I started trying to paint a tool every day in the month of December. I did ok, holiday travel notwithstanding, and made 22 paintings in 31 days. The best of this set went into this watercolor tools poster, now available on my Society6 print shop. What tools should I paint next?
This project goes over the process I used to create an automated cat food bowl, for my elderly diabetic cat Chaz. See, he needs to eat breakfast before he can get his insulin, but I often forget to pick up his food dish before I go to bed, which spoils his appetite and throws off his insulin schedule. This dish uses a servo motor to close a lid over the food between the hours of midnight and 7:30am. The NodeMCU ESP8266 microcontroller’s Arduino sketch uses Network Time Protocol (NTP) to control the schedule.
This project may not be suitable for younger, more active cats. Chaz is so old and frail, he isn’t inclined to try to pry the bowl open, but it is possible.
I’ll admit, I’m proud of my small-but-efficient workshop, and it’s thanks to some key items I can’t live without. Here are my suggestions for what to get the maker in your life this holiday season.
Canary Box Cutter
The Canary box cutter is safer than a utility knife for opening boxes and cutting cardboard, and allows you to cut curves in cardboard more easily than a regular blade. I like the versatility of the Canary and find myself reaching for it more often than any other cutting tool. While it is still possible to cut yourself with its serrated edge, it’s much more difficult.
This project makes use of a 12V battery, like you would use for a vehicle, for charging USB devices in case of a power outage or camping trip. It’s as simple as affixing a USB car charger to the battery. After Hurricane Sandy, I was without power and used an inverter/battery setup at home, but it was huge and heavy. This project revisits the concept with a smaller battery (meant for motorcycles/ATVs) and DC-only charging.
I’ve also created an optional 3D printed battery topper to cover the battery contacts and hold the USB ports. The design is available on Tinkercad so that you may modify it to fit your specific battery and USB charger.
The compact design makes it easier to transport and store. There are many situations where this device could be useful:
12V vehicle battery (I used one intended for a motorcycle/ATV) such as this one