Hackaday Prize Semifinalist: Bendy Solar Bluetooth Tags

Last January, [DrYerzina]’s sister couldn’t find her cat. The family searched the neighborhood for two hours until the cat came out from underneath a bed, proving once again cats own humans, not the other way around. A solution to this problem would come in the form of technology, specifically as [DrYerzinia]’s entry for the Hackaday Prize, a solar-powered Bluetooth tracking device. Yes, you can go on Amazon or eBay and buy a BLE tracker, but this version comes in a handy package: it’s built of a flexible circuit board to fit just about everywhere, including on the collar of a cat.

[DrYerzina]’s Bluetooth tracker is built around an Bluetooth LE module, with a few added passives, LEDs, and other parts glued and soldered onto a double sided, flexible PCB. To this, he’s added a flexible solar cell and a flexible LiPo battery. All of this is stuffed inside an enclosure 3D printed in flexible filament.

While the Hackaday Prize is filled with wearables, [DrYerzina]’s project is at the forefront of hombrew wearable technology. Nowhere else in the prize have we seen a dedication to making a device that bends. The best part is, he’s actually building a useful device; with just 15 minutes of sunlight a day (a condition very likely for a sleeping cat), this Bluetooth tag can work for weeks.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

11 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Semifinalist: Bendy Solar Bluetooth Tags

  1. This is very cool… HOWEVER, I think the circuitry could be made small enough to stack and still fit into the collar with ease. You could probably make it more compact if you ditch the module and make your own circuit.

  2. What does “with 15 minutes of sunlight per day, it can work for weeks” mean? Is 15 minutes per day not enough to compensate for the anticipated draw, meaning the battery gradually runs down over a few weeks? What’s the daily energy deficit? How long would the cat have to spend in the sun per day to keep the collar running indefinitely?

      1. Hey lazy bum, if you have found it on the project page, why not copy/paste it here for everyone to read?:
        The battery should last a month without recharge and with only 15 minutes of light a day stay running permanently.

  3. Very cool idea!

    Has anyone thought of using a RFID chip that needs no battery or internal power and is quite small? Most pets of well-to-do owners get their pets CHIPPED. If someone could design a inexpensive reader that is attached to a central PC in the house, multiple readers could be installed at key areas via wi-fi and where the pet is known to hangout or pass by regularly. That way you could look at a dash board app and see where your target was a few minutes ago and which path it was taking.

    There is a new RFID thin string (thread-like) used for special longer-range RFID tracking (i.e. E-Thread?). However, I don’t think it is available on consumer market yet. Also you could make a broom-pole like RFID sweeper to sweep tight areas you know your pet likes to hide. RFID’s have only a few feet range but this might work. You might be able to get a un-deactivated EAS (anti-shoplifter) tag from one of your local department stores too. Some friendly manager or security person might get you a couple on the QT. Just don’t bring your pet in a store with that tag on though.

    It would look like the Quirky Spotter only measure RFID signal strength not just light, temp, sound, and motion as it is advertised to do.

    Perfect project for IOT device’s?

  4. Also mounting your cell phone camera on a selfie-stick from Walmart ($8 usd) and looking under cars, in bushes, chairs, beds, shelves, cabinets that are hard to bend down or look up into can also help you find a M.I.A. cat! You could use a web-cam-video streaming app to another PC in the house and someone talks you through the search on a walkie-talkie app like ZELLO. Or you could record video, scan, watch and listen to video, delete it , and move on to next hard-target search.

  5. Oh wow! I just had a flash of an idea! Mount a RFID tracking device on a ROOMBA Robot and let it relentlessly look for kitty in all the right places. Using some sort of GPS-like monitoring one could track the Roomba’s location in the house or building when it has a RFID tag hit. Or it could just make a sound and flashing LED that doesn’t scare kitty. For multi-floor locations you will have to help Roomba get to all those floors. Hopefully there is no thick carpets for Roomba to traverse.You could have Roomba track and follow the RFID tag too. Kitty would have a robot shadow until Roomba needed to recharge.

    You could evolve this to recalcitrant-employee tracking too. Like find Johnny goofing off in the 1st floor broom closet (i.e. napping?) and he has a RFID tag in his employee badge, Roomba would wait outside the door like a bird dog. The sound-effect could be “YOU’RE BUSTED!” :-)

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