Category Archives: Nut Dispenser

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: http://www.tcmaker.org/blog/2013/03/raspberry-pi-powered-cat-feeder/

 

Nut dispenser – 1. Concept

With our squirrels and jays becoming a bit more used to our presence I though it would be fun to create an automatic feeder. Rather than simply dispense nuts the idea was to get them to work for it and to see what they see in terms of colours. Initially this consisted of a coloured l.e.d. that showed if a nut was present (e.g. red for none, green for present etc) with the nut being obscured so they could only tell via the colours.
I have grown this idea in my head to the point where I thought it would be fun to construct a dispenser that had several functions and then use them in a modular fashion to create various scenarios for the creatures to go through before they received the prize.

This idea was left for a while until my niece & nephew gave me a bird house for my birthday – unfortunately it is not possible to put up a permanent bird house in our communal gardens but the shape of it made me think that I could build my dispenser inside – so I did!

birdhouse
The birdhouse that will house the feeder

The following posts show how I am going through the design and build of this project.