Introduction: Fling-ama-String Upgrade 2.0 a Cat Toy Improved

Picture of Fling-ama-String Upgrade 2.0 a Cat Toy Improved
Fling-ama-String is a great little cat toy that will entertain even the most sluggish kitty. An excellent toy, but the power supplied by the internal battery pack with 3 AA batteries runs down pretty quickly. The gadget just has an on-off switch... why not a timer?

This will show you how to add a timer... plus add a much larger battery supply. The voltage of 4.5v is the same, but the D Cell batteries will run a whole lot longer!

Wikipedia tells us that a AA battery has 1/5th of the life power (Amperage) in relation to a much stronger (and larger) D Cell. A D Cell will simply last longer when in use.

Buy a Fling-ama-String for your feline, they'll love it! After you've plugged the third set of AA Batteries in it, you'll be back here for sure!

This modification will make a great toy quite economical!

Here's Gracie, playing with her Fling-ama-String:



Here it is... shown in a mirror so you can see both sides....

Step 1: Parts Needed

Picture of Parts Needed

Radio Shack will sell you 3 D Cell battery holders (#270-403a) for $1 each. You'll need a hook for the doorknob- so those rubber coated bicycle hooks from the hardware store will work well. While you're there, go to the electrical aisle and there you will find an Intermatic 15 Minute Mechanical Timer (part # FD15MWC). The shown alligator connectors are optional. You'll also need a scrap of wood, some small gauge 2 conductor wire (2 feet would be nice- you can use speaker wire or scrap extension cord)

Step 2: Size Up a Piece of Wood

Picture of Size Up a Piece of Wood

A Small piece of plywood, 4"x6", maybe 1/2" thick will do. Here are the four main parts all laid out. Cut it to size. (or not)

Step 3: The Wiring Explained

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Line up the three D Cell Battery Holders as shown. We are going to wire these to produce 4.5 volts, that is... The total power of all three batteries... 3 x 1.5 volts

We're going to connecting the BLACK wires to the RED wires, just like shown here.

This is called "SERIES" wiring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_and_parallel_circuits

Step 4: The Timer Added to the Circuit

Picture of The Timer Added to the Circuit

This image will show how the timer is added into the circuit. Notice the writing on the image... it will be a good guide for connections.

Step 5: Mount Hook

Picture of Mount Hook

You will find that pre-drilling a hole in the wood before screwing in the hook- that will keep it from splitting. A good excuse to own a power tool!

If you want to go "low tech", you could also use a small "eye" hook (no need to pre-drill a hole), and then loop a piece of cord through it- to hang over the door knob. You don't have to get as fancy as this bicycle storage hook, but for 40 cents, why not?

Step 6: Connecting the Wires- Various Methods

Picture of Connecting the Wires- Various Methods

This is not a high voltage deal, so there is no danger or getting zapped. You could just twist the wires together and be done with it. You could tape them. You could solder them (Oh boy, another excuse to buy a tool!) You might use a fancy connector- or you'll find great use for "shrink tubing".

Shrink tubing is easy to use. Twist your wires together really well- I like to then bend the joint over in a hook loop. Then cut a piece of tubing to fit. Shrink it down with a heat source. Another cool thing you can get at Radio Shack.

Step 7: Secure the Components to the Board

Picture of Secure the Components to the Board

I used two 1.5" drywall screws to tie the timer to the board. I then used two 1/2" drywall screws to tie each of the three battery holders to the board.

I tucked the wires up and behind the battery holder to keep it neat.

Step 8: What It Should Look Like

Picture of What It Should Look Like

This is what mine looks like, yours may be similar. Not to worry- it will work just fine.

Let's put some batteries in....

Step 9: Connect the New Power Supply to Your Fling-ama-String

Picture of Connect the New Power Supply to Your Fling-ama-String

Turn the Fling-ama-String to the ON position. Turn your newly installed timer to the ON position. There will now be power supplied off of the end of your power leads. It's 4.5 volts, so don't get too concerned- but don't let them touch or they will cause your batteries to wear out.

Touch the POSITIVE (+) RED lead to the flat coiled-up spring in the upper right hand corner of the Fling-ama-String battery case.

Touch the NEGATIVE (-) BLACK lead to the cone shaped spring in the lower left corner of the Fling-ama-String battery case.

The toy should operate and the band should be going in the proper direction. If not, reverse the wires at the battery compartment springs in the Fling-ama-String battery compartment.

Me? I just smoosh the wires into the springs. You can wrap the wires around the sprigs, or you can get real fancy and get tiny "alligator clips" to bite them with. Unnecessary, but another Radio Shack item for $1.


Step 10: The Battery Door Cover

Picture of The Battery Door Cover

It will need a little slot cut in it to allow the new power wire to go through.

I was too lazy to go to the basement for a file, didn't want to bother with my Swiss Army Knife, so I used a nail file that my wife left laying around. Just cut a notch. If it's snug, that would be good. That way, it won't allow any tugging of the wires from the outside. That might cause the wires to come off the springs- and kitty wouldn't want that!

Step 11: Set It Up

Picture of Set It Up

Hang the new power supply off of the back side of the door. The new power cord runs around the door.

You would never want to do this with a regular household current power line, but a tiny 4.5v line is not dangerous. This narrow door frame gap is why you might want to buy and use multi strand "speaker wire' while you're at Radio Shack. It's thin and very flexible. If you use scrap lamp cord (extension cord wire), it's a lot thicker- so your door's closing might be blocked.

Step 12: Sit Back in Wonderment

Picture of Sit Back in Wonderment

Give the timer a little twist and pretty soon, your kitty will know what that sound means!

You'll find that these D Cell Batteries seem to last forever (certainly when compared to leaving the original standard 3 AA Batteries run down if you leave the room).

Remember- to operate, the switch on the Fling-ama-String should be left in the "on" position. Control the power to the unit by a twist of the timer.

Kitty likes Fling-ama-String!

Comments

mlbaron (author)2014-11-17

I love your idea, execution, and instructions. My problem is more with the motor. In your experience, how long does the motor last? Thanks.

kbowker (author)2014-01-10

https://www.instructables.com/id/FLING-AMA-STRING-U...

Here is my Fling-AMA-String upgrade with motion sensor, timer and AC Power source. The cat has full control turning it on and off with no need for batteries.

ghostrider2k (author)2010-10-08

Would a solar cell/panel at this output work? 4.5V/100mA Saw it on this site; http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=2702

kbowker (author)ghostrider2k2014-01-10

You could use any sort of solar panel (e.g12V DC) then just wire it to a step down voltage convertor to get 4.5V. Very cheap (see my other post).

Creamaster (author)2010-10-10

Great post. Next step would be to add an adaptor for AC use.

kbowker (author)Creamaster2014-01-10

https://www.instructables.com/id/FLING-AMA-STRING-U...

12V AC adapter is on it's way in the mail. I have a vid of it working just off a temp 12V battery.

kbowker (author)2014-01-10

https://www.instructables.com/id/FLING-AMA-STRING-U...

Here is my Fling-AMA-String upgrade with motion sensor, timer and AC Power source. The cat has full control turning it on and off with no need for batteries.

kbowker (author)2013-12-20

Also I repair emergency lights so have D size rechargeable NiCads by the boxful. The batteries have various plugs and brackets so you could set it up to be able to unplug flat batteries then plug in a recharged stick. To recharge the battery you could then use a DC Convertor or even an emergency light that uses the same battery or is 4.5volts.

kbowker (author)2013-12-20
FLING-AMA-STRING  VERSION 3.0: MOTION SENSOR &TIMER HAS CAT TURN IT ON AND OFF USING AC POWER (NO BATTERIES) WITH NO HUMAN INPUT.

The end result will hopefully be that with absolutely no effort from humans the cat can trigger the Fling-AMA-String and play with it for the desired time. Then when the cat has had enough the Fling-AMA-String will turn itself off. With the AC inverter I don't even need batteries.

Firstly I bought a 12V switch controller with PIR sensor from Jaycar today. When the little motion sensor is triggered it sends 12V DC out for 30 seconds.  Here's hoping that after 30 seconds the cat will re-trigger the motion sensor.  eBay has others with adjustable timers for example: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/251405748358?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649.

The motion sensor is powered by an AC 12V adapter (can also use 12V DC batteries) which will send power to the Fling-AMA-String so no more batteries required.  Now the important thing is that the Fling-AMA-String needs to be powered by 4.5V DC (+ approx 2.8A I think) not 12V DC so on eBay there are several Adjustable DC-DC Step Down Converters to choose from that are cheap and easy to use. See this quick vid for how to use one.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z0NUJXg66Wc

Some have a handy LED screen to check the voltage but this one I linked seems to have a better range, safeguards, heat sinks and higher current output http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/141138525550?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649

All you need to do now is plug the 12V AC adapter into the wall then into the motion sensor.  From the motion sensor output have positive and negative wires go into the input of the DC Step Down Converter and adjust the convertor output to 4.5V.  Then bring positive and negative wires from the output of the DC Step Down Converter to the Fling-AMA-String (Step 9) by touching the POSITIVE (+) RED lead to the flat coiled-up spring in the upper right hand corner of the Fling-AMA-String battery case.  Then touch the NEGATIVE (-) BLACK lead to the cone shaped spring in the lower left corner of the Fling-AMA-String battery case.

Now you should have one motion activated timed Fling-AMA-String.  I have being looking into this for the last week and am in the process of making mine so I will try to update this if I encounter any issues.  If you can see any problems with my idea then please tell us.
Shanti Mama (author)2010-06-09

Just found this. Any ideas on how to actually build the original toy? We don't have them where I live. My kitties would love this.

I see by your profile that you live in Kathmandu. I thought a place with a name like that would have everything for kitty-cats ;) Building a Fling-ama-String would be time/cost prohibitive, but with your suggestion, I'll now give it some thought ! For folks with access to UPS, these are, of course as all things, available through the internet. Just Google or check Amazon. Your kitty deserves this. By the way- we're still on same set of batteries since we published this Instructable.

My friends and i have made tshirts that say "Cat-women-do" but, unfortunately we don't have much for real kitties. Lately, we haven't even been able to buy cat food and mine are eating canned sardines. Sigh...

alleecmo (author)2009-09-14

My cats ADORE this toy, but my wallet hates the battery expense. Too, my emerging "green" sensitivities deplore the waste. Even my rechargeables can't keep up, as unit requires 3 while charger only does 2. Not an engineer but trying to think how to combine a wind-up flashlight with this toy for an Earth-$$$-cat-friendly experience. Ideas welcome... please?

Try using a battery replacement transformer instead. These are available at RadioShack, or check out my favorite source at www.sciplus.com You'll need a transformer with an output of 4-5 volts, DC. You can wire these to a timer, and they use very minimal electricity- and only when the timer has it turned on. Honestly, though, we've had a Fling-ama-String running on a set of three D Cells for about 6 months now- still going strong. I do have plans for a solar powered rotating mini disco ball- cats love it in the sunlight! (Wish I was so easily amused)

lebowski (author)2009-06-25

Too bad I don't have a cat!

hishealer (author)lebowski2009-07-10

Cats have ancestral memories and remember when they were worshipped as gods... Some still expect this and scream when we don't bow down.

You say, "Cats scream" when they don't get their due?

If it were only limited to screaming, oh how easy that would be!

Is this where the word Catterwauling came from? You know, when everything goes cattywampus... what a catastrophe.

I'll stop now.

You can't have a cat. They have you.

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