An easy to build cat feeder driven by a DIY linear actuator

cheap-and-easy-cat-feeder

[Will Finucane] of Revolt Labs/Mad Science Blog was looking for a way to keep his cats happily fed while away on a short vacation, so he put together a cheap and easy automatic feeder to ensure that his pets didn’t go hungry while he was away.

We’ve seen different iterations of automatic pet feeders here before, some relying on rotating false bottoms, while others use crank-style feeders to get the job done. [Will’s] solution is a bit different, employing a cheap linear actuator to deliver feedings.

He emptied out a glue stick, replacing the glue with a brass tube. This gives him the rigidity that the glue lacked, allowing him to easily move a platform full of cat food up and down. He mounted the glue stick on a continuous rotation servo, installing the actuator and a feeding platform inside a cardboard box.

Using an Arduino, he lowers the movable platform every 12 hours, allowing a bit of cat food to fall from the hole he cut in the side of the box. While his creation might not stand up to years of use, it’s a quick solution that can cost very little, depending on what you have sitting around.

Check out the video below to see [Will’s] cat feeder in action.

Comments

  1. Tron9000 says:

    great, now need somthing similar to take care of the other end!

  2. Analog says:

    Nice use for that gluestick hack that was featured not too long ago. I think perhaps I’d have done it the other way around though, used a slightly tilted platform and pushed the food up to deliver it rather than down. Either way it works and serves it’s purpose though, nicely done. =)

    • Digital says:

      The glue stick only has “x” amount of travel. It would only feed the cat once if pushing food up to the hole. On the next cycle, the food level would be too low to fall out of the hole. The way it is set now, with the food on top, allows the glue stick to cycle down then up and deliver food at each cycle. It’s only limited by how tall the box is and how much food he puts on the platform.

  3. mh says:

    It has been a while since I had a cat, but it certainly would not allow a bit of cardboard to stand in the way (hungry or not) That tower would have been dismanteled in a jiffy. Hopefully his cat(s) are less cat-like :-)

  4. rue_mohr says:

    I love seeing articles build on each other, good implementation of the glue stick actuator!
    now, who’s gonna make a gmail app for that capacitive touch morse box!

  5. tjb says:

    Years of use? Try a few hours or maybe a day. We have one cat that will bite threw plastic water jugs for fun. The other cats will open a bag of food on there own. It’s funny, we have an auto feeder but the stuff in the bag must be more fresh to them. They will open a new bag instead of eat what is available.

  6. Keith says:

    That’s one wonkalated linear actuator!

  7. N0LKK says:

    Unless there’s a dog staying unattended as well, why bother? Put out 10 pounds of food most cats will not eat it away, just eating what they need, when they are hungry. A dog will try to eat it all at once, puking and shitting all over the place afterwards.

    • Eirinn says:

      Agreed, my cats only eat what they need.

      Now about the litterbox problem. After a “small vacation”, my litterbox would be littermountain and my livingroom would be poop-palace.

    • Daniel says:

      I disagree – I have an ‘automatic’ (gravity fed) feeder for my dogs. A 20lb bag of food lasts about two weeks. The youngest has been eating this way since she was about a year old. Some dogs do that, but only if they’ve never had free access to food.

      This also prevents food aggression – they know its always avail, why bother fighting over it?

    • mosheen says:

      My cat will eat until it vomits, and then eat some more. First trip I took, she ate a small bag of food in 3 days.

  8. onelildrumaboy says:

    That’s an s-load of cat food.

    My cat is on a diet. The food deployment would have to be much more accurate for that reason. I am working on an elevator using a gear reduction hobby motor and a timer.

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