Out Engineering a Sneaky Cat

Cats do what they want, which rarely coincides with what their owner wants them to do. In [Dumitru]’s case, his girlfriend’s cat [Pufu] tended to make it outside into the cold more often than desired. Rather than settle with the normal bell which gets obnoxious even when the cat isn’t misbehaving, he decided to put together a custom Cat Finding collar. He used a PIC microcontroller as the brains, and temperature and light sensors to decide whether the cat had snuck into the cold, dark night. Once the cat has been marked as being outside, a buzzer and LED are set to go off at regular intervals until returned into the safety of the indoors.

[Dumitru]’s website along with his YouTube videos are in Romanian, though the schematics and source code provided speak for themselves. He does a wonderful job walking through the entire design process, including time spend in the IDE as well as EAGLE designing the board. YouTube has managed to subtitle the majority of the details, but we imagine this post will be a real treat to any Romanian speaking hobbyists out there. Be sure to catch both videos after the break.

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Yet Another Cat Door

Cat Flap Fever

RFID cat flaps are one of those projects we see all of the time. They are generally pretty simple to rig up, not too expensive, and have a good “wow” factor for any non-technical friends or family, not to mention tremendously useful. Why did we decide to share this one? Well, for one, it is simple. It doesn’t tweet, email, or text message, it just gets the job done. Two, it is excellently documented, including a detailed parts list and a step by step schematic just about anyone could use to build their own. [landmanr] does mention that he recommends some sort of project enclosure to protect the electronics from damage, which would be bad for the poor cat stuck outside.

AVR Guardian filters out dogs

Cats and dogs can get along quite nicely when they are raised up together. The problem with this type of arrangement tends to be keeping dogs out of the cat box and away from the cat food. [Ryan Meuth] tried out a simple electronic barrier to keep the dog away. It uses an IR transmitter and receiver to shine a beam of invisible light across the doorway to his cat room. In the demo after the break you’ll see that he took steps to make sure the cats don’t set off the alarm. The beam of light is set high enough that their bodies don’t get in the way, and the firmware measures the amount of time the beam was broken in order to avoid false positives caused by the cats’ tails. If the dog does try to get into the room it will break the beam and set off a high-pitched alarm sound.

It’s interesting that the dog doesn’t like the sound but the cat’s don’t seem to be scared of it. Also, we’ve got a less-than-ferocious feline that would love to chew on the cord that connects the two modules. Still, it’s a solution that works for [Ryan] and could be incorporated into an automatic feeder to keep the dog away from feedings while you’re out of the house.

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RFID cat feeder helps with the diet

When faced with having 2 cats with different dietary needs, [Landmanr] had to decide between manually stopping the cat on a diet from eating normal food, or building a dietary robot overlord. [Landmanr] chose the robot route. Using an old cd rom for the opening/closing mechanism, and RFID to distinguish between felines, [Landmanr] no longer has to stand guard while each cat eats. We particularly like the design of the antenna, so that the cat has to stick its head through it to activate the food opening. You don’t see that version in the video, but it is in the instructable.

Cat door unlocks via facial recognition

Faced with critters trying to get in and a cat that loved to show them her latest kill, the folks at Quantum Picture came up with a system that unlocks the cat door based on image recognition. As you can see above, it uses a camera to capture the profile of anything approaching the cat door. That image is compared to stored positive identification sets, making up a feline positive identification protocol. Don’t think this is necessary? In the writeup there’s a couple of images showing the outline of a skunk. Sounds like this system is a necessity.

We wonder if this lucky cat also has an Internet enabled cat feeder?

[Thanks Stephen]

Recycled cat feeder

I find that I do a lot of fun projects but I’m very bad about documenting them when I’m done. Holidays are for hacking (in my mind) so I usually plan ahead and do something cool during my time off. This project, which I loving call the Autodine-2009, was a spontaneous event over Thanksgiving that I’m just getting around to writing about.

Our cat’s want to be fed at 6am and are very insistent about it. Like most folks, I’d rather be sleeping at that time of day so I built an automatic cat feeder. Now we sleep while the cats eat. We don’t want to rely on a hack to feed our cats when we’re away so I didn’t go the route of an Internet-enabled multiple-dose feeder. Instead, I used parts on hand to create a single-serving dispenser on a timer. A servo rotates a false bottom to gravity-feed the cat food. The servo doesn’t have control circuitry so it is controlled through an h-bridge (I did have to buy 2 transistors for that) by an AVR ATmega8 microcontroller. There are two salvaged tactile switches to set the time and timer, and a serial LCD display that I’ve had sitting around for years. Power comes from an old cell phone charger a friend had just given me that spawned the feeder idea when I asked myself “hmmm, what can I use this for”?

I’ll demonstrate this recycled device for you in a video after the break. This wasn’t as hardcore as my AVR Tetris build but I’m much happier now that I can sleep in a bit.

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Internet enabled cat feeder

When travelling, it can always be a pain to have your cats cared for. There are some commercial automated solutions out there, but they tend to be pricey, especially when there are two required. These two cats don’t need to worry though. They have an internet enabled monster of a system.

The system used is pretty unique. They wanted internet connected relays, but didn’t want to put an entire computer in line just for the cat feeder. Instead, a Cisco router was hacked to run relays hooked to the status lights on the ports. Not only can it be controlled over the internet, there is also a live feed so you can see the cats as the binge. These are some pretty lucky cats. They also have an automatic cat door.

[via Hackedgadgets]