Cat Feeder 2.5
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single cat in possession of a good fortune must be in want of yet more breakfast. (Apologies, Ms. Austen.)
Rewind to 2015 - my girlfriend and I were spending alternating nights at each other's houses, which was cramping our cat's style. Paloma felt that the late breakfast some mornings was just terrible, and took it out on our feet early in the morning in protest. Since all we really needed was a breakfast-on-a-timer, I built a cat feeder that would go off at the same time every morning, as we'd refill every night. This worked fantastically, Paloma was much happier, we got to sleep in a little more, and everyone was happy. As you can see from the picture below (left) the construction was, um, cost-optimized. Little more than a drill that would lift a pot lid off a pre-loaded food bowl, the main drawbacks were having to refill the bowl, and the quite loud drill.
The beginning of cat feeder 2.0 is on the right - designed to dispense human treats when a hand was placed under the dispenser, I re-wired it to fire just a single serving per power cycle and plugged it into a wall timer. Paloma disliked this setup - there isn't enough room to eat! Below is version 2.0 proper, with appropriately sized kitten headspace and still cost-optimized: the fancy bent wood minimalist base is a sign offcut and the top of an Ikea table leg. The top hopper is good for a few days of feeding, and the wall timer has a backup battery - while it won't function if the power is out, it does retain its schedule. Once again, all was right in the world, until I found a 15lb dry goods bin at Urban Ore...and started in on version 2.5...
This is the current incarnation, optomized for looking fresh in the kitechen. I don't know that Paloma likes it any more or less-as long as the robots feed her on the regular she's happy. But we like that it holds a full sack of cat food, keeps it fresh, and makes it easy to dispense to the feeder when it needs a top-up. Version 3.0 will need a longer screw feed and a better motor so that it can pull directly from the hopper, but that's still in the works... :) (The plywood casing is sized for adding those features later, so it will stay in about the same footprint)