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My Fishy Story

July 13, 2013

I love animals. I own two loving huskies and it hinders me from being away from home for too long. Since I became a dog owner, going out of town for even a few days meant finding a dog sitter or boarding. Yeah, it requires a lot to be a dog owner. That being said, for those occasional days where I have to be gone for a long time, I can just give my dogs extra large portions of food and water. They are smart enough to ration it out.

Fish on the other hand, are stupid. I mean, they are dumb. They can stuff themselves with so much fish food that they die.

I don’t own any fish, but I bought my niece fish for her birthday. Why? Because her mom (my sister) didn’t want a dog so my niece asked for the next best thing… a fish. I bought her a pretty little betta fish, a cool fish tank, and enough food and conditioner to outlast the fish. I don’t want to take care of a fish, but that was my sister’s problem. Right? Well, not exactly. A few weeks after I bought her the fish, their family went out of town for a month long vacation. Naturally, my sister asks, “oh Eddie, by the way, can you take care of the fish while we’re gone?”
Great… Just great. Why did I buy her a fish? It’s my niece’s first pet and I have to take care of it.

The problem with fish, as I have mentioned, is that you must feed it the right amount of food at the right time. 4-7 pellets twice a day. You can’t overfeed it or it will die. You can’t starve it or it will die. My own mealtimes are unusual and differ everyday. How am I supposed to remember a fish’s mealtime?

Something came up and I had to be away from the house for a good 24 hours. I wouldn’t be able to feed the fish. What was I to do? Take the fish with me? I just felt so… suffocated. I was on the phone with my girlfriend discussing this predicament. She suggested, “why don’t you just make a little robot that feeds the fish”. Silly idea… no wait… actually, that’s not a bad idea. Now, I don’t need to make a fish-feeding Wall-E, but I can rig up something VERY quick and simple! After all, it only needs to work for one meal. It would only be worth it if I could hack this together in 10 minutes or less…

So begins the build of my primitive little fish feeder:

First, I needed a servo. I dug through some of my electronic components and found my cheapest, weakest little servo.

I also needed to grab a spare Arduino, some wires, small paperclip, cardboard, and scotchtape.

Next, I took the paperclip and bent it and attached it to the servo.

Then, I took my piece of cardboard (actually the top part of an old green dot money pak card) and made a little siphon. Yeah, I really put my origami skills to the test.

I scotchtaped the cardboard siphon to the paperclip and wired the power to the 5v power source, ground to ground, and signal wire to pin 9 of the arduino board.


Finally, I coded up the software through the arduino SDK and uploaded it:

#include <Servo.h>;
Servo myservo;
int pos = 0;

void setup() {
  myservo.attach(9);
}

void loop() {
  for(pos = 0; pos < 90; pos += 1)
  {
    myservo.write(pos);
    delay(15);
  }
  
  delay(3000);
  
  for(pos = 90; pos > 0; pos -= 1)
  {
    myservo.write(pos);
    delay(15);
  }
  myservo.write(0);
    
  delay(43200000);
}

43200000 milliseconds = 12 hours. Once every 12 hours is perfect.

This took less than 10 minutes to hack together… but it may not be a bad idea to improve this fishfeeder and have it keep feeding the fish every 12 hours without me having to load the siphon with more fish food. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with hand-loading ammunition, but there’s a nifty little tool that allows you to set the perfect powder charge per casing. There is an interim chamber that adjusts to hold the perfect powder charge everytime you pull the handle up and down. Otherwise, you’d have to weight it for each case. A design similar to that would allow the robot to feed the fish perfectly without the need to count the pellets…

But then again, this would only be worth it if the efforts to enhance this fishfeeder doesn’t take too much time.

Sometimes, good things come from being lazy too… yes they do.

From → Hacks

11 Comments
  1. It’s $%^& like this, Cranklin… Working smarter, not harder! Nice post!

  2. this is fucking brilliant. i’m reminded of how the Doc fed Einstein in Back to the Future, haha.

    • Man Paul, one of my favorite movies of all time… maybe that’s what secretly inspired this. Lol

  3. lurchpop permalink

    that micky mouse box would make a good faraday cage

  4. Julia Daniels permalink

    Are you taking suggestions for what to make w/ your aurdino? You should totaly have your computer make you cofee, diffrent options and everything. Voice command too.

  5. Christian permalink

    Where’s the next post????? I’m dying to see something cool!

  6. Just saw this blog and I want to get into coding, I love what you post!

  7. josh newhart permalink

    We miss you!!!! post more, your unreplaceable.

  8. Daniel Lee permalink

    R.I.P. Cranklin, eaten by the very fish he was trying to help

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