Goldie Fishwater & the Internet-Connected Aquarium
The control interface for the tank (left). The water is at room temperature. Motor A is the camera platform. Motor B is the fish feeder. The Relay button controls the pumps and bubbler. The camera was raised to water surface level (right), and I had just used the feeder. Goldie was right there ready for the pellets. (Source: Cabe Atwell)
I think what really captures me in your story is not so much the fact that Goldie is now safe and you can feed him remotely, but at the way you made use of basic items that most of us have at home in order to do so. The printer part is particularly interesting. Nice work man!
Though it sounds like a lot of work to keep a fish safe (you must really love Goldie) am not much of a fish guy so my attention was captured by the specifics. I have a new Raspberry Pi camera and I would love to be able to use it to monitor something at home (don't ask what it is) from my office computer. I have VLC installed and I would appreciate more details when it comes to connecting the IP to that.
My comments were more towards providing the same level of performance while improving reliability and reducing complexity. I tend to save dislikes for things that are either not going to function as needed or are inherently unreliable. A gimbled camera system could be either complex or fairly simple and the reliability and power consumption will depend on the design and operation scheme. Consider that some stepper motor drive schemes require constant excitation of the windings while other methods do not. So a decision about the stepper drive control mode would affect both efficiency and reliability.
Having a thermometer in the background is a very simple way to monitor temperature if you already have a video channel, and it is both the lowest power and the most reliable way to keep track of the temperature. It is also the simplest and least expensive method. It is what I suggested to a friend a few years back when they wanted a means to check on a summer home remotely. Their system used a dial-up power switch to turn on an internet connected computer that could select a number of video sources. The whole system was quite hacker resistant and quite reliable, except for depending on the phone line and the power utilities. And it was assembled by an accountant with no engineering background, who only asked a relatively small number of questions.
While at first glance it seems almost silly - you are right, Cabe. After a ride I often turn my horse loose in the pasture and enjoy sitting in a swing under a tree just watching him as he moves about. That is very peaceful. My horse definitely knows me - when I come into the pasture he heads over and we sniff noses in a horsey greeting. He will then follow me up to the gate.
Check my time map, and go to the part where I show the system in action. I even have one where I talk about the temp sensor.
As for multiple camera, I thought about doing that, eliminating the moving platform. However, I like the concept of moving your view to wherever you wanted to look, like one would if viewing the tank in real life, not just a static frame. I think you will not like my 3D gimbal next-level camera movement plans....
Great idea. The idea of watching your pets is my goal. Like you are there is key. Having a freeform remote presence is the goal. As with any development, it is going to be slow, unless I get some an investor/funding)
I think fish get ignored far more than any other pet. I think it is due to our inability to tough/pet them. Goldie is no less loved than my prior cat. I think she deserves better treatment than a "setup and forget" system.
More on all this soon. For some pets, I think transmitting your own face would be interesting. So, perhaps a Skype video conference, and all the pet care controls and systems on a separate link.
Many years ago, we had an article about an automated goldfish feeder. I've loolked online, but the story apparently isn't posted on the Design News website anymore. It was pre-Internet. The system's inventor used a phone connected to a vibrating device. When the phone was called from a remote location, each ring of the phone would vibrate the fishfood box, causing the flake food to drop into the aquarium. To drop more food, the caller had to remain on the line for more rings.
So Cabe - can you design a similar setup for me for my horse Pistol? He is about an hour away...and I feel the same way about him as you do about Goldie. You could become a millionaire - horse people will buy anything that has to do with their horses...
GTOlover, that is why dogs are much better pets, which is that at least some of the breeds are smart enough to take care of themselves for a few days. I had a Golden/Shelty mix who would only eat what shee needed each day, so although I gave her fresh food each day, for those days when I would be quite late, I could leave her extra and she would not eat it until much later.
Our problem with fish was that they would jump out of the acquarium and hide under furniture, only to be found much later. And it is a real challenge to play fetch and throw with a fish. Also, really hard to take them for a run.
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