Photo of dog-robot playing with ball on white background

The Twitterdog System: An Automated System Using Linear Actuators

Guest Writer
Guest Writer
PA Engineer

This dynamic duo has created one of the most interesting ideas using two miniature actuators that we've seen - using Twitter.

The TwitterDog System Part I.

Have you ever wished your Twitter could keep an eye on your dog while you were away? Javon Felder and his partner, Allison Lenzi, have come up with an automated system using linear actuators and sensors that will feed your dog, let him outside and even send you Twitter updates whenever he decides to do each. They chose our linear actuators to create the automated motion for the doggy door and feeder.

The System

The system is made up of four main components:

  1. The food dispenser.
  2. The doggy door.
  3. The home base.
  4. A collar.

Both the food dispenser and the doggy door are installed with an RFID chip. The home base is an RFBee radio and an Arduino controller connected to the web which receives and relays information. They considered using a Raspberry Pi but ultimately chose the Arduino because of its price and the compatibility of the system. There is a third RFID chip in the collar, which is worn around the dog's neck.

The Actuators

Two linear actuators were used to help make this project a reality. To lift and lower the doggy door, Javon and Allison selected our PA-14-24-150 compact actuator, one of our most popular items. They were seeking the right speed and the right stroke length for the door.

The second actuator was used to open and close the food dispenser. The small, PA-14-10-150 Mini Actuator was used. This actuator fit perfectly on the underside of the door and gave the kind of accurate control the team was looking for.

How it Works

When the little furball, or in this case, the little wooden furball, decides it's time to eat, he'll walk over to the food dispenser and trip the sensor. As the door opens, he's presented with a full bowl of food. The food dispenser has multiple bowls that can rotate if your dog keeps coming back for more. Once the pooch has had enough, the door will close and you'll be sent an update via Twitter. This message is relayed to you from the home base. Your dog just tweeted to you. Welcome to 2014.

When it's time to take some fresh air, the dog approaches the doggy door and trips another RFID sensor. The actuator springs into action lift the door and once again, you get a social media update. The future is amazing.

The Benefits (Other Than Dog Tweets)

If you're an avid vacationer, this system would be a boon for you. They've programmed the system to work for up to 72 hours, so you can leave on a weekend getaway without worrying about your pet. The system isn't set up for week-long trips, and it probably isn't a good to leave him or her alone for weeks on end anyway.

Each RFID chip and feeder will respond to only its own collar sensor. If one of your dogs is the sort that prefers to eat out of another dog's bowl rather than his own, this system will prevent that sort of thing from happening.

We wish Javon and Allison well in their future endeavors, and we thank them for using our mini actuators and sharing their project and their video with us.