If you’re a Maker and you have three cats with various dietary needs, what do you do? Build an automated feeder, of course!
Jamie Navarro faced a dilemma. His three cats needed to be fed at the same time every day, but sometimes he wasn’t able to accommodate them. Add in the fact that Navarro’s cats had different dietary requirements, and it became a problem that was just begging to be automated. He looked for an off-the-shelf product, but they were either too expensive, not flexible enough, or insecure against cat-raids.
Since Navarro claims to be a “nerd” as well as a “control freak,” the only option was to build it himself. His setup, as seen in the video below, uses an Arduino to control two motors, each attached to a paddle. These paddles, at the bottom of their respective tubes of food, turn a certain amount to allow the right amount of food to drop. A system of cardboard tubes distributes the correct type of “kibble” to each feline’s bowl promptly at 5:15am and 5:15pm.
The machine is laid out using a piece of plywood, allowing easy access to the electronics as well as the mechanical components. Although certainly his own project, Navarro gives credit to the creator of the Internet-Enabled Cat Feeder for figuring out much of the dispensing mechanism.
If you want to attempt this build, Navarro has links to the Arduino code as well as the circuit used and a bill of materials in various formats. The entire project price came out to nearly $200, but that’s definitely worth it for the extra few hours of sleep in my opinion!