Industrial Strength Cat Feeder
The build instructions are located at Instructables: https://www.instructables.com/id/Industrial-Strength-Cat-pet-Feeder/
The computer source code is located at Github: https://github.com/jplanaux/jplanaux.github.io
I travel for many weeks at a time and I have these outdoor feral cats that need to be fed while I am away. For several years, I have been using modified feeders purchased from Amazon that are controlled using a raspberry pi computer. Even though my feeding system uses two feeders (primary and backup), reliability of the residential grade feeders has been a concern. This project removes a lot of the the reliability concern. This feeder is superior to the modified purchased feeders in the following ways: Easier to program, IOT, heavy duty motor, bearings on shaft. moving parts are all steel, dispenses all food (none left in feeder), disassembly is easy, allows thorough cleaning, and feed rate is consistent full or near empty.
The industrial Strength Cat Feeder is a pet feeder project which is web/internet based:
Computer (raspberry pi) controlled
The feeder is operated by a web server. The server displays the current photo of bowl. The web server has buttons to: feed on demand, take new photo, easily customize automatic feeding times, indicate how much food has been dispensed Feed Various amounts of kibble at various times of day - easily customized Emails photos before and after feeding to verify operation Take picture on demand Web server displays current photo of bowl on web site Logs and displays how much food has been dispensed.
Reliability - High quality motor, bearings to minimize wear, battery backup for pi.
Connectivity - Away from the home? check on your pet’s food supply.
This feeder is actually designed as a subpart for an outdoor feral cat feeding system. The outdoor feeding system contains two of these feeders for redundancy in case of a failure.The outdoor system is raccoon proof. It is designed to be operated unattended for long periods of time. I will link the larger outdoor system at a later date.
Because others may want to use this feeder in an indoor environment, I added a base, cover and bowl. I will be using mine without the base and bowl. I also include a extension in case someone wants extra capacity.
I have been using raspberry pi controlled feeders for extended periods of time and I am satisfied with the reliability. This feeder has been in operation for a few weeks, been disassembled and inspected. The feeder was easily disassembled and cleaned up easy. I could remove all remnants of food to keep my animals from getting sick. I believe that the reliability will be very high.
This project requires a 3d printer. This should not be a problem if you don't have one and live in a large metro area. Many libraries have 3d printers now.
Disclaimer: This project links to other web sites that cover the necessary steps to install software on a raspberry pi, etc. This is my first "instructable", and these instructions are written at a high level and do not get into the smallest of details. Some further investigation/research may be required.
I started out in FreeCAD and discovered that I needed to adjust things. I abandoned the 3d modeling and laid the design out in 2d using Qcad. Once I got the design to a reasonable state, I finished and refined the design in FreeCAD. I continued refinement once I started printing. Many parts were printed several times during refinement.
One thing I discovered was that I needed space between the auger blade and the inside shell of the auger trough - that is greater than the largest OA length of a kibble. This is because kibble can get caught between the auger blade and the feed bin. I revised the outlet from verticle to be a 30-degree angle - I also made the outlet elliptical.
One design change that I would like to make would be to have the surface of the bowl angle away from the nozzle so that the kibble stays away from the nozzle.