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I'm looking for a way to, remotely, activate some sort of treat dispenser.

I'm not a hardware guy, and I'm sure that conceptually, this is very easy. But I don't know how to begin. I haven't found any products designed to do exactly this.

Perhaps some sort of beginning robotics kit could do it?

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closed as off topic by slhck Feb 17 '13 at 21:58

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I'm sorry but this is probably the best title I've ever seen on here. –  John T Jun 16 '10 at 22:44
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I gather you could an idea or two from the first ten minutes of "Back to the future 1" movie ;) –  ldigas Jun 16 '10 at 22:53
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Check out Make magazine. They do this sort of stuff. –  Daisetsu Jun 16 '10 at 23:08
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If your ISP doesn't block the traffic on port 22, you could connect to your dog via ssh, then "sudo eat /home/dog/". –  dag729 Jun 17 '10 at 0:02
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7 Answers 7

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not sure of this, but you should see if there are any Lego products that could be used, such as Mindstorms. They've got robotics that are controlled by your computer, so if you build a dog feeder with them, and then remote to your computer, you should be able to control it, right? Add one of the lego cameras to see how it works, and improve on the design.

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+1. I agree. Go to the local toy store and see what you can cobble together from assorted Lego kits. –  joeqwerty Jun 17 '10 at 3:38
    
+1 @Stefan Lasiewski for showing an example using MindStorms in the comments above. –  thursdaysgeek Jun 18 '10 at 20:14

Well, only because I'm a good person :) , bellow there are two "buyable solutions" ready for use:

about $180.00 http://www.smarthome.com/6184AK/Remote-Pet-Feeding-Kit-Large-Feeder/p.aspx
about $300.00 http://www.atrendyhome.com/waandfeyopet.html

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The easy way for someone who is not a hardware guy would be to connect:

A food dispenser that works electrically - I don't know where you'd find this.

An rs-232 controlled relay board, something like this: http://www.advantech.com/products/ADAM-4060/mod_1-2MLDI7.aspx

And an rs-232 over TCP/IP board, (AKA a serial port server) something like this: http://www.advantech.com/products/ADAM-4571L/mod_1-2MLDTN.aspx

That's assuming that by "remotely" you mean "over the internet".

You may very well be able to find the last two combined as one product, and I'm sure you can find cheaper ones.

The serial port server will come with a driver that gives you a virtual serial port. You can use either a terminal program or any programming language that can send data to a serial port to send whatever commands the relay board requires.

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X10 modules could be used to control a food dispenser. X10 is a home automation standard. You can use X10 hardware to control lights and switch electrical power. There are open source drivers for X10 for Linux and programs for PCs, although I don't know if there are free alternatives for PCs.

An alternative is ioBridge which provides hardware and software for control of devices over the Internet.

I don't know where you could get a food dispenser. You might have to hack something together, though perhaps you could modify a commercial automatic dispenser so you could control it remotely.

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See iRover - Remotely Control iRoomba

Instructables.com is your friend here...

I found that from just a quick search. Spend a little time and you'll do a lot better.

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Linux Journal ran an article several years ago on feeding a cat remotely.

It used a Parallax Basic Stamp for the controller, but you should be able to adapt the concepts to any controller. If you're super new, I would stick with the Basic Stamp or an Arduino.

The Basic Stamp has better tutorials for the beginner (IMO) and is easier to get started with, but the Arduino is more flexible & less costly. Either way, they're both good choices.

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Materials:
- windows or another operational system
- phone
- meat
- network
- private keys

Procedure:
- Use a phone and calls to your neighbour.
- Use your social network (like Facebook) to contact him if phone call failed.
- Ask him to throw a piece ou meat through the windows.
- You can give your private keys to your neighbour if you can classify it to "ultimate trust" and use another operational system.

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