Anyone with an outdoor cat in their life knows their propensity for bringing home offerings, in the form of critters in various stages of the process of becoming ex-critters. And anyone with a hacker in their life knows that there’s a tendency to throw technology at this problem. But sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best.
Take this simple stepper-powered cat door lock. For [Jason Winfield], the essential problem with his outdoor cat’s late-night demands for reentry was having to manually unlock the cat door after a quick visual check that no midnight snacks were along for the ride. Such activity tends to make it hard to get back to sleep. One natural reaction to this would be to completely automate the process with machine learning to recognize the offering and deny entry; we’ve seen exactly that before, after all. But recognizing that the disruptive part was the getting up to check bit, [Jason] just whipped up a simple stepper-driven lock with an ESP8266 microcontroller. With a 3D-printed case and a battery pack, and a nearby Wi-Fi camera, the lock denies entry to the cat until he gets a look at it, at which point he simply hits the lock’s webpage to unlock the door. The video below would show the lock in action, except the cat buggered off once it got a whiff of the doings. Cat’s gonna cat.
What we appreciate about this project is its simplicity. It solves the problem with the minimum feature set, which is something we see too little of sometimes. It’s also got some nice ideas, like the non-captive bolt that can be removed to unlock the door if the battery dies. Smart thinking, [Jason], and sweet dreams.
The idea is simple: hide the Cat Prank box in a cupboard or other space in a friend’s house, and it will meow from its secret location. When found, either the light sensor or motion sensor will trigger the yowling of an angry feline, with hopefully startling effects.
An Arduino Mini is the brains of the operation, paired with an XY-V17B sound module which plays the required animal wailings. There’s also a 433 MHz radio module that lets the prankster trigger meowing via remote control.
Code is available for those wishing to build their own. We’d love to see a mod with a time delay built in, so the device could be hidden and left to start meowing at some later date when the prankster is far away.
Have you ever tried to weigh a cat? For that matter, have you ever tried to get a cat to do anything they don’t want to do? The wilful independence of our feline companions is a large part of what endears them to us, and must have done ever since the ancient Egyptians first had a hybrid wildcat that became domesticated
No wonder it’s so hard to care for multiple cats with different dietary needs. But the mere act of weighing the cats just might be the key to automating their diets while giving them the choice of when they want to eat. It’s a task that [Psy0rz] has cracked with the Meowton, a weighing machine/feeder combo designed to regulate the diets of his various moggies.
The multi-faceted system involving a scale to weight the cat, a food hopper with dispenser, and a scale for the food bowl. The cat has to stand on the scale to eat, and the dispenser doles out some food when it detects this. It identifies each cat by weight, and controls the quantity dispensed accordingly to spread that cat’s allotted diet over the course of the day.
Behind it all is an ESP32, which delivers the stats to a web interface and makes them available for import to a database. He’s identified a flaw in the system, that two cats of the same weight could cause misidentification. To that end he has an RFID reader under way, but it’s still a work in progress. There is even a live stream of the unit in action.
We’re suckers for cats here, and while the various Hackaday Cats provide plenty of companionship and entertainment we’re always up for more. Over the years we’ve featured plenty of cat feeders, but only one cat elevator.
Anyone with a cat knows that the little purring ball of fluff in your lap is one tiny step away from turning into a bloodthirsty serial killer. Give kitty half a chance and something small and defenseless is going to meet a slow, painful end. And your little killer is as likely as not to show off its handiwork by bringing home its victim – “Look what I did for you, human! Are you not proud?”
As useful as a murder-cat can be, dragging the bodies home for you to deal with can be – inconvenient. To thwart his adorable serial killer [Metric], Amazon engineer [Ben Hamm] turned to an AI system to lock his prey-laden cat out of the house. [Metric] comes and goes as he pleases through a cat flap, which thanks to a solenoid and an Arduino is now lockable. The decision to block entrance to [Metric] is based on an Amazon AWS DeepLens AI camera, which watches the approach to the cat flap. [Ben] trained three models: one to determine if [Metric] was in the scene, one to determine whether he’s coming or going, and one to see if he’s alone or accompanied by a lifeless friend, in which case he’s locked out for 15 minutes and an automatic donation is made to the Audubon Society – that last bit is pure genius. The video below is a brief but hilarious summary of the project for an audience in Seattle that really seems quite amused by the whole thing.
So your cat isn’t quite the murder fiend that [Metric] is? An RFID-based cat door might suit your needs better.
Have you ever looked at your cat and thought “You know, my kitten really needs an electric skateboard!” Probably not, but this seems to have happened to [Kim Pimmel] while looking at his cat MIDI, so he decided to build one. This process involved building a simple, low powered skateboard with a Feather mainboard and motor controller combined with a laser-cut switch mechanism. When [Kim] puts a treat into the mechanism, the cat pulls the switch and the skateboard moves forward, moving into a brave new e-skateboarding feline future. MIDI looks somewhat unimpressed by this whole business, but I suspect that as long as the treats keep coming, he will be happy to keep on truckin’. Now, if he can just figure out how to persuade the cat to ollie, we will be really getting somewhere.
Feline tomfoolery seems to be a regular pastime here on these pages, and more than just a quest for easy moggy-driven clickbait. A lot of cat feeders and cat finders abound, but this project isn’t the only cat-operated one. Our readers’ pets can probably spot an Arduino a mile away by now.