Introduction: Turb'O'Croquettes - 3D Printed Interactive Cat Food Dispenser
This tutorial explain and describe how to make your own 3D Printed Interactive Cat Food Dispenser.
Two models are availables, tower and tower with bowl (3 versions).
My cat seems happy to have this tool, he uses it on average 3 to 4 times per meal, with each intake about 10 kibbles fall. Round kibbles are best for rolling on the slope but others falls good too.
Original tank represent 1 daily full bowl standard (around 50-75gr, depends on kibbles). At the last step, an extended cover file add 5cm height for more kibbles.
For the tutorial, I use some videos from other makers, multiple sources is better for understanding all the process.
There is 3D printing, soldering and hot glue project. A complete project that anyone can do.
Why glue gun? For maintenance is easy to remove.
Why 3D printed? Excellent finish, strong, customizable and reproductible. On shop when it's faulty, you have to change all the pieces, not mine.
How it's work:
The project is based with Pavlov method, also it use sound stimulus for conditioning your cat to perform an action. Here, we use the click of a limit switch for feed a cat. It take two days with non intensive training.
When the cat understand the food relation with button click, we can automate the process with a microcontroller.
In practice, the cat presses a button which is connected to a servo-motor, opens a door and drops food by the effect of the weight.
I recommend using it in addition to a pre-existing food bowl. Pet safe is primary.
Project sponsored by Elegoo Company. Elegoo send me two kits for help beginners and confirmated users to make interresting things by Instructables.
For the price, most expensive thing is the plastic filament. I used PLA (acid polylactic vegetal) and his price it around 20$/kg for a good one (cheap for 10$). I use around 600gr, also plastic cost is 12$. Arduino board clone is around 2$, servo motor 1$ and switch 1$. Total cost, between 15-20$.
In abstract, if you have the gears, you could make your own for a little price. In the trade those which exist cost around 60$.
Dimensions (l x L x h):
Tower without bowl: 8cm x 8cm x 21cm
Tower with bowl standard (bowl3): 18cm x 12cm x 21cm
Tower extended with bowl standard (bowl3): 18cm x 12cm x 26cm
For button, all rights reserved for Heliox creation. Her work protected by CC BY NC ND licence. At the last step, you could find my own button, use the second one, it is not bad too.
For this dispenser, please don't sell it. It's my own creation. You could build your own, but for creativity respect Copyright.
Support my work, buy my files for 3€ here: https://cults3d.com/fr/mod%C3%A8le-3d/maison/inter...
Step 1: Required Equipment
For make your cat dispenser you need:
- 3D printer and filament. Recommend to buy 1mm nozzle for increase speed of printing. Doesn't required high precision.
- Soldering iron. Basic tool work fine.
- Crimping tool and 2.54mm accesories.
- Glue gun.
As the pictures, it's my own equipment.
Recommend Yotec 967 for soldering station, professionnal quality with home station.
3D printer is an Anet A6. Recommend Ender 3 V2 for cheap and good printer. Look at the list. Printable max dimension of my own are 22cm x 22cm x 25cm.
Glue gun is standard like crimping tool.
For transparent tank:
- Hot wire bender DIY
Step 2: Part List
You need to buy the essential components of the system:
- Arduino Microcontroller board. Pro Micro or Nano or others clone. Tiny board as well.
- Limit switch. This kind of switch.
- USB cable. Old cable is better, we have to cut it and separate two wires.
If you want transparent tank:
- Acrylic sheet 26.8 cm lenght, thickness 1mm recommend.
Step 3: Electronics Wiring
Consist to connect servo-motor SG90 with the Arduino Nano microcontroller.
It composed by three wires, orange for data, red for voltage and black for ground.
It is necessary to undo the original three-point connector to make three separate wires. Use pliers to press the tab to remove the wire from the support without break the original connector.
When it's done, place the Red wire to Vcc pin of Arduino, the Black or Brown wire to Gnd of Arduino and the Orange to the pin 6.
For the switch, strip a usb cable and tin two wires, solder one wire to the normally open position and another to the common one. On the other side of the wires, use the crimping pliers and place two single 2.54mm female connectors. Place them on pins 2 and 3 of the arduino board.
For crimping tools beginner look at this:
For striping usb cable beginner:
For tin wire:
Step 4: Software and Programmation
Install the Arduino Software on a computer: https://www.arduino.cc/en/software
For tutorial: https://www.arduino.cc/en/main/howto
Servo.h is include with Arduino IDE.
For beginner look at this:
Connect your arduino board to the computer, and upload the code to the board.
For beginner look at this:
Check the operation of the assembly, press the button and observe the movement of the motor.
For beginner look an example of rendering:
Step 5: 3D Parts Design Files
This part explains how the project was drawn and how the food falls in front of the cat.
Some parts have changed to adapt to daily use, the electronic part is more solid now.
It composed by 7 pieces:
- Base with the kibble slope
- Hood with hole (two versions, with chute, second clip-on version)
- Base cover connection (need 4 pieces on the corner or acrylic sheet for non clip-on version)
- Electronic base, with standard bowl, or without bowl
- Trapdoor food
- Engine cover (not mandatory but finish touch and protective cover)
Other file are in the last step!
Step 6: 3D Printed Parts
Now you have to print all the parts.
Recommendation: Base + Clipsable cover + Elec and bowl3 + Lid + Door2
Corners connection need to print 4 times if you print non clipsable cover version.
For the button I recommend the Heliox's one, to print this button, it's adapted for cat use https://cults3d.com/fr/mod%C3%A8le-3d/jeu/bouton-d...
Or look the last step "Go Further" for my own button version.
Her good work:
I recommend using a 1mm wide printing nozzle to shorten the printing time, the print quality here is not necessary.
To use a large nozzle, you will need to reduce your printing speed and increase the printing temperature. See the parameters in pictures.
Print in the position as the pictures don't required supports prints.
Print time with large nozzle is around 4 hours in total.
Step 7: 3D Assembly Parts
Assemble the button by clipping the different parts after insert the switch. Pass the cable on the hole.
Glue or screw the servo motor arm on the door.
For no cover engine: Place the door on the servo motor and use glue gun for stick it on the base print part. Align center of the servo motor axe to the middle of the trapdoor.
For cover engine: Glue the motor into the support and glue the wires along the chute. Then glue the support on the base so that the door is centered in relation to the kibble hole.
Put the Arduino board on the electronic base and put the wires as in the picture. Assemble the two parts together and fit the motor wires into the box. If you print bowl version, same operation requiring.
Insert the acrylic sheet or fittings into the spaces provided to assemble the cover and the base.
If you have printed clip-on cover, clip it into the fit, do not force, and fit each hook in the space provided.
Place the lid into the hole of the top cover.
I build my own extension using a piece of acrylic for the transparent tank, but you can fully 3D printed the unit. Extended with a piece of acrylic, 1mm height, lenght 26.8 cm, 6.7 cm for each side add several days of food. Use acrylic bender with an hot wire.
Step 8: Cat Formation
The most fun part is the training formation of the cat.
For mine, it take two days. Don't insist too much, take your time and show it slowly.
Take his paw and explain it how press the button. When the cat click on it, give it some food with your hands.
Training works best when the cat is hungry.
Step 9: Testing Time
Now it's time to test the system. Power the board and press the button.
Trapdoor goes up to down.
Time is short because too much food would fall otherwise.
Step 10: Establishment
Now it's time to install your interactive food cat dispenser at the good place.
The cat needs to access it easily. Near fountain of water is not bad.
Fill the kibble tank by removing the lid.
Now you can see your cat serving himself food when he is hungry.
This tool make the cat more independent and it will be able to feed itself when his main bowl is empty or if you are at work or telecommuting.
The pavlov method used as here is not harmful as it only serves the interests of the cat and not yours in the first place.
If food seems to be blocked, shake the dispenser, kibbles maybe are oversized. Kibble hole is big but with no round kibble, sometimes they put themselves in a bad position. Kick with two fingers on the base side near the kibble hole.
Step 11: For Further
I will add here some modifications:
- First improvement, I've made three versions of the bottom electonic part but they include a bowl, that increase stability and it's more practical. There is three versions, a large, a standard and a tiny. See pictures.
- Second thing, Idraw my own button, I try and it work Files button 1-4. Make choice. If Copyright blocked Heliox button, you could use this.
- Third, add a clipsable cover with 5 cm more height (for more kibble). See picture.
I recommend to use file bowl3 for the electronic and bowl part.
All could it print on a 22 x 22 x 25 cm 3D printer.
Large bowl diameter 8cm, standard diameter 6cm, tiny diameter 4cm. Adapted from the young age to the senior cat.
Post any idea for optimize the system.
Thank you for following and reading this tutorial. Hope you like it and help you take care of your pet. Obesity for pet is a serious challenge.
I keep my eyes open for support you during your own production.
Keep in mind don't sell it.
If you want help me to create more things, or for personnal design of this kind of things, you could buy this model here: https://cults3d.com/fr/mod%C3%A8le-3d/maison/inter...
If you paid, I will look at your personal requests and I will try to help you at my turn.
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