Moe (mow), Larry and Curly) is like a regular in neighborhood. People will still stop their cars as they drive by and just watch Curly do his job. He is absolutely fascinating to watch as he goes through his motions.

          My experience exactly!
          I find people drive over just to see it. If I'm out, I'll answer their questions. They really do get excited and say "You mean it's like a roomba for your lawn?!" Just for fun I made a mouth and eyes out of colored duct tape for the front so it's more like mater from Disney's Cars. It make me laugh.

          As an aside, I'm somewhat disappointed that they think of like that, because a roomba is really a robomow for your carpet :)

          >> Do buy a blade sharpener and keep them sharp. There is less energy expended cutting the grass and it helps the lawn recover quicker too. It's less traumatic to the grass mowing with a razor sharp blade.

          I'm curious about the blade sharpener that you use, because I'm lousy with sharpening free hand. And how do you balance the blades, or do you not worry about it?

          Thanks!
        • Tim Wolff
          I use a bench grinder to sharpen the blades. Once the hardened edge of a new blade is worn, they won t hold an edge worth a darn. My blades are all rather old
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 7, 2013
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            I use a bench grinder to sharpen the blades. Once the hardened edge of a new blade is worn, they won't hold an edge worth a darn. My blades are all rather old (8-10 years). I don't bother trying to balance them. The times when the mower makes sounds of an unbalanced blade normally means it is time to clean the grass cuttings out of it. The tops of the grass blades the day after a mow will tell you when it is time to sharpen the blades.
            Tim

            > To: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
            > From: aceomeg@...
            > Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 02:11:05 +0000
            > Subject: [RoboMower] Re: My 10 year experience with an RL500
            >
            > --- In RoboMower@yahoogroups.com, "syschuck2" <syschuck2@...> wrote:

            >
            > I'm curious about the blade sharpener that you use, because I'm lousy with sharpening free hand. And how do you balance the blades, or do you not worry about it?
            >
            > Thanks!
            >
            >



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • D Dresser
            A few years ago, I showed the young children in my neighborhood how the RL 850 worked and how it could hurt them if they got too close. To enlist their
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 7, 2013
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              A few years ago, I showed the young children in my neighborhood how the RL 850 worked and how it could hurt them if they got too close. To enlist their support for my cautions, I asked them to come up with a name. Their consensus � Larry. I doubt that any had ever heard of Moe or Curly, but that is what I immediately thought of.

              So Larry the Lawnmower trundled on without the kids ever interfering.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • fiestabickerton
              hello members i bought two rl 500 models yesterday, i try them out. I see that the blades are a bit oxidized , it would be interesting to know how you make the
              Message 6 of 9 , May 20, 2014
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                hello members


                i bought two rl 500 models yesterday, i try them out. I see that the blades are a bit oxidized , it would be interesting to know how you make the sharp again , not too compicated.


                greetings

                fiesta

                holland

              • Tim Wolff
                I put an edge on mine with a bench grinder. But, they don t hold an edge for long. Originally, they were designed to be replaced every season (at a significant
                Message 7 of 9 , May 20, 2014
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                  I put an edge on mine with a bench grinder. But, they don't hold an edge for long. Originally, they were designed to be replaced every season (at a significant cost). If you examine a set of new blades, it appears that the edges are hardened after the sharp edge was ground. So, sharpening dull blades quickly cuts through the hardened metal. I put a fresh edge on my blades when the cut grass tips start getting ragged. 2-3 times a season usually.

                  FWIW:Balance does not seem to be an issue.

                  I watch eBay for new blades and bid on them if reasonably priced. The retail on the set is ~ $100 US as I recall.

                  Tim Wolff


                  From: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                  To: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Tue, 20 May 2014 12:39:25 -0700
                  Subject: [RoboMower] Re: My 10 year experience with an RL500



                  hello members


                  i bought two rl 500 models yesterday, i try them out. I see that the blades are a bit oxidized , it would be interesting to know how you make the sharp again , not too compicated.


                  greetings
                  fiesta
                  holland



                • Danny Miller
                  I don t think they re hardened. This would make it more vulnerable to throwing off a chip- or shattering- when it hits a rock, which presents a safety issue,
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 20, 2014
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                    I don't think they're hardened.  This would make it more vulnerable to throwing off a chip- or shattering- when it hits a rock, which presents a safety issue, fragments would leave at potentially lethal speeds.  They don't do that, it just deforms in an impact mark. 

                    FYI Consumer Products Safety Commission limits blade tip speed to 19,000 fpm = 216 mph.  Even a gasoline mower is designed so it can't turn the blade faster.
                     Smaller diameter blades use proportionately higher RPM to achieve the same tip velocity.  Regardless of blade diameter, if a piece of blade somehow broke off at 19,000 fpm, it would leave in a straight line at 19,000 fpm.  This is slower than a bullet but it's a jagged chunk of steel and could definitely penetrate denim, probably boots. 

                    I've sharpened Robomower blades plenty of times.  There's no hardened edge on it that I could see, the whole thing is just mild steel. 

                    Sucks but all lawnmower blades are untempered like that.  Every gas lawnmower blade I've sharpened has pits, not chips where it's hit rocks.  I assume for safety reasons.

                    Danny

                    On 5/20/2014 3:04 PM, Tim Wolff wolff.timothy@... [RoboMower] wrote:
                    I put an edge on mine with a bench grinder. But, they don't hold an edge for long. Originally, they were designed to be replaced every season (at a significant cost). If you examine a set of new blades, it appears that the edges are hardened after the sharp edge was ground. So, sharpening dull blades quickly cuts through the hardened metal. I put a fresh edge on my blades when the cut grass tips start getting ragged. 2-3 times a season usually.

                    FWIW:Balance does not seem to be an issue.

                    I watch eBay for new blades and bid on them if reasonably priced. The retail on the set is ~ $100 US as I recall.

                    Tim Wolff


                    From: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                    To: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Tue, 20 May 2014 12:39:25 -0700
                    Subject: [RoboMower] Re: My 10 year experience with an RL500



                    hello members


                    i bought two rl 500 models yesterday, i try them out. I see that the blades are a bit oxidized , it would be interesting to know how you make the sharp again , not too compicated.


                    greetings
                    fiesta
                    holland




                  • Richard Gard
                    I use a simple metal file every couple of times. I pull out the battery, flip the mower over, and put on a simple edge to all the blades taking care to smooth
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 20, 2014
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                      I use a simple metal file every couple of times. I pull out the battery, flip the mower over, and put on a simple edge to all the blades taking care to smooth out big nicks in the blades (which will grab grass).  it helps a lot.

                      Richard



                      From: "Danny Miller dannym@... [RoboMower]" <RoboMower@yahoogroups.com>
                      To: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 4:22 PM
                      Subject: Re: [RoboMower] Re: My 10 year experience with an RL500

                       
                      I don't think they're hardened.  This would make it more vulnerable to throwing off a chip- or shattering- when it hits a rock, which presents a safety issue, fragments would leave at potentially lethal speeds.  They don't do that, it just deforms in an impact mark. 

                      FYI Consumer Products Safety Commission limits blade tip speed to 19,000 fpm = 216 mph.  Even a gasoline mower is designed so it can't turn the blade faster.
                       Smaller diameter blades use proportionately higher RPM to achieve the same tip velocity.  Regardless of blade diameter, if a piece of blade somehow broke off at 19,000 fpm, it would leave in a straight line at 19,000 fpm.  This is slower than a bullet but it's a jagged chunk of steel and could definitely penetrate denim, probably boots. 

                      I've sharpened Robomower blades plenty of times.  There's no hardened edge on it that I could see, the whole thing is just mild steel. 

                      Sucks but all lawnmower blades are untempered like that.  Every gas lawnmower blade I've sharpened has pits, not chips where it's hit rocks.  I assume for safety reasons.

                      Danny

                      On 5/20/2014 3:04 PM, Tim Wolff wolff.timothy@... [RoboMower] wrote:
                      I put an edge on mine with a bench grinder. But, they don't hold an edge for long. Originally, they were designed to be replaced every season (at a significant cost). If you examine a set of new blades, it appears that the edges are hardened after the sharp edge was ground. So, sharpening dull blades quickly cuts through the hardened metal. I put a fresh edge on my blades when the cut grass tips start getting ragged. 2-3 times a season usually.

                      FWIW:Balance does not seem to be an issue.

                      I watch eBay for new blades and bid on them if reasonably priced. The retail on the set is ~ $100 US as I recall.

                      Tim Wolff


                      From: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                      To: RoboMower@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Tue, 20 May 2014 12:39:25 -0700
                      Subject: [RoboMower] Re: My 10 year experience with an RL500



                      hello members


                      i bought two rl 500 models yesterday, i try them out. I see that the blades are a bit oxidized , it would be interesting to know how you make the sharp again , not too compicated.


                      greetings
                      fiesta
                      holland






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