Introduction: Remote Control Cage Trap

Picture of Remote Control Cage Trap

This Instructable will show you how to make a cage trap that can be remotely activated. This is ideal for people who practice trap-neuter-release (TNR) to control feral cat populations.

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Feral cat colonies are groups of wild, undomesticated cats. Some feral cats and their colonies are a nuisance to restaurants or other businesses. For this reason, some colonies are killed or trapped and euthanized. This is inhumane. TNR is a humane and effective way to control feral cat populations while allowing the cats to live out their lives.

However it can be difficult to efficiently trap every cat in a colony for spaying and neutering - sometimes the process takes months. One of the obstacles is trapping unwanted cats or other animals, which is not uncommon. A traditional plate-trigger cage trap offers no control over which animals are trapped. To overcome this, introduce the R/C Cage Trap, which allows the user to activate the trap only when the right cat enters:

Step 1: Materials and First Step

Picture of Materials and First Step

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To make the R/C Cage Trap, you'll need:
A cage trap with plate-trigger
R/C car with steering
Stiff wire
Cable ties
Common household tools
Dremel or drill (optional)

Garage sales are a great way to find a cheap R/C car. I searched for two weeks and didn't find one, so I bought one at Target that was on sale, and it came with a 10% discount for having absolutely useless drive wheels. I sometimes see cage traps at yard sales as well.

The first step is to carefully take apart the R/C car and extract the circuitry and the servo motor that controls the steering. My car was cheap and, after undoing a few screws, I was able to take everything apart by hand. A Dremel could be invaluable for this step. Be sure to maintain the integrity of the circuits and the steering mechanism. Save everything else for other awesome projects :)

Step 2: Attach the Circuitry and Trigger

Picture of Attach the Circuitry and Trigger

First I did what I could to protect the electronics by reattaching a flimsy black cover that came with the car (Pic 1). Mine slipped into place well enough, but I'd consider hot gluing it. Then I drilled holes into the circuitry/battery case (Pic 2). This will make it easier to tie it to the trap. Next I estimated where the trigger would need to be and attached the circuitry/batteries to the cage with cable ties (Pic 3).

Next comes the steering mechanism (trigger). I spaced the trigger far enough away from the trap door so it wouldn't interfere with the door closing, but otherwise the placement isn't crucial. My steering mechanism's motor fit nicely between the cage bars (Pic 4), which means that it won't budge easily. This will help ensure that the trap is consistant and reliable; the trigger must be completely stationary. Then I snugged it in place with several 12" cable ties (Pic 5). Make sure they're nice and tight, but avoid cracking the plastic casing.

Try it out! Make sure the steering mechanism can shift left and right when you use the remote control.

Step 3: Modify the Latch

Picture of Modify the Latch
The next thing I did was modify the latch. Normally, when a cat steps on the plate-trigger (Pic1), a metal rod is pulled which undoes the latch and sends the cage door slamming down (Pic 2). You'll need to deactivate the plate by detaching the metal rod that connects the plate-trigger to the latch (Pic 3).

Next, you'll need to make your own rod to attach the steering mechanism (the new trigger) to the latch. I found a stiff piece of wire and bent it into a hook (Pic 4) and then attached it to the latch (Pic 5).

Finally, the last step, and possibly the most crucial aspect, is attaching the rod to the new trigger (Pic 6). The steering mechanism for your car may be different from mine, so I cannot give any specific instructions. However, I can offer this advice:
  • When adjusting the trigger sensitivity, I found that lengthening/shortening the rod was the easiest way.
  • You can adjust the sensitivity further by bending the latch hook (Pic 5).
  • When the trap is set, the trigger/steering mechanism should be pulled taught toward the trap's door.
  • You may also want to slightly bend the rod away from the cage so it doesn't rub against it when the trigger is activated.

Step 4: Make It Better

Picture of Make It Better

I feared that the R/C car I used would have poor range, so I wanted to maximize the distance of the user from the trap. To that end, I used some more stiff wire to hold up the floppy antenna. But I didn't want to attach it in a way so that it would always be sticking up all of the time, so I simply cut a groove into the side of the circuitry box that snugly holds my new antenna, but could be laid down when not in use.

What else would make this trap more effective or easier to make?

Step 5: Test It Again and Again

Picture of Test It Again and Again

Yay, it's done!

Be sure to test the trap thoroughly before bringing it to the field. Try giving the trap a firm nudge - if the latch is too sensitive it may release when the cage is rocked, which is undesirable. You can avoid this by placing the trap on a sturdy and level surface, or by desensitizing the trigger.

I hope this Instructable will help many people efficiently perform TNR to humanely control feral cat populations. If you make one of these, please consider posting photos or a story of what you were able to accomplish.

Thanks, and happy trapping!

Comments

MandyW33 (author)2016-12-21

I like idea, I use for my snake trap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6D2ioYnNyQ

electric guy (author)2016-02-26

this idea was made by a genius and build like a magician great job luv it

hyoung (author)2015-06-29

This is a great idea cause raccoons are extremely smart and learn bout the trip plate.they reach and step over it.i so love this idea.

hyoung (author)2015-06-29

This is a great idea cause raccoons are extremely smart and learn bout the trip plate.they reach and step over it.i so love this idea.

hyoung (author)2015-06-29

What scale rc car did you use for the electronics?

jamesbunnjr (author)2013-03-20

Those parts are from a New Bright vehicle. They are cheap and modular which makes them great for project parts!

jbrown47 (author)2012-06-29

I don't get it. regular trip plates work great (atleast for the wild boar cages I'm familiar with) . Whats the advantage of having it RC'd? If you just did it to do, thats cool. I think i'd much rather have a normal trip mechanism if i were trying to trap something though.

LanceMakes (author)jbrown472012-06-29

Yes, plate triggers work just fine if you're not concerned about what walks into the trap. For people who practice trap-neuter-release, they may want to capture a specific cat, not just the first one that walks into the trap.

Or perhaps you want to trap a whole litter of kittens. In this case, an RC trap allows you to wait while all of the kitten file into the trap before closing the door. The RC trap has a very specific application.

jbrown47 (author)LanceMakes2012-06-30

I understand now. Great job then!

Wazzupdoc (author)2012-06-29

TNR is a beauiful, feel-good excersize. Unfortunately, the now-sterile cats still eat the song birds in the neighborhood. This is why I adopted and keep my 2 sterile cats indoors. They'd love to get out, but my bird population is doing pretty well, in spite of the neighbor's free-roamers. My chickens are a little less stressed as well, which means more eggy-goodness for the family and the neighbors.

csherrit (author)2012-06-28

this is great - we were just watching last night a coon go into our trap and thought , why not remote control this thing instead of waiting for the sneak to trip it ? And to boot we are also in need of catching a couple ferals to do just that.. TNR. What timing , I guess I'll have to do the mod.

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Bio: I'm a writer, maker, and educator who's on a mission to better the world through hands-on engineering projects. Pledge on Patreon.com/LanceMakes
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