Feeding things in the outside world is difficult, especially when there are clever creatures like raccoons out there that will break in and steal everything given half a chance. [_ah6] wanted to build a feeder for feral cats that would dispense food, but without encouraging the local raccoons. So, they built a feeder that included a webcam that could see who was waiting for dinner, and dispense food remotely without spooking the cat.
The feeder is built around a modified cereal dispenser that is connected to a Raspberry Pi. This is also connected to a webcam and an IR light source. The camera view can be checked through a web browser, and the feeding can be triggered from a voice assistant. Cats are creatures of routine, so [_ah6] feeds them twice a day and the cats quickly figured out the routine. The feeder only dispenses small amounts of food, and the heavyweight construction of the feeder means that the local raccoons can’t get into the stored food. [_ah6] had originally planned to use a solar power source, but that remains a project for another day.
We’ve come a long way, but cat-facial recognition was en vogue eight years ago for guarding the cat door — keeping the dead mice out rather than the racoons.