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Has any body built a self cleaning litterbox? Answered

 I've never actually seen one of the commercially available ones. could somebody tell me how they work and maybe even send me a picture of two of the working parts? I'm sure I don't want to spend what they cost, plus from the repair ibles, I gather they don't work great anyway.  I'm imagining they have some type of motorized sifter. What I wonder is how the screen or fingers or whatever get back through the litter to the bottom to reset for the next time. Or doesn't it even work that way?


Here is a non-motorized one.

Super old question, but did anyone make any progress on this? I think I have an idea based on the litter robot that i'm going to try doing.

An old question, but better late than never? :) I built one in Dec '07 based on the Litter Robot (which was the best reviewed "technology" at the time) for around $20-$30. I'll describe how it goes together and works, then offer some tips.

If you look at the attached pictures, you can see it's construction: It is made from a plastic garbage can. The garbage can sits on four caster wheels mounted to a wooden base (the casters don't rotate around, only the wheel itself can turn - important). The base has two side walls and a couple of cross-beams at the bottom to hold them together (so if you look at it on end, it looks like a "U"). The garbage can can rotate freely on the caster wheels. A foil lasagna pan from the grocery store sits on the floor under the garbage can to collect the clumps. The wooden base prevents the pan from sliding out from underneath the can.

Inside the garbage can is an insert that mimics the Litter Robot's internals. It was a proof of concept so forgive the poor choice of build materials! There is a ring and a circle (front and back of the insert, respectively) cut from cardboard-like plastic sign material. The front and back pieces are connected by a rectangular piece of cardboard triple wrapped and taped in aluminum foil, and a small piece of flexible expanded aluminum mesh is attached to the cardboard. Chicken wire would work too, I just happened to have some thin expanded aluminum on-hand. A hole is cut in the garbage can just over the cardboard to allow clumps to fall out. Note that the foil-covered cardboard is sealed to the garbage can and the front/back sign material to form a bin in which litter accumulates when the garbage can is rotated.

It could be motorized to rotate, but I always did it by hand. If you rotate it counterclockwise, the litter stays at the bottom and the expanded aluminum moves through it; the clean litter collects in the bin formed by the foil-wrapped cardboard, the front ring, back circle, and wall of the garbage can. The expanded aluminum prevents the clumps from passing through -- instead, they collect on the foil wrapped cardboard, and as you continue to rotate the garbage can they eventually slide down the foil, out the hole, into the lasagna pan underneath. Once the clumps fall out, you rotate the garbage can the other way and the litter slides out of the bin, through the mesh, and back to its original position (you rotate a little further than you have to then come back a bit to get the litter positioned just right).

So, here's the tips I have if you build something similar --

- Expanded aluminum works great as the litter filter, as long as it's made thin enough to be easily bendable. Chicken wire might be easier to source though.
- Use a litter that has granules small enough to pass through the openings in the expanded aluminum - some cheaper litters have larger pieces that won't go through and may clog it up.
- Use as small an opening as you can on the front ring because that way you can have more litter (and don't have to add it as often), but it still has to be a big enough hole so the cat feels comfortable going in.
- The weight of the litter plus cat will tend to push the walls of the wood support away and the can will "sink" into the base, so pay special attention to making this part very rigid to avoid this.
- Try and distribute the weight of the garbage more evenly than in my 4-casters version. As my kitten became a cat, her extra mass exerted so much force that the casters started to deform the plastic garbage can. As the base's walls bent outwards and casters dug in, it became tough to rotate. I suggest trying either elongated rollers (think conveyor-style, wooden dowels, paint rollers, what have you...) OR maybe using 6-8 nice wide casters would work.
- Add litter from the hole in the top rather than from the front opening - easier.
- Pee-based clumps would sometimes stick to the side of the garbage can and require manual cleaning. Deeper litter (hence the small opening in the front) helps but maybe a teflon spray (do they make that?) or some low-stick plastic film attached to the inside of the can would reduce that problem.
- I recommend staying away from foil covered cardboard, tapes, and the like. This was a proof of concept - and it worked well, for about 6 months. I recommend using thin plastic or wood (painted with a good waterproof sealant) or something like that for the interiors, probably sealed with a good silicone or caulk to prevent bits of litter from sneaking out. 
- Perhaps make the expanded aluminum / chicken wire removable (perhaps use screws to mount it?) as eventually you will want to run a rag along inside the litter collecting bin to clean the whole thing out.
- The plastic garbage can worked well and was a good price, but it wouldn't hurt to replace it with something sturdier if you're the keen type - perhaps a thin sheet metal wrapped around a wood form, maybe aluminum garbage can if you can cut a hole in it, a small rain barrel perhaps?

Parts I bought came from: Walmart (garbage can, wood screws, etc), Princess Auto (casters), Safeway (foil lasagna pan) and you can probably get the aluminum mesh at Home Depot / Lowes / etc.
Hope that helps, I'm happy to answer any questions anybody has.
- Todd.

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 OK! So I've found online pictures of the different commercially available ones and figured out how they work. I guess what I was really wanting  to know was If  anyone in the instructables  community has built one themselves or tried to build  one? If so  could you share your insights?