Physicist and squirrel gastronomer [Carsten Dannat] is trying to correlate two critical social economical factors: how many summer days do we have left, and when will we run out of nuts. His research project, the Squirrel Café, invites squirrels to grab some free nuts and collects interesting bits of customer data in return.
[Stephpalm] had carved a pumpkin for the first time in two decades. Unfortunately, the neighborhood squirrels were all too pleased with her work and devoured it. Her original goal for the jack-o’-lantern was to have its lights controlled over the internet. These hungry critters inspired another project instead – The Jack-’o’-Lantern Squirrel Early Warning System. There have been hacks that have dealt with pesky squirrels before, such as a trap and an automatic water turret, but they didn’t have the ability to post to social media like this system does.
The system consists of a Spark Core, a passive infrared (PIR) sensor, and a piezo buzzer. When the motion sensor is triggered the buzzer sounds, scaring away any peckish creatures lurking nearby. [Stephpalm] used an NPN transistor and 1k-Ohm resistor to provide enough current to drive the buzzer. All of these components were connected using jumper wires and a breadboard that sits on top of the pumpkin. As a nod to her original idea, [stephpalm] then created “Pumpkin Watch Code” and loaded it into the Core. It posts preset messages to a Twitter account every 45 minutes of inactivity or whenever a pesky squirrel is detected. The messages can be personalized for anyone who wants to make one of these themselves.
We wonder if it would be better to place the breadboard inside the jack-o’-lantern and carve out a couple of holes on top for the PIR sensor’s wires to come out of. That would offer some protection from the elements and prevent it from getting knocked over. We think this project could be adapted for many other uses. After the break, see a video of the system in action!
Sure, squirrels may bother the average home owner, but few have attempted as creative a way to control them as this automated water turret. Check out the video after the break to see how this was accomplished, but if you’d rather just see how the squirrels reacted to getting squirted, fast forward to around 16:00. According to [Kurt] he was sure this would be his solution, however, his conclusion was that “squirrels don’t care.”
As for the presentation, it’s more about how to use [OpenCV], or Open Source Computer Vision. It’s quite a powerful piece of software, especially considering that something like this would cost thousands of dollars in a normal market. An Arduino is used to interface the computer’s outputs to the real world and control a squirt gun. If you’d rather not program something like this yourself, you could always simply use a garden hose as someone suggests just after the video. Continue reading “Birdwatching Meets a Computer-Controlled Water Cannon, Awesomeness Ensues”