Two shots of the dispenser in question next to each other, showing it from different sides. One is showing the front panel, and the other shot gives us a better look at the top part, with a rotating disk that has openings for treats to be placed in.

Open-Hardware Dog Treat Dispenser Is A Stepping Stone For Behavioral Research

The principles of open-source hardware are starting to make great strides in scientific research fields. [Walker Arce] tells us about his paper co-authored with [Jeffrey R. Stevens], about a dog treat dispenser designed with scientific researchers in mind – indispensable for behavior research purposes, and easily reproducible so that our science can be, too. Use of Raspberry Pi, NEMA steppers and a whole lot of 3D printed parts make this build cheap (< $200 USD) and easy to repeat for any experiments involving dogs or other treat-loving animals.

Even if you’re not a scientist, you could always build one for your own pet training purposes – this design is that simple and easy to reproduce! The majority of the parts are hobbyist-grade, and chances are, you can find most of the parts for this around your workshop. Wondering how this dispenser works, and most importantly, if the dogs are satisfied with it? Check out a short demonstration video after the break.

Despite such dispensers being commercially available, having a new kind of dispenser designed and verified is more valuable than you’d expect – authors report that, in their experience, off-the-shelf dispensers have 20-30% error rate while theirs can boast just 4%, and they have test results to back that up. We can’t help but be happy that the better-performing one is available for any of us to build. The GitHub repository has everything you could want – from STLs and PCB files, to a Raspberry Pi SD card image and a 14-page assembly and setup guide PDF.

Open hardware and science are a match made in heaven, even if the relationship is still developing. The Hackaday community has come together to discuss open hardware in science before, and every now and then, open-source scientific equipment graces our pages, just like this recent assortment of biosensing hacks using repurposed consumer-grade equipment.

Continue reading “Open-Hardware Dog Treat Dispenser Is A Stepping Stone For Behavioral Research”

Friday Hack Chat: Open Hardware For Science

Scientific equipment is expensive. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up a lab. Simply the cost of machines, like data acquisition units or even a simple load cell, can cost hundreds of dollars. This makes research cost prohibitive, and that’s the case even if you do spend a dozen hours a week writing grant proposals. Citizen science is right out, because the cost of the tools to do science is so high.

For this week’s Hack Chat, we’re going to be talking about Open Hardware for science. This is the chat that’s all about Open Source equipment, hardware modular electronics, and Open designs to make the tools that make science.

Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat is [Dr. Alexxai Kravitz]. He has a PhD in Neuroscience from UPenn and completed a postdoc at the Gladstone Institutes in San Fransisco. [Lex]’s research focuses on understanding the reward circuitry in the brain, and his publications use a variety of experiments to examine this, including behavioral testing, in vivo electrophysiology, and optogenetics.

For this Hack Chat, we’re going to about how Open Source has made more science possible. Of note, we’ll be discussing:

  • What Open Source science equipment is being used today
  • The initiatives behind Open Source Hardware for science applications
  • Scientific application that could benefit from Open Hardware

You are, of course, encouraged to add your own questions to the discussion. You can do that by leaving a comment on the Hack Chat Event Page and we’ll put that in the queue for the Hack Chat discussion.join-hack-chat

Our Hack Chats are live community events on the Hack Chat group messaging. This week is just like any other, and we’ll be gathering ’round our video terminals at noon, Pacific, on Friday, May 11th.  Here’s a clock counting down the time until the Hack Chat starts.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.