Did you feed the dog? (part 3: prototype build)

Thanks to my TechShop membership and laser cutter skills, I bring you the prototype build.  What does it have?

  • Spinners
  • Cutout windows
  • Funny slogans

What’s it missing?

  • Position sensors
  • Knobs for easy turning

You might also notice that I put in a second window and spinner, and threw some gears on the back.  What’s the deal with that?

Well, I realized that there’s another type of information I want to have.  Since we’re a two-human household, it’s possible that the other person might feed the dog.  Just to give us a reassuring confirmation, I added another spinner for the “who” aspect of this system.  Logically “when” should be sufficient, since if the spinner had moved without you touching it, you can reasonably expect the other person to have done it.  On the other hand, it’s cheap to add a second spinner, and it conveys information that, while not strictly necessary, will often be desired.

Gears, though.  What’s up with the gears?  Well, I was thinking further about how I wanted to be able to interact with the system remotely.  If I leave the house and want to know whether the dog has been fed, being able to read the dial positions remotely is nice.  But what if I left the house, and remembered that I had fed the dog but failed to update the dials?  Well, for one thing, the system is apparently too hard to use if that’s the case.  But just in case, I want to be able to confirm through my phone that I had, in fact, fed the dog.  And if I do that, then I need the dials to accurately reflect this state, so that somebody else who comes along does not look at the dials and get bad information.  So I figured I needed a way to change the spinner position remotely, too.  The gear might be useful for attaching a motor to rotate the spinner – we’ll see, I’ve not worked with motors much and I certainly have never built a geared system from scratch.

I think I’m going to focus on the mobile app experience next.  It’s going to be Android-only since we’re an Android house, but if you are following along at home and make an iOS version, let me know!

What do you think?