Pet Water Warden

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This weekend’s Make project is a great one for pet owners — an automatic water bowl refilling device!

It’s a fairly simple build, utilizing an old water jug, an Arduino, an aquarium pump, and some home-made water sensors. As always, MAKE has a very thorough guide, and the estimated build time is only an hour or two. They even threw in the ability to Tweet it’s status, including when the reservoir is empty.

But are we over-complicating this? A gravity based water feeder using the jug could work just as well. Sure, you wouldn’t get Twitter updates, but we hope you’re around your pets long enough to know when they’re thirsty.

A more refined version of this could include a solenoid water valve tapped into your house, eliminating the need of the reservoir and making this project a bit more useful. But even that might be a bit much, do we really need the Arduino?  What about a spring-loaded water bowl that breaks a contact when the bowl is empty? Hook that up to a 5 second timer relay controlling the water valve, and you’ve simplified the project quite a bit!

After the break, check out the video to get some more ideas!

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Walter is a Robot Head Built From Scratch.

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[Chris] has put together a robot head that is impressive at first sight. [Chris’] robot, Walter II, becomes even more impressive when you realize that [Chris] built every single part from scratch. Many of Walter’s parts were created using machines [Chris] built himself. Walter is a robot neck and head. His upper neck joint is based upon three bevel gears.Two steppers drive the side gears. When the steppers are driven in the same direction, Walter’s head nods. When they are driven in opposite directions, the head turns. The end result allows Walter’s head to be panned and tilted into almost any position.

A second pair of motors raise and lower Walter’s neck via a chain drive. What isn’t immediately visible is the fact that a system of gears and belts maintains the tilt on Walter’s head as his lower neck joint is actuated. For example, if Walter’s head is facing directly forward with his neck raised, one would expect him to be facing the ground when the neck is lowered. The gear/belt system ensures that Walter will still be facing forward when the neck joint reaches its lower limit. All this happens without any movement of the neck motors. [Chris] definitely put a lot of thought into the mechanical design of this system.

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