Automated Dog Feeder

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Introduction: Automated Dog Feeder

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I know that feeding time is a great way to bond with your pet, but I really wanted to automate the process; especially in the morning! These instructions will outline the components I used to construct the build, as well as some of the pitfalls I had to overcome. The feeder is certainly not perfect and the next version would be different/better, but the building and planning stages have been lots of fun. Please have a look at the images and videos to help get a sense of the feeder.

There are two aspects to the feeder: the main chamber(s) feed dry food and the smaller motor dispenses a treat between major feeds. The main chamber is driven by a stepper motor and the treat is driven by a servo motor.

Step 1: Components

MOTORS

1 high torque nema 17 stepper motor (high torque is necessary to turn the feeder when ALL of the chambers are full)

1 servo motor.

ARDUINO

1 Arduino MEGA and 2 Arduino UNO boards.

1 Motor shield from Adafruit for the UNO board.

1 Ethernet shield for the UNO board and an Apple Airport Express base station.

SERVO CITY (www.servocity.com)

2 hub sprockets and chain from ServoCity.

Numerous channel lengths to construct the major structure; purchased from ServoCity.

Clamping hubs, collars, Shafts and shaft couplers, bearing mounts.

HARDWARE

Acrylic to be laser cut in order to construct the central feeding wheel.

3 arcade style buttons.

1 TFT LCD display to indicate feeding times.

1 RTC (real time clock) to help keep track of time.

Step 2: Laser Cut Parts

I have attached a CorelDraw X3 file to build the central wheel; note that there are 8 separate chambers providing for multiple feeding sessions. As you zoom out of the document, you will note the parts needed to make each chamber side.

Step 3: Code

There are three Arduino boards used to construct the feeder:

Arduino MEGA (Chrono_Board)

Arduino UNO (Motor_Shield)

Arduino UNO (Ethernet_Shield)

NOTE: The pitches.h file is associated with the Motor_Shield file; it contains the necessary details for audio to be played when feeding takes place. It is the PACMAN theme song!

Step 4: Camera

I connected a Dlink camera to give real-time feedback on whether or not a feed was dispensed or not; both audio and video. A motion detection area can be configured to send an email when it detects movement during both day and night.

Step 5: Wifi and App

In order to make the feeder versatile, I added remote feeding as an option. To do this, I hooked up the Wifi shield to an Apple AirPort Express. For this to work, I used the API service put together by Nathan Kennedy on https://www.teleduino.org/ I can now remotely supply both dry food and/or a special treat via my iPhone or any other device that has internet access!

NOTE: It is well worth looking at Nathan's website to fully understand how his FREE service works.

Step 6: Schematics

The fritzing wiring diagram is now up! It took a while, and I'm sure there are easier ways of completing the task but this is what I did! Feel free to download it via the link below and ask questions if you need help.

Step 7: Next..........

When I first mounted the feeder to the wall, I came home one day and Katie was enormous. She had eaten three days of food in one hit! I tried to construct an outer barrier to the main feeding chamber to no avail.........I set up a camera and tripod to capture her 'hack' the feeder; see the attached video of her in action. In the end I had to raise the entire feeder far beyond her reach as seen in the final photo. To minimise the food bouncing all over the place, I added a new pipe to funnel the food down into the bowl with better precision.

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    5 Comments

    Thanks KevinKarney; yes, what a perfect excuse to get a dog!

    I think I may buy a dog just for the fun of building one of these... Brilliant

    Thanks to both of you. I might enter it in the pet competition. All the best, Steve

    Nice project. You can add it to the technology contest its very good.

    This is so many kinds of awesome. Now I want to get a dog just so that I can build something like this.