I have set up my kids with a small fish tank and they have conveniently forgot to feed the fish more times than I can count and it has basically become a daily task for me to remind them to do so.
So I have an idea...
I could put a light near the tank that comes on at a certain time in the morning and stays on all day, or even flashes as a reminder to feed them. This light will only turn off once someone pushes a button near the tank when they've been fed.
The light part is easy enough, but I'm trying to find a basic single press button that will not break the bank, and won't be too obtrusive.
I'd love to hear any suggestions!
FYI: I have seen the Fibaro "The Button" which seems perfect. However, the reviews on it are not so great. Mostly saying that it tends to fall asleep and takes multiple presses to get it to function.
Something like this might work.
The Sonoff SNZB-01 is under $16 and works great. Not the prettiest zigbee switch, but effective.
I have the Smartthings version of this button — before Aeotec took over. I use it to turn off my bedside light in the middle of the night instead of talking to Alexa. The battery lasts a long time and it's been completely reliable. You can configure tap, double-tap, and press. Not the cheapest, but not horribly expensive.
I have this and the Sonoff above. The SmartThings one is MUCH prettier. They work exactly the same though.
Thank you everyone! I think I should be able to make something work with one of these!
I've got one with over 100,000 pushes and still going strong.
One other difference is that the SmartThings button has temperature too. Helpful if you want to know they temp in the room that has the button. The Sonoff doesn't have that feature.
So now you'll have new problems...the kids will turn off "the annoying light" and get distracted and forget to feed the fish. Or they feed the fish and forget to turn off the light. Or they feed the fish and then turn the light back on "Ooo...cool red light!"
In the case of using a button you're actually making feeding the fish more annoying in that you're adding a task to their feeding regimen:
- Feed the #&%@ fish
- Push the #&%@ button
- #&%@ = "gosh darn"
What you could do is try to integrate a contact sensor into the process so that there is at least some verifiable hands-on action related to the fish actually getting fed. This approach also doesn't add any additional tasks, and provides prompt positive reinforcement.
Fish food container has magnet attached to it's bottom (get a reusable container you can refill and a flat disc magnet). It sits on top of a contact sensor that is velcro'd/attached to the suface it sits on.
Child lifts container, contact sensor opens, light turns off
To make it more fun you could gamify it, and track the time of day or length of time after the contact sensor opens after the light comes on and reward them for the type of behavior (e.g., fastest response or most consistent time of day) you want to encourage.
Still far from fool-proof, but at least you'll know they at least had hands on the food. From a child's perspective the light going out "magically" when they lift the food container should be more fun, and the quick positive feedback for the desired "feed the fish" action will be a good reinforcer.
How about a door contact to sense if they opened the tank or is there no.lid
Nodemcu // konnected // any button you like.
Doddle. Cheap as chips. I use loads of these.
That would work, and be even better proof that they actually fed the fish, assuming there is a lid on the tank that needs to me moved out of the way.
I do like the contact sensor via the food container being lifted up as I think it feels cooler.
I like a lot of the ideas, and appreciate the input!
The fish tank has a hole in the lid that they tend to feed them through. So the contact sensor wouldn't work there.
I like the food jar idea also, but there's a few different kinds of fish in there requiring different food. So that wouldn't be bullet proof, either.
The fish tank sits underneath a camera in the house that records 24/7. Both kids know it and know that they'll get caught in their lies if they try.
The fish tank actually sits on our kitchen counter right next to where they eat every day. So my thought with the light was to change the under-counter strip lights that currently light up their eating area, to bright red. That way either of them (or us as well) know that the fish haven't been fed yet. And since it's in a pretty central and open area of the house, if they just push the button to change the lights back to white without feeding them, they'll be pretty easily spotted. Plus, siblings LOVE to tattle on each other, so if one does it in view of the other, I can almost guarantee you that they'd be tattled on.
Gamifying it in some way does sound good though. I might have to think some more about that.
I ordered one of the Sonoff buttons to test with since it's pretty cheap.
Have you been talking to my brothers?! I deny everything, they stole the cookies!
Good luck w/this - let us know how things go. This one is fun.
Why not just automate the actual feeding of the fish?
I agree. There are programable automatic fish feeders for cheap on amazon. I even trick one to be able to control the feeding schedule from hubitat.
While I agree that an automatic feeder would be easier (and cheaper), my kids really have no other pets at the moment. So I’m trying to teach them some responsibility. And because I’m a nerd and love all things technology, why not make it smart?
Agree 100% w/the responsibility arguement. It makes it much easier to discuss why getting a dog or cat later is a big deal ("Remember how you forgot to feed the fish and they all died a horrible death?"). Seriously, it's good for them to learn that having a pet always includes important responsibilities.
Or use a vibration sensor attached to the food container and measure the number of times it's shaken?
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