CatGenie hacking

cg_reset

[ScottSEA] has six cats. As you can imagine, with six cats, a simple litter box just doesn’t cut it. [ScottSEA] uses the CatGenie. While a self cleaning cat toilet is a technical marvel, it has one major drawback. Much like an ink jet printer, it has disposable cartridges. Those cartridges, just ike some print cartridges, have a built in counter that disables them after so many uses. After adding up the totals for six cats worth of cartridge use, [ScottSEA] started hacking. He has posted directions on how to manually refill them, as well as reset the internal counter using an Arduino.

We suggest that he find a way to harness all that cat power for his home electronics. How many watts could you produce per cat?

Comments

  1. vsnine says:

    If only I could train the dog for one of these…

  2. macegr says:

    Okay. A normal cat weighs about 10 pounds and has 18% body fat. Protein contains 4 kcalories per gram, and fat contains 9 kcalories per gram. The total calories (ignoring bones and hair) would be (4.5359237*1000*4*0.82)+(4.5359237*1000*9*0.18) = 22226.0261 calories. Using this converter (http://www.unitconversion.org/unit_converter/power.html), if you used one cat per hour, your output would be 25.85 kilowatts. A house’s energy load may average only one or two kilowatts, so you could consume one cat per 24 hours and power a house for two weeks with the 15 cats.

  3. PickledSquirrel says:

    @macegr
    Well, your math looks great how ever I think cats are a little more then just fat and protein… I am sure there is some carbon there as well as a little methane. The trace elements themselves probably take up 2-3%.

    I don’t know i am just rambling on.

  4. dok says:

    @macegr “Honda unveils its new vehicle conforming to breakthrough “red energy”. The MEOW starts at 23,000 with the baseline model…..”

  5. mike says:
  6. Skeat says:

    I have a really solid idea. JUST GET RID OF 14 CATS!

  7. therian says:

    I don’t understand how he knew what to send to the cartridge

  8. ScottSEA says:

    They misread my instructable. I have FOUR cats, and a cartridge lasts me 15 DAYS.

  9. @scottsea I updated it. We’re still working on our reading comprehension skills.

  10. razvan784 says:

    From the fucking instructable:
    “In my home, each unit runs four times a day (I have six cats), so a cartridge lasts only fifteen days.”
    _six_ cats, 15 _days_.

  11. macegr says:

    Did scottsea misread his own instructable? he said he had four cats here…?

    I think that after three cats, the number doesn’t matter anymore. they are legion.

  12. Mike says:

    @macegr: I think maybe he meant the cats powering the house, not by their raw materials, but by doing work. think, cats running on treadmills. Otherwise, he’d have to get more cats. But then again, with your plan he wouldn’t have to get anymore catfood.

  13. Caleb Kraft says:

    there are some obvious cat counting inconsistencies here. I have reported them and they will be looked into by the federal commission for cat counting fraud.

  14. cde says:

    @ therian: From his blog (I searched for catgenie i2c and happened upon his blog)

    http://maddeningscientist.blogspot.com/2008/05/catgenie-cartridge-hacked-sort-of.html

    Seems he found out what the catgenie uses on the cartridge (A super small i2c serial eeprom, 16 bytes of data), and also compared that to a new cartridge. Looking at the arduino code he posted on instructables, it has the eeprom address hardcoded, and he sends two bytes of data to it.

    Actually, I tend to like his idea of setting up an microcontroller to continuously report a cartridge as full as the better idea, instead of resetting each cartridge when it empties. It makes the need for a microcontroller realistic. Otherwise, what he is doing, rewriting an standard 24xCxx eeprom can be done directly from his computer with a minimal amount of parts (Serial port, two diodes, four wires, plus programming software, free). No need for a 35 dollar microcontroller.

  15. cde says:

    Also, on further googling, someone else seems to have found it as well.

    http://www.litterbox-central.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1080&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&sid=80738777350ffc2dc90d628773d1d8a7&start=75

    Same answer. Simple eeprom-based countdown. Only bytes 4,5,6 (Starting from 1) matter. And I made a mistake, his code actually sends all 16 bytes to the eeprom, not just 2. His code can be cut down if he just overwrites bytes 4, 5 and 6 instead of all 16. But its damn minor.

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    Kittens, cats, sacks, wives.

    How many were going to st. Ives?

  17. jim says:

    It would be nice to sell a hacked cartridge that never needs reseting and just has a cork in it… of course the lawsuit might be a pain in the ass

  18. ed3 says:

    Why not use an empty cartridge to “trick” the Catgenie and just extend the fluid pump intake to an external container of one’s choice? Preferrably a container easier to refill with larger capacity…

  19. Doctorhash says:

    Well, I thought about that and I think from what i have seen the cat genie uses the count stored in the I2c chip in part to perform the cleaning routine. So resetting it to zero every time may inhibit its ability to clean. I will know the answer to this soon.

  20. Thor says:

    Looks like the whole idea is getting commercialized. The price seems a little high, but they were going on Ebay for around $250. I guess it’s better than $15 to $60 bucks every month.

    http://www.dlharnden.com/Store/display_item_detail.asp?system=0&prodid=1&categid=1&subcategid=1&itemid=18602-001&wprodid=18602

  21. doctorhash says:

    OK,
    I got the Arduino, loaded and compiled the sketch and downloaded it in to the Arduino. The program is acting different than is referanced in the Hack instructions. In the instructiuons you say “Slide the cartridge into the holder. The LED will illuminate almost immediately – reset was successful. Slide the cartridge out, and in a couple of seconds the light will go out – its ready to reset another one.” I haven’t yet reset a cartridge. Ok when I download the program and reset the board the LED stays on and never goes out. I would assume that since the LED will go on almost immediately that means the LED is suppose to be off and will turn off after the cartridge is removed and be ready to reset another cartridge. Looking at the sketch I see where Resetsucess is set to false then resetsucess = verifyCartridge(). The only thing I can think is since I have not reset a cartridge yet, verifyCartidge()is somehow set High changing the state of resetSucess, or is set high because there is no cartridge to hold either pin 4 or 5 low when the program starts. The program apears to be working correctly only problem is I don’t have a spent cartridge to reset yet so I wont know for 15 days or so if the Arduino protyping board is working correctly.

  22. doctorhash says:

    Ok, well someone posted the patent which shows the schematics and drawing for the cat genie. Although they describe how the cat genie is suppose to work as with most patents the drawings are all first concept drawings and the electrical schematics although close to what the cat genie was eventually released as are not exact and they leave out certain aspects like the sanisolution cartridge. It is mentioned but the circuitry on the cartridge is never shown, it sounds like the method they originally wanted to use to detect the soloution level was different from what they wound up actually doing. I think they discovered if they did it with some sort of level sensor (which is how they describe it) all the user would have to do is refill the cartridge. I also found another way to reset the cartridge by buying a EEprom programmer for the 24LC00 EEprom they are using on the cartridge. What you do first is connect up the 4 wires used on the programmer needed to communicate with the EEprom to a new/full cartridge, read the memory which will give you a series of 3C which is 60 hex save that data. Then once a cartridge is disabled just connect up to it in the same manner and write the full data you read and saved from the full cartridge to the EEprom. Wha-la cartridge reset. Requires a computer to do it though.

  23. Kelly says:

    That’s a lot of cats

  24. Peter says:

    Amazing, good find! This was the one last recurring cost of the cat genie that kept it from greatness…

  25. Susan says:

    Has the company contacted you with a cease and desist yet? It seems that all the other people who have hacked their cartridge had gotten this and I guess got scared off and removed all videos and other related materials stating that it was removed due to the companies threats of a lawsuit. Which I don’t understand because they do this with ink cartridges all the time.

  26. Pearl says:

    @macegr:

    you are a fucking idiot. die.

  27. Goneflyn says:

    Cat genie Has Terrible customer Relations, I salute anyone trying to reverse engineer this product.
    I spent hours on the phone with these idiots after purchasing a second hand unit only to find out there is no support for me? need a serial number sir so I can check warranty.. Uhh didn’t buy it new would it still be under warranty?? No but to get it fixed you need to send in whole processor unit and you can only do it under warranty… Great.. You have to spend 350+ to get a $2dollar part.. Bunch of crap..would never buy one new.. Will hack this one though..

  28. Goneflyn says:

    Successfully hacked the cartridge, Easy enough with some help from this forum and some personal assistance from someone who posts here..
    Used Cat 5 pig tails to Connect to the Main board another for the Cartridge ran them both outside the Processor. Connected another to the Arduino (PIC) programmer. Used an end connector to hook them together…normal board to cartridge or cartridge to (PIC) Programmer. Works Great.. On to the next issue!

    • BillSnow says:

      Was your recent cartridge hack done for one of the original catgenie cartridges or one of the new 120’s?

      I’m looking to purchase a catgenie but I need to know that I won’t be wasting a ton on refill cartridges before I do so…

      • Soulslapper says:

        Well the older 60s model used a reset module. And since he is talking about a PICkit2 or 3 device. I would believe he has not hacked the cartridge, but made the firmware not look at the cartridge for the counter. He is using the Catgenius firmware to add on other features also.

    • Axel says:

      any chance getting unit, kit drawings?

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