Piano Feeder Gets Pets Playing For Their Supper

A cat sits on a dark green mid-century modern bench next to a cat-sized black piano. A black bowl sits beneath the piano to catch food. An abstract green, blue, and tan picture in a black frame is on the wall above the cat and a black bar stool can be seen around the corner. It looks like the sort of photo you'd see on Instagram or in an interior design magazine.

If you ever watched a video of Piano Cat and wondered if your cat could learn to play, then [Sebastian Sokołowski] has a possible solution with this combination piano tutor and cat feeder.

Starting with a CNC cut MDF enclosure, [Sokołowski] developed a cat feeder that would fit in the rear of the piano. It had to be reliable, consistent, and easy to disassemble. He walks us through his testing for each of these features and says the feeder was the most difficult part of the project to develop due to the propensity of pet feeder mechanisms to jam.

A custom PCB takes the key presses from the piano (with functional black keys) and outputs the sound from a speaker in the back. Lessons progress through increasing difficulty automatically, encouraging your cat to learn what the different keys can do. Food is dispensed after a performance or on a schedule set through the accompanying smartphone app. All the files are available if you want to build your own, but there is a wait list available if you want a completed version to give to less technically-inclined cat staff.

We’re certainly no stranger to the creatures that rule the internet here at Hackaday, having featured other cat feeders, new research into spaying cats, or even open source robo-cats.

20 thoughts on “Piano Feeder Gets Pets Playing For Their Supper

  1. I’m still baffled how close the “openness” is in the hardware world. Watching the video you would expect some files to download somwhere, much probably on github. But no, it feels like some GAFA, and you need to provide an email to have a link sent to you… I, literally, never saw that in open software.

      1. Sure, I could do that. But i didn’t bother. It’s not ‘free enough’. Hope I don’t feel too pedantic :-/
        I’m not even sure it’s free (as in free software). I would probably get some schematic PDFs, which is not the original, modifiable, hackable “source” people like me expect. Not complaining, but I can’t help notice a huge trend of “not really free” in “supposed to be kinda free” in hardware projects.
        Again, i have nothing about soft/hard being non free. I (also) do that for my work.

    1. You know what? I uploaded a video right after finishing that piano. Now, after a few weeks, it’s become quite natural for them to come in from the yard and head to the piano for food.
      I’ll post an update on their progress in a while.

  2. A real cat would top off the contraception to spill the goods. And it would succeed as the lid is not locked. For a “proper interraction” please check Maker’s Muse videos with the cockatoos on his balcony and the puzzles with food.

    1. It’s unlikely it’ll knock over the entire piano, unless it’s a bodybuilder cat ;)
      As for the lid, I put two neodymium magnets on each side. It would be quite hard for a cat to open it. But I’m not ruling out the possibility that one might manage to do it.

    1. It’s kind of a no-go… I tried ;)
      Unless your cat is way smarter than average. That’s why I made it so that you just need to press any key, and the correct note from one of a few tunes will play. It’s a really nice feeling when you’re sitting at your computer and you can hear a few notes of “Für Elise” coming from the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.