Nut dispenser – 2. Design

The choice of housing has helped enormously as it gives me a decent set of physical parameters to work too with the design of the internal structure was governed by the required inputs and outputs.
I need:
1. a method of dispensing the nuts (e.g. motor)
2. a method of checking that the nuts are there.
3. a way of signaling to the wildlife that food is present.
4. a way of finding out if the nuts are gone.
5. A way of detecting if the feeder is being visited.

It would also be helpful if there was a method of filming the feeding either from the actual feeder itself or remotely from an unconnected camera.

I’d like to be able to have a configurable method of linking the different inputs and outputs together and the raspberry pi was the easy choice – its pretty small but more importantly I’ve got one so no further outlay!

I will need to create a way of running the pi outside so it will need a battery along with either some way of communicating (e.g. VNC) or to be totally autonomous..

I’m no programmer however as a child I enjoyed my acorn electron as well as having access to a BBC B and and Arc 440, reaching my programming pinnacle aged 11! A few years later I’m drawing on this skill and so would like the project to run using BASIC on RISC OS – mainly as I’m most familiar with the language (although I’m very poor at it) but also because RISC OS just seems to work so well on the pi. The issue with this is that it doesn’t support simple wi-fi dongles and getting VNC to work appears to be pretty tricky.

Finally the whole system needs to be both watertight (in case of showers) and reliable (so that I don’t keep disturbing the wildlife by resetting it every few minutes).

I’ve looked online to see if there was anything commercially available that I could either buy or use the ideas from – the closest was this as posted on the Raspberry pi website: 

…and described on the Twin cities maker website here:


2 thoughts on “Nut dispenser – 2. Design”

  1. Good luck! This should be fairly easy to adopt, and with the new Raspberry Pi Camera coming out, you could easily add that to the code to see if the food has been eaten or not, and take pictures when motion is detected.

    1. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement, David. Seeing your pet feeder on the foundation website was the final bit of inspiration that I needed to get on with this project.
      With regards to the camera, I’m hoping to have this all working using RISC OS which is a bit tricky with webcams so hopefully some clever person over at ROOL will have come up with the code to get the picam to work by the time I’ve got mine. If not, I have a backup plan with an IP camera but 99% of the fun is in getting things to work!

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