New build - dev/prod setup - Toro 60” zero turn

First, thanks to all the contributors in this forum! I’ve read your prose and hope to be a worthy contributor as well.

I have a 60” zero turn mower to automate and mow a grass runway. For my development environment, is it useful to build a r/c scale rover, then move to the production frame, or, better to eat the elephant whole and build a system slated for production?

Have just received my controller (holybro pixhawk6 rpi), and shopping the mechanicals (factory attach points already on the host!), servos,…

Thoughts? Cd…

Welcome to the Ardupilot community where have fun helping each other and build useful machines.
The choice on whether to build a prototype or just start in on modifying a mower is a personal choice and it depends on your needs. A prototype probably will take more time and money, but it leaves the mower available to use manually and you learn more.
Most people (and I am one of them) just jump right in and start working on the real thing. It is a well known process and with a little determination, you will be successful.

Were you at MowStock last year? It seems like I may have met you there.

Hey Steve, I wish! No, but there’s another guy in the forum mowing a grass strip. Did I see a plane in your shop? About to build a Kitfox and have a tr182 I tool around in. Wife says I have too many hobbies, hehe.

Would definitely like to help, or, even host next Mowstock - have 43 acres, 1500ft runway, and 7 or so mostly flat area to test/play. All is close in to Austin, tx…

Maybe I can be your planB…

Ok - diving in! More reading, then questions for sure…. I seem to be more like you - built my 3D printer, a “farmbot”, and other mods. Thanks for the reply…Cris

No, I surely don’t have a plane. I am an old retired electrical engineer that loves to build things. I live on about 8 acres and I use my Ardupilot mower to keep it mowed. The mower has been an amazing project and a lot of fun. I enjoy building things and helping people out when I can.
MowStock was hosted by @Swebre (another Steve) and it was an amazing experience. Steve Webre mows a grass landing strip. Last year I was fairly new to actually learning how to use the mower and Mission Planner to do real work and talking to others really helped out. There are a lot of ways to plan missions in complex areas.

Ah - got you mixed up with @Swebre - will need to abuse his brain as well…

I haven’t found any reference to anyone documenting what servos they might have used on a Toro 60" mower. Understanding what rear trans axel is used and how much force it will require is important or you could be wasting money buying the wrong servos. Does anyone know if a 12V AGFRC servo will work in this application. If no one has experience with the 60" Toro, you will need to measure the torque required to move the valve under hydraulic pressure. @ktrussell @Swebre @Yuri_Rage

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ExMark and Toro use very similar components. I’d be surprised if the usual laundry list of servos don’t work.

If I were starting from scratch, I’d feed a couple of these beasts 24 volts and call it a day.

HAPPYMODEL 200kg / 400kg High Torque Metal Servo

I also wouldn’t bother futzing with little models and prototypes. Go big or go home!


Those look like great servos at a good price!

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They are huge. I bench tested them, and they actually deliver advertised torque (unlike most offshore servos). But you need to run them at 18-24 (or even 28) volts, or they get very sluggish.

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Steve, I don’t have experience with Toro, sorry. At some point, I will probably try the one’s Yuri is talking about but first I’ve just got to get it going. :slight_smile:

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Just being able to run at 12 volts is so appealing, since you already have that readily available. What is the best 12V servo to use, even though you have to use one rated for much more torque than you need? Is it still the 12V AGFRC servo?

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There’s no objective answer. In short, the affordable ones all kind of suck. AGFRC have QC problems, and I’ve seen several fail right out of the packaging. I still use them, and it seems if you get one that works for a few hours, it will probably last a few years, but I can’t wholeheartedly endorse them.

This one is probably really good, but at $500/copy, it’s hard to justify.

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Thanks guys - I’ll get into the space requirements in the spring. Need the mower to be operational for most of the spring and summer, so, will build as much as I can on the bench. That said, I’ll break in the final servos selected for quite some time. I like the 24v servos. Brings up the question of how to go about a dual (series) battery solution and still power the mower off of one. Big old diode somewhere?

Thanks so much for the interest and coaching! Sorry for the delays, but some past winterization failures have me on other tasks for the moment. I’ll keep y’all posted!


Use this.

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Thx Yuri - Landed on that gear last evening in a deep dive on Amazon - confirmation I’m on the right track. Again, thanks!

Evening! If you get bored or have questions about a mower, fire up the 182 and fly over to 71LA. 2400’ of good grass.

Will be happy to show you the two machines we have here. One for mowing and the other pulls a 10’ weed wiper thru the hay fields. After some initial tuning issues, both have been solid to date with lots of hours.

Pretty sure your Toro mower uses HydroGear 2800 drives which is excellent. The control levers are very easy to move under load so servo reliability is more important than ultimate strength which gives you many options. I’m pushing 500 hrs on one machine using $25 servos on those same drives. That said, I’ll go bigger when these die. The servos Yuri mentioned are strong contenders.

Also planning for another MowStock this spring if the interest is there.


Totally down for MowStock and flying over! I’ll reach back after holidays and fly over!

Looking forward to it. Merry Christmas!