Picky Kitty DIY

Picky Kitty

Picky kitty is a cat feeding system, designed for cats with picky eating habits. I noticed that my cat is very sensitive about the freshness of his food, often I’ll give him food, he’ll eat a bit of it and when he comes back after a few hours to eat more he won’t be happy to see that the food was standing there for a few hours, so I wanted to develop a system that will keep his food fresh and eliminate the need to throw away good cat food.

 A few weeks ago I started training my cat with citikitty, hoping that this will be an alternative for a lither box, seeing how well he was doing on week one, I decided to challenge him in another area.

 Citi Kitty

as I mention above, if you have a cat you are probably familiar with the problem of throwing food away since it had to sit and wait for the cat to eat it while getting stale. Unlike with citi kitty where the solution was to change the cat rather than the system, here I knew that I’ll have to adjust, so I decide to build a food box – system that will open only when he is around and close when he walks away, keeping the food fresh for when he comes back to it, here are all the details on how it works if you want to try it for yourself.

if you are still confused about what we are about to build here is a small demo, it took chach (my cat) less then a few min to figure out that this is where is food now, I didn’t even had to show him or anything, simply placed the food inside and left it for him to discover.

The core of the system is based on the following elements

1. Micro-controller: Arduino uno in my case, to handle the reaction.

2. Distance sensor: to measure how far the cat is from the food 

3. Servo motor: to push and pull the food cover.

For the first prototype of Picky Kitty I decided to use foam core board, I was looking at doing 3d printing of the model, but wanted to check first how it works and save the 3d printing for a later model. here is the master plan of how you should cut your board.

PickyKitty-Model

 The box is very easy to put together, though I should give a big credit to my girlfriend for many of the details. one area where it is important to be prices is when you tie the top to the motor, at first I used a regular sawing string, seeing that it was not so strong my girlfriend suggested that we’ll switch to dental floss which worked great. 

PickyKitty-Parts

The programming part of picky kitty is also extremely simple, if you watched a few tutorials on servo motors and motion/distance sensor, you’ll easily pick it up, here is the code I used (note you might need to modify the angle of the motor to work with your specific setting).

 

 

This is how your picky kitty box should look from the side

Picky-Kitty-inside

or when your cat is next to it

Picky-Kitty

 

Now that I know that this is working, and that my cat will actually use the new system I can move ahead with 3d printing of a few commercial models that will fit chach (my cat) style and personality better than the foam cord.

 

Related reading

While researching to build the Picky kitty I came across the following resources

PIR Sensor Arduino Alarm: http://blog.makezine.com/projects/pir-sensor-arduino-alarm/

Stepper motor how to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-KHU4eKoEM

DC motor how to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Avm4blyp7Y

3d printing: http://www.makexyz.com, http://www.sculpteo.com/en/services/

Arduino motors: http://www.jeremyblum.com/2011/01/31/arduino-tutorial-5-motors-and-transistors/

http://jeremyblum.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Episode-05-Parts-List.pdf 

Servo motor tutorials:

http://www.nyccnc.com/index.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVZJy6OlwcA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfMfysmfoNM

http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Sweep

Blender tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7404250E83B549F3

 Distance sensors: http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Ping?from=Tutorial.UltrasoundSensor

 Two servos motors: http://www.robotoid.com/appnotes/arduino-operating-two-servos.html

Servo controller: http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-arduino-lesson-14-servo-motors/parts

 Arduino control power outlets: http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php/topic,19943.0.html

Open sprinkler: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoJV60a22Eg

http://rayshobby.net/?page_id=1857

 Lock box tutorial: http://makezine.com/projects/make-32/keyless-lock-box/