Cat Feeder 091110

I have gotten tired of my cats scratching and meowing at me before I want to wake up to be fed.  I have also seen how powerful frequent, portion controled meals can be in reducing and maintaining weight and would like to try to share that with my cats. Having a job makes it impossible for me to feed my cats 4-6 times daily, though. So, I naturally decided to make an automatic cat feeder.  I looked a several tutorials on instructables and MAKE, but none of them did what I wanted: multiple, small portions delivered indefinitely. This cereal dispenser is the first part towards my feeder. $38.89 (s&h included)

I took the long back parts off because I’m planning on mounting this on a board out of kitty reach.

While the knob clearly has four lobes, the spindle inside the canister is divided into 6 sections. So, when I build the turning mechanism, I’m going to have to get it to turn only 60 degrees, rather than 90. Turning 90 releases two sections of food. Each section releases 1/4 cup of food. If the knob is turned 90 degrees, 1/2 cup will come out.  If my goal is to feed the cats at least 4 times a day and, since they’re on a diet, they get fed 1/2 cup a day, I’ll need to make each section smaller. Preferably releasing 1/8 cup. 1/16 would be even better though!

I have to decide how I’m going to make the sections smaller.  Using cardboard and tape were suggested to me, but you know how tape can curl and leave sticky residue on the things around it. I’d prefer not to muck up the spindle or feed residue to my cats. I’m thinking about using some sort of styrofoam or spray foam, but am not liking that idea – I’d imagine it would be hard to clean and not be good for cats to eat.  I just now thought of using fimo. I can mold it to shape inside the spindle, take it out and bake it and then varnish it in nontoxic varnish.  I’m guessing two-part epoxy would not be “healthy” so I’ll have to come up with a safe glue.

Once I get that figured out, I have the turning mechanism to build which will be attached to a Teensy or Dorkboard which will do the timing and turning on and off of the turning mechanism servo.  The servo is in the mail and should be here soon! Yay!

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