petfeedd 0.2 released, with Docker support!

petfeedd, the daemon I wrote for my Raspberry Pi-powered cat feeders has been updated to fix a number of bugs people were seeing attempting to install it since I originally wrote it in 2017.

Perhaps the biggest change is Docker support! That’s right, if you just want to run petfeedd, now you can do it in just three commands! No more installing various libraries and things (but that approach still works as well.)

Full changelog can be found on Github. Instructions for using the shiny new Docker containers can be found in the README file. In short, the procedure is:

  1. Install Docker on your Raspberry Pi. You may need to log out and back in if you get permission errors.

  2. docker pull peckrob/petfeedd-arm32v7:0.2. Be patient, it will take a bit.

  3. sudo touch /opt/petfeedd.db && sudo chown pi: /opt/petfeedd.db

  4. docker run --privileged -v /opt/petfeedd.db:/petfeedd/petfeedd.db -p 0.0.0.0:8080:8080 peckrob/petfeedd-arm32v7

Navigate to the IP of your Raspberry Pi on port 8080, and you should see petfeedd running. It takes a bit to start, so give it about 20-30 seconds to get going. It will run with the defaults, but in order for it to be useful, you’ll need to configure it.

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Rob's Raspberry Pi Powered Pet Feeders

Or, how to massively over-engineer dumping cat food into a bowl. As with many of my projects, it started with something that made me angry. In this case, it was this: The Petmate Le Bistro Pet Feeder. Okay, let’s back up a little bit. Back to about 8 or so years ago. We had a cat at the time, Pumpkin, who as objectively not a good cat. She was foul tempered on the best of days and very difficult to love. But she was my wife and I’s first pet, so we did love her all the same. She had a habit of wanting food precisely on time. And if it was late, she would raise all manner of noise until she was fed. Often this came at some ungodly early time in the morning. So I bought a Petmate Le Bistro Pet Feeder.

Using the DS3231 RTC (Real Time Clock) with Raspberry Pi

In my last post about building the pet feeders, I alluded to one of the limitations of the Raspberry Pi has: it lacks a real time clock. This is an understandable omission. They take up extra space and cost, are not needed for a lot of applications and can be pretty easily added if they are. One of the limitations I found is that, if there is a power outage that lasts a significant amount of time - long enough for the UPS batteries that keep the wireless up go dead, for instance - that the Raspberry Pi’s may “lose” track of time if they can’t reconnect to wifi and, thus, sync up by NTP.