Interactive Cat Pinball


March 29, 2022

A dynamic, automated, interactive livestream pinball playfield for cats. The system pits viewers against those micro-lions. Try to score if they let you. Feed them, entertain them, get points and prizes.

Invention idea #02015.1 pulled from my notebooks to share.

Build it for fun & profit.

Explore the interactive blueprint.

Click/Touch & drag to pan, Scroll wheel/pinch to zoom.

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Overview of the concept:

Additional details for those interested:

The original notebook entry (a few years ago) was an automated, non-interactive system to occupy cats while their human servants were out earning money to buy food and cat liter. It is more complex since I visualized recycling balls into the magazine (like pinball) to keep the action going indefinitely. The non-interactive system is still a legitimate idea, but I would simplify it:

  • Use a hopper of balls (no recycling) that holds a fixed number of balls in a magazine.
  • No launcher, use a gravity drop system. It can deploy in the same position (no plinko-style needed).
  • Obstacles are fixed. Moving obstacles was for viewer interactivity.

I'd still employ a slot+ball catch and store the balls in the housing. And perhaps a beacon, sound effects generator, and treat dispenser.

Doing this simplifies the design down to a single servo to release a ball and a microcontroller that randomly releases balls. If you are going to sell the product, you'll need to fold in a UI to let the user select frequency, on/off times, etc. It can be as simple as some buttons and dials. I don't see the need for an LCD readout. Keep it simple and durable.

After streaming for a while in 2019, I realized that ICP would have profit/entertainment potential turning it into a livestream, chat controlled system; hence, the current iteration of the concept.

A couple RGB sensor options:

Color Detection using simple RGB Sensors:

Turns out you apparently can use an LED as a color sensor. This is mentioned in a couple of the examples below.

Useful Software:

Snack dispenser to modify:

Looking through these I don't see one that is reasonable/affordable to modify offhand. You want to dispense a single treat ideally. Perhaps a dog food/treat dispenser will work better. Or perhaps modifying an inexpensive toy gum ball machine may be a better approach. Put a stepper motor (or gear motor with stop switch) on the turning mechanism with a break-beam sensor on the output to verify dispensing.

Trading Card Game Manufacturer: 

If I were to implement this idea, I'd go bananas and make an entire room (10x10' or so) a play field and get 5 kittens...let the chaos begin! :) 

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