Skycam Based Farmbot?


#1

I was wondering if it would be possible to build a skycam based farmbot. This would get rid of the tracks, and gantry, reducing cost and making farmbot scale up to larger sizes as a result. building taller systems also becomes easier, since height is simply based on the height of the towers, and yo could use things such as the sides of buildings to significantly reduce costs.

For those unaware, skycam works off of 4 towers with cables kept under tension, you can change its location by reeling in and out cable from oposite towers, and then you can lower the unit by releasing tension and letting gravity do the work for you. For farmbot, you would need 4 stepper motors, instead of the three currently, and you would have to take the water hose and the vacuum line out along one of the cables.

Skycam’s patent has now expired i believe, so there would not be any legal issues with using this system.

Is this possible?


#2

That is an interesting idea. What gardening tools could you put on the skycam wires?

The reason why the track system is used is because it is rigid so you can push on the structure and it pushes back. This allows the planter tool and weeding tool to work correctly. It requires some force to push through the soil.

The track system and stepper motors also allow for very precise x,y, and z movements.


#3

Skycam’s design allows for some intricate movements, and because the reels of cable from each tower can be controlled with stepper motors precision should be fairly possible. the system should be re-calibrated by pulling the unit tight between two towers (outside edge of the field), and then allowing one to loosen, while tightening a third, while pulling the slack into the adjacent edge. By measuring the amount of cable reeled in from the third tower you could calibrate each tower. this allows x and y movements. to travel downward on the z axis, simply remove tension from all units at the same amount.

As far as solving the push allowed for the planter and weeding tool, that force could be replaced by allowing gravity. if you meter our the cable by related amounts from each unit (not the same, but proportional based on the location in the field) quickly enough, then gravity’s force should allow you to get deep enough to plant or weed.

Below i have added a few links that might be helpful in this topic. The idea i have would be for farmbot that can work over a much larger area (such as an entire yard) and plant specific beds, while leaving other zones alone, such as common areas. This makes the unit much more usable, and allows the yields to be much higher. In addition, potentially looking at battery power, a water tank and on-board vacuum with a docking station to automatically refuel power and water could allow the simplification of wire management.

Skycam patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6873355

Mathematics of a gravity pile driver: https://books.google.com/books?id=x0J9BgAAQBAJ&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=gravity+driving+fence+posts&source=bl&ots=1HzHv697h5&sig=p04rxk1EPnSo0nVYYNUh8Bx0bbw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiavJeTtLPeAhUHzIMKHT09D3cQ6AEwF3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=gravity%20driving%20fence%20posts&f=false

Explanation of trilateration (location within an xyz space using fixed points of reference): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateration

Example of the technique used to draw a picture in a smaller scale, This system includes software for the motor systems as well, and seems to be quite precise (albeit on a small scale): https://www.marginallyclever.com/product/robo-0048-zarplotter-table-top-drawing-robot/


#5

I just found an example of this concept, albeit without the farmbot functionality. It is used on a one acre field at the University of Nebraska for phenotyping.

a video can be found here: