Episode-1834- Listener Feedback for 7-25-16 — 23 Comments

  1. Thought on the Farmbot. Until it can also weed, it will not be anything more than a gimmick. Being able to plant and water a garden for people who can’t bend over is a great idea, but it really needs to be able to weed as well for it to work.

    • As Joe said below it can weed, your reaction here is what is going on en mass on all of this. Basically, “oh it won’t work” and it is a natural reaction, in our hearts we all know what this really means long term and do not want to face it.

      Now only do we need to face it, we need to embrace it.

      • The video I saw didn’t show it weeding. (I’m guessing it was a different video.) Since it does weed, it is more than a gimmick. What this means in the future is help for all those that have trouble bending over. A good thing. Automated farms. Expected that years ago.

      • Jack, does this work against Permaculture principles? It’s an increase in farm mechanization which (from my perspective) seems to go 180 degrees from plants supporting one another in guilds.

        Or would you build guilds with these tools?

        • Everyone is on an on about guilds, guilds are a part of perennial systems, not annual rapid harvest systems. In those you can use companion planting which this does. Both perennials and annuals play roles in permaculture and in feeding people.

  2. Watch the video…it can weed.

    Throw in a lettuce harvest tool (cut so regrow) and a bagging tool and you have a business in a box.

    Not perfect and probably not as elegant as they make it out but still pretty cool.

    • The video I watched on Youtube didn’t show it weeding. If it can weed, I would love to get one for my wife.

  3. Keep in mind, the plans are open source.. $3k is for the commercial option. The raspberry pi and an arduino cost less than $80 for the compute horsepower. Got time and energy? Do it yourself. I might take a crack at it and let jack know how it went.

  4. On the farmbit, once Jack said “Joe’s automated garden sales”, light bulb!

    It would be a perfect buisness opportunity for those of us who love to garden, and love to help others get going with gardening. I can see setting up a business where selling these is just a small part. Different customers would want different services.

    Some might just want to buy this from you, but others might want to set up a weekly or monthly service plan where you come in, look everything over, maybe refill the seed trays/fertilizer, and do any minor service work. Some maybe pay to let you know what they want to grow, and you set it up for them. Repeat customers, thus regular, predictable, income!

    It’s a great way to apply your knowledge of gardening and helping others garden without having to do all of the, grow stuff, now go to farmers markets and try to sell it. You can focus more on the growing.

  5. This is pretty interesting on the number of homeschoolers 🙂

    Texas has no reporting so there is no way of getting an exact number but then some states have homeschoolers that are actually part of the public school system.

    We also have to consider the drop in new children being produced for the assembly line. If birth rates are down .5% each year and homeschooling is adding 2.78% more kids each year wouldn’t that mean it was attracting an even larger percentage of the 5-17 yo population?

    Can’t wait for 20% 🙂

  6. On the original homeschoolers — I believe the word you were searching for is Fundamentalist. Not all “Fundies” are extreme but the majority are…very…fundamentalist.

    • Thank you for dislodging that brain cell for me, that is exactly the word I needed.

  7. On homeschooling, smart government school districts are offering free homeschool options. They see the trend, they still collect revenue from the government per child, less expenses and still have their curriculum taught.

    Other concerns government schools have with the trend is as affluent parents leave, is often the test scores decline, and these parents are the ones which get involved, volunteer, contribute money.

    • You are bringing up a good point, it isn’t just tax dollars that leave it is test scores.

      So the solution, get the home schoolers to enroll in an official program and take the stupid tests, so their scores count for a school they never attended.

      Problem is that is only going to go so far. The next solution will be, get rid of the stupid standardized tests.

      The writing is on the wall……..

      Great point though.

  8. Not just affluent parents but parents who care about their children’s schooling.

  9. The farm bot is interesting. In the podcast, you mentioned it would be cool if it could be given the ability to transfer beds. This is a great idea, and I would like the functionality. The handoff between beds, might be a point that would require a lot more development to account for various situations. Also, the mechanical hand off to a new track might make for a failure point.

    However, another solution would be to do a single rail on a circle. If the rail support on the end could be on a track (or a path, no actual metal track is needed), and the CNC machine could determine location, you could essentially expand the cnc machine as far as the rail would support.

    This would produce a circle of crops, like is seen with irrigators in some areas of the country, you would be left with fringe areas outside of reach of the CNC machine. These areas could be orchard/permaculture and/or animals.

    • How about a spiral?
      Or, perhaps 2 spirals, one that connected to another, on it’s outermost loop (one clockwise, one counter clockwise).

    • IMO opinion, the rigid track they’re using on the current model is a bit of overkill. Gardens don’t have the ‘precision’ needed by a plotter or cutter, and the track itself is potentially a weak point in an outside application (things growing over the rails, or things getting on the rails that derail the bot).

      The plus with the track is that it makes it easier to determine the bot location, and allows the bot to move with less energy (tracks are low friction).

      Of course this is ALPHA Version 1.0.

      If I were to look to the commercial world, center pivot irrigation systems spring to mind. You could have a center ‘support’ tower (power & water), and then add on support extensions depending on how large you wanted your garden to be, say in six foot segments. Six foot segment would be two foot walkway bot would skip over, and four feet of bed (harvest from both sides).

      (Not hating on the farmbot… just gets my design/problem solve mind going)

  10. I had an Atari 1040STe with 4 megs of RAM running a version of Microware’s OS-9. I miss it 🙂 . I wanted a Falcon but couldn’t afford it

  11. I used to be a Commodore repair tech. I can’t even begin to tell you how many C64, 128, 128D Amigh 1000, 500, 2000, 2500, 3000 & 4000’s I’ve fixed. I remember aligning the heads on the old 1541 floppy disk drives. Also when RLL encoding came our for hard drives that meant you got 33MB of storage in what was a 20MB drive I was installing several a week for $330 or $10/MB.

    How much things have changed in the world of computers in the last 30 years.

  12. Another robotic application, robot bricklayer:

    Usual reactions:

    Mike & I were talking about the Farmbot last year. IMO the REAL innovation is going to be when harvest & storage are added to it’s list of tricks.

    Using one robot for multiple rows is a no brainer, and not a difficult problem to solve (no ‘breakthroughs’ needed). Something not mentioned is that the robot can ‘work’ 24 hours a day.

    I’ve read from a couple of different sources that maintenance of a personal food system takes about 2 hours a day per person (no idea if this is accurate). If you assume the same from your ‘robot slave’, a single farmbot should be able to meet the needs of 2-3 families. =)

    So, harvest and storage. This would take some larger changes to infrastructure, but is still well within current technological limits. For example, you could create a specialized refrigerator that has an external door the farmbot can load with a food pallet (drawer/box). Robot could harvest what you want for dinner minutes before you arrive home.

    This isn’t sci fi, I could build this stuff now.

    Where you get the ‘big change’ is when you walk into a bigbox store and they’re selling these as commodities.

    If I was a crazy futurist (which I am), I’d also say that you could build another robot that would create the initial garden space. You’d do something like set a corner point and a direction, and it would dig out the beds and prepare the soil. With you maybe dumping bags of ‘additives’ in the top.