Talk About the Latest in Home Automation/Home Electronics -
Home Automation Forum

Smarthome Forum
Insteon Home Automation
Login or Register
 
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Search | FAQ | Smarthome
 All Forums
 General Discussion
 Pet Care & Pest Control
 Help designing an automated cow feeding system :)
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

subiej
Starting Member

8 Posts

Posted - 04/06/2015 :  7:52:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ok, a small challenge for you people who know what you're doing, here. Honestly, I made a good effort to figure this out myself, but I really don't know a lot about home automation, and have smoke coming out of my ears.

I am interested in creating a system for feeding my family cow while we are away. I'm thinking it will consist of a (strong!) bin, full of hay, with a lid that is under tension (to open it) by some simple springs, but held closed until the designated time by an electromagnetic lock like the "Seco-Larm E-941SA-80Q Mini Maglock, 80 lb." on Amazon (sorry, not allowed to post a link), which needs its own power supply.

My hope is to design a system in which, at a designated time, the lock will be released (i.e. the power will be shut off), thus releasing the lid, and popping the lid open, for the cow to eat.

I can figure out how to make a system for a *single* bin– and a single feeding–with a simple timer from the hardware store. But the goal is to create a *series* of bins, to be programmed for various days, e.g. 6pm every evening every day of the week, or even for various mornings and evenings, a week in advance.


Can anyone give me an idea of what direction in which I should be looking to accomplish this? Do I need a controller that can handle multiple circuits (this seems like overkill, and very expensive!), as well as a separate power source and lock for each circuit? Or perhaps I am on the wrong track altogether? Yes, they sell very expensive automatic feeders online, but seriously, this is not that complicated– it seems like I should be able to make something like this myself.

My apologies for what may be a silly question. If anyone has any gardening dilemmas, I am happy to help :/

Thanks-
Susan

stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 04/06/2015 :  11:36:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I know nothing about feeding cows, although I did ride one during my formative years

But, I do know about automation.

So, let's start with the, "*single* bin– and a single feeding–with a simple timer from the hardware store." Any pictures, links?

How much does a cow eat, a full bin at each feeding until it's empty (e.g., like a dog)? Some at one time and some at another from the same bin (e.g., like a cat)? Do you need a bin for each day? A few per day?

Or something entirely different?

Stu's Views is Education and Fun. What do YOU want to VIEW today?
MathLandia High school mathematics learning fun.
Both Stu's Views and MathLandia are free websites that do not sell anything.
Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

Please don't PM with questions that can be asked in a forum
Go to Top of Page

subiej
Starting Member

8 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2015 :  07:25:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi stusviews, Good questions- thanks so much. I should have included more detail, for the few people out there who aren't well-versed in bovine eating habits :)

First of all, this is for winter use, when our cow is not out on the pasture, eating grass, (the greatest automated feeding system ever invented!). In the winter, she will have access to shelter in our (enclosed) barn, which is where I envision this contraption living. The barn does have electricity, etc.

The cow (there is just one) will eat all of the hay we give her at one time. So yes, if a bin of hay is opened for her, she will empty that entire bin in one feeding.

She eats twice per day in the winter, BUT I'm thinking we will only need the automated feeder to operate *once* per day- in the evenings, let's say- and we'll have a human come to check on and feed her in the mornings. It would be a nice bonus if the system could be programmed to provide food twice per day, but not a requirement. We are just trying to find a way to go on vacation, without having to pay someone to drive up there 2x/day, just to throw down a lump of hay.

This is still in the concept stage, so I don't have photos yet, and the forum won't allow me to post links for some reason, but I am thinking we will build the bins out of plywood, or buy large, strong, pre-made containers of some sort. I think the automation piece will be more tricky, and figured we'd design the bins and lids around that.

For the single bin idea, I was thinking I could use an electromagnetic lock like the "Seco-Larm E-941SA-80Q Mini Maglock, 80 lb." on Amazon to hold the spring-loaded door shut until the power to the magnet is turned off. I believe this particular lock can be powered by a 12 or 24volt dc plug-in thingy, so I can see how one could use a simple, cheap lamp timer to shut the power off, thus releasing the lock, IF you were going to be gone only for one day.

But a single-bin system is not very useful to us– we are really interested in something that we can set up in advance for up to, say, 7 days, with 7 different bins, one of which would open every day at the same time. So, the cheap lamp timer idea would not work in that case, and I am sure there is a more elegant solution, in any case.

I'm trying not to spend a fortune, or make this too complex for us to set up, but it would definitely be worth a few hundred dollars to us. I think this is kind of a fun problem, but don't really know how to approach the solution. Thank you in advance to anyone who has any ideas for us!






Go to Top of Page

oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
3585 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2015 :  07:55:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am mostly familiar with insteon systems, but the first device that came to mind was this:

http://www.smarthome.com/smartenit-ezio8sa-insteon-compatible-input-output-controller.html

Warning: I have never used one of these, but I understand that it may be able to control 12VDC, which could be wired to up to eight of those magloc devices you referenced.

To this it may be possible to add an insteon hub:

http://www.smarthome.com/insteon-2245-222-hub.html

The hub, I am hoping, would be able to send the insteon signal to the EZIO8SA at pre-defined times to open one of the eight relays, shutting off the 12V wired to one of your maglocs. The hub would also let you do this manually, via cell phone or tablet.

As I stated earlier, this is all theoretical for me, but thought I would bring up the idea simply to point you in a direction should you care to follow it and research further. There may be pitfalls that I can't see. I am not sure whether the hub can recognize the EZIO type devices. Having said these things, I thought you might chase down the details through smarthome.

If you are willing to count on a person resetting the automated bin each day, and don't need eight separate output relays for eight bins, there are versions of the SMARTENIT device with fewer inputs and outputs that might save a little money:

http://www.smarthome.com/smartenit-ezio4o-insteon-4-output-relay-load-controller.html

Edited by - oberkc on 04/07/2015 08:00:43 AM
Go to Top of Page

stusviews
Moderator

USA
15600 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2015 :  7:06:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
http://www.dairymaster.com/feeding-equipment/dry-cow-feeding-system/
http://www.diy-hunting-and-outdoors.com/motorized-automatic-feeders.html
http://ohioline.osu.edu/as-fact/0004.html

Stu's Views is Education and Fun. What do YOU want to VIEW today?
MathLandia High school mathematics learning fun.
Both Stu's Views and MathLandia are free websites that do not sell anything.
Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

Please don't PM with questions that can be asked in a forum

Edited by - stusviews on 04/07/2015 7:13:27 PM
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Smarthome Forum © 2000-2017 Smartlabs, Inc Go To Top Of Page
Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.07