Determining Kibble Level Via Time-of-Flight

[WTH] is building an IoT kitty food dispenser. There are a few of these projects floating around that measure out portions very sensibly — some use screws to dispense a set amount of food at a time, some measure the weight of the remaining stockpile. This build is definitely not that. This kitty food monitor uses a time of flight sensor to determine the remaining level of food in a hopper. [WTH]’s feeder lets the cat eat all the grub it wants, then alerts the hooman when kibble levels drop below a certain level.

The project starts with one of those pet food dispensers that consist of a hopper that gravity feeds into the food bowl. As the animal eats that food, more dispenses into the bowl. Attached to the lid is an ESP8266 connected to an Adafruit time of flight sensor. This reports the kibble level in centimeters, which is good enough for [WTH]’s purposes. Sensor data is logged to a Google Drive spreadsheet, published as a graph through M2X (AT&T’s IOT service), and texted to [WTH]’s smart watch via IFTTT.

Look for a plethora of Tweeting, Instagramming, and otherwise automated feeding of the cat overlords right here on Hackaday. Check out automatic cat feeder dispenses noms, wants cheezburger, and a cat feeder made with laminator parts.

12 thoughts on “Determining Kibble Level Via Time-of-Flight

        1. If you don’t like the first statement made without evidence, or the second statement with only empirical evidence, maybe your comment would have more value if it included a citation or referral to some evidence, instead of just throwing snark on top of the pile.

    1. UI are a problem in older male cats. While lack of wet food has been cited as a cause I have always been told the cause is more likely to be litter related. Simply the cat gets dust from the liter in the urethra leading to irritations and infection. If your can is having UI stop using sandy litter. They sell dust free alternatives that work well. Failing this clean the pan more frequently.

  1. We have been feeding our cats for over 35 years like this.
    They have never been fat. Mind you when we have gotten a new cat we watch and make sure they are eating properly this way. We love them and think they are very smart ( Most of them anyway. ) And are great company.( Most of them anyway. )

  2. Yeah… If this is for having fun and doing some statistics at home i’m fine with it, but if you need such stuff to take care of your pet you really shouldn’t get one. And i also heard that only dry food is really bad for cats (and aside the health stuff and even if i know it might be a bad comparaison: Would you like to only eat dry bread or other food?)

    1. I don’t know about this dry food business, cats are desert animals and handle their water levels very will, so if he provides drinking water the cat should be fine, but remember no cat lasts forever, their kidneys tend to wear out due to their obligate carnivore lifestyle.

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