Showing posts from January, 2013

Projects Past: The 2009 Automatic Cat Feeder

In 2009 I took a week off from work to build an  Automatic Cat Feeder  to ration food to the overweight household cat. This was a project built from need and it had a deadline because my girlfriend and I were heading out of town for Thanksgiving. The requirements were simple: It needed to be easy to refill and dispense the correct amount of food twice daily. Early on I had an idea for a large rotating drum to dispense the food, it needed to be easily removable for refilling and heavy enough that it could sit on a motorized wheel and cause enough friction to be turned. Figuring out a latch mechanism that dropped the correct quantity of food after one rotation was the first tricky part. I didn't want any electronics on the drum so it had to be completely mechanical. In the end I hot glued a small box to the outside of the drum which filled during rotation, when it started moving back towards the top a tab would be hit to fling a door open and drop the food out. A magnet held the

Projects Past: The 2007 DIY Projector

I've had many projects over the years, the most involved by far has got to be my DIY projector.  It is also my first serious project. By the end of it I had vastly improved my knowledge of optics, electronics, woodworking, and even a little thermal dynamics. Research started sometime mid 2007, the now defunct lumenlab forums had a whole community of people building DIY projectors. There is a lot of theory to learn, optics to figure out, components to buy, and bringing all the pieces together is no simple task.  For such a complexe machine, at the core it has some very simple principles: A point light source radiates light into a fresnel lens, which straightens the light through the LCD screen, then another fresnel lens angles the light into a special lens which can focus the light on a screen. Here is an image from engadget which demonstrates the light path: The major problem with these sorts of projectors is that they tended to be very large. 1080p monitors at the time tend