Posts with «cat» label

Build an automatic cat treat dispenser with Hummingbird

The Hummingbird by BirdBrain Technologies is an Arduino AtHeart microcontroller designed to enable beginners to create robots from craft materials. Hummingbird kits include LEDs, motors, and sensors that connect directly to the board. This eliminates the need for soldering or breadboarding and ensures that users have the parts they need to build their first robots. All of the components are reusable, so the same kit can be used to build many different robots.

In addition, the Hummingbird supports a variety of programming options, making it appropriate for beginning programmers as well as those who are more advanced. Some programming languages, such as Scratch and Snap!, can only be used when the board is connected to the computer. We will concentrate here on programming alternatives that enable users to upload a program onto the board’s Arduino.

Classrooms all over the world have used the Hummingbird from elementary to high school for projects ranging from Shakespeare dioramas to the physics of amusement park rides. In the following project, the BirdBrain Technologies team will show how they used the Hummingbird to build an automatic cat treat dispenser and demonstrate how the Hummingbird can be utilized to construct robots from everyday materials.

Building with the Hummingbird
Beginners can easily get started building Hummingbird robots with cardboard and craft materials. Motors, sensors, and LEDs can be connected directly to the Hummingbird board, and these elements can be added to the robot with hot glue. Hot glue peels off the components so that they can later be reused.

The example project uses one servo motor, one single color LED, and a light sensor. The dispenser consists of a servo motor attached to craft sticks that block the bottom of a chute containing cat treats. The position of the servo motor can be changed in software to release treats.

To receive a treat, the cat must cover a light sensor in front of the chute. When the cat covers the sensor, the servo motor briefly moves to open the chute and dispense a treat. The LED was included to show our test cat the location of the light sensor.

Programming with the Hummingbird
One unique feature of the Hummingbird is that it supports three different programming options for producing an Arduino program. These options provide steps of increasing difficulty to support learners as they transition from programming novices to Arduino experts.

Beginners can start with the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer. This software option is based on storyboarding. Users can select the motors and LEDs that they are using on a schematic of the Hummingbird board. Then they can create expressions by using sliders to set the values of these outputs. The expression below sets a servo motor to 100°.

Expressions can be combined to create sequences. For example, the sequence below controls our automatic cat treat dispenser. This sequence is controlled by a sensor block. If the light level is low, the three expressions on the left are executed. If the light level is high, the three expressions on the right are executed. The user can then convert this sequence to an Arduino program by simply clicking the “Export Sequence” button (shown outlined in red). The Hummingbird can then be placed into Arduino mode and the program uploaded to the microcontroller.

Another option for beginners is ArduBlock, which provides a visual introduction to the Arduino language. The Hummingbird extension for ArduBlock includes a block for each Hummingbird component. A program in ArduBlock to control the treat dispenser is shown below. This program is equivalent to the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer sequence shown above.

The Arduino code generated by this ArduBlock program is shown below. Individuals moving from the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer or ArduBlock to Arduino can start by modifying the generated code. For example, in the video we modified the commands inside the else to make the LED blink to attract the cat’s attention.

Once individuals are comfortable with the Arduino programming language, they can create more complex programs in Arduino. For instance, the video shows how we modified our robot and our code to incorporate three lights and three sensors. To get a treat, the cat must cover the sensor when the corresponding light is on.

The cat treat dispenser is only one example of a Hummingbird robot using the power of the Arduino at its core. The parts can be used and reused to construct an unlimited number of robots with low-cost materials such as cardboard, pipe cleaners, recycled materials, and even paper mache!

oCat is a real-time tracker for popular cat videos

Over the last couple of years, cat videos have become the undisputed champions of the web. Whether it’s kittens playing with their shadows to failed jump attempts to giving each another massages, we’re all guilty of watching a few of these clips from time to time (yes, even at work). Built with this in mind, oCat is a real-time tracker for feline-related activity on the Internet.

oCat consists of two parts: the oCat News Distractor and the Kitty o’Cat Twitter bot. Using Google’s YouTube API, the system works by continuously monitoring for new uploads, the number of new views each day, or a specific video that has received a remarkable amount of attention. It then tweets these stats and prints them out on thermal paper, stamping a paw print on the timeline for every 1,000 views.

Created by Annika Engelhardt, a digital media design master’s student at the University of the Arts in Bremen, oCat uses an Arduino along with an ESP Wi-Fi module, a servo, and an LCD screen. The aim of the project is to increase and reveal the amount of hours people spend watching cat videos online.

The cat is an altered Maneki-neko, holding a stamp using welding wire and hot glue. Even though I filled the stamp with extra ink, it did not work properly and I had to cut out the paw-shape from a sponge and glue it onto the original stamp.

The thermal printer used in the device needs a USB connection, so I used a Raspberry Pi to control it. I wrote a Python script that checks four different RSS news feeds for new posts every 15 minutes and prints one headline with a timestamp every minute.

The Twitter bot was programmed using Python and a library called tweepy. Most of the script is reading JSON files, juggling and comparing data and text files and in the end mixing up parts of a sentence to form a tweet. The bot will be enhanced in the future

Engelhardt exhibited the project at Galerie Flut in Bremen back in October. You can find more pictures and information on the project here.

Arduino Blog 09 Nov 05:49
api  arduino  cat  esp8266  featured  genuino  lcd  servo  wifi  youtube  

Cat-Operated Cat Food Dispenser

Tired of being harassed by your cat? [MomWillBeProud] made a cheap, effective — and more importantly cat-operated — cat food dispenser.

The feeder is of an efficient construction — a double cat food dish, one container to store the electronics, and a Pringles can to act as the hopper. A simple servo rotates the hopper thirty degrees and back on each button press; using gravity to drop food through an opening that appears due to this motion. The button itself is an old IKEA timer and a piece of plastic large enough for a hungry cat to swat.

An Arduino controls the servo, and while [MomWillBeProud] skips over going into detail on his code, you can check it out here.

[MomWillBeProud] toyed with the idea of scheduled feeding, but believes his cat is smart enough to feed itself; indeed — training cats is hard work, and it took a couple of weeks for the lessons to sink in. He also recommends using an Arduino Pro Mini, since it consumes so little power that it can operate for months on one set of batteries. Since [MomWillBeProud]’s cat needs a refill only once a week, that’s a lot less time fussing with one’s feline companions.

If you want a similarly hands-off method to ensure your pets have water, we previously featured a project that keeps your pet’s water bowl topped off.

[via /r/DIY]


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, home hacks

Robotic Pets Test an Automatic Pet Door

Lots of people get a pet and then hack solutions that help them care for their new friend, like an automatic door to provide access to the great outdoors. Then again, some people build the pet door first and then build the pets to test it.

It’s actually not quite as weird as it sounds. [Amir Avni] and his wife attended a recent GeekCon and entered the GeekCon Pets event. GeekCon is a cooperative rather than competitive hackathon that encourages useless builds as a means to foster community and to just have some fun. [Amir] and his wife wanted to build a full-featured automatic pet door, and succeeded – with NFC and an ESP8266, the stepper-powered door worked exactly as planned. But without any actual animal companions to test the system, they had to hack up a few volunteers. They came up with a 3D-printed dog and cat perched atop wireless cars, and with NFC tags dangling from their collars, the door was able to differentiate between the wandering ersatz animals. The video below the break shows the adorable plastic pals in action.

It’s clear from all the pet doors and automatic waterers and feeders we’ve seen that hackers love their pets, but we’re pretty sure this is the first time the pet itself was replaced by a robot. That’s fine for the test environment, but we’d recommend the real thing for production.

[via r/arduino]


Filed under: home hacks, misc hacks
Hack a Day 12 Mar 00:00

The Running Cat

Cats are great to have around, but they need exercise. If you’re not in a position to let the cat outdoors, you need to look to something else when kitty wakes up bored from her 23 hour nap. Cat playscapes are useful diversions, but this is the first time we’ve considered real exercise equipment. Let’s get our feline friends their exercise fix with a hamster-esque cat exercise wheel.

[bbarlowski]’s design is simple but very clever, and almost looks like something you’d find flat-packed at IKEA. Built of CNC-milled birch plywood, the wheel rims snap together like puzzle pieces while the floor has tabs that slot into the rims. The tension of the bent floor panels locks everything together and makes for a smart looking wheel. The video after the break shows [Kuna the Maine Coon cat] in action on the wheel, and outlines a few plans for expansion, including adding an Arduino to monitor kitty’s activity and control both an RGB LED strip for mood lighting and a cat treat dispenser for positive reinforcement of the exercise regimen.

The project mounted an unsuccessful campaign in March and they’ve made the DXF cutting files available for download. Of course if it’s too much plywood and not enough Arduino for you, just build the Arduspider to torture – err, entertain your cat.


Filed under: home hacks, misc hacks

A door-stopper becomes an amazing game with Arduino

Developed by Robin Baumgarten during a 48-hour game jam,  Line Wobbler is a one-dimensional dungeon crawler game running on Arduino Uno. Robin was inspired watching a cat interacting with a door stopper and having fun!

The game is played using a unique wobble controller made out of a door-stopper spring and a several meter long ultrabright LED strip display. All the movement is controlled by bending the Wobble controller left and right, while enemies are attacked by wobbling:

Using a spring, an accelerometer and a rigid surface, the Wobble controller is a tactile and surprisingly precise joystick with a unique ‘wobble’ action (pull it back and let go to make it oscillate back and forth rapidly). It is this wobble action that is core to the experience and the game we have created for it. Initially made out of a shoe-tree, I’m now using door-stopper springs, since they’re easier to use. Fun fact: the original inspiration for the controller came from this cat video.

Since it was created, it’s been exhibited during Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC 2015, at Burning Man 2015 and other city around the world (London, Chicago and Oslo). Line Wobbler won also two prizes at the AMAZE Awards 2015 in Berlin and has been nominated as a finalist for the IndieCade 2015 awards last October!

Hack Your Cat’s Brain to Hunt For Food

This cat feeder project by [Ben Millam] is fascinating. It all started when he read about a possible explanation for why house cats seem to needlessly explore the same areas around the home. One possibility is that the cat is practicing its mobile hunting skills. The cat is sniffing around, hoping to startle its prey and catch something for dinner. Unfortunately, house cats don’t often get to fulfill this primal desire. [Ben] thought about this problem and came up with a very interesting solution. One that involves hacking an electronic cat feeder, and also hacking his cat’s brain.

First thing’s first. Click past the break to take a look at the demo video and watch [Ben’s] cat hunt for prey. Then watch in amazement as the cat carries its bounty back to the cat feeder to exchange it for some real food.

[Ben] first thought about hiding bowls of food around the house for his cat to find, but he quickly dismissed this idea after imagining the future trails of ants he would have to deal with. He instead thought it would be better to hide some other object. An object that wouldn’t attract pests and also wouldn’t turn rancid over time. The problem is his cat would have to know to first retrieve the object, then return it to a specific place in order to receive food as a reward. That’s where the cat hacking comes in.

[Ben] started out by training his cat using the clicker method. After all, if the cat couldn’t be trained there was no use in building an elaborate feeding mechanism. He trained the cat to perform two separate behaviors, one tiny bit at a time. The first behavior was to teach the cat to pick up the ball. This behavior was broken down into six micro behaviors that would slowly be chained together.

  • Look at the ball
  • Approach the ball
  • Sniff the ball
  • Bite the ball
  • Pick up the ball
  • Pick up the ball and hold it for a few seconds

[Ben] would press on the clicker and reward his cat immediately upon seeing the desired step of each behavior. Once the cat would perform that step regularly, the reward was removed and only given to the cat if the next step in the chain was performed. Eventually, the cat learned the entire chain of steps, leading to the desired behavior.

Next, [Ben] had to teach his cat about the target area. This was a separately trained behavior that was broken down into the following three steps.

  • Look at the target area
  • Approach the target area
  • Sniff the target area

Once the cat learned both of these behaviors, [Ben] had to somehow link them together. This part took a little bit of luck and a lot of persistence. [Ben] would place the ball near the target area, but not too close. Then, he would reward his cat only when the cat picked up the ball and started moving closer to the target area. There is some risk here that if the cat doesn’t move toward the target area at all, you risk extinguishing the old behaviors and they will have to be learned all over again. Luckily, [Ben’s] cat was smart enough to figure it out.

With the cat properly trained, it was time to build the cat feeder. [Ben] used an off-the-shelf electronic feeder called Super Feeder as the base for his project. The feeder is controlled by a relay that is hooked up to an Arduino. The Arduino is also connected to an RFID reader. Each plastic ball has an RFID tag inside it. When the cat places the ball into the target area, the reader detects the presence of the ball and triggers the relay for a few seconds. The system also includes a 315MHz wireless receiver and remote control. This allows [Ben] to manually dispense some cat food should the need arise.

Now whenever the cat is hungry, it can use those primal instincts to hunt for food instead of just having it freely handed over.

[Thanks Dan]


Filed under: home hacks
Hack a Day 08 Aug 18:00
315mhz  arduino  ball  behavior  brain  cat  clicker  control  feeder  food  home  home hacks  hunt  kitten  learn  psychology  remote  rfid  tag  teach  training  

Embroidered Nyan Cat Brings a Meme to the Real World

Have you ever come across an Internet meme and just thought to yourself, “I have to bring this into the physical world!” Well [0xb3nn] and [Knit Knit] did. They decided to take the classic nyan cat meme and bring it to life.

The frame is 24″ x 36″. Many hours went into the knitting process, but the result obviously turned out very well. The stars include 24 LED sequins to add a sparkling animation effect. These were sewn onto the back of the work using conductive thread. They are bright enough to shine through to the front where needed. These connect back to an Arduino Pro Mini 5V board.

The Arduino is also connected to a capacitive touch sensor. This allows the user to simply place their hand over the nyan cat image to start the animation. No need for physical buttons or switches to take away from the visual design. An Adafruit AudioFX sound board was used to play back a saved nyan cat theme song over a couple of speakers. The source code for this project is available on github. Be sure to watch the demo video below.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks
Hack a Day 10 May 03:00

Make your cat behave when you are away using Arduino

The goal of this project was to create a small device, which detects movement in protected areas (e.g. tables) and allows you to speak usual phrases in your voice to the cat to control its behaviour when you are away. It’s called Cat Protector and prototyped on Arduino Uno  by Lucky Resistor, a creative guy who enjoys software development and electrical engineering:

I started with a prototype, using an Arduino Uno and a large breadboard. The first step was to realize an acceptable sound output. To realize this I added a shield with SD card adapter and wrote some optimized code to stream sound from the SD card in 22.1kHz using a 12bit DAC. The amplification to a speaker completed this part of the project where I have two solutions. Next I experimented with different motion sensors to detect the motion of the cat and finished the hardware part using a dual color LED for a simple status display.

Creating a compact device from the prototype was the next challenge, I could place the whole circuit I used on a small prototyping area and squeezed everything in a small casing. From outside, the device looks simple and tidy.

He documented everything in details on his website, especially the software part:

I read so many Arduino related articles and tutorials, but most of them stop when the prototype is running. I hope this documentation helps people to see how to structure Arduino software to make it extensible and keep it readable. This is especially necessary to write more complex logic than just to blink some LEDs. Also I hope to give some inspiration how to develop the prototype to a final device.

Check the full  documentation here.

Arduino Blog 11 Nov 21:06

Hacklet #8: The Animals

This week on the Hacklet we’re looking at Hackaday.io projects that are all about animals! Hackers and makers are well-known animal lovers, in fact many a hacker can be found with a pet curled up at their feet, or on their keyboard!

[Brian's] cat Roger loves drinking from the bathtub faucet. Unfortunately Roger hasn’t learned how to operate the faucet himself, so it gets left on quite a bit. To keep Roger happy while saving water, [Brian] created the Snooty Cat Waterer. Cat’s still don’t have thumbs, so [Brian] turned to capacitive sensing in the form of a Microchip MTCH10 capacitive proximity sensor chip. Coupled with a home etched PC board, the waterer can detect a cat at 3 inches. A valve and water feed teed off the toilet provide the flow. The project is moving along well, though Roger has been slow to warm up to this new water source.

 

[Jsc] has the opposite problem. His cat has decided that bathtubs are the perfect litter boxes. [Jsc] is taking aim at this little problem with his Cat Dissuader. After a servo controlled squirt bottle proved too anemic for his needs, [Jsc] turned to the Super Soaker Hydrostorm. These electric water guns can be had for as little as $16 on sale. [JSC] didn’t want to permanently modify the gun, so he 3D printed a switchable battery pack.The replacement pack is actually powered by a simple wall wart. Power to the gun is controlled by an Arduino, which senses his cat with a passive infrared sensor. Since the dissuader was installed, [Jsc's] cat has been a model citizen!

 

Cat’s don’t get all the love though, plenty of engineers and hackers have dogs around the house. [Colin] loves his dog, but he and his family were forgetting to feed it. He created Feed the Dog to help the household keep its four-legged member from going hungry. [Colin] tried a microcontroller, but eventually settled on implementing the circuit with old-fashioned 4000 series CMOS logic chips. He used a 4060 (14-stage ripple counter w/ internal oscillator) as an 8 hour timer, and 4013 dual flip-flop. Operation of Feed the Dog is as simple as wagging your tail. Once the dog is feed, the human presses a button. A green “Just fed” LED will glow for 30 minutes, then go dark. After about 6 hours, a red LED turns on. After 8 hours, the red LED starts blinking, letting everyone know that it’s time to feed the dog.

 

[Steve] has outdoor pets. Chooks to be exact, or chickens for the non Australians out there. He loves watching his birds, especially Darth Vader, who is practicing to become a rooster. To keep track of the birds, he’s created What the Chook?, a sensor suite for the hen-house. He’s using a GCDuiNode with a number of sensors. Temperature, humidity, even a methane detector for when the bedding needs to be replaced. An OV528 JPEG camera allows [Steve] to get pictures of his flock. The entire project connects via WiFi. Steve hopes to power it from a couple of AA batteries. [Steve] also entered What the Chook? in The Hackaday Prize. If he wins, this will be the first case of flightless birds sending a human to space!

 

Hey – Did you know that Hackaday is building a Hackerspace in Pasadena California? We’re rounding up the local community while our space is being built out. Join us at a Happy Hour Show & Tell Meetup Event hosted by our own [Jasmine Brackett] August 18th! It’s an informal show and tell, so you don’t have to bring a hack to attend. If you’re local to Pasadena, come on down and say hello!

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Hackaday Columns