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Automated cat feeder and large plastic screws

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We’ve seen automated food dispensers for pets, but none that go so far as to build large plastic screws for dispensing kibble.

This isn’t [Mathieu]‘s first automatic cat feeder; an earlier version used a wheel to dispense cat food in excessively large version. To improve upon his first build, [Mathiu] decided to use an Archimedean screw to dispense food in 5 gram increments. There was a problem, though: a proper industrial screw cost about $1500 and the ‘consumer’ versions of what he wanted were trash. He though about casting one in epoxy but didn’t want to poison his cat with strange chemicals. He ended up using PolyMorph for his screw, a plastic that melts at 60º C and is also used in medical devices.

The electronics of the build are an Arduino, a  DS1307 real-time clock, LCD display, and a relay board powering an electric screwdriver motor. From the video demo below, we’re going to say [Mathieu] put together a pretty nice automated cat feeder.

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Automatic cat feeder made with recycled laminator parts

automatic-cat-feeder

When [Antoine] and his family leave home for a few days, they usually have to find a neighbor who is willing to care for their cats while they are away. Instead of bothering the people who live next door, he decided it would be best to build an automatic cat feeder (Translation) instead.

[Antoine] originally tried building an auger to distribute the food, but it didn’t work as well as he had hoped. He opted to build a dispenser out of wood instead, driving the feeding wheel with an old microwave platter motor. The motor did not have enough torque to do the job, so he dismantled an old laminator, which had a more suitable motor inside.

He built a large hopper (Translation) out of wood and left over acrylic sheeting, which stores the cat food and houses all of the electronics used in the feeder. He controls the amount of food and feeding intervals using a pair of buttons and a small LCD display, all of which are controlled by an Arduino Nano.

While [Antoine] has not yet shared the source code that drives the feeder, he does have a demo video which you can watch below.

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Automated cat feeder with a view

[Robovergne] wrote in to share his fantastic automated cat feeder with us. After researching the common commercial products he could find, he decided to build one that utilized a home made linear actuator to pull a certain amount out of a reservoir. Initially, he attempted to use microwave motors but ultimately found them to be too weak to force the bits of cat food should they get stuck. He was afraid this extra strain would cause motor failure before too long. Ultimately, he replaced the microwave motor with a fairly strong servo that seems to do the job just fine. He’s currently using an Arduino to time it all, but he does mention that he feels it is a waste of the arduino for such a simple task.

As you can see in the videos after the break, his mechanism seems quite solid. There isn’t a lot of play in the movement and the amount of food coming out seems to be fairly controllable.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

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