If you’re a pet owner like me, you probably do two things on a regular basis: spoil your pet, and think about how to optimize the process of spoiling your pet. Fortunately, many other pet owners who have come before us have already figured out how to automate some of the things they do for their furry friends. These six projects range from the useful to the ridiculous, but they’ll all be a lot of fun to build and use.
There are a lot of automatic pet food dispensers on the market, but they can be pretty expensive. Why not make your own with an Arduino and a few cheap parts? You might even have some of these things around your house already. Insructables user crazydeadmoth uses a servo motor, potentiometer, some plywood, and two small sheets of acrylic to create the wheel that turns to dispense the food.
The code used for this project is very simple, and can be easily modified to dispense food on whatever schedule your dog needs it; perfect for when you need to feed your dog while you’re at work, or just for taking one of the steps out of your morning routine.
To give your pet a bit more mental exercise, you can create a treat dispenser that doesn’t just give out treats on a schedule, but requires a press of a button (or, in this case, a pull of a chain). This particular project was designed for wrightspelledwrong’s parrots, but you should be able to get it to work with any other sort of pet that can be trained. The instructions recommend using a specific type of wheel designed for the purpose, but you could almost certainly rig up something similar on your own.
Beyond that, most of what you need will come in an Arduino starter kit or a basic electronics kit, or should be really easy to find cheaply online. As with the previous project, the code is really simple, and you could probably modify it to behave a little differently if you want to provide your pet with a challenge or solve a different problem.
Don’t underestimate how smart your animals can be!
This is a rather complicated project, and requires a lot of parts that you’ll probably need to buy specifically for this purpose, but it’s also a fantastic way to make sure your small pets always have the environmental conditions they need. Once you get the sensor, LCD shield, nebulizer, and thermal tablet connected, you’re ready to keep your terrarium or other small pet home at the perfect temperature and humidity.
The code for this project isn’t especially complicated, and Instructables user jack1986 has provided a library and the project code for download, so you don’t need to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.
Having a pet door is a great convenience, but you don’t always want your pet going outside whenever it wants. You do, however, want it to be able to come back in whenever it’s outside. By combining an Arduino with a Staywell locking pet door, you can set a curfew for your pet without locking them out of the house (you could probably use any other type of locking pet door, but the Staywell model is the one that Instructables user tareker used).
With a few switches, and a couple other small modules, you can use this pet door to limit your pet’s ability to go outside to times of the day when it’s safe. You’ll need to do a little disassembly of the door to attach a servo to the lock, but assembly is fairly simple.
Some dogs have a seemingly infinite store of energy for playing fetch (being a greyhound owner, I have no idea what that’s like). If you have one of those dogs, and you don’t want to tire out your arm, this ball launcher is a great project. It’s very involved, and requires a solid amount of woodworking skills, but the end result is worth it.
Dean Segovis created with launcher with a windshield wiper motor, a V-belt pulley, and an extension spring for the launching mechanism. After getting it all together, it’s just a matter of training your dog to use it.
This project doesn’t have an immediately useful benefit, but it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun! By combining an Arduino, a large arcade button, and a webcam, Greg Baugues has created a system where his dog can text him selfies from a disposable Twilio phone number. All the dog has to do is press the button, and a quick photo is snapped, uploaded to Dropbox, and texted to the owner.
You could conceivably combine this project with one of the others to make it slightly more useful; in a comment, the creator suggests setting up a buzzer that will notify the dog to take a selfie and then dispense a treat when it’s done, for example.
Your Favorite Arduino-Powered Pet Projects
These six projects are great for beginner and intermediate electronics tinkerers, but there are plenty more out there. Whether you’re looking to feed your pet, limit where they can be at certain times, or get them to send you text messages, an Arduino and a little bit of hacking can help you get it done.
Have you used an Arduino or another microcontroller to build something for your pet? Share your favorite projects in the comments below!