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.

[Read more...]

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]

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.

CATaLOG: RFID cat tracking

rfidcats

Like many pet owners, [Pete] was curious about his little furry friend’s habits while he was gone. He decided to build an RFID tracking system to monitor their positions. This data would then be available on the web.  An Arduino handles the communication of the data, both to twitter and his personal cat tracking site. We were a bit surprised to see that the only data transmitted on the final project was whether the cat was inside or out. We’d like to see a heat map of the cat’s activity in the house.

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