Feedback for automated water and food pet dispensers

pet-food-and-water-automation

[Enrico] figured out a way to fully automate his pet food and water. The system is in two parts, the water trough as seen on the left, and the food dispenser whose control hardware is shown on the right. The system is even hooked up to the network so that he can make sure it didn’t break down while he was away.

The water dispenser uses parts from a sprinkler system. Since it’s mounted outdoors it doesn’t matter if the water overflows a little bit. So [Enrico] set up the timer to run the water for three minutes every day. This acts as a backup system since the trough already has the ability to refill itself.

The food dispenser started as a commercial unit. To get feedback from the system he added a couple of magnets to the agitation motor and reads them with a hall effect sensor. In addition to an IP camera that monitors the area around the feeder (so [Enrico] can actually see his dog eating) there is a webcam which monitors the STM32 Discovery board which monitors the feeder. It tracks the number of times the dispenser has run.

Personal cooling using a closed loop water system

That’s not a colostomy bag, it’s the first prototype of [Stephen's] scratch-built closed loop personal cooling system. He must be living in an uncomfortably hot apartment as this is the second cooling system we’ve seen from him in as many weeks. The previous offering was an evaporative system. This time around he’s pumping chilled water to bring some relief.

The image on the left shows the first iteration of the system which pumped cool water from a large jug through a loop of plastic tubing which he wears around his neck. To refine the design he build the version on the right. As a reservoir he grabbed a water-proof ID container meant to keep your valuables dry in the pool or ocean. Inside there’s a pump which he runs off of a 5V battery supply. It circulates water through the neck strap which is a piece of plastic tubing.

This will work for a time, but as the cold water picks up your body’s heat the effect will be lost. We think he needs to add a Peltier cooler to the reservoir in the next iteration. It might help to refine the loop to increase its ability to transfer heat where it touches your skin.

There’s demo of the most recent version embedded after the break.

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Waterfall Swing Set

[Doped Boron] wrote in to tell us about this waterfall swing by [Dash 7]. Naturally, we had no idea what a “waterfall swing” was. Shown at the World Maker Faire in 2011, the device is a swing set capable of accommodating one or two people using it at a time. What makes it interesting, is that water comes out of the top support bar, forming a wall of water for the riders to pass through. This wall is then broken when the swing user flies through it making for a dry experience.

According to the article, 273 solenoid valves are used to control the wall of water. These solenoids are controlled by a computer with sensors that detect where the riders are in the air and what speed they are going. As with most good hacks, it may not serve a “grown-up” purpose, but a set would definitely make a trip to the park more interesting!

Be sure to check out the videos after the break. The first shows the swing in its traditional role, but the second may be even more interesting, showing full control of the swing solenoids for water writing! [Read more...]

Build your own water rocket launcher

We feel like the days when you want to play in the water are far behind us. But if you can still find a warm afternoon here or there this water rocket launcher build is a fun undertaking. We figure most of the time spent on the project will be in shopping for the parts. They’re all quite common, and once you have them on hand it can be assembled in under an hour.

The concept is simple, but that doesn’t stop people from building rather complicated water rocket rigs. This one which [Lou] devised is rather simple but it does offer connections to a hose and air compressor (the alternative being to fill the bottle with water ahead of time and use a bike pump for air pressure). PVC is used to connect the two inputs to the bottle via a pair of valves. The bottle is held in place while water and air are applied. The launch happens when a pull on that rope  releases the bottle.

Check out the build process and bottle launch after the break. We think that rocket needs a few fins.

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Cloning a water-based light wall project

A few weeks ago, we featured this water-based LED graffiti art installation that allows anyone to paint in light using only a bottle of water. When one of [Chris]‘ friends saw the video of this build, he immediately asked him how it worked. One thing led to another, and now [Chris] and a few other members at the BUILDS hackerspace at Boston University are building their own water LED installation.

The basic premise of this build is allowing water to serve as a conductor between the anode and cathode of a LED. Without spraying or painting water on the circuit [Chris] whipped up, there is an infinite resistance between the two pins of the LED and current cannot flow. After applying water to the anode and cathode pads, a small amount of current is conducted through the water and the LED lights up.

Right now, [Chris] is working on a test board with different sizes of pads and spacing to get the best water graffiti LED effect for his future build. The plan is to build a single one-meter panel out of one hundred 10 cm x 10 cm boards connected together with jumpers.

All of [Chris]‘ work is up on GitHub, and even though [Chris] hasn’t begun designing the production boards, it’s more than enough to get you started if you’d like your own water LED painting panel.

Painting a wall with light using water as ink

This art installation uses a fantastic concept. The wall can be painted using water as ink which lights up a huge grid of white LEDs. This offers a very wide range of interactive possibilities since water can be applied in so many ways. Grab a paint brush, wet your finger, use a squirt gun, or mist with a spray bottle and the lights will tell you where you hit the wall.

We’re hoping a reader who speaks both French and English might help out by posting a translation as a comment on the prototyping video. In it, [Antonin Fourneau] shows off the various prototypes that led to the final product and we’d love to know what he’s saying. But by seeing the prototypes, then watching the English promo video after the break we can make a pretty good guess.  The boards have a hole that fits the flat-lens LEDs perfectly. This creates a mostly water tight seal to keep the liquid on one side while the leads are safe on the other. The water side has squiggly pads which allow droplets of water to complete an electrical connection.

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Create a laminar flow jet without pesky fiber optics.

[ApexLogic] had some PMMA core acrylic rod rod left over from a project and decided to use it as the lighting element in a laminar flow water jet.

The typical water jet consists of a bunch of sponges and drinking straws sandwiched together to slow a rough water stream and then a finely cut nozzle to provide a smooth ripple-free strand of clear water. If light is applied to this stream of water it tends to act similarly to fiber optics. [ApexLogic], however, uses a combination of shaved PVC filings, Brillo, and what appears to be most of the plumbing aisle of a local hardware store to get the same laminar flow. To top it off the polished acrylic rod is much less fragile than its glass-fiber counterpart and can have a high power light glued to the end for a nice water tight seal.

The system currently runs off of garden hose pressure, and would probably need some kind of a boost before it went into that front yard mega fountain that [Caleb] is still waiting for somebody to make.  If you still need some clarity on laminar water jets check out these videos on a few