back to article Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system

It's a tip of the hat today to Reg reader Joshua Thumim for putting the humble Raspberry Pi into the service of humanity with a simple but effective feline repellent system. Joshua explained: For the last few years, pretty much every time I (or my two small kids) wanted to use the garden I'd first have to remove 3-5 cat …

  1. Anonymous Blowhard

    I'm cataleptic with mirth

    (I apologise in advance)

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    Fat dogs with huge jaws should also work

    know that these cats belonged to my neighbours who had nice turd-free gardens thanks to being cat owners

    I am not knowledgeable in cat psychology, only knowing that the nasty buggers ferry around the crud that causes crazy cat lady syndrome, so is this some territorial behaviour?

    Also, patent, patent!

    1. joeW

      Re: Fat dogs with huge jaws should also work

      Fat dogs with huge jaws might prevent the cat crap issue, but what does one do about the fat dog crap?

      1. mark 63 Silver badge

        Re: Fat dogs with huge jaws should also work

        but what does one do about the fat dog crap?

        Tigers!

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Fat dogs with huge jaws should also work

          It's bigger all the way up.

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Fat dogs with huge jaws should also work

        Most dogs (especially retrievers) will eat the cat crap; it's like a uniquely flavoured protein snack or something for them.

  3. Robigus
    Happy

    Splendid

    High quality nerdage.

  4. Cripes Chief!

    I want one!

    can't stand the blighters

  5. TRT Silver badge

    I love a video...

    about wet pussy.

    1. Martin Budden

      Re: I love a video...

      But, as this was in Blighty, it's not a hot wet pussy.

    2. gc23

      Re: I love a video...

      Faster Pussycat indeed.

  6. Jess

    An excellent system

    But I'm not quite sure why it needs a Pi.

    Surely a simple timer would be cheaper?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An excellent system

      Then it wouldn't take them by surprise and would waste water. Animals are pretty clever and if it was on a timer they would just work out when it was safe to poop...more than likely, being that cats are sadistic bastards, they would poop on the nozzle so that when the timer kicked in it would fire shit all over the place.

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: An excellent system

        I assume Jess means using the same PIR and valve but with a simple timer to let the hose run for a short while after the PIR fires (similar to how a security light works).

        That would be a fairly simple electronics project, and would work, but you wouldn't get the fun videos - which he mentions help to set up and calibrate the system as well as providing endless amusement.

    2. Amorous Cowherder
      Pint

      Re: An excellent system

      Timers are easy even for an animal to work out, the cat would soon work our when a toilet stop was possible. You need something to take snapshots using a camera, then detect changes from the last to the next image, changes in the image capture stream mean something has moved into or out of the view of the camera. It's the basis of how most home CCTV units work. It takes time to tune home CCTV so it's not going off every few minutes 'cos a tree has moved in the wind or a cat has run through your garden ( stopping for toilet breaks sometimes! ).

      You can usually get some OSS that will do the same for any webcam, the clever bit is using it for something wise and wicked like this, a superb adaptation of technology by this gent. I have female cats and we back onto a river, so they go down the river and are not territorial enough to bother going next door for a crap.

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: An excellent system

        @Amorous Cowherder

        Did you actually read how this works? The cat is detected using a simple PIR sensor (as used for security lights, burglar alarms etc) not any fancy image processing. PIRs have the advantage of detecting only warm bodies (like cats and people) not trees moving etc.

        The webcam is just for fun, and for calibrating the system.

    3. zenmaster24

      Re: An excellent system

      timer knows when the cats there does it?

    4. Annihilator

      Re: An excellent system

      "But I'm not quite sure why it needs a Pi."

      Indeed, the only use of the Pi is controlling the Pi Cam to record the event. The triggering of the solenoid (and I assume the reset) doesn't get controlled by the Pi.

    5. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: An excellent system

      > But I'm not quite sure why it needs a Pi.

      See icon --->

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: An excellent system

        All it needs is an atom and/or twitter feed along with a web server so we can be notified of the new videos. I mean this is way more entertaining than anything on tv.

  7. Fihart

    I expect you pay for garden fertiliser.

    Then complain when the moggies offer it for free.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: I expect you pay for garden fertiliser.

      Nope, have a compost heap. A compost heap that cannot give you Toxoplasmosis.

    2. unhombresw19

      Re: I expect you pay for garden fertiliser.

      carnivores dont produce very good fertiliser

  8. Jason 41

    Damn you El Reg

    You made me watch cat video's on You Tube

    I'm such a cliché now

    Grrrr

    1. Hero Protagonist

      Re: Damn you El Reg

      A shame you didn't spend the time watching a video on the proper use of the apostrophe instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn you El Reg

        Here's the video you requested to complete your education

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OKcB-aJtt4&list=PL8CEEF7B954FCBF33

  9. Isendel Steel
    Pint

    kudos

    have a beer

  10. joeW

    Elegant solution

    I have a cat, and wouldn't be a bit bothered if one of my neighbours installed this. In fact, I might give it a go myself - furry little bastard ruined my last lawn re-seeding.

  11. Stephen 24
    Childcatcher

    Minor Issue

    Can it tell the difference between the cats and his kids? Probably not too important on a summer's day...

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. James Hughes 1

      A quick read of the Thumb up/down state....

      More cat haters than lovers on here so far......Welcome to our Cat Detesting Overlords!

      1. James Hughes 1

        Er, no point in down voting the comment on the thumb up/down state. You need to downvote the original post for it to be statistically pertinent.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Oh No! Looks like the cat lovers have got the op deleted. (My first ever deletion - and it's on a cat subject. How odd....good job I never posted that Kickstarter campaign for a statue of Jimmy Saville)

          Shame on you all. Please acquire a sense of humour. You'll find the internet a much better place with one.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Jimmy Saville? Quite the mad cat, indeed.

          2. Graham Dawson

            Generally jokes have to be funny.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Not in the UK.

      2. Graham Dawson
        Happy

        Evidently the mod isn't one of them.

  13. xeroks

    water pistol

    I'd envisaged something more sophisticated involving a water pistol and targeting computer. But the only off-the-shelf targeting computers I could find were only keyed to hit womp rats. :(

    This is great use of home brew tech though - simple but working does the trick every time.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: water pistol

      You mean something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPgqfnKG_T4 ?

      It uses OpenCV for image recognition.

  14. AceRimmer
    Flame

    For about £30

    You can buy one of these from Amazon

    What would be an interesting use of some sophisticated computer equipment would be if it could track the animal as it made it's escape and know the difference between cats and people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For about £30

      "What would be an interesting use of some sophisticated computer equipment would be if it could track the animal as it made it's escape......"

      ......And soak the owners too.

    2. UKGuy

      Re: For about £30

      I've got one of these and they are so badly made the Hozelock connector just pops off.

      Reworked it to be a better seal, but it's still doesn't do the job.

      The cat_o_bolt looks a much better product.

      A worthy Kickstarter project I think!

  15. AbortRetryFail

    Good, but...

    ... what about a paintball sentry gun? :o)

    http://youtu.be/nTs7VRFV36c

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Gruesome

        Certainly an ingenious idea, my good fellow.

        These days, you may get done for chemical warfare for this though.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Gruesome

          Moderation here is like Obama-ordered drone signature strikes...

  17. DuncanL
    Joke

    This seems like a better solution...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQDy-5IQvuU

    ;-)

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Come on

      if if doesn't work against an alien what chance does it have against a cat.

  18. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    smashing idea, but...

    This sprinkler system idea is brilliant and I will immediately begin working on such a system for my elderly mum. The hard part for me is to get the system to distinguish between cats and my small dog* who sometimes accompanies me over there. Any thoughts on how to accomplish that? In principle, I don't mind the dog getting wet. However, then I'd have to dry him off before I return home or he'd ruin the car upholstery.

    *Schnauzer/Yorkie mix, so not much larger than your average house cat.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: smashing idea, but...

      Well the paintball sentry gun in the video above appears to have a colour rejection mode so I suppose you'd just have to paint your dog blue.

    2. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: smashing idea, but...

      when you arrive deactivate the system and let your dog patrol the garden then re-arm it just before leaving.

      simples.

      might need a larger dog, however.

    3. Chairo
      Happy

      Re: smashing idea, but...

      This should do the job.

  19. chivo243 Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Do you drink coffee?

    Then you already have the perfect solution. Coffee grounds seem to keep the cats from my garden. Even my cat won't poo in his own yard! I know this is low-tech, maybe if your coffee machine is smart, then you have the tech angle covered!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Do you drink coffee?

      Well, yes but… coffee grinds are not neutral for the garden. On the one hand they are full of nutrients, but on the other caffeine can also function as a herbicide.

    2. Martin Budden

      Re: Do you drink coffee? @ chivo243

      It's not the coffee grounds working, it's your own cat.

      Cats prefer to poo away from their own home, so your cat is not pooing in your own backyard. Cats are territorial, so your cat is preventing other cats from entering (and pooing) in your own backyard.

      Your coffee grounds are as effective as elephant powder.

  20. Peter X

    Something kind of similarish a few years back:

    http://hackaday.com/2012/03/20/birdwatching-meets-a-computer-controlled-water-cannon-awesomeness-ensues/

    This one used OpenCV to try to visually identify the offender (squirrels in this case) and not affect anything else, e.g. birds.

    1. nbauers

      Militarizing Your Backyard with Python

      OR

      Militarizing Your Backyard with A Python - That ought to work.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Roof of my convertible

    New neighbours include 2 of the furry shits.

    They have taken to sitting on my convertible's roof.

    It's utterly covered in cat hair, and in the inside stinks of cat too now.

    So, I mounted a ultrasonic thing on the garage door.

    Last week I returned to find a pile of cat sick on the roof....

    On the one hand, it was a pain having to wash the cat sick off... on the other hand, knowing a cat suffered made me feel good.

    I fecking hate the things - what sort of ''pet' wanders the streets and other peoples property ?

    My floor beds smell of cat shit too.

    Can you attach your spray device to some battery acid ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Roof of my convertible

      Tried one of those PIR ultrasonic devices on the neighbours' cat. It just sat on the fence looking at me holding the device. Pressed the "test" button - the cat just blinked every time. A friend says you have to chase them - yelling loudly with the proclaimed intention of killing them - otherwise they know you're bluffing.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Roof of my convertible

      Closing the garage door with the car inside is so difficult for you? UNluckily for you cats will look for warm, comfy places...

      What sort of pets wander around? Well, in my garden I have, wandering, beyond several types of birds (and insects, even large ones like the stag beetle):

      1) Bats (hosted in their wood boxes, to reduce the mosquitos population...)

      2) Hedgehogs

      3) Squirells

      4) Dormouses

      5) The occasional garden mouse (despite two cats around...), being woods not far away.

      Why? Because my garden is alive.... and well, if you're scared of every kind of desease live under a glass bell and hope for the best... after all it's strange the more the people are scared of desease and protect themselves from everything, the more they are allergic to everything...

      1. Goldmember

        Re: Roof of my convertible

        "Why? Because my garden is alive.... and well, if you're scared of every kind of desease[sic] live under a glass bell and hope for the best"

        It's not about being scared of every disease. It's about having to put up with SOMEONE ELSE'S pet shitting in your garden (or your car roof), and then having to clean up after it if you want to use your own garden. Or car roof. This annoyance is increased dramatically when you've chosen not to have one of your own.

        Oh, and bats, hedgehogs, squirrels and dormice are not pets.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Roof of my convertible

        Shouldn't have to close, or not, the garage to the convenience of a cat.

        Bats, hedgehogs, squirrels, mice of various flavours, (wild) birds, and insects are not pets. Not all animals are pets.

        If a hedgehog tears the bin bags open, or a squirrel eats the chestnuts off the tree, etc. then that's nature and I accept it. Next door's pets are their responsibility and if they're not prepared to accept that responsibility then they have no comeback regarding countermeasures, be it a hosepipe, dog, tiger or whatever.

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Roof of my convertible

        "after all it's strange the more the people are scared of desease and protect themselves from everything, the more they are allergic to everything..."

        Oh gawd, the return of the "washing your hands causes antibiotic-resistant staph" argument.

        I had a problem with a tom cat pissing in the wells of my basement windows so I poured half a bottle of neat bleach into each well and added fistfuls of pepper to the general area.

        It came back.

        I shot it at every possible opportunity with a garden hose.

        It came back.

        I caught it in a humane trap, left it caged all night and in the morning took my morning pee in the great outdoors using one captive cat as the target. Then I freed the cat with a long pole to trigger the cage door release.

        That made the bugger stay away.

        But fitting the basement window wells with this nifty cat-be-gone would have been more fun and would probably have worked faster.

        1. lpcollier
          Thumb Up

          Re: Roof of my convertible

          Now *that* is awesome!

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Roof of my convertible

      I fecking hate the things - what sort of ''pet' wanders the streets and other peoples property ?

      Cats are not pets. Dogs have owners, Cats have staff.

      Interestingly, cats meet the definition of vermin.

      1. gc23

        Re: Roof of my convertible

        Dogs wander the streets and other people's property also. They're just as bad for crapping in your yard as cats are. In some cities in America, humans are notorious for crapping in your yard too.

        Wonder if that contraption would work on humans also...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti-cat? Oh oh...

    Better expect 4chan!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anti-cat? Oh oh...

      4chan: expect the unexpected

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm Ivan Dobsky. I'm the Meatsafe Murderer, only I never done it.

      i only said i done it so they'd take the rat out of my anus

      1. stu 4

        Re: I'm Ivan Dobsky. I'm the Meatsafe Murderer, only I never done it.

        nice to see a monkey dust reference.

        especially as we've just appointed a paedofinder general.

  24. ian_m

    Got one of these, much easier, plug in hose away you go (from amazon uk).

    Absolutely brilliant waiting for neighbours cats to come and attempt for cr*p in or dig up my garden and such fun to watch them race back home soaking wet.

    Absolutely no sign of cat activity in the garden at all.

    https://www.contech-inc.com/products/home-and-garden-products/animal-repellents/scarecrow-motion-activated-animal-deterrent

  25. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

    Actually, this is a solved problem.

    PIR-controlled sprinklers are already available on certain online retailers (no plugs here), and PIR noise-makers are also fairly readily available. If there's nothing really attracting a cat into your garden, a PIR-controlled ultrasonic noisemaker is going to deter most cats. One thing, though; if the device is in a public place, beware of small boys stealing the devices. Small boys seem to have next to no inhibitions in this regard, especially if they have not had prior experience of CCTV and burglar paint.

    Alternatives to the electronics are garlic essence, Jeyes Fluid and sticky materials of various sorts.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Actually, this is a solved problem.

      Alternatives to the electronics are garlic essence, Jeyes Fluid and sticky materials of various sorts.

      Hmm, now if you could get paintballs containing garlic essence you'd have the perfect solution, and it would also help against vampires. You know, just in case..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually, this is a solved problem.

      "Alternatives to the electronics are garlic essence, Jeyes Fluid and sticky materials of various sorts."

      LoL... yes, hang sticky dangly flytraps and big sticky rat traps near that hole in the fence. I bet the owner won't be too happy having to constantly remove the sticky traps from his cat.

      "No, really, I put those traps out there to catch flies and rats..."

  26. TeaLeaf

    Solutions For Readers in North America

    http://www.leevalley.com/en/Garden/page.aspx?p=44958&cat=2,51555&ap=3

    and

    http://www.leevalley.com/en/Garden/page.aspx?p=59764&cat=2,51555&ap=2

  27. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Prevention or cure

    In my little cul-de-sac pretty much every other house has one or more cats. You can't really blame the owners, they are mostly "empty nest-ers" and have fallen into the trap of thinking that their cats are a way to be loved (how wrong they are: all the cats care about is being fed. They'll "love" whoever has the biggest tin of Kit-e-Cat).

    Fortunately this is the moggy's downfall.

    All it is necessary to do is patch up all the gaps in the fences and install a 6 foot garden gate on the only entrance. All the local felines are so fat and lazy that not a single one of them has the ability to scale any of the fences. One did manage to waddle along an overhanging branch and flop onto the lawn, but that path was soon closed off too.

    1. tangerine Sedge

      Re: Prevention or cure

      My property is surrounded by cat owners, and being the only garden in the area with no cat or dog presence, means that mine is the one they all come to. Let me get this clear, I love cats, but I don't like cat shit, especially the unpleasant smell whenever the sun shines and I decide to eat al fresco.

      I have suitably high fences, which the little sods use as motorways between the various properties. They even venture into my house if I leave the back door open in an evening. I've tried pretty much every method for keeping them out of my garden, and have decided just to lob the cat poo I find onto my neighbours garden whenever possible. It doesn't stop the cats, but makes me feel happier...

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Prevention or cure

        Most of the cat shit problems are caused by lazy "owners". Properly kept cats are trained to only defacate in their litter tray. The lazy owners who don't care and are too lazy to do the basic cat training (in as much as it is possible to train a cat) are the problem. Get a pet? Learn to look after it and do the basics properly. Just because a cat will shit elsewhere does not solve the problem.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Prevention or cure

        They even venture into my house if I leave the back door open in an evening. I've tried pretty much every method for keeping them out of my garden

        Ah, so much fun to be had with *serious* water pistols then.. Actually, the coffee grinds trick I read earlier may be your saviour - get friendly with a local cafeteria (you probably won't drink enough on your own to create the volume, and they just throw it away anyway).

      3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Prevention or cure

        My property is surrounded by cat owners, and being the only garden in the area with no cat or dog presence, means that mine is the one they all come to

        Sounds like you need to buy a Ford Ka :)

        (my personal favourite is the pigeon one, though).

  28. b1tchell

    Surprised no-one has posted this Aussie Gem.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIbkLjjlMV8

    Gold.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Surprised no-one has posted this Aussie Gem.

      Brilliant!

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Happy

      Re: Surprised no-one has posted this Aussie Gem.

      You sir can have an UPVOTE & a Wednesday eve Smiley.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Surprised no-one has posted this Aussie Gem.

        My sides!!

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Surprised no-one has posted this Aussie Gem.

      That's the youtube vid I was trying to remember when I saw this.

      actually it was part 2

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goZ2DqMnaGc&feature=youtu.be

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stakes

    In small flower borders you might need something passive. A successful technique this year has been to stick thin metal tent-peg spikes in between the plants - in a pattern that makes it uncomfortable for a cat to sit down. Their hooked ends only protrude a couple of inches above the ground and don't spoil the effect of the flowers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stakes

      You have your wording wrong, see correction: "Their sharpened ends only protrude a couple of inches above the ground..."

      Anon as I don't want to be targeted by the animal rights nutters.

  30. fortran

    Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers?

    I wonder if this would work with that "wonderful" woodpecker known as the yellow bellied sapsucker? Or as I like to call them, yellow bellied tree killers. Woodpeckers often hammer at wood, to find a bug to eat. This particular woodpeckers hammers at the wood to get at the sap underneath. And then does so again a cm or so away. And again. It can eventually "ring" a trunk with a checkerboard pattern of holes, which often kills the tree above the "ring"

    I think the one commenter was referring to CatStop at Lee Valley Tools for one item, not sure of the other one (didn't visit URLs directly). CatStop has a PIR, and unleashes 124 dB ultrasound at the cat. Are birds afraid of ultrasound?

  31. Andy 70

    mark your territory

    speak in a language they understand. smell.

    nail a slab of lager outside, can't be bothered to go upstairs to pee, just go in the corners of the lawn. job done.

    just don't be taking vitamin tables at the time as it makes the grass go mental.

    no further cat incursions, and my cat much happier now that daddy owns the garden.

    just my experience... ymmv, warrenty not included, anecdotal advice, etc.

    on a side note, would it not be funnier to wait until said fuzzy git is in mid flow, unable to pinch it off, before unleashing the gates of bathtime?

    otherwise, thumbs up, would buy this if in kit form at B&Q :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE. Re: mark your territory

      Yup, that works,

      Haven't seen a cat since.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have-A-Hart Traps

    Our animal control department rents traps at no charge for wildlife. One is supposed to call them for pickup, but far easier to inadvertently drop into a rubbish bin filled with water (at night to avoid noisy neighbors). My petunias respond well to emptied kitty corpse water too.

    Another problem: in our area, feral cats are spayed/neutered & returned to the point of capture and it's impossible to authenticate the information submitted with the animal. It's helpful to have the address of those opposed to euthanasia. At least 6 cats have been returned to one such elected official's property. His neighbors are furious about the pussy plague that's decimating area birdlife and understand his views have changed.

  33. Mint Sauce

    Another vote for the 'scarecrow'

    Tired of cleaning cat crap out of the garden so have recently installed one and it works very well. Don't bother with the cheaper options!

    I've also been planning some kind over over the top arduino / pi-powered system to possibly provide tracking fire as the scarecrow lays down suppression. Automatic tweeting of the video clips might be an option too ;-)

    I am also liking the raw power involved in the aussie vid :D

  34. txt3rob

    github

    Any of the scripting on github yet?

    would love to see instructions on how to do this

  35. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Timers controlling more nozzles needed.

    One to catch the leaping cat broadside as it reaches apogee, another to accelerate it as it gains traction about three feet toward the camera. I would kick into a project for nozzle-enhanced reject-a-cat kits.

    For maximum laughs place sheet of highly polished Perspex in path of fleeing cat with camera mounted behind it.

    Definitely deserves some sort of award as it stands though. El Reg needs to step forward and fill the void somehow.

  36. Triggerfish

    Connect it up

    Its got to be connected up, you could have an internet hunting type set up with high powered water pistols.

  37. RevolutionNeeded

    Happy Hunting

    I prefer just to sit at the bedroom windows with my super soaker. Makes it all the more fun when it's live action.

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