Introduction: Remote Control Cat Harness

Picture of Remote Control Cat Harness

Yes, you read the title correctly. Don't worry, no cats were harmed in the making of this project. Cats are fun in their own right, but this is 2014! Isn't it about time we brought cats into the modern era? And by bring into the modern era, I mean combine with lasers. In this Instructable I'll show you how to turn an off-the-shelf RC toy and a laser pointer into a wacky way to accessorize your feline friend for hours of fun.

Step 1: Parts and Supplies

Picture of Parts and Supplies

RC helicopter (RadioShack #: 60-958)

laser pointer (RadioShack #: 63-1064)

micro servo (RadioShack #: 273-765)

NPN Transistor (RadioShack #: 276-2016)

1 K ohm Resistor (RadioShack #: 271-1321)

AAA battery holder (RadioShack #: 270-398)

(2x) AAA battery (RadioShack #: 23-2214)

(6x) AA battery (RadioShack #: 23-2212)

cat harness

thread

live cat

Step 2: Modifying the RC Toy

Picture of Modifying the RC Toy

First we'll need to take apart the helicopter to get the electronics . We wont be using the built in motors, but we will be using the IR receiver and main circuit to control our servo and the laser light.

Once we disassemble the helicopter, it won't be readily repairable, so take a few moments to fly it around and crash it to your heart's content. We don't need the propellers anyhow.

The toy helicopter is held together with a ton of tiny little screws. We'll need to remove all of them to get to the heart of the toy inside. Using a small phillips head screw driver, go to town on the toy and remove any visible screws and pull apart the now loosened plastic bits. Feel free to hack away at the little helicopter since we don't need any of the components except for the main PCB. Out of curiosity I decided to try to disassemble it as much as possible without resorting to cutting or breaking anything. Amazingly, most of the toy is held together without any glue or tiny heat welds, which is quite impressive! Safely remove the PCB once it is free from the body and snip the wires to the motors, light, and battery. Feel free to use them to make the world's smallest personal fan, or perhaps upgrade a paper airplane to a powered version.

Step 3: Modifying the Micro Servo

Picture of Modifying the Micro Servo

First, peel off the stickers along the servo case.

Using a small screwdriver, remove the tiny screws at the base.

Pull out the driver board. Clip the two wires leading to the motor off and set the driver board aside.

Cut a length of the original servo wires and strip the ends.

Solder the new wires to the motor so it will extend outside of the case.

Replace the base of the servo and tighten the screws.

Having printed the micro servo mount, threat the wires through the hole near the base.(The .STL file is attached)

Press the micro servo firmly down into the mount.

We'll be driving the servo motor with the rc toy's electronics, so we wont be needing the servo control board.

Step 4: Modify Laser Pointer

Picture of Modify Laser Pointer

The full laser pointer is far to bulky to mount to our wee servo, so we'll need to remove the diode and driver from the body tube.The diode module is held firmly in place by friction at the tip, so we'll need to pull it out. I ended up using a vise and pliers to pull the pointer apart.

Once the diode is free, clip off the the spring attached at the end. The spring metal is quite hard, so use some heftier snips to clip it off. I nearly ruined my regular flush cutters, so be warned!

Solder two lengths of wire to the module. Looking at the top of the board, the anode is located at the middle contact of the diode and the cathode should attach where the spring is soldered to the board.

Solder to both ends of the the button with a tiny length of wire. This way the module is permanently "on" when powered by the RC electronics.

Step 5: Solder Electronics

Picture of Solder Electronics

Time for the real modifications! The original battery that powered the heli was rechargeable, but quite small. In addition, the laser driver runs off of ~3 volts. The original LiPo would give 4.2 volts down to 2.7 volts, which could potentially damage the driver. The servomotor originally required 4.5 to 6 volts, but the bare motor will run at much lower voltages, so it will be ok. With all of this in mind, we can safely assume a nice 3 volt average will run everything quite nicely. With two AAA batteries, we'll get the power we need and an increased run time to boot. Just be sure to use regular non-rechargeable batteries (rechargeable batteries wont give us enough voltage, and we still wouldn't be able to use the built in charging circuit)!

Solder the connections for the battery pack to the B+ and B- pads on the main PCB.

Solder the anode (red) wire from the laser to the B+ pin.

Solder the cathode (black) wire from the laser to the collector of the transistor (the leftmost pin when looking at the flat side).

Solder the 1K resistor from the L+ pad to the base of the transistor (the middle pin).

Solder the emitter pin of the transistor (the rightmost pin when looking at the flat side) to the L- pad.

Solder the motor wires to the M+ and M- pads respectively. The polarity doesn't matter for this connection, since we can just flip the servo horn to match the movement we want.

Step 6: Mounting the Electronics

Picture of Mounting the Electronics

I created three separate mounts for the electronics to make everything easily and firmly sewn to the harness. I designed the parts in Autodesk Fusion 360 and printed them out of PLA on an Afinia 3D Printer. Download the attached .stl files and print them out. The battery pack should snap into place, but the RC PCB will require a dab of glue to remain secure in it's mount.

Step 7: Prepare Cat

Picture of Prepare Cat

Depending on your patience level, this step can either take two minutes or two weeks. The instructions that came with the harness strongly suggest familiarizing your cat with wearing the harness for a couple weeks. This includes keeping the harness where your cat tends to sleep, in addition to taking the cat out for walks with it on. I opted to skip this step, but it should aid in your cat's attitude towards wearing it!

Attach the assembled unit to your cat. (Your cat may enter into a trance-like state of awe upon being upgraded. This is normal)

Step 8: Have Fun!

Picture of Have Fun!

Now that you've got a fully upgraded cat, enjoy piloting it around your living room!

Possible upgrades:

More lasers! Enough said.

Full Pan/Tilt motorization for more precise positioning.

Dog-mounted lasers? Heck, why not add lasers to all your pets! (Bonus points for aquatic friends)

Comments

nflpanthersfan (author)2017-03-17

haha

DinoD12 (author)2016-07-10

it's a great build but..... if I put even a body harness (thin straps) all my cat will do is lie down & stay there, you can hook a leash to him & drag him about.

pr0cesor (author)2016-05-03

Cuuuuuutiiiies <33333

MarcusAvery (author)2015-11-23

Where did you get the corrugated cat?

gizmologist (author)2015-05-23

Get 'em, fluffy! Kill!

(But why does my car stereo have a remote control when it's already within reach? Anybody?)

brianchadorourke (author)2014-12-14

Remote sensors on my cat and I'll know what's going on in the neighborhood. Nice instructable.

.

taur561 (author)2014-07-18

Seriously! And if the cat decided to go walkabout wearing this upgrade , you would have dozens of reports coming in about a cat wearing a bomb . Who knows ... Maybe "Fluffy" won't even come home after the anti terrorist bomb squad have had a go ! Otherwise an interesting project . Maybe mount a camera and send agent 008 on a spying mission ?

Ireek RN (author)taur5612014-12-10

Haha, you've made my day! Best comment so far :)

Endercreeper (author)2014-10-09

Cool!

LesB (author)2014-07-15

The specs on the laser pointer state "Danger - Laser Light. Avoid direct eye exposure." Considering that people can be stupider than chickens I think wise to re-state that caution here.

Cats are very quick and agile, and one has to be very careful when operating this to avoid anyone being laser-eyed. If you operate this outside and the cat points it up at an aircraft I think it would be the operator and not the cat who would end up pounding rocks in federal prison.

I'm sure kids would just love this controler, but I'd think they should be closely supervised when using it.

TheeObskure (author)LesB2014-09-12

growing up in the early 80s, we had a HeNe gas laser that had a nominal output of 5mW, younger me loved it, the cats loved it, and not a one of us ever had any eye damage from it.

that power level, with that wavelength will leave after images AND if you look into it long enough, it WILL cause your retina to bleach temporarily (everything goes black and white in that eye until the rhodopsin has a chance to relax back to its normal state. it sounds major and feels incredibly weird, but it didn't have a permanent effect on my eye); from long experience with both cats and lasers of various power levels and wavelengths, I can safely say that the primary concern is being aware of where you are guiding your photonically enhanced kitteh.

ridalyn (author)LesB2014-09-01

For about 5 bucks you can get a pet safe laser toy at Pet Smart. Still has the "avoid prolonged eye exposure" warning, but seriously, a cat won't do ANYTHING prolonged, let alone something uncomfortable like staring at a laser beam. This is a toy that promotes a little activity and would be beneficial for an otherwise sedentary feline companion.

ardrhi (author)LesB2014-07-17

A standard laser pointer isn't all that powerful. 5mw isn't enough to damage your eye except by prolonged staring into it. It CAN make afterimages that take a long time to go away, so reasonable caution is indicated, but paranoid avoidance of a 5mw beam is goofy. If the cat sweeps you with the beam, don't panic and flail about as if you've just been sliced by a lightsaber, trust me, you'll live. What you should NOT do is arm your BorgKitty(tm) with a high-powered 1-2W laser module capable of lighting things on fire and blinding people in a split second. That would be an irresponsible arming of a cat, which already is secretly planning to murder you in your sleep, with a destructive device.

This is covered under the Geneva Convention under "arming of felines with weapons of mass destruction". Don't do it, you'll be saving the world if you don't. Further information on this topic is available in this infographic: http://theoatmeal.com/misc/frame/cat_kill

LesB (author)ardrhi2014-07-17

Well I'm relieved that these pointers are not so dangerous. I would make one for my cat, but this particular purrball is bored with laser dots. Go figure.

lunakid (author)ardrhi2014-07-17

OMG, "Like!" Thanks! :) I'll let our fellow catizens know their conspiracy is futile. They can only have RFID, not the laser cannon.

omega_entity (author)LesB2014-07-17

As ardrhi says, a regular laser pointer is usually not harmful for the eyes unless you purposely stare into it for an extended duration..

As to your second warning, you're lucky if a standard laser pointer dot makes it to 20 feet, let alone 20,000. So realistically, a laser pointer pointed at a plane in the sky really wouldn't do a thing. Well, other than make the person pointing it up there look a bit silly.

genalyn (author)2014-08-28

looks like the jaeger bomber cat outfit on top pic.

One question, why would you do this? Seems weird although the cat is unfazed. Mine is semi feral and can't even get a collar on him

Victor805 (author)2014-07-28

LOL! Very clever! I've heard they tried something similar with sharks using electric impulses instead.

rfelty (author)2014-07-23

Is there no Home Automation contest for this to win!?!

Dr. dB (author)2014-07-21

We don't have a remote-control cat. Will this work on our regular model...?

this is truly ingenious!

Kweek (author)2014-07-18

So add a treat dispenser and you'll give it the satisfaction of a catch and you'll appease all the cat sympathizers too. x

lifeinbeats (author)2014-07-18

Here you go, I found my contribution. I'll just take out the part about not thouroughly enjoying Radioshack.

Having the laser on a remote control that moves up and down is pretty limiting. Especially since the cat will usually point it's body the direction it's looking. This pretty much negates the need for "down" and "rear" positions on the motor. Even though the cat can see the laser in the "up" position, it's not likely to chase it considering it can't reach it. So some variation on "forward" seems logical.

Being that you have to work the remote control yourself, why not just get a laser pointer? I don't know enough about electronics speak intelligibly about this, but it seems like if you were able to put some sort of servo on the motor to randomly move the laser pointer aimed a foot or two in front of the cat, with a spread of about a foot or two, you could leave the cat to play by itself. When the cat started chasing the dot, the dot would invariably "run away" from the cat. A la carrot on a stick. And since the spread of the motor would allow for the dot to get close enough to the cat, he/she would sometimes be able to "catch" it, bringing further satisfaction to the game.

Not sure how much of this one can do in a hobby-like capacity, but the randomness of the laser could be tuned to act like prey. I.e. moving in fast spurts and then stopping. Then creeping a bit, then stopping again, etc. Playing with cats, you come to realize that their instincts tune their appreciation to catching things that act like a mouse or a lizard or bird might. When you start flinging things at them non-stop, like I've seen many people do that don't really care to learn, they get bored pretty quickly. Or at least that's been my experience.

Lastly, going back to the harness, if you could figure out how to make this small and light enough, it could clip onto the collar of a cat. Some sway from the collar is to be expected, but I think that could just add to the randomness of the laser motion, making it even less predictable.

Gairuntee (author)2014-07-18

Good documentation. Good instructions. however, I feel bad for those cats. laser pointer toys drive cats crazy with frustration because they are all chase and zero catch. Add a harness to the equation and you have a torture device. It's like you're just begging for poop on your pillow.

And?

okedoke (author)2014-07-18

Good Catstuff....but I need an idea for a cheap device to attach to kitty collar that would emit a beeping signal every 15 seconds, or a device that would emit a beep when a remote control is activated....anyone?

foobear (author)2014-07-17

I agree. Your cats facial expressions say it all. They are not happy. They are not monkeys and don't enjoy being harnessed in any way. Respect your cats and let them be.

Scott Lawson (author)foobear2014-07-18

So it would be ok to harness a monkey with a laser vest?

I'm just asking.......

foobear (author)Scott Lawson2014-07-18

No.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4EBIKd3nk

oilitright (author)2014-07-17

As I read this instructable I questioned the wisdom of doing this to a cat and was concerned that anyone would actually torment a cat in this manner. As I read further I thought that there would be some comments from outraged feline fanciers but in fact the negative responses were fairly mild. In an effort to stay within the PC 'Be Nice' comment policy I cannot even begin to express my opinion of this idea.

owenbrau (author)oilitright2014-07-18

It's just a new way to play with a cat and a laser pointer. Mine go nuts chasing the Evil Red Dot, and it's good exercise. Far from "tormenting" them, it is play to them. Never forget, your cute little moggie is, deep in his heart, a psychotic killer of small vermin.

owenbrau (author)2014-07-18

How about a mode where the laser moves randomly, instead of being controlled?

fred3655 (author)2014-07-18

Great job! Finally, someone found a use for a cat.

HappyToBeAlive (author)2014-07-18

you have a VERY placid cat! My old cat Buffy would have taken a finger off if you tried to put a harness on him! He used to chase and terrorise Dogs!

isabella123 (author)2014-07-17

Okay, I'll be the one to say it: you've done a lot of work, you tried hard, and I admit that your cats don't look unhappy or abused. But this instructable should be removed so it doesn't (however unintentionally) encourage a lesser life form to use it to harass or torture a cat or dog.

Also, mixing lasers and pets is not a good idea for obvious (and not so obvious) reasons.

Here's a question: you would do this to your cats but would you do it to your kids?

Scott Lawson (author)isabella1232014-07-18

Funny that you asked this question. Everyone in my family is allergic to cats. However, I loved this instructable so much that I made three of them to fit my three kids. After an hour of running around like crazy they ended up plopping onto the ground for a two hour nap.

Istarian (author)isabella1232014-07-17

Ok, seriously? You're being a little ridiculous. Cats and Dogs are pets, not kids, no matter what the law should decide in the future.

I agree that you shouldn't use this to actually move your cat around the house all the time, but a couple hours of use is no worse than playing with your cat using a laser pointer like lots of people do all the time. Although, you probably should take that harness of as it might be fairly uncomfortable, particularly when the animal is not standing upright. It's not torture; It's not intended to harm the animal and probably won't in fact. Although it might be a tad unfair and it would be best if you were physically present. I would not at all advocate to control such a thing remotely via the internet (ex. from another room or while not at home). An animal that is tired of playing will simply give up and refuse to do anything.

illyria3640 (author)2014-07-17

Okay, I'm going to be "that person". While a clever concept, please don't actually equip your cat with a laser pointer. Using a laser pointer to play with your cat can cause extreme frustration for your feline friend. Cats need the satisfaction of catching and feeling their "prey" which a laser pointer cannot provide. However, if you do want to use a laser pointer (let's be honest its pretty funny to watch them go after it), try aiming the light onto a toy that they can pounce on and have the satisfaction of catching the prey. Just a suggestion!

Scott Lawson (author)illyria36402014-07-18

Wow, you made this sound just like me (in my younger days) when I would go to a bar. Enough said, we have all been there and just wanted the satisfaction of catching and ..........

Istarian (author)illyria36402014-07-17

While I realize that there is some degree of instinctual need for accomplishment, it's not going to hurt your cat that much and, would, in any case, be far less of a concern if your cat normally goes outside and chases things (rodents, rabbits, lizards, etc). -- Additionally, as a species, we have long domesticated wolves to dogs and wildcats into cats to the point where they hardly behave in any way like a wild animal. Sure, they still have instincts and are still cats with the requisite teeth and claws, but they do not fear humans, do not have to hunt for food, and actually want to be held and pet. Sure, there are probably regular exceptions, but on the whole there's a reason they are called domestic cats or house cats.

Sometimes they hurt us, intentionally, or, by accident, but they aren't going to realize without experience that we aren't as durable as them (a claw in the jugular could mean bleeding to death for us and a puncture wound could lead to a potentially fatal infection). Given that cats fight each other sometimes, it seems likely that they generally aren't killed by puncture wounds and that even having an ear ripped off is often survivable. SYes, they have needs, but this won't harm them any more than keeping a cat that desperately wishes for the outside as an inside cat. No domestic cat truly needs to learn how to hunt (or at least it shouldn't need to -- if it does, maybe it's owner isn't taking care of it) and what you are describing is mostly important for mastering the art of hunting.

amoliski (author)illyria36402014-07-17

If it's so frustrating, why does my friend's cat come running from anywhere in the house when it hears the laser pointer being picked up- it hears the metal chain on the back of the pointer and comes sprinting in at full speed.

You just gotta turn it off when they pounce on it so they think they got it.

Scott Lawson (author)2014-07-18

Bla Bla Bla

vbanaszak (author)2014-07-17

The look on the cats faces say they will kill you in your sleep for this indignity.

iamuke (author)2014-07-17

Cats. With Freakin' lasers! I need to go accessorize the Orange Puss.

Cool instructable, but I agree with the other comment-- Laser until your sides hurt, but then give Puss something she can sink her teeth into to wrap it up.

hammer9876 (author)2014-07-17

I agree that you've done a lot of work on this, but it would have been nice to see a video of a cat in action, rather than a bunch of photos of cats.

PaulaP2 (author)2014-07-17

If you incorporate Ill-tempered sea bass you might just have something :)

smoore117 (author)2014-07-17

Cats with frickin lasers!!!!

BetsyFartBlossom (author)2014-07-17

You can't force a cat to wear anything, they will just roll over or walk around all squished down and look pathetic. They are great actors:) And, since the laser is behind the cats' head, it would have to have lizard eyes to get the laser in it's eyes. As for them being here for our amusement, well, they are, a little bit, just as we are here for theirs. My cats love lasers, clothes, collars with bells and tummy rubs, but only 4. After that, it's war! Just be kind to your kitties, watch to see what annoys them and then don't do that. FYI This doesn't work both ways, however. Kitties are sweet and kind mostly, love them.

longwinters (author)2014-07-17

great idea, I've got a turtle with too much time on his hands, good luck reading all the posts from the do good-ers.

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Bio: My name is DJ and I previously made electronic whatsits, 3D-printed thingamabobs, and laser-cut kajiggers for the Instructables Design Studio; now I build and repair ... More »
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