I bought the Aspen Pet LeBistro auto feeder for my furbag. It has a few issues that this instructable will correct.
1: the feeding tray doesn't firmly attach to the feeder. It's really easy to for your pet to dislodge it a bit and have food get trapped behind it like in the picture. The bad thing is without pulling out the tray you really can't tell if there is food stuck behind it because it's come lose. If your pet is acting like it hasn't been fed, check this to verify.
Step 1: Parts to Fix the Tray Problem: Metal Plate and a Neodymium Magnet
In order to fix this problem i'm going to use a metal plate that is used as part of a magnetic phone mount. I had an extra from a mount i bought so i stuck it to the feeder in the position seen itn the picture. This is directly behind where the tray mounts. The pre-applied glue on this plate failed after several months. I then tried to epoxy the plate in the position you see. The epoxy i used doesn't seems to stick to the plastic and it came off after a few months. So i had to come up with a different mounting point. I chose to put the plate inside the feeder. The epoxy held the magnet pretty well, although you don't really need to permanently mount the magnet, i did for the convenience or not having to reset it when i take the tray out for cleaning. I placed the magnet under the tray in the position in the picture.
I used an old hard drive magnet i found. Any strong magnet will work for this task though. You can get good neodymium magnets at your local building supply store in the fastener section
Step 2: Opening It Up: in Order to Install the Plate We Need to Open Up the Feeder.
You can open up the unit by flipping it over and removing the 4 screws in the recessed holes. You will need a fairly long #2 Phillips screwdriver to get the screws out.
While we are opening the feeder we can add another modification.
The Labistro feed runs on 3 D cell batteries. I got tired of replacing the batteries and wanted to use another power source. Turns out the older models of the feeder cam with a wall power plug but the new ones only run on batteries!
Here are the specs for the older models charger and plug:
Input 120v ac
Output 4.5 v d/c 600 m/a
Center positive Exterior negative, Pin size 2.5 x 5.5 mm
you can buy these dc plugs/jacks and chargers from electronics surplus sites, ebay, or amazon. just make sure you get the correct voltage/amperage specified in this step.
Step 3: Adding Power: Here I Have the 2.5x5.5mm Plug Installed in the Side Housing
This was a pretty easy job. The plug will have 2 pins you need to solder wires to. The feeder has color coded wires:
red for + and black for -. Drill or cut a hole in the side of your unit and install your plug. these come in many different styles, some you just need to drill a hole. some, like mine, required a square cutout and epoxy to get it to stay in place.
If you want to use the wall charger only you will need to disconnect the spade connectors which go to the battery housing and connect them to the wiring from the plug you installed. You could make jumper wires using male spade connectors to attach to the plug you installed to the factory wiring; bypassing the batteries. Or you could cut off these connectors and solder the wire directly to the wiring from the plug you installed.
Since i decided to use rechargeable batteries and a solar charger to keep the batteries topped off, i just soldered my wires directly to the spade connectors and put them back on their respective posts of the battery holder.
I used the specs of the wall outlet to build my solar charger. I won't go into that detail here but you can find
other instructables for building those if you want.
Step 4: Fixing the Tray Problem Take 2: Move the Plate
I placed the plate in the location you see here. It's directly behind where the food tray slots in. I then taped it in position to keep it from falling out. I used aluminum tape because i had it handy at the time. Gaffers tape or duck tape will likely be fine. If i though epoxy would have held i would have used that.
Step 5: One Final Problem Fixed: Preventing Sneaking Food
There is a small slit above the food dispensing chute. My cat figured out that if she stuck her paw here she should knock food out of this slit.
in the picture with the metal place you can make out the slit. This slit leads directly to the food reservoir and makes it easy for your pet to sneak some extra food out.
I decided to make a plug to cover this slit and stop my fluffwad from cheating on her diet.
I cut a piece of plastic to cover the slit. Pretty much any plastic you have laying around will do. I used the lid of a sports drink powder container and cut it into the shape shown. The narrower side goes down, toward the chute and flap. I forgot to take exact dimensions of this but it's pretty easy to cut thin plastic and just cut/re-try until it fits. Once i had it the right size i epoxied it in place. The epoxy seems to hold in this location and i've had no issue with the cover coming out.
With these mods my cat is less fat and still happy and i no longer have to