Solved: Cat food dispenser part

Hi,

I am making a "game" for my cat. The game concists of a box with 4 arcade buttons with leds inside them. The led's will light up and the cat will press them. When a sequence has been pressed food will be dispensed.

So far I have setup the arcadebuttons with the now built-in LEDs. What is remaining is how to automatically dispense the victory food.

My initial idea was to have a steppingmotor which rotates basically a circular shaped thing with compartments. When a compartment is facing downwards there will be a whole for its food to drop out. This seems a bit clumpsy though but might be feasible.

Second idea was to have a small rotated box with a lid that has an hinge on one side and two magnets on the other side. Then I would like to reverse one magnet(when the cat is sucessful). The lid opens and the food falls out. Then I just have to put some candy back in and close the lid.

Now to my question. For the magnet idea, is it feasible. A small magnet which I can easily control one of the polarity(I don't know what this could be called so I haven't found any components like this when googling). Do you have some other clever ways of dispensing a small amount of food? The easier the construction/circuiting the better.

See image below for the magnet idea :). Box with buttons + some sort of container with lid/latch. It should of cause be rotated so the food falls out as soon ad the lid goes down but well, me and paint :P.

Hi Todilo,

A small servo motor (e.g. this one) might be an easier answer than your magnets. Simply attach the box lid to the servo’s arm and you can open & close under control of your sketch.

In fact, don’t bother with the lid on the box. Attach the whole box to the servo’s axle. With the box in the “up” position, the cat can see/smell the treat but can’t get it out (assuming the box is too small for the cat’s paw). When the treat is to be dispensed, the servo can turn the box upside down, releasing the treat, then turn back again for reloading.

Paul

You could use a spring-return pull solenoid that holds the trap door closed. When the solenoid is energized, it pulls the plunger in and the trap door opens letting out all the contents. You could wire a reset button that allows you to close the door while you are holding the button down. If you do go with a solenoid, you'll need at least a diode to prevent the kickback voltage when the coil energizes or de-energizes. You will need to use a transistor to switch it on & off.

PaulRB: Hi Todilo,

A small servo motor (e.g. this one) might be an easier answer than your magnets. Simply attach the box lid to the servo's arm and you can open & close under control of your sketch.

In fact, don't bother with the lid on the box. Attach the whole box to the servo's axle. With the box in the "up" position, the cat can see/smell the treat but can't get it out (assuming the box is too small for the cat's paw). When the treat is to be dispensed, the servo can turn the box upside down, releasing the treat, then turn back again for reloading.

Paul

This is why I decided to post here. You take what I have made to be a messy solution and turn it into something so simple! Excellent, thank you! I just have to make it stirdy enough since well my cat is VERY intelligent and very stubborn(we have had to babyproof the appartment and rotated all door handles 90degrees to prevent him from getting out/into everything).

Xpendable: You could use a spring-return pull solenoid that holds the trap door closed. When the solenoid is energized, it pulls the plunger in and the trap door opens letting out all the contents. You could wire a reset button that allows you to close the door while you are holding the button down. If you do go with a solenoid, you'll need at least a diode to prevent the kickback voltage when the coil energizes or de-energizes. You will need to use a transistor to switch it on & off.

Thank you for the information. Even though as a first step I will use PaulRBs solution I very much like your idea(and now I know the names to google). I will probably use this for my second prototype, just for fun :).

Excellent. I look forward to you posting a video of the prototype in action. Better still, the cat solving it!

There was an entire TV show a few years back here in the UK where a series of puzzles were set for garden squirrels. They had to overcome multiple barriers using different techniques, and do them in a particular order, to win the treat.