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Motion sensor treat dispenser. Answered

I would like to build a dispenser to give my dog a treat automatically when she drops a toy in a box. I have a treat dispenser that moves easily and can be attached to a pulley. I don't have the electronic know-how to make the rest. I am thinking a motion sensor light or driveway warning unit that sends a signal when a beam is broken could be used, but don't know how to connect it to a small motor that will only run for a couple of seconds and then stop.
Any thoughts on how to do this and where I might get the equipment?


As member Re-design asks, how does the treat dispenser work? Could it be triggered by an electromagnet pulling on a lever? If so, it is not too hard to set up an infrared light beam that is broken when a toy falls. Or use a motion sensor to detect the the toy, as you suggest.

The signal that comes from the falling toy could trigger a flip-flop--Wikipedia has an explanation of electronic flip-flops. The ideas is that the flip-flop would sent a pulse through a power transistor to activate the electromagnet.

It is possible that a pulse from a motion detector would be sufficient to directly activate a magnet . You'd have to try.

Ok, here's the thing.  I wasn't going to answer this one because it's really involved and since I don't know what your treat dispenser action is it's hard to be positive about method and equipment.  But here goes.

You have to make your machine dispense one treat at the appropriate time.  For example when your dog has put her toy back into the box.  You need to design a sensor that will indicate to the machine that the task has been performed.  It needs to have an error checking ability provided, otherwise an average dog would realize that to place anything including the remote control, your cell phone, her/his accident, you shoe, laptop, coffee mug would trigger a treat.  Maybe even just ducking her head deep enough into the basket would trigger a treat and then there you'd be with a fat dog with toys everywhere.  You could RFI tag the toys and that would trigger the treat dropper.

You have to figure out how to make the treat dropper only drop one treat per toy drop.  It needs to be secure enough so that if doggy decides doggy is tired of waiting on treats and attacks the treat bin it will hold up.  It needs to be really safe for the dog.  In case she realizes where the treats are coming from and puts her muzzle/tongue near the drop chute she won't be hurt.

I would try to design all this in my head or on paper before buying any supplies or building anything.  Then I would get the treat dropping machine working by pushbutton 100% first, then design and build the basket/toy dropping sensor portion of this "Rube Goldberg" machine.

If I had the details of what you treat dropper looked like and how it worked I could probably give you some ideas on how to run it.

Give it some thought and get back to us.