Heated water bowl for the backyard wildlife

Can't resist posting this. On successive days I saw a squirrel and a feral cat getting water by licking ice in our backyard. To provide a source of drinking water for all the assorted wildlife living out there or passing through, I built this heated water bowl.

A thin-film heater that I got as a trade show sample years ago and a TMP 37 temperature sensor are attached to the underside of a small, cheap stainless steel pet food bowl using Kapton tape.

A Duemilanove reads the sensor on A0, controls the 6.7 volts to the heater using an FET driven by D3, really all I changed in Brett Beauregard's excellent PID library sample code was the math to change from TMP 36 to TMP 37.

Water consumption and tracks found in snow indicate that a source of liquid water in midwinter is becoming very popular.

Very nice!

Now you need a camera with motion sensor to see who's drinking.

(and maybe a water level sensor+valve for automatic refill...)

Great idea! well done.

What a top idea - have you seen any wildlife taking up your kind offer of a drink?

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words !

I thought of an automatic water-feed, but the freezing conditions would require a heated line and that just added too much complication for a project I wanted to deploy quickly. Definitely in the works for next winter, though. Same for the motion detector camera.

I have seen squirrels, a cat, and birds drinking in daylight hours ... heard sounds in the night, and seen lots of various tracks (raccoon and skunk for sure, maybe opossum) when there is fresh snow in the morning. Lots of takers too, the bowl typically needs refilling 2 or 3 times in 24 hours.

Buy a man a hotpocket, feed him for a day. Teach a man to shock small critters unconscious with an arduino, feed him for a lifetime. 8)

The saying goes something like that. :P

dritchie0042: Teach a man to shock small critters unconscious with an arduino, feed him for a lifetime. 8)

Ah now I understand the motivation to water feral cats 8)

Though I think they'll be a bit chewy... Geoff

very nice project! Looks like you power if from mains and have a transformer inside. have you measured power consumption at idle and with heat on?

Awww ^_^<3

Very nice project! People who care about animals are always good people. Congratulations, Sir!

Now to the tech stuff: - Is the thin-film heater a Peltier plate ? - What's with the black board (PSU?) in the left side in the last picture? What is there more than a power source?

AlxDroidDev: People who care about animals are always good people.


Answers to questions above, not necessarily in order ....

  • Not a Peltier device, just a resistance heating element, 7.2 ohms, made from fiberglass and silicone rubber. The board on the left is an old linear power supply , modified to provide 6.7 volts DC, up to 3 amps.

  • a few data points on power consumption;

  • during bench testing back in January, Arduino + heater drew 1.9 amps at 6.6 volts DC

  • Arduino + heater + power supply measured yesterday with a P3 Kill-a-watt, 4 watts idle, 12 watts full load . Version 2 will probably include a data logger.

Oh, and so far no cats (or anything else) have been electrocuted ! Chewing on the line cord is about the only option for that, the cheap plastic enclosure has held up pretty well overall.