Building a Steampunk Cat Feeder with a Gmail-Triggered Raspberry Pi

Those of us with pets know the scenario all too well: your little fur ball is hungry, but you can’t easily get to their food bin. Maybe…

Cameron Coward
3 years ago

Those of us with pets know the scenario all too well: your little fur ball is hungry, but you can’t easily get to their food bin. Maybe it’s early in the morning and you don’t want to get out of bed, or maybe you’re out to dinner with friends and the evening is going later than planned. Whatever the case, an automated way to feed them comes in very handy.

Sam Storino was tired of his cats waking him up at 3am, meowing because they were hungry. So, he set out to build an automatic cat food dispenser that could both run on a schedule, or be triggered at the touch of a button. The dispenser he built, which has a nifty steampunk aesthetic, is a simple gravity-feed design that dispenses food from a hopper with a servo-actuated chute.

To get the automation setup, he connected that servo to a Raspberry Pi Model B, and created a couple of scripts to handle the control. First up was a Python script which monitors a Gmail account that was setup specifically for the feeder. When that account receives an email, the script triggers the dispenser. An IFTTT app lets him easily send that email at the touch of a button on his phone.

That same app can be setup to automatically send an email at regular times that Storino specifies, letting him keep the cats on a steady feeding schedule. Overall, the build is straightforward, and the guide provides all of the information you’d need to build your own in a few hours. For the sake of a good night’s sleep, it would be well worth it for most pet owners.

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