Project starter kit advice

I am a beginner with Arduino and would like advice on a starter kit and other hardware for a pet feeder project. I would like to use Arduino to read a real time clock and then activate a servo motor to turn the shaft on a cereal dispenser to dispense cat food at two specific times of the day. Advice on what starter kit to purchase along with other parts would be much appreciated. Thank you.

I got mine from Sparkfun, you should be able to find one here as well as Adafruit, I have stuck with major vendors not liking Ebay etc. Most seem to be the same, some come with printed instructions, others require you to download the instructions. The kit probably has a UNO or a clone and a handful of parts, lights, resistors, small motor and servo etc.

You will need a real time clock module.

that will get you started and going.

For the dispenser you will probably need a decent sized servo or motor, but the size depends on how much power it takes to drive the feed dispenser and it will take a bit of research on the motor/servo size. An outside power supply and or driver board to match the size of the motor/servo

Good luck


DISCLAIMER: Mentioning stuff from my own shop...!

THIS STARTER KIT has both a servo and a stepper motor so you can learn about those and many other sensors etc.

You can check out all the how-to for this kit online HERE.

Looks like this:

We make a couple thousand of these a year that are used by schools and universities, makerspaces and hobbyists. Every entering EE and CS student at Uconn starts with this kit, for example.

For a somewhat different Cat Feeder example see THIS.

See THIS DISCUSSION about wether you need an RTC module.

The starter kits will not contain motors etc of sufficient size for the actual project but I would recommend that you do get one as it will teach you most of what you need to know for your “real” project. Most kits will have a miniature DC motor and a servo some will have a stepper motor.

You need to put a good deal of though into the mechanical design of the feeder as that will determine what type of motor you use, and whether or not gearing and a brake are required. It would probably be a good idea to survey how commercial products have solved the problem. Cats are pretty smart when food is involved so you will need to think how to make the device tamper proof.

Hello, if I'm not too late I recommend you to check these kits,, yeah they don't have big motors (servos) or any big hardware devices, you need to buy those things separately. All kits have sensors and it's good to construct your first build because you don't need to buy those sensors again. I hope I helped you.

Most kits will have a miniature DC motor and a servo some will have a stepper motor.

I have discussed this with several schools and universities and include those 3 in my kits.

Many university Engineering courses have students write their OWN code to control a stepper motor:

  • Write you own code; do not use any stepper motor libraries.

  • Show that you understand the 4 windings in the stepper motor, and write code to demonstrate in Lab that you can move it forward and backward. Turn in your code as homework.

  • Make the stepper motor rotate to 3 locations: first 90 degrees and then another 360 degrees. Turn in your homework code.

(later in the course)

  • Make the stepper motor accelerate and decelerate over a rotation of 3 revolutions, pause, and return to the original point. Turn in your code as homework.

  • Demonstrate controlling the speed of the small DC motor with Arduino driving the power FET. DO not use any libraries or the built-in Arduino PWM.

  • The usual servo stuff…

Electrical and mechanical engineers take the same course in freshman year.