Meet the Maker – Doggy Internet Treater


Doggy Internet Treater

Brendan and Timber

My name is Brendan Brohan and I’ve recently become a Maker at the age of 56. As a youngster I was a tinkerer with a curious mind and my best Christmas presents were always things like chemistry sets and electronic kits (Denshi blocks, anyone?). Taking things apart and putting them (hopefully) back together was something I enjoyed. Then life intervened in the form of college (where I did a PhD in science) and my working career started in the pharmaceutical industry. During this period there was little time left for tinkering but I did develop an interest in computers as a hobby in the late 90’s and later, in 2005, turned that hobby into a business when my cool wife, Marie-Hélène, and I started a PC maintenance company. Solving other people’s computer problems as a business isn’t the same as tinkering around for fun and it was only when my wife got me an Arduino Starter Kit (I told you she was cool!) as a Christmas present last year that the latent Maker in me got into enjoying learning how it worked and what it could do.

Doggy Internet Feeder business end Doggy Internet Feeder top view

One of the best ways I find of learning is to make something that has a practical value for you and in my case that was a device that would allow us to treat our dog, Timber, either when he is home alone or when we are upstairs in bed and he is downstairs. So began work on the Doggy Internet Treater which will be one of the projects that I’ll be showing at Dublin Maker 2014 on July 26th. This combination of high-tech (Arduino + Internet shield and digital sound board) and low-tech (cereal carton and blu-tac) was a fun project that has a practical use. It’s currently at Revision 1.0 and fully functional but has certain limitations, so I would love attendees of Dublin Maker 2014 to drop by and offer any suggestions on how it might be improved.

A second project that I’m currently working on, and hope to have up and running for July 26th, is a multi-speed, infra-red remote controlled, pan-head for a GoPro camera. I’ve always found it difficult to get a smooth panorama shot when using a video camera on a tripod and I’ve used an Arduino Nano at the heart of this project. As with the Doggy Internet Feeder, there are improvements I want to make and would welcome visitors to drop by my stand to offer their suggestions.

IR Pan-head project at early breadboard stage IR Pan-head project prototype

I believe that you need ingenuity more than a workshop full of tools to get most projects off the ground, or at least to prototype stage. Having said that, I wouldn’t part with my Dremel rotary tool and the books Arduino Workshop (John Boxall) and Arduino Cookbook (Michael Margolis) are invaluable. Here’s hoping the price of 3-D printers keeps falling in time for next Christmas!

 

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