Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

DIY Cat Waterer…Or How to Waste a Weekend Spoiling Your Cat

OK…so I have a cat. His name is Thomas. Thomas is a douche bag. When he was young and growing up, he lived in a shitty little apartment with crappy bathroom fixtures. He learned to get fresh water from the leaky sink and never drank from a dish. I’ve tried to force him to drink from a dish whenever we moved…and it even kind of works for like a week. That is usually how long it takes for Thomas to find the bathroom and start expecting the humans to turn on the water for him. If the humans don’t turn on the water for him, he will bitch and moan until they do. Normally, this wasn’t a problem because I always had a roommate that was home most of the time. Well, for the first time it is just me and Thomas, so he doesn’t have anyone to turn on the water for him. Enter the cat waterer.

So, I got some cheap Arduino Pro Mini’s on eBay that were direct ship from China. I would have gotten them from SparkFun, but they ran out when I was purchasing.

Basically it’s a really simple design that uses a matched pair of an IR emitter and a detector. I got these from RadioShack ages ago. They are just an IR LED and IR phototransistor. I wired them up to a board with the appropriate resistors and voila, I had a way to tell if a cat jumped on the sink.

For the plumbing side I bought a couple of necessary tools from Harbor Freight, including a tiny pipe bender and pipe cutter. I got some 1/4″ flexible copper tubing to run the water through and a big fat solenoid to control the flow. The solenoid I got was way over kill. It is good for air, gasoline, natural gas, water, and pretty much everything else I can think of. If I did this again I would go for the quieter plastic version that I see around. I got a few bits of brass compression fittings and bolted it all together. If I knew what I was doing it would probably be cleaner and straighter…but I don’t.

copper piping underneath sink

This is what the setup looks like down under.

Pipe splitter

This is how the piping comes from the wall.

Cabinet piping

This is the pipe coming out of the cabinet to the sink.

2014-08-31 21.36.05

Plumbing up top.

Plumbing up top.

For the coding, I take no responsibility or liability for it. It was done by Thomas.


Kitty coding

This is Thomas working on the code. Not much…but it is his contribution to the project.

I think there is much cleaner out there and he added a bunch of stuff that I don’t think it needs…but he’s learning. Well, that and he bit me when I started editing the code. The point of the code is to make sure that the software never cycles the solenoid too often. To do that he added some sleep time and tried to smooth out the signal from the IR. Pretty much all of the code was stolen from some other project then duct taped together into the form you can see below.

For the electronics you can see the Fritzing (both a blessing and curse of a software) exports below. Not much going on here. I had done the maths on a scrap piece of paper…that I have subsequently lost. Again, like the code, rough ideas from other projects (including the secret knock unlock project) and then sized the bits and pieces for my setup. I wired it together and it worked…mostly.  Actually, there was that one time where I put 12VDC to the VCC…Nothing was happy about that. I blew up the board and the LED. Whoops. That’s not exactly the cheapest way to learn…but I learned.

breadboard-TW1.5 schematic-tw1.5

IRL Board Pics:


This was when I was just working with what I had on hand.


This is a shot right before Mk. 2 got installed

So with all that said, behold, Thomas drinking out of his waterer…

Perspective Art in the Park

Sidewalk Art

So I went to Washington Square Park today.  Someone had left their sidewalk chalk there so I decided to have some fun with it.  Inspired by some really excellent perspective art I saw online I went and tried some of it myself.  At first I didn’t even know how to make what I wanted…or what I could do without a tripod or long string.  The first thing I tried to was to see if I could make a few holes in the ground.

Perspective hole in the ground

I was trying to make it look like three of the hexagonal tiles were taken away and a bottomless pit was below.

Perspective hole

Here I tried to make the hole 5 tiles big and only a few inches deep. The effect was there.

I was surprised at how well this looked.  This is where I decided to get a little more daring and try to draw something specifically at the viewers perspective.  I drew a few cubes with varying success.  Here is a cube that I made into a die.

Here is the die at just the right angle.

A die in perspective.

Perspective die not in perspective.

What I actually drew as seen from directly above.

This was not too bad for something done with just a piece of paper and a wooden stick I ended up using as a ruler. I also tried to draw a sphere. Generally I am pretty bad at cross hatching. The effect seemed to withstand my abhorrent ability to shade properly.

Perspective Spere

This is supposed to be a sphere. It’s a little lumpy and kind of flat at the bottom.

Perspective sphere on ground

This is what it looks like when you aren’t looking at it right.

So yeah, that was my spontaneous first attempt at sidewalk perspective art.  Next time, I’m going to go out there a little better prepared.  I should have had my laptop and maybe something like paint to sketch the stuff onto a photo to work from.  Also I didn’t really use “perspective” like I learned it in art class.  Some long string would have been helpful.  I need to look at some of the maths involved at getting the distances right.  Also some more different colors would have been nice too.

How I put my 3rd Generation PS3 back together

Surprisingly few pieces!

So I was having glitchy problems playing COD Black Ops II.  It was getting really bad.  The entire system would freeze and I would have to hard stop it like once a week at least.  That’s really, not good for the PS3 file system.  So I decided it was time to clean that thing out.  I figured it would be easy since has such great tutorials.  Turns out their tutorial for the PS3 is for the first generation PS3.  I have a third generation (still fat) PS3.  It was similar but not the same.  The major difference is how the heat sinks are connected.  Before you could take the motherboard out with the heatsink.  Now you have to pull off the heatsink from the motherboard to take it out.  I needed to get new thermal com
pound anyways.  See the gallery of stuff.


Whether or not it’s a coincidence cleaning out the PS3 made the game a lot better.  I haven’t had the game crash yet!  As an added bonus, I think the box is running a lot quieter now.