Inspiration

We live with our cat Hakuna Matata. But feeding cat food for her has been a problem for us. If we offer "unlimited" food, we might worry about her weight and health. However, if we feed her constant amount by ourselves, that is just too much work. Why not use circuit to control the food amount using Amazon Echo we bought one year ago?

What it does

Amazon Echo (Alexa) will listen to our TURN ON command, then it is processed to the Amazon Smart Home Skill. The Skill will send the control command to the controller of our Candy Shower, a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. The Raspberry Pi will trigger the motor and feed certain amount of food (about 1 cup) for the cat.

Happened to forget saying the voice command? The software will automatically add food after a period of time to prevent the cat from starvation!

But do not forget to add cat food to the tank every now and then.

How we built it

The Candy Shower hardware was built by wood board mostly. We used a cam to control the trajectory of the wood blocks movement. Motor provides movement power.

In software part, we used a cool lib called Fauxmo that to emulate a python-enabled device to a Belkin Wemo device, which is compatible with Amazon Echo. Then we write the request handler function to send the control command to the device.

Challenges we ran into

Glue all the boards together!

We don't have the right to do port 80 or 443 forwarding over the network gateway and don't have a device cloud account, so we can only build our system on Alexa Smart Home Skill. Otherwise we can add more interesting commands on it and build comprehensive user interface. (Smart devices seem only support Turn On / Turn Off / Temperature changing control command)

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Build some awesome smart device that frees our hand on feeding our cat every day!

What we learned

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a smart home device.

What's next for Candy Shower

We will try to run a server on the Raspberry Pi, so we are able to use custom skills in Alexa Skill Kit to do more interesting things. We can feed the cat even we are out!

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