As I predicted in the previous cat feeder post, version 2.0 did not last very long. After getting the 3d printer, designing a new cat feeder became priority one. Keep on reading for the details.
The End of 2.0
Seeing as cardboard is used as a primary source for many cat toys, it did not do an admirable job at keeping the cats away from cat food. The double cat feeder was quickly torn to shreds. Instead of trying to put some other garbage device together, I opted to wait and design a 3d printed version.
I used google sketchup to design most of the parts, and I used solidworks to design the spinner, which was the most complicated piece. The entire model can be downloaded on my thingiverse page! Google sketchup is a free CAD/CAM program that is rather limited, but its hard to complain about considering it’s free. It is definitely worth downloading and playing around with if you are trying to get your feet wet in design.
The feeder features 8 evenly divided sections. Two of them are blanks and 6 of them are meant to hold food. This allows me to get three days of feeding in for each cat before it needs to be refilled. I made them as big as possible, and they easily hold the 1/4 cup of dry food that each cat gets in the morning. If I want to, I can probably get at least 3/4 of a cup in each one to do full day feedings if we are away.
The coolest part, by far, is the spinning insert. It features ramps in each feeding section to make sure all the food falls into the bowl. That piece took 13 hours to print!
This was the first big thing I designed and printed from scratch. I basically struggled with the printer to get it to print such large pieces reliably, but in the process, it really helped me dial the printer settings in. Since I completed the feeder, I have completed several other large prints with much less effort. I did go through almost a full roll of blue PLA trying to get some of these pieces printed though.
Overall, I’m glad I switched to the PETG. Ultimately, I am convinced that it is a superior material to PLA. It was harder to get printing well, but the effort to get it working was worth it.
Impressions Thus Far
I am finally getting a full nights sleep again. That is excellent news for me. I realized after I finished printing that I could have made some different design choices. The main one would be a move away from the lego motor. I originally used the lego motor because I had the arduino shield and I was looking for an excuse to use it. The next iteration of this will probably be a more compact design with a stepper motor and electronics all packed into the base. All in all, I am happy with how this turned out. I am not going to be in a rush to redesign this thing as long as it continues to work well!