A 3D printed project about a cat
Earlier this month I moved across the country to attend NYU ITP, the 2-year Interactive Telecommunications Program. This has meant leaving a darling, snuggly cat behind in San Francisco.
To make missing this fuzzy friend a little easier, I made a little timer to simulate her constant need for food.
I wanted this piece to:
- Be physically interactive
- Run mechanically, not digitally
- Have a sense of whimsy (which is … uh … hard to quantify)
A couple of desired interactions:
- The audience gets to “push down” the nose to reset the timer
- The timer “yells” when it’s “hungry”
I tore the core out of a 60 minute focus timer to see how it works. Turns out, it’s almost exactly the same as an egg timer: a series of springs and pendulums, attached to a dial (and a hammer to ring the alarm).
Lucky for me, the dial was a press-fit onto the mechanism, so I could easily replace it with something custom.
I spent some time learning about 3d printing, using OnShape to create the CAD elements, and a Prusa3d to print. These are some pretty basic shapes, but they had to be modeled to fit the pre-existing parts on the timer itself.
It took a few tries to make sure the two pieces mated well; between the tolerances on the print and the errors in my measuring, things needed some adjusting along the way.
Now that the fit seemed snug, I could move on to translating the shape I imagined onto the part itself. I freehanded the shape of the head and placed the mount onto the back.
A few iterations later …
A few tweaks, some final touches, and we got …
The Final Product
In order to “feed” the cat, you push the nose down, effectively closing the cat’s mouth. 30 minutes later, the cat “yells” for more food.
And the whole family together: