Saturday, August 29, 2009

Automating the Dog Feeder

We have an older version of this dog feeder. Programming it always was a chore and after a while, it stopped accurately dispensing food - almost always giving too much. Whenever we use it now, it's just as a single meal dispenser and that makes the programming even more annoying. So this was a great opportunity for automation.

The feeder takes 3 D batteries so I dug out a 5V wall wart from my junk drawer. I opened up the feeder and found the motor that dispenses the food. After using a voltmeter to figure out the polarity, I soldered the wall wart to the motor, routed the cable out and closed up the feeder. The wall wart was then plugged into an appliance module.

The next step was to build an easy to use interface, which was a simple HTML form. The data gets loaded into starCOMUltra, and at the appropriate time, sCU turns on the feeder for about 45 seconds to dispense the food. Since it's a single serve feeder now, the feeder is disabled until programmed again.

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