Instructables
Picture of Pet Feeder
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This is my digitally fabricated auger based pet food dispenser.  You simply load the pitcher with pet food and it is automatically pushed with the auger screw into the dish to feed your pet.  This has been tested to work with cat food and designed with a cat in mind.  Actually this is going to be a Christmas present for my sisters cat.  

In the past year I have been working to up my game when it comes to fabricating parts for my projects.  If you were to check out some of my older Instructables you would see most things I made were built with three basic tools, a drill, a saw of some sort and a dremel.  These tools serve me well but I had to limit my material choices and construction techniques to match the tools.  I was always designing parts around these limits and trying to source pre-made parts whenever possible.  I had some success with this but always thought it would be nice if I could make cuts a little straighter and make things with more complex geometry.

So during the end of 2011, I started working on a cnc router.  I finished it in Febuary 2012 and posted all the plans for it here on Instructables  DIY CNC Router  It has been an awesome tool and I have used it many times.  I've made things for my aunt, my sister, my cousin's eagle scout project and a fishing poll rack for my Dad.  Around the same time I was finishing up the router, MakerBot released the Replicator and I got caught up in all the hype of 3d printing.  I poured myself into this new subculture I found on the internet and I when I emerged from my fasination with these cnc hot glue guns I decided to buy my own 3d printer.  There are many DIY level 3d printers available but the one I decided to get was an M2 from MakerGear.   It is my opinion that this printer has the highest quality components and uses the best manufacturing techniques of any DIY level 3d printer currently available.

So now that I have a CNC router and a 3d printer I decided to work on a project specifically geared toward using these tools to take advantage of their capabilities.  The pet feeder is that project and in this instructable I will to explain how I used the machines to create some unique parts.

This design for an auger screw based kibble dispenser was inspired by Tunell and kitlaan of Thingiverse but I created all of my own 3d models for this design.  I have uploaded the design files to Thingiverse as well Pet Feeder Thingiverse #34100  
            
 
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Prodigal10 months ago
I am in the assembly phase and immediately ran into two problems. First, I set the CNC router to cut the holes in the wood on the inside of the line. When, I tried to put the PVC into the holes, I discovered that the PVC was slightly bigger than the hole. So, I had to use a Dremel sanding bit to make the holes a wee bit bigger. Should I have made the cut on the line instead of inside of it?

Second, the augur is almost exactly 2" in diameter. It fits into the first few inches of the PVC, but then stops when it hits the raised part that is meant to stop other PVC piping from going all the way through the T. I noticed in your pictures that your PVC also has that raised part. How did you get around this issue? Print the augur smaller? File the inside of the T to remove the raised part? File down the outside of the augur to fit?

Thanks for the help.
dbc1218 (author)  Prodigal9 months ago
Yeah, I had to do some fitting of all the pieces. I sized all the parts to fit the exact PVC Tee I had but yours is probably different. The manufactures of the T's don't make the exact same T even though it has the same use. I had to sand down the outside of the auger to get mine to fit well. You did right by cutting to the inside of the circle on the dxf, hopefully only a small amount of sanding was needed.

When your done be sure to post some pictures!
Prodigal dbc12189 months ago
I'm really glad you replied. I was worried I did something wrong.

Making the hole in the wood was easy. The auger is a bit more challenging.

I'll definitely post pictures when the whole thing is done. In the meantime, here is a link to the progress posts on my blog: http://beckermaker.blogspot.com/search/label/Pet%20Food%20Dispenser
ALALAK1 year ago
Why not old mincer without knifes feeded through timer?
DayBowBow1 year ago
Did you ever find how how to control your servo. If so, are you going to expand you instructable?
dbc1218 (author)  DayBowBow1 year ago
Controlling the servo is easy with microcontroller such as an Arduino or Basic Stamp. I have already done this and it works well. The question is deciding how and why the food will be dispensed, a simple timer, a button, an app? I've left that up to you, I've provided the functional feeder it’s up to you to decide how to use it.

I'm actually thinking I may change the whole design of the feeder to be more 3d printer friendly and incorporate a very simple set of electronics for control. Don’t know when I’ll do it though.
steve62211 year ago
WOW I'M IMPRESSED
Keep me posed would like to buy one from you
Steve
freman1 year ago
Can you tell me the printed length of the auger, I have a portabee, it's a little limited on print bed dimensions.
dbc1218 (author)  freman1 year ago
The auger is 124mm long overall. I'll add dimensions to the descriptions so people know if they can make the parts on their printer or not. Also, if you download netfab studio basic you can easily measure and get size and volume specs on any stl file
freman dbc12181 year ago
Thanks for the tip - still new to 3d printing (am still calibrating and modding)

I'll have to find a way to knock 5mm off or print it diagonally...

(side note, this comment system is arse, the captcha doesn't work properly when you hit the reply button...)
Greetings, The cat'll go loopey trying to dig to the fresh food - which cats of all sizes much prefer. Yup.
dbc1218 (author)  snoopindaweb1 year ago
Your right cats are picky about the freshness which is why I haven't decided the best way to control the feeder. I don't think a timer is the best solution and coming up with something better is going to take some effort. Any suggestions?
mcsper dbc12181 year ago
a little outside of the box, but if you don't want to use a timer you could make an app on your phone that could schedule and/or have a feed button and alert you when the food is low. similar but alternative would be a console mounted somewhere in your house with a feed button so you can remotely feed and check levels
I'd say no worries at all about freshness, though it could just be my declasse cat's lack of refinement...after all, I buy 25lb-bags of kibble from the warehouse club (Costco) that take my cat months to eat, doled out in 1/4C increments, so "fresh" just doesn't enter the dinner conversation.

I bought a commercial version of this that's got some near-fatal flaws - I think your auger feeder is the way to go. The commercial version has overly-flexible paddlewheel-configured 'fingers' on a gear with just four quadrants, and cats that are smarter than mine are apparently known to reach up in there after more kibble and be rewarded - and it's all downhill from there. I originally bought it to keep Squeakers fed while I was off traveling for a month (don't worry, neighbors were alerted to check every so often & notice if she came begging - she also had an automatic waterer of my own construction)... but that was three years ago now, and both feeder and waterer are working still.

In kitty-psychology terms, I like removing myself (to an extent) as the entity that feeds. My cat's a terrible beggar, and I found out when I got her as an adult that she will gorge herself into obesity if given the opportunity. The auto-feeder gets mad props for regulating her intake (2x1/4C per day) and getting her weight down to where it should be - and she doesn't go after me or the wife nearly as much for snacks, since we are not often associated with "that weird thing that spills out food twice a day."

That is excellent. I haven't had a cat for years but when I did I overfed them - I see now. It would sort thru the bowl then pick up the peices It wanted off the floor. Usually I'd wait till the bowl was about used up before refilling. You got great advice there. I really get a kick out of Those that put 2 + 2 together and figure out how to "Beat the System".! Thank You. G-G
A bit of "Catnip".? Har.! I think what You've got going will be great for times People can't be there to feed them. Yup.
eissaselem1 year ago
It's a beautiful invention and gorgeous, but it is very difficult
Mig Welder1 year ago
Excellent 'ible! Not so accessible but I now have access to a 3D printer so I might just try it out!
Might I suggest some kind f arduino to control it?
My youngest sister has a cat-sized dog so the size should be fine without having to worry about "freshness" :P
poofrabbit1 year ago
Congratulations on being a winner in the digital fabrication contest!
dbc1218 (author)  poofrabbit1 year ago
Thanks, maybe I'll get some more filament for the printer
fabelizer1 year ago
Awesome! After visiting Instructables for about 2 years now I was compelled to comment on this project! It is awesome, and I hope the feeder works as you want it to. The 3D printer does impressive work, and the CNC router is pretty nice too. Thanks for sharing your project, and I wish you many more! -fab
dbc1218 (author)  fabelizer1 year ago
Well I hope it may also compel you post an instructable of your own, two years is a long time to just lurk. thanks for the compliments
actimm1 year ago
As a person who uses a CNC milling machine regularly, my suggestion is that you plan out the cuts, rather than just say, "Here's the part, cut it out." A lot of the work in our programming department is in planning the machining order. If I were to run your current design, I would start with the slot between the parts, then go to the inside circles, then finish everything BUT the opposite edges. Then, lastly, finish the remaining edges. The code images look like an autistic person's drawing because it jumps around from feature to feature, but it makes for parts that are much less likely to jam up the way you describe and still saves on material. I would also recommend tabbing the material that is to be cut out. It is a lot easier to hand sand a 0.5 x 0.025 tab than to sand out the marks where the tool gouged the part.
dbc1218 (author)  actimm1 year ago
Your order of cuts would work much better and I'll keep that in mind for the future. It should be easy to do with CAMBAM. I did leave tabs, so I don't know exactly why the part broke.  The final pass depth may have been off.  As far as the tooling marks left from the jam, I'm leaving on the wood, no sanding.  It just be a reminder to set things up well and my sister's cat won't care. 
I recently discovered an auger in a toner disposal container from a copy machine at work - an empty, surplus one, mind. That, combined with a defunct blender, might do the trick... It's going on my list...
Seems a bit over-engineered, but I like it. :)
My first thought was, where does one get a great auger assembly like that? Ah, make it yourself! Nice work!