• 1
    Creating a Design

    DFRobot sponsored this project.

    First was the choice of how to control my newly thought machine. Bluetooth would have had too short of a range, at only 30 feet with no obstructions. With this information, I opted to use WiFi. But now, how do I use WiFi to control the machine? A Raspberry Pi 3 has builtin WiFi capabilities, letting me use Flask to host a webpage. Next was the topic of the enclosure and how to dispense treats. I decided upon a rotating wheel design, where treats would fall into little sections, be rotated around, and then the treats would drop down onto a ramp and travel to the front of the machine.

  • 2
    Making the Fusion 360 Model

    I began by creating a base model for the treat receptacle. Treats fall into a mini-hopper where they are then taken into a rotating wheel.

    Next I added the Raspberry Pi 3 to the Fusion design, along with the other electronics, including an LCD and Raspberry Pi camera module. I also made a hopper that could store additional treats.

    The walls for the treat dispenser are supposed to be cut out of 1/4 inch plywood on a CNC router. There are 7 pieces to it, 4 walls, a floor, and a top and lid piece that can open and close to expose the treats. Lastly, I created a "fancy" handle to open the lid.

    Here is a render of the final design:

  • 3
    Setting Up the Pi

    DFRobot reached out to me and sent their Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi Camera Module. So after I opened up the boxes I got right to work by setting up the SD card. First I went to the Raspberry Pi Downloads page and downloaded the most recent version of Raspbian. I then extracted the file and put it into a convenient directory. You can't just copy/paste a .img file to an SD card, you have to "burn it" onto the card. You can download a burning utility like Etcher.io to easily transfer the OS image. After the .img file was on my SD card I inserted it into the Raspberry Pi and gave it power. After about 50 seconds I unplugged the cord and removed the SD card. Next I put the SD card back into my PC and went to the "boot" directory. I opened up Notepad and saved it as a blank file named "ssh" with NO extension. There was also a file I added called "wpa_supplicant.conf" and put this text into it:

    network={     ssid=<"SSID">     psk=<"PASSWD">}

    Then I saved and ejected the card and put it back into the Raspberry Pi 3. This should now allow for the usage of SSH and connecting to WiFi.