Hamster Wheel Tacho Measures Tiny Pet Performance

Humans often like to monitor their exercise habits with the use of a pedometer, which tracks steps taken during a walk. Such devices are a little cumbersome for smaller creatures however, but no matter. Hamsters tend to get most of their workouts done on a wheel anyway, so it’s simple enough to instrument the equipment instead.

The build is a simple tachometer, using an infrared emitter and sensor pair to read the rotation speed of the hamster wheel. The wheel itself is light-colored plastic, so a strip of black felt is used to create a non-reflective section, creating a pulse one per revolution that can be read by the Adafruit Feather 32U4 running the show. Data on peak speed and total rotations is available for tracking the exercise habits of the hamster in question, output on a set of 14-segment displays.

It’s a fun project, and one that would be a great way to teach kids about pet care and basic embedded systems. Hamster performance could even be uploaded to the cloud with a more advanced build, and training milestones linked to rewards a la Premier League footballers. At the end of the day, a hamster wheel is just an exercise bike for our four-legged friends, and we’ve seen those hacked too. Video after the break.

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