Wireless Arduino cat food dispenser

catfooddispenser

Reader, [Andres Leon], has two adorable cats with very specific dietary needs. Instead of altering his schedule, he donned his hacking hat and designed a very solid cat food dispenser. The dispenser consists of a rotating drum with a slot in it and a PVC pipe Y-fitting to distribute the food evenly. The brains of the machine is an Arduino Deumillanove and an XBee module. The unit can be controlled by a web interface or it can run completely standalone. [Andres] ran into a problem where the drum’s resistance to turning varied based on how much food was inside. He solved this with a clever laser position indicator. A piece of plywood is lined up with the slot at the top so that whenever the slot is facing up it keeps the laser from shining on a photoresistor. The cats were afraid of the servo noise at first, but now they run to their bowls whenever they hear it.

Comments

  1. Andar_b says:

    My buddy taped a fishfood container to a vibrator and plugged the whole thing in to an AC timer circuit, in elementary school. That was cool.

  2. RussWill says:

    Yeah, just an A/C timer from the Walmart. What’s with all the crazy “engineering” stuff? Where’s the “good idea”?

  3. googfan says:

    he should have used an rfid on the cats’ collars. that way, the machine could detect what cat is at thebowl and despense accordingly

  4. googfan says:

    @russwill

    you look like captain phill harris.

  5. Gilliam V. says:

    “The cats were afraid of the servo noise at first, but now they run to their bowls whenever they hear it.”

    Pavlov’s cat feeder.
    an unintended side effect, [Andres Leon] may deserve a piece in the “Classical Conditioning” page on Wikipedia.

  6. Meh says:

    What’s up with the 404 on main page?

  7. anon says:

    why do people have to put such awful music in their youtube videos?

  8. cmholm says:

    “pavlov’s cat feeder”, exactly. my furry charges have been inadvertently conditioned such that they ignore the dry food bowls in the morning until I’ve given the feeding material – that’s been sitting in the bowls for hours – a quick shake.

  9. ragnar says:

    So the only thing your cats love you for, you make a machine do for you?

  10. Andres says:

    Hey ragnar,
    you know… i would have made the exact same comment if someone else had made this device… however, i have noticed that my cats now spend more time with me and my wife… than waiting around for the food to arrive. I think it may be that now they no longer associate me or my wife with food… and know that we have notthing to do with their feeding. So i guess you could say their desire to be with us is now less based on interest than before.. just my opinon though :)

    Thanks for the comment!

    Andres

  11. kfinegan says:

    Good job andres. Can you make one for my doggies?

  12. mindstormy says:

    nice dude, you should make a short little tutorial for some of the not so programming literate folks out here (including me) ^_^

  13. TMH says:

    Waste of time maybe?

    I when I clicked this link, I said out loud “I’m gonna have to build this!” then the page loaded… This looks like crap and I would not want it sitting in my house.

    Maybe one day I’ll build one where I can feed and water my cat and dog from the internet.

  14. Alchemyguy says:

    @tmh: The aesthetics of the project are inconsequential and ultimately entirely up to the builder. I also doubt that this project is actually a “waste of time”, since it performs a job the builder needed to do as well as providing a jumping off point for those of us who want it cased in mahogany and mother of pearl.

    Also, if you’d read the piece, “A web interface has been created which allows the control of the device via a web site. A web cam with live video feed has also been setup to monitor the feeder and the cats.”

    Stop being an idiot.

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