Ah, the joys of domestic animals. Often adorable, occasionally useful, they’re universally unable to care for themselves in the slightest. That’s part of the bargain though; we take over responsibility for their upkeep and they repay us with whatever it is they do best. Unless the animal in question is a cat, of course – they have their own terms and conditions.
Chickens, though, are very useful indeed. Give them food and water and they give you delicious, nutritious, high-quality protein. Feeding them every day can be a chore, though, unless you automate the task. This Twitch-enabled robotic chicken feeder may be overkill for that simple use case, but as [Sean Hodgins] tell it, there’s a method to all the hardware he threw at this build. That would include a custom-welded steel frame holding a solar panel and batteries, a huge LED matrix display, a Raspberry Pi and camera, and of course, food dispensers. Those are of the kind once used to dispense candy or gum for a coin or two in the grocery; retooled with 3D-printed parts, the dispensers now eject a small scoop of feed whenever someone watching a Twitch stream decides to donate to the farm that’s hosting the system. You can see the build below in detail, or just pop over to Sweet Farm to check out the live feed and gawk at some chickens.
It’s an impressive bit of work on [Sean]’s part for sure, and we did notice how he used his HCC rapid prototyping module to speed up development. Still, we’re not convinced there will be many donations at $10 a pop. Then again, dropping donations to the micropayment level may lead to overfed chickens, and that’s not a good thing.
Continue reading “Feeding Chickens, With Style”
You know the saying: “Dogs have people, cats have servants.” This is especially true when your feline overlord loses track of time and insists on being fed at oh-dark-thirty. You’re tempted to stay in bed feigning death, but that’s a tall order with the cat sitting on your chest and staring into your soul.
An automatic cat feeder would be nice at moments like these, but off-the-shelf units are pricey. [Mom Will Be Proud] decided to roll his own cat feeder, and the results are pretty impressive for what amounts to a trash can build. Two old food cans form the body — a Pringles can on top to hold the food and a nut can below for the servo. The metal ends of the cans nest together nicely, and with a large section removed from each, an aperture opens every time the hopper rotates, dropping food down a chute. A BeagleBone Black controls the servo, but anything with PWM outputs should do the trick. We’d lean toward the ESP8266 ecosystem for WiFi support for remotely controlling feedings, and we’d probably beef up the structure with PVC tube to prevent unauthorized access. But it’s a simple concept, and simple is a good place to start.
You shall not want for pet feeder builds around these parts. Take your pick — snazzy Steampunk, super cheap, or with an Archimedean twist.
Continue reading “Eat Some Pringles, Feed The Cat”
Imagine this: you come home after a day at work. As you open the door, your nose is the first alert that something is very, very wrong. Instead of the usual house smell, your nose is assaulted with the distinctive aroma that means your dog had an accident. The smell is stronger though — as if Fido brought over a few friends and they all had a party. Flipping the lights on, the true horror is revealed to you. This was a team effort, but only one dog was involved.
At some point after the dog’s deed, Roomba, your robot vacuum, took off on its scheduled daily run around the house. The plucky little robot performed its assigned duties until it found the mess. The cleaning robot then became an agent of destruction, smearing a foul smelling mess throughout the space it was assigned to clean. Technology sometimes has unintended consequences. This time, your technology has turned against you.
This scene isn’t a work of fiction. For a select few families, it has become an all too odoriferous reality just begging for a clever fix.
Continue reading “Roomba Vs Poop: Teaching Robots To Detect Pet Mess”
Ah, to live the life of a cat. The lazing about, the food delivered on demand, and the elevators – oh the glorious elevators.
No you didn’t misread and we haven’t gone crazy. We were sent a link to the video below just the other day, and while it is nearly two years old, it was new to us. From the very brief description on YouTube, it looks as if the elevator senses the cat’s entry using infrared, locking the door behind the cat before transporting it to another level of the house. While it’s often implied that cats are incredibly lazy, this contraption definitely takes things above and beyond the norm.
It’s a pretty ridiculous system if you ask us, but it’s pretty compelling just the same. If you can find any more information on it, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. If you can’t, feel free to speculate as to how you would build a cat elevator, or elaborate on the crazy contraptions you’ve built for the lazy felines in your life.
Continue reading “A Cat Elevator, For The Discerning Lazy Feline In Your Life”
[Stephen’s] daughter has a pair of mice she keeps as pets, who happen to be quite active at night. After they kept her awake for an entire evening by running like mad in their treadmill, they were moved from her bedroom. Since they were so active in the treadmill, [Stephen] thought it would be cool to try measuring how much the mice actually ran each night.
To keep track of their activity, he built a simple circuit that records how many rotations the treadmill makes. He fitted it with a rare earth magnet, installing a reed switch on the outside of case that ticks off each spin of the wheel. Any time the wheel starts moving, his PIC begins counting the rotations, displaying them on a 7-segment LED display. To mitigate data loss in the event of a power outage, the PIC stores the current number of rotations in its EEPROM every 10 seconds or so.
The counter keeps track of the total number of rounds the mice have completed, which his daughter uses to manually calculate their running sessions. Since they started tracking the mice, they have run over 700,000 rounds, sometimes completing as many as 20,000 in an evening.
We think it’s a pretty cool project, especially since it makes it fun for his daughter to stay involved in her pets’ lives.
Sometimes, pets need to be trained to stay away from certain things. Over at sump.org, his cats needed to be kept out of his room. He used their natural fear of water by creating the waterwall, a motion-sensing device that sprays water. The project is incredibly simple and uses very few components. It is based around an IR intrusion detector and a windshield washer pump. Although that worked well enough, he also hooked it up to his computer via the parallel port so that he could take pictures as the cats (or people) are sprayed. Although the project is old, it shows how few components are really needed to achieve this kind of behavior.
Related: Motion detecting cat toy
It’s Independence Day, so if you have pets and planned a trip, chances are you wrangled a pet sitter to keep your pet from starving or dehydrating to death. Next time, consider letting this infinite water dispenser help you instead.
The dispenser is made of a Tupperware tub, a fish tank water filter, a float switch, and a water solenoid valve. It works essentially the same way as any toilet: the solenoid valve lets water into the filter where it is dispensed to the Tupperware container. The float switch is activated when the water in the container reaches a certain level. When the water level drops due to evaporation or thirsty pets, the float switch goes down and triggers the solenoid to let in more water. The whole works are powered by a GFI outlet for safety since this project involved water, electricity and pets.