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Fixing a damaged sensible cat feeder with ESP32 •

Fixing a damaged sensible cat feeder with ESP32 •

2024-02-01 14:48:19

A few years in the past, I bought a PetNet sensible cat feeder. This one was effectively reviewed, and the app labored effectively sufficient to not be annoying. It let me set schedules, and dispense meals in fairly small increments, in comparison with its competitors. Issues labored pretty effectively for a couple of years, however in mid 2020, the corporate behind the product went out of enterprise, and shut down their servers. The feeder would proceed to work for a interval, however you could not configure any settings. Finally, it stopped working all-together.

That means to repair it “someday sooner or later,” I put it in my storage, and forgot about it for a couple of years. Just lately, I began mucking about with my HomeAssistant configuration, increase a brand new dashboard and getting my spouse to make use of it, and began feeling the itch concerning the damaged cat meals feeder. Pondering it would not be too laborious, I went out and bought an ESP8622, and popped open the feeder.

The guts of the cat feeder, opened for cleaning

The feeder was a mixture of easy and sophisticated. Easy, in that each one that actually wants to occur is the motor activates at scheduled intervals, for a brief time period. Complicated in that they constructed a lot extra performance into the system than was actually wanted. This factor is coated in sensors; it is obtained two scales, ostensibly for measuring the burden of the hopper and the burden of meals allotted, a pair of infrared sensors to detect when the hooper is empty, sensors that monitor the motor’s turning, and others that I have not found out the aim of.

For the reason that sensors are issues I did not actually need to fret about, all I needed to do right here was set off the motor for a burst of time, at a set interval of occasions. I additionally wished to have the ability to set off it remotely from my telephone or an analogous interface. That is fairly simple to do with ESPhome.

Wiring up the system wasn’t too advanced. The system got here from the manufacturing unit with a good built-in energy provide, working over USB 2 on a Micro-B port. The motor, sensors, and every thing else plugged into the primary board by way of little JST connectors. The ESP8622 devboard I used could be powered by both a 3.3 or a 5 VDC connection. To regulate the motor, I used a relay, wiring it on to the incoming energy provide and motor. For the reason that onboard energy provide supplies 5v, and the motor is 5v rated, I powered the devboard utilizing 5v, utilizing the three.3v output to energy the relay board, and triggering the board by way of a GPIO pin.

ESPHome makes the software program facet even simpler. Getting the board flashed and speaking to my HomeAssistant system was so trivial I used to be astonished. I simply plugged the devboard into my pc, went to the ESPHome web site, and, by way of the powers of WebSerial, flashed it with the ESPhome base firmware and obtained it arrange on my wifi. From there, HomeAssistant “noticed” the system and gave me the choice to undertake it. This complete course of took about 5 minutes. That is sooner than the setup and adoption of some purpose-made “sensible house” methods!

Altering the system to really do what I wanted wasn’t way more difficult. Utilizing ESPHome primitives, I arrange a GPIO output pin, and a “Button entity” to set off this pin for a second and a half. Lastly, I arrange a timer entity that triggers the button at a couple of mounted occasions all through the day.

As soon as I would put the entire system again collectively, I powered it up and added some catfood to the hopper. Triggering the button from HomeAssistant, I watched fortunately as catfood got here pouring out of the dispenser. Urgent the button a second time resulted in no catfood, and a buzzing sound from the motor. After some trial and error, I finally swapped to a smaller dimension of catfood pellet, after which finally to a unique USB energy provide. The unique one which got here with the feeder mentioned 5v 1A on its nameplate, however after testing with a meter, I used to be solely getting 3.3v and barely 100mA. Now the dispenser is triggering fortunately and constantly, and our cat not pesters us all through the day for extra meals.

See Also

A happy cat

If you’re , you’ll be able to see the configuration I wrote for the cat feeder here

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