6 DIY Gadgets That Will Care For Your Pet While You’re Away

Using Arduino or other micro-controllers, build a device to automatically feed, water, or snap photos of your pet

The holiday season is nearly here. Along with the pleasures (Ooh, fruitcake!) and anxieties (Ugh, fruitcake?) that accompany this time of year, there’s a worry particular to pet owners: Who’ll feed Fido or Tiger while I’m out of town?

There are enough weekends left between now and Thanksgiving to build one of these automated gadgets. They’ll either feed or water your beloved companion while you’re away, or at least auto-snap photos of your pet’s adorable antics. The projects range from easy to anything-but, so you should be able to pick one that either matches your skills, or gives them a pleasant stretch.

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Water Warden

Robotics engineering student Eloy Salinas designed and built this gadget to automatically keep the water dish brimming for his dog. It sends a tweet when the reservoir runs dry.

VCR Cat Feeder

This DIY device employs the programmable timer already built into a VCR to schedule delivery of cat kibbles.

(AT)tiny Fish Feeder

The flakes will fall when you build this device, which employs an ATtiny85 or ATtiny45 micro controller, and requires some enclosure-building chops as well as electronics skills.

Twitter-controlled Pet Feeder

Amanda Ghassaei hacked an off-the-shelf automated feeder to dispense dry pet food in response to a tweeted command. The device utilizes Arduino as the controller, adding an Ethernet shield to receive Twitter data.


This project builds off Amanda Ghassaei’s original design. It utilizes a Raspberry Pi instead of Arduino in order to include additional features, such as a wireless WiFi connection, taking commands via a Gmail account, and “feedback” via camera surveillance of the feeding pooches.

Crittergram Capture Cam

What is your beloved companion getting up to when you’re not home? Find out by building the Crittergram Capture Cam, which will snap and save a photo every time it senses movement in front of it.