If you’re responsible for outdoor cats, but don’t want to traipse out to their feeder every day, what are you to do? While you could buy something, this hacker decided to instead build a custom device that can dispense food, toggle lights, stream video, and even tell how much food is left in the feeder.
The resulting system looks physically like a very small (though surprisingly tall) shed. It’s powered by a Raspberry Pi, which mates up to a custom controller board containing an ATmega2560 and associated electronics to drive the cat food dispensing motor. Communication between the two control elements is accomplished via UART, and if needed, the Pi can even flash the ATtmega chip with new software.
As of now, it’s programmed to automatically feed the cats at 8am and 2pm. This allows the three cats that are fed by the machine to consume the dispensed food by nightfall, leaving none for nocturnal animals. These animals — namely raccoons — are in fact, much of the reason for the engineering involved in the build. They are also the reason why the feeder-shed is so tall. Inside a long pipe leads to the rotary wheel scavenged from a cereal dispenser that doles out the food, preventing these clever animals from reaching up the pipe to grab a snack.
With these precautions and physical barriers in place, the cats can now be fed and monitored remotely, using a simple web application to keep an eye on the operation