The other day I got a message from a uCHobby reader named Jake. He wanted to talk about improving the performance of his automatic cat litter box. His litter box, a Cat Genie, takes care of most of the dirty work. It does more then just scoop out the kitty litter, it washes, rinses, and dries the litter as well. Basically it is a litter box robot. The Cat Genie does a good job but Jake believes it can do better with some code changes. He contacted uCHobby for advice on how to hack the system.
We did some initial research and found that the Cat Genie should be easy to hack. Not only as a potential better Kitty litter box but for other projects. The main board has lots of relays to control motors and water valves, it uses a PIC processor with a clearly labeled programming port. There is also a clearly marked serial port on the main board.
Jake put up a bunch of pictures showing the insides of this device. He would like suggestions on how to get started hacking the Cat Genie. I suggest that we take over the PIC code via the programming connector. Figure out what I/O pin controls which function and write a library to operate all the I/O then release this as open source so owners can take charge or pimp there Cat Genie. Jake would like to add an LCD panel, which could be done via that serial port.
More information and pictures after the jump.
The picture below shows the PIC programming connector in the middle right. Notice the "JC1 Prog" label. Even each signal on the connector is labeled. The serial port pins can be seen at the bottom of the picture, again each pin labeled. There are a bunch of relays which must be under the PIC’s control to turn on all the functions of the litter box cleaning.
Here is a video showing the device running though a cleaning cycle.
Give Jake some advice on how he might hack the Cat Genie to change things like when water is dispensed and how long parts of the cycle last. I would also like to hear other ideas for how this board might be hacked to do other things. The first thing that popped into my mind was a hydroponics controller.