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Magic Flute of Rat Mind Control w/ Raspberry Pi

Summon rats by playing a 'magic' flute using a Raspberry Pi web controlled hacked automatic cat feeder + classic behavioral psychology.

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B.F. Skinner, founding father of Behavioral Psychology, invented the Operant Conditioning Chamber (also called a "Skinner Box") while a graduate student at Harvard. In my entry to the Hackaday Prize Instrument Challenge, I use Skinner's methods to hack the minds of those (rats) listening to a specific instrument instead of using electronics/code to hack an instrument itself. The result is an internet controlled musical automatic cat feeder with live-streamed video using a Raspberry Pi, along with my theatrical interpretation of The Pied Piper of Hamelin's magic pipes.

(warning:  I have absolutely no musical ability. Absolutely. No. Musical. Ability.)

How it works:

  1. Record self playing Black Sabbath's Iron Man on a flute (recorder) imbued with the magic of Harry Potter, Gandalf and Avril Lavigne.
  2. Build Nicodemus by hacking an automatic cat feeder and installing a sound system so that it will dispense food and play music at the same time.
  3. Place Nicodemus in random places where there are lots of rats (Brooklyn) and dispense food while playing a recording of IRON MAN on the magic flute (recorder).
  4. This will train hoards of rats to associate Iron Man with food, allowing you to summon hordes of rats by playing the magic flute (recorder).

It is essential to use a magic flute (recorder), otherwise the horde of hungry rats will eat you alive. The combined magic of Harry Potter, Gandalf and Avril Lavigne is more than sufficient, but other magics might also be used.

Nicodemus incorporates a raspberry pi 3b, Pi camera, SDCard MP3/amplifier module and a motion sensor. The Cayenne IoT platform is used to create a remote dashboard from which the audio and food dispensing motor can be controlled. The dashboard also allows for real-time rat activity monitoring by way of streaming motion sensor data. Video from the hacked automatic cat feeder will be live streamed over YouTube.

If there is anyone in Brooklyn who wants to collaborate on this let me know - seeing it all the way through will take a lot of work and I have tons of competing projects. There is every reason to believe it will work; there have been tons of operant conditioning experiments done on rats that involved rewards associated with environmental cues like music. Rats were the experimental subjects of B.F. Skinner's (the guy who first systematized operant conditioning) original experiments. Nicodemus is essentially a Skinner Box. Imagine using the flute on the doorstep of Trump Tower or Wall street during an IPO!

Here is some relevant research/background:


Nicodemus, the IoT Musical Hacked Automatic Cat Feeder

What is hope? Is it making the world a better place? Helping people? Inspiring people? I have built several projects for the Hackaday Prize that assume so - but what if I'm wrong. Consider that everyone you know and love will die and be forgotten - just as you will be. We live in a world defined by matter and energy interacting in a deterministic fashion according to fundamental laws of physics. In other words we are nothing more than a giant game of atomic pin ball with no more free will than a scientific calculator. Since we have no free will and no material significance, ethics and morality are nothing more than arbitrary conventions perpetuated by the world's most complex computers. And yet we persist... Why? Mostly by ignorance, but also by will. Life is absurd, but the first step towards freedom, even if it is an impossible freedom, is the recognition of absurdity. To stare into the abyss without flinching. Albert Camus once said "at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only...

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  • 1
    Project Soundtrack

    What with this being a music themed project, the build deserves a soundtrack. I put together a YouTube playlist to get things started: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrfzNWfDo0A6ByuWI65fHsNAxutBXIJEi

  • 2
    Automatic Cat Feeder

    I picked up a automatic cat feeder with audio on Amazon a while back. They are advertised as "pet feeders" but don't work very well with a lot of dog food + there is a picture of a cat on the box + "cat feeder" amuses me so "cat feeder" it is. I had originally thought this project wouldn't require any hacking at all: the feeder comes with the ability to record and playback sound. However, the sound quality is beyond redemption and I ended up wanting to live stream video. Projects grow, you know how it is.

  • 3
    Disassemble Automatic Cat Feeder

    There are four screws that attach the top half of the enclosure (motor, PCBs, display, buttons) to the bottom half (batteries, speaker). 

    The white tube contains what is essentially an Archimedes screw for cat food. Gravity drives cat food into the end of the tube underneath the cat food reservoir. The motor rotates the screw, which drives the cat food horizontally towards the other end of the tube where it falls out and onto the ground (or whatever the outlet happens to be above). The whole  contraption can be powered by a 5V external power supply or 6 D (alkaline 1.5v) batteries  in the battery housing at the bottom of the feeder. 

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Jan wrote 7 days ago point

Hey Curt,
I did watch your video and immediately thought of the "Rattenfänger von Hameln" (Pied Piper of Hamelin). That's some funky stuff going on there!!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Curt White wrote 7 days ago point

Ha! Yes, that was definitely an inspiration. The rat part, not the kids part. This project is all about the funk.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Morning.Star wrote 10/09/2018 at 05:10 point

Oh man. This I have to see lol

  Are you sure? yes | no

Curt White wrote 7 days ago point

Hopefully you will, the main reason I'm using a Pi is so I can live stream the rats.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Richard Hogben wrote 10/09/2018 at 04:02 point

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Jan wrote 7 days ago point

those rats might have autism!

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3mrrrx wrote 10/09/2018 at 01:35 point

did you think about feeding the rats in the skye.... pigeons! Rat on Brother!

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Eric Morgan wrote 09/18/2018 at 15:42 point

Awesome. Just Awesome. When you said "so weird even weird people would find it awkward to talk about" I had high expectations but damn. I love how people on the subway didn't even bat an eye when you staggered around with a rat mask and your shirt off.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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