How do you call a Deaf Dog?
The joke say it doesn't matter he won't come anyway. But seriously, what if the dog (or whatever) is really deaf or the handler is mute? Then what? How can you get your pet's attention and alert them to stop or return to you?
About 3 years ago, my friend came to me with this dilemma when Jake, her very old Siberian Husky was loosing his hearing. She usually kept Jake in a large fenced property but when he decided to chase a rabbit, get loose, jump the fence, head onto the roadway, etc. He would be so focused or distracted that no amount of calling would get his attention.
I solved her dilema then with a Deaf Dog Caller Collar. The great thing about this idea is with a bit of training my friend found the dog would at least stop, change focus momentarily, look around for my friend and usually return, even if at his leisure for a treat.
For this Instructable, I built my second unit so it only took me less than 1 hour to locate everything I needed and less than 3 hours to finish the building.
Step 1: Background to the Dog Caller Collar
This instructable is a medium difficulty Instructable, about 1 to 3 hours building time, to convert a Remote Control Toy (a car) into a vibrating dog caller collar. Distance range for this to project is limited by the quality of toy used.
Further information can be fond at this website DeafDogs.org. They sell manufactured vibrating dog collar units. Some of these units go up to a mile away but you may find this out of your budget. This site also suggests making your own unit much cheaper similar to what I did for this instructable. However they didn't write an instructable for it.
This simple remote control could be slightly modified to control many other applications.
If you build this with a light rather than a vibrating motor you can find your night wandering pet much easier, is just one example.
Note: 'Jake' has since passed and so 'Rusty' has volunteered to model the Deaf Dog Caller Collar. He says, "Please send cookies!"
Step 2: Lets Go Car Shopping
It's true, I cannot turn down a challenge. I needed a toy RC Car on the cheep. On my 5th local Thrift shop, I bought this one for $3.99 that looked good enough. Great bargain.
This particular RC car had larger parts than my original project, so it may appear a bit clunky, especially for a small pet. They now sell tiny RC Cars that would have very small parts and would make the whole project nicer, but you get the idea here.
When shopping for this project I was looking for a complete car pair with transmitter and receiver. The car must be the kind that does not run the motor unless or until you make the transmitter send a signal. I've seen some toy cars that run the motor all the time and the transmitter just reverses the motor, pivoting the wheels to make a turn. This kind can be made to work but why complicate things for yourself. (Meaning - I don't know exactly how I would yet.)
Here's a tip, most toys in Thrift Shops are still working, can usually be fixed and are missing some cosmetic parts (mine was only missing both battery covers, and had a tiny crack in the fender).
Put the toy together and test it to make sure you have the all the critical parts you need and that they work. Just to make sure, always shop with 4 AAA batteries, 4 AA and a 9V battery like I do. This way you can test the toys in store, prior to purchase.
Step 3: Gather These Tools and Stuffs
Drill with small bit (~1/8inch)
Empty pill bottle or plastic film canister
One small screw and nut
Strong Glue like epoxy
Solder, iron, etc
And of course duct tape, naturally! (What is a project without it?)
Step 4: Getting Inside the Car
Lets see what is inside the car then.
Underside you should find some screws holding the bottom and top together. You can still do it if they are riveted, but you should have thought of that when you shopped.
Remove the screws, rivets, clips etc to release the two halves.
Inside you should find a circuit card (receiver) and a bunch of wires to connect to the motor, antenna and power switch.
Step 5: Dissection - Wiring
Make a simple drawing so you know what connects to where. Always.
Cut the wires going to the battery holder (although it may not be necessary on your model mine worked easier cut. Note when I cut wires I left a tiny amount of insulation color on the terminals. This makes it easier to know which color goes where later.
Remove the switch and circuit card.
Step 6: Dissection - Motor/Rear End
There is usually a shell of sorts covering the motor from dust/dirt. On my car there were 4 screws holding the shell together. Access to the screws was possible only after the wheels removed.
I also took apart the rear gearbox, as we needed a gear for later.
Step 7: What to Keep and What Can Go
At this point you should have a circuit card with a motor and switch attached, plus the antenna and a plastic gear.
From the chassis cut excess plastic away from the battery holder.
The rest of the car can go to the toy auto wreckers. Screws belong where you keep screws.
Step 8: Build Receiver Unit
On the back of the battery holder glue or hold on with elastic, the circuit card.
Reconnect the battery wires as per your wiring diagram from step.
You cannot solder the antenna, as spring wire will not take solder so use the small screw and nut to reconnect.
I was lucky to have a card cover in my car to keep out the dust, so I used it as well.
Tape up the battery holder/circuit card unit securely to protect it from weather.
Step 9: Motor Section
Everyone wants a smooth running quiet motor. Everyone but us, here. Remember the gear we kept from the gearbox? Clip, cut or grind most of one half away, remember to keep the whole hole.
My motor had this cool black ring to plug 2 holes in the end of the motor and support it centered within the shell. I noticed during testing that the ring kicked and bounced the motor to jump and bang about more.
Glue the modified gear onto the shaft with strong glue like epoxy.
After making sure the motor will fit loosely into a motor housing. Drill a hole in the bottom of the housing for the wires. Having switched to digital camera long ago, I used a snap-lid canister empty of a diabetic's blood test strips. Many photography stores have the plastic film cans for free.
I used heat shrink on the wires but it is not really necessary in hindsight.
Step 10: Transmitter Unit
I did not need to do anything to the transmitter except tape the 9Vdc battery into the holder, as there was no cover.
The second picture is to show what is inside a transmitter. Not much more than a circuit card and a switch in there.
Step 11: Assembly of the Collar
Mount the receiver part on the outside of a dog collar so the weight of the batteries will ride to the lowest point.
Mount the vibrating motor inside the collar, or along the collar edge like I did. The vibrator motor needs to be in contact with the pets neck. Make sure you can still get some fingers between the collar and the pet so it will not be too tight. There is no need for this collar to be tight.
Mount or tape the assembly and antenna to follow the collar.
Step 12: Finished - Test Drive the Dog Caller Collar
With the collar on the pet, let it alone to get used to the feel of the new collar for a good while maybe even a day. When it has totally forgotten about the new collar, transmit him a signal and when he is looking around for "What the heck was that?" do your best to call and signal him by offering it's most favorite treat. Through pattern and reward training you should be able to teach him to return at the touch of a button. He needs to associate vibration 'return' to you = treat.
Step 13: There You Have It - a Deaf Dog Caller Collar
Call over everyone you know, and even some you do not.
Plan your bragging plan while you await their arrival. Because unless they build one, they will never get one.
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