Personally, I have worked with many cool ethernet projects and by quick look, this one is pretty complicated yet will let you feed your cat over the internet, no matter where you are. (even if you are in China!)
The author uses a hacked Cisco router and some custom-hacked circuit to feed his cat plus added some video monitoring system:
These included i) being suitable for two cats i.e. not having to use the same bowl (or having to buy two of the same product, particularly if they’re expensive), ii) delivering food at the right time and quantity (this includes stopping them from helping themselves!), iii) being suitable for two meals a day for perhaps 2/3 days at a time, and iv) providing some form of feedback loop (ideally remotely-accessible video) as the last thing I wanted to come back to is two starving cats because something has failed – we want to know if/when it has so we can at least then get one of the neighbours to call round!
I imagine more and more DIYers will start creating more gadgets like this that will allow them to feed their loved ones instead of hiring humans to do the job.
The author mentions the hardest part about this hack was getting the right motor, which he solved with a powerful motor that had big enough torque for the dry food feeder itself:
It was then just the simple case of driving the dispenser with a motor. Of course, this seemingly innocuous step threw up quite a significant hurdle… The torque required to turn the paddle could get quite high, particularly when food starts to get caught which it invariably does. I didn’t measure it but it was certainly a fair old force required – I think under ‘normal’ arrangements with human hands you might back-off if resistance was felt and turn it the other way. For semi-automated motor operation this required gearing, which in turn would also help avoid inadvertently making some form of catfood Gatling gun! I found a suitable motor with a gearbox bolted on the end giving a nice sedate 4 RPM. Even better, in exchange for this leisurely pace it gives a maximum (stall) torque of 25kg·cm!
Also, instead of using a Ethernet-enabled relay devices, the author resorted to hacking an old Cisco router to do the same job:
sat there wondering why mutli-channel Ethernet relays cost so much (e.g. this one for £249) it dawned on me that if I could tap in to the port status LEDs on an old Cisco switch then I’d have a multi-port network-enabled relay interface for next to nothing!
I have to say, this is a hard project very well done, plus use of linux and hacking Cisco router makes it even special.
Video of the Ethernet-Enabled Cat Feeder in Action: