The 7 Best DIY Automatic Pet Feeders
Automatic pet feeders aren’t cheap, especially if you are looking for one you can control remotely. Luckily for DIY makers, they happen to be a great project to build at home and perfect for implementing IoT features and electronic sensors.
With a diverse range or designs out there, you can build a highly customized automatic pet feeder using everything from recycled Pringles cans to sleek 3D printed designs.
For cats, dogs, rabbits, and even fish, here is our pick of the best homemade automatic pet feeders.
1. DIY Pringles Can Cat Feeder
First on our list is a homemade cat feeder that costs less than $15. The fun part of this build is that you can recycle a Pringles can to use as the main food chamber.
Instead of operating on a scheduled timer, this cat feeder dispenses food when your cat presses a button. The mechanics of the system is simple, with two cans attached together by an electronic servo. Both cans have holes cut in them so that when they line up, food is released. Besides the servo, you will need a push-button to complete the circuit, and an Arduino to control the whole system.
Setting aside the fact that you first need to train your cat to press a button, this cat feeder couldn’t be any easier or cheaper to set up.
2. Pringles Can Smart Pet Feeder
This project builds on the Pringles can feeder by adding in automated feeding. Once again, the mechanics involve using a servo to twist two cans together which, when lined up, release food to your hungry cat.
Instead of using an Arduino, however, you can use modular electronic parts called littleBits which are available from Sphero. Add in a useful little app called IFTTT (If This Then That) and you can easily program your DIY Pringles feeder to release food exactly when you want via your smartphone. Take a look at the Instructables page for a complete parts list alongside build instructions.
3. DIY Remote Fish Feeder
While commercial pet feeders for cats and dogs are readily available, there aren’t as many options for your fish. That’s another reason why you should try making your own DIY fish feeder following this guide on Hackaday.
The basic setup involves attaching a servo to a tin with a small hole in it. The fish food is then placed inside the tin so that when you activate the servo motor, the tin rotates and drops a few pieces of food. You will need a littleBits cloudBit board for wireless communication, which gives you the choice of either using Cloud Control to trigger the servos, or the IFTTT Date & Time integration to automate the feeder.
As this project makes use of littleBits electronic parts that slot together, you won’t even need to do any soldering.
4. 3D Printed IoT Holiday Feeder
Do you need to go away for a day or two but can’t find someone to look after your cat? Then this modern, 3D printed cat feeder is what you need. The design of this project is reminiscent of old-fashioned cat feeders, but instead of relying on a mechanical timer, you control it via your phone.
For this project you will need the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH with ESP8266 for wireless communication, plus a continuous rotation micro servo. You will also need access to a 3D printer to print the food chamber. The 3D printing files can be downloaded from the project page on Fabble, where you will also find detailed instructions on how to put it all together.
5. Automatic IoT Enabled Rabbit Feeder
The great thing about building your own circuit is that you can customize the functionality to exactly what you need. In this project, for example, the creator added in sensors for temperature and humidity to make sure that their rabbits didn’t get too hot in their cage.
While this project was built for bunnies, there’s nothing stopping you from using the same template for a cat or dog feeder.
You will need an ESP-12F or a similar board to set up wireless communication with the pet feeder. Besides this, you will need a DC motor, rotation converter, and an RTC Time + EEPROM Module—this keeps accurate time and will operate the feeder even if it can’t connect to the internet. For the feeder itself, you can find 3D printing files on Instructables.
6. Alexa Voice Controlled Pet Feeder
When you’re too lazy to feed the cat yourself, why not ask Alexa? If you’re familiar with creating Alexa commands then you will be able to create a voice-controlled pet feeder like this for your next project.
While it’s light on build instructions, this Hackaday project can give you an idea of how to build a voice-controlled pet feeder of your own using a modified servo motor. Head over to Bitbucket to download the code that lets you control an ESP32 or ESP8266 device with Alexa. As for the pet feeder, you can get the 3D printing files from Cubebrush.
7. The Ultimate Automatic Wet Food Cat Feeder
Most automatic pet feeders are designed only to work with dry food. It’s less messy, simpler to construct, and all-round easier to achieve. But what about tinned cans? Is there a way to build an automatic pet feeder for wet food?
Well, turns out there is a way.
At the heart of this project is an Arduino Mega and two shields: one for the motors and one to expand the servos. It’s a complicated setup that results in something like a small factory line operation, but as an example of what’s possible to build, this really is the ultimate wet food cat feeder. You can head over to the Hackaday page to see exactly what it takes, while maybe getting some design inspiration for your own circuit.
Building a DIY Automatic Pet Feeder
Buying a commercial pet feeder that can be programmed or controlled via an app can cost you upwards of $120. And coming across a model that has the features you want while also looking good can be tricky. To get around this, try building your own DIY pet feeder exactly the way you want.
With electronic components costing very little, and most projects using simple, easy-to-build designs, engineering your own automatic pet feeder is a brilliant and fun project to take on.
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