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.
Continue reading “Recycled 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.
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.
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.
[ScottSEA] has six cats. As you can imagine, with six cats, a simple litter box just doesn’t cut it. [ScottSEA] uses the CatGenie. While a self cleaning cat toilet is a technical marvel, it has one major drawback. Much like an ink jet printer, it has disposable cartridges. Those cartridges, just ike some print cartridges, have a built in counter that disables them after so many uses. After adding up the totals for six cats worth of cartridge use, [ScottSEA] started hacking. He has posted directions on how to manually refill them, as well as reset the internal counter using an Arduino.
We suggest that he find a way to harness all that cat power for his home electronics. How many watts could you produce per cat?
It’s caturday, so let’s post some freaking cats. With a little research we found commercial, hobbyist, research, and cyborg cats.
First up is NeCoRo. Released in 2001, this is probably the most recognized commercial robot cat; renowned for its creepiness.
Continue reading “Robotic cats”
[thomph-zhu] sent in this interesting project. If you’ve ever wished for cat like senses, you’ll dig this. It’s a set of electronic whiskers – it uses IR to detect nearby objects, and vibrates against your head upon detection. It’s definitely an interesting use of tactile feedback. The initial idea is for construction safety, but this could be useful for plenty of other applications. (Robotic control, etc)