Picture of CatBot: Automated Cat Laser
The CatBot is an autonomous laser toy for your cat. You may say "But Joe, isn't the laser pointer the best toy for the lazy cat owner?" I'd have to say no, the CatBot takes one step further.

Using two servos, an Arduino and a cheap $3 laser you can provide your cat with endless fun.

Video of the CatBot in all of it's Laser Zeppelin glory  below:
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Step 1: The Problem

Picture of The Problem
I was buying pet food and saw a $3 laser from PetCo. I thought the cat might like it. I was wrong. The cat became obsessed. Constantly grabbing the toy off of the coffee table. But she only wants to play for 1 minute then sit and stare at it. So you think, OK I guess she is bored. You put it down....

And she's back pawing at it.

The CatBot is the solution.

Step 2: Parts

Picture of Parts
For this I used the following:
Arduino Uno
Hillman Hobby Parts (found @ Lowes in the screws/nuts/bolts area)
2 Servos
Zip Ties
$3 Laser cat toy.

Step 3: Disassemble the Laser

Picture of Disassemble the Laser
The laser pops open with a screw driver. You can see it used 2x1.5v batteries. But it actually runs better at 4.5v.

Step 4: Cut the Laser

Picture of Cut the Laser
The laser had to be cut up to fit on the servo arm. I drilled a hole in the center so I could mount it to the servo arm as well.

Step 5: Build the Servo Tilt/Pan

Picture of Build the Servo Tilt/Pan
I used a hodgepodge of these cool mechano/erector set pieces from Hillman. They can be found in the screw/small parts drawers at Lowes.

Step 6: Wire up the Arduino

Picture of Wire up the Arduino
For the Arduino wiring, attach pins 8 & 9 to the servos.
Attach the laser to 5v, but 470 ohm resistor inline before the laser.

Step 7: Load the Code

Picture of Load the Code
Use the code in the attached file to program the Arduino.

Step 8: Sit back and enjoy

Picture of Sit back and enjoy
Now that it is assembled and done watch it go...
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just finished mine! works great. but i can't see a way to adjust the speed in the code. or am i missing something?

twinegarner2 years ago
Any further verification on the name of "Hillman Hobby Parts" ? I've been searching high and low for them (Google, Lowe's, Hillman's website) and Everything just keeps linking back to this article.

Am I late to the party on a discontinued product?

Hi, I don't know if anyone replied to you, but I was looking at making this and was also looking for the parts, and I think what they are are randoms size separate parts you can find at lowes made by "The Hillman Group"

Oh NO! My cat got blind because of lazer beam!

Oh no really? how blind is your cat? That's just sad.

Krav_Chick made it!2 months ago

Awesome! Thanks, my cats love it!

CatBot vid.mp4(516x296) 10 KB
bdubu3 months ago

Great instructable! I once concieved of a similar idea (though I wouldn't have had a clue where to start building it). The idea was to do basically what you've done here except the unit would be mounted on the ceiling and the laser thus directed straight down onto the floor. Part of the programming would be for the unit to know where the room's furniture is typically located so that the "spot" could run randomly around the room avoiding furniture (or perhaps sometimes climbing the side of an ottoman, etc.). By avoiding furniture, the spot never actually "disappears" insofar as the cat is concerned and being mounted to the ceiling makes it possible for the spot to traverse the entire room as well. I figured our cats would go crazy if I built this. Your instructable points the way...

JoryS4 months ago

Awesome project!

I made a cat laser out of a scavanged laser and 2 cheap chinese servos.

Made a few tweaks to your code (just the speed and area, to meet my requirements) and I plan to add a start button, as well as a speed switch (one for the older, slower cat, and one for the new kitten)

Thanks a lot for the idea and the code, and for keeping the cats of my hands for a while!

CaptChaos1 year ago
I recommend the use of a separate power supply for the servos and a capacitor to help smooth out their movements. I was having a hard time at first trying to trouble shoot the project. Once I added the capacitor and 9 volt for the Servos it worked great. Now all I have to do is make the wires look nice.

What happens without those?

What rating of capacitor worked for you?

cityboy21 year ago
The servos are running 360 Deg. sometimes slow, fast or reverse, I tried changing the ranges in the sketch but could not stop them from going 360 Deg. Help

use a map function in the code. you will need to follow some steps.

A Decide how many degrees you want the servos to move.

B Use a map function in the code to limit the servo range

C Troll cat after loading code

MakerDogg1 year ago
Soooooo cool! Thank you for this great idea! I printed the parts on my Mendelmax. My cat loves the toy :)
I like the random wait time... mine didn't have that. Good instructable.
davelehardt2 years ago
Got an Uno starter kit and the parts for this as a first project for my son and I. A couple of questions - how did you connect the servos to the breadboard? Guessing there's a socket I probably need to get. Also, if you have one, could we see how you connected everything on the breadboard?

With more cats than people in our house, we're looking forward to seeing how they like this. Thanks for a great idea and project!
wombat_boy2 years ago
Does it matter which type of Arduino Uno you use?
wombat_boy2 years ago
Cool! I have to try it... Even though I don't have a cat.
Thank you *kindly* for making me aware of those Hillman fasteners. Wowsers. And Lowe's seems to be the only game in town for them.
bouder2 years ago
That is the coolest thing ever. My three cats, and um my yellow lab, love the laser toy! I will challenge my son to make this!

Is anyone aware of a possible patent infringement?
Look at

Method of exercising a cat Kevin T. Amiss et a

Be careful ..................
That kind of a patent is a joke. To break such a patent all you have to do is prove any one of the following:

1....Two experts in the field (Cat toys I OR electronics guess) find it to be "self evident"
2....It has been sold as a product before the patent was issued.
3....A substantially identical idea has been published ANYWHERE before the patent date.

I would be willing to bet ALL of the above can be demonstrated for this device.

This patent will NEVER hold.

"Easy clips" magnetic clip on sunglasses are a perfect example of this. They got a patent for something that has been continuously available in retail stores since the late 1600's

The patent never stopped anybody from making magnetic clip on's.
Wow, I can't believe they actually got a patent for what seems to be nothing more than a laser pointer! And yeah from what I understand it's ok as long as you're not selling it, plus this robot toy is very different (also coming from not-a-lawyer).
Patents are only of concern if you want to sell a CatBot and then they would have to press their claim that the CatBot is not different to their handheld device.

He says, not being a lawyer...
The patent does say a handheld device ......... :)
This particular patent is a good laugh.

This Ible is much more.
If you think this is a stupid patent then look at 6055910...... A rocket fired by human gases ...
Drumbum83 years ago
Who else thought of Portal when they say the first picture of this ible?

Great project man!!!
I actually got the wrong idea when I first saw the title of "Cat Laser."
I did too :) Combine it with a portal turret instructable and you have awesome
kai0553 years ago
firebox sell something like this, there called a folicat and i does the same thing
CelticLock3 years ago
Where did you get the Servos??
joe (author)  CelticLock3 years ago
You can get them from SparkFun:

CelticLock joe3 years ago
Awesome, thanks for the guide!
nax3 years ago
I've been thinking about the potential for an AI version of this, using a motion detector to assess the effectiveness of different laser actions in getting the cats to move.

I think it would make an interesting AI learning project. And it probably wouldn't produce a a cat-robot alliance to conquer humanity.
My idea for this is a bit simpler, simply moving away upon action from the cat.
Add an ultrasonic sensor or some other object sensing device that doesn't need a separate receiver, and modify the code a bit, you could have it move every time the cat gets close. :P That would absolutely drive your cat crazy. Or you could add in a delay so that the cat gets the satisfaction of slapping it, only to have it disappear. :P Great Instructable though, I'll have to try it sometime and hope my cats don't decide to go after the arm itself :P
(Ramen)3 years ago
Extraordinary! I want one, and I don't even have a pet..
oilitright3 years ago
Just don't think for a minute this is for cats only, I have 4 d, anything ogs who all chase laser pointers, flashlights, shadows and more.
vincent75203 years ago
Congratulations Joe !
You helped me one step further in my laziness.
Now how about a robot that brings cat food from the dealer to the dish, the the same to take care of it's waste ???… I do need that !…
Thank you Joe.
Please see the opening few minutes of 'Back to the Future' for some good refrence on automated pet feeding. :)
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