Smart pet food bins!

Not at as complex as my car remote starting but I'm still pretty proud.

Since I recently switched over our last two doors to ring sensors I had two Samsung Multi Sensors on hand.

We have a timed virtual switch to remind kids to feed animals. It's always bugged me that it was something that had to be physically turned off. Not very "Elevated" :wink:. Often times the kids would do the chore and not turn off the reminder. This is my solution!

We have two large screw top bins in the kitchen. O ring seals and all.

I found a nice flat spot on the front and positioned the main portion of the sensor with masking tape. I positioned the magnet on various parts of the lid to test. Finally I came up with gutting the magnet out epoxying it inside the rim of the lid.

Then I was actually able to fine tune the position of the sensor in a way that if the magnet in the lid spins passed the sensor but is not all the way seated yet, it will still not register closed.

End result works fantastic! I used 3m tape for final mounting.

Now I can make rules to auto reset the reminder! I also joked with my wife that I could use the vibration sensor to notify when our Siamese goes passive aggressive at meal time....


I love the creativity here...! I hope your kids appreciate the time and effort you put into reminding them to do what they are supposed to do. I have to think perhaps an additional layer of automation would eliminate the failure point altogether and might help relieve the SIamese's food anxiety as well.

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I have this setup on our dog food bin as well. It is just a tall Tupperware container we keep on a shelf, but there is magnets on the lid and a sensor on the inside. This way if the sensor is opened we know someone fed the dog.

I set up a webcore automation to flip a virtual switch on if the dog has been fed, and I can ask google if the dog has been fed and it will reply on or off (not a yes or no, but it relates accurately enough).

I also have it set to log to a spreadsheet the time fed and if it was breakfast or dinner (depending on time of day). There's been a couple of days the dog acts so hungry we question if we forget to feed him or not. Luckily, looking at the spreadsheet confirms if he's fooling us into more food, or we actually forgot.

The cat free feeds, but I put a sensor in his gravity feeder on a controlled slide mechanism I designed and 3D printed. So if the sensor moves to the bottom of the feeder then we know he is getting low on food. This one is especially helpful as we can go a while without needing to top his food up. I also plan to commonly see how long it takes between refills so if it goes longer than normal we get a backup notification incase the sensor battery dies. Though I haven't implemented this yet, as I haven't had it setup long enough.

An argument can be made that I'm lazy, but I'm always looking for ways to automate / Elevate my life :grinning:

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This what it's all about!

Another project I want to do that your reminded me of with the cat feeder setup is a system for blocking the cat door when the garage door is open. I had seen an article of somebody using old CD or DVD player mechanisms to make a mini linear actuator that's actually extremely fast and I thought I could use that to actuate over a latch for the door.

I just wish I had a way to 3D print the enclosure.

Definitely a good application to add some smarts. I saw a guy on here (or SmartThings forum) that used a dome water sensor to open and close a trap door in part of the trim work near his ceiling which had a projector hidden behind it. Thought it was a pretty neat use of the water sensor to do something other than turn a water valve.

Some libraries now have 3D Printers, so that may be something to look into

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Really!? Cool! Although we live in Indiana. Likely not.

Definitely worth looking into. Also a pretty decent quality printer can be had for about $300 (Creality comes to mind). I would even be open to printing your stuff and mailing it to you for a small fee. Though, I will say a lot of the reason I enjoy having my own printer is being able to design a concept, test it, and then redesign to improve it. Especially if you need fitment to be good, or are dealing with tighter tolerances. Most of my projects end up this way, but maybe it's just the inner hobbyist in my trying to keep busy :joy:

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I have long thought about getting a printer. It has just never materialized. Id definitely need one in an enclosure. 7 cats. If you know you know.

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I get that. I have a cat and a dog, and my old printer which wasn't enclosed had hair stuck to the bearing rails. Luckily it stayed clean enough to continue operating just fine. I recently upgraded to a Flashforge Creator Pro 2, which is a fully enclosed printer. A bit pricy at $650, but I consider it reasonable for how long these machines last. Its pretty cool because it has independent X-axis motors (IDEX) so you could print 2 things at the same exact time using both extruders if the two prints are small enough to both fit on the build plate. Flashforge has a couple other offerings which are similar to the Creator pro 2, but at a lower price point. The creator Pro (not 2) I believe is around $450, but both extruders are mounted together, so you lose the ability to print two things at once. I believe their adventurer lineup is setup with only 1 extruder head, but still fully enclosed.

I would definitely recommend getting one, I feel these machines really pay for themselves in one way or another. I've used it to print mounts for my desk lamp and desk fan to mount to my monitor mounting pole. I've made lighting mounts for some accent lighting around my house, and various mounts for other stuff. I built a gearbox with a servo motor in my blinds in our master bedroom to automate opening and closing them. I decided to do this after the pull string opening mechanism broke, rather than spending a bunch of money on new blinds.
And my most functional print is probably a replacement bulb mount for the license plate lights on my sisters car. For whatever reason I could not find a replacement mount from Volvo. I used transparent ABS, and they have been going strong for about 4-5 years. Car is never in a garage, and being in Illinois, it sees all kinds of weather. I've printed a bunch of other stuff over the years as well, these are just the ones I remember off the top of my head.