HOWTO build a robotic squirrel-squirting water sentry-gun, with python


36 Responses to “HOWTO build a robotic squirrel-squirting water sentry-gun, with python”

  1. theragman says:

    I’ve seen something similar done to keep the neighborhood kids from cutting through the backyard. Squirrels seem more persistent in intruding on the protected zone than the kids, but the kids spent more time testing the gun to see where its sensor range was and determining the “safe zone”. Oh, and it’s “Yakety Sax”, originally recorded by Boots Randolph.

  2. Brainspore says:

    I bet you could also take care of that squirrel problem with an ACTUAL python.

  3. chellberty says:

    Anybody else think after seeing the video that it would have been easier just to release a real python?

  4. bkad says:

    More than most such stories, this one encourages me to learn more about python and arduino. This is partly because I have worked ‘computer vision guided pointing’ projects before for my job. Though we were in a different performance category (and different cost category — tens of millions of dollars of development), I understand blob tracking and identification is hard. I’m amazed so much can be done with simple hardware and publicly available code.

    I’ve been hearing good things about arduino for a while now; this is one of the first public mentions I’ve seen of Python (I’m not a sw engineer or programmer, obviously). Supposedly it is much friendlier for quickly stitching things together or for use by non-expert programmers. If true, that’s appealing to me. Whenever I’ve tried to ‘revisit’ programming (which I haven’t done outside of matlab/mathematica scripting for a long time) I’ve been frustrated by the amount of infrastructure and ‘boring but critically precise code’ needed to ‘interesting code’ to do something.

    • wysinwyg says:

       Yeah, you’ll probably like python.  It’s flexible, you can just do scripting or you can do more ambitious object oriented stuff.  And it’s pretty easy to get the basic syntax.

  5. Natural selection and evolution says that at some point the squirrels will not mind – or will thrive on – the squirt attacks.  Think about it – breakfast and a free drink.  And then we will have a REALLY big problem on our hands.

    Honestly, I like squirrels and animals in general, but I think short of putting the bird feeder 5 meters off the ground and at least 10 meters away from any structure (tree, house, fence), greasing the teflon-coated pole the feeder is on and putting lightly electrified chicken wire around the bottom two-thirds of the pole (if not all of it) …you’re going to end up seeing squirrels eating the bird food.  It’s a free dinner, just there for the taking.

    Made for a good bit of vid tho.

    • Fex says:

      I think there’s plenty of steps to take in upping the ante before you need abandon the Super-Soaker solution. Possibly the most amusing would be adding some sort of fluoro dye to the water. You get the amusement of hilarious looking punk squirrels for a while and then the removal of natural camouflage means that predators impose some natural selection pressure the other way.

      More nefarious additives to the liquid (which I’m not actually suggesting, since they’d be cruel) are left as an exercise to the reader.

    • millie fink says:

      I see your sad hopelessness and raise you a Yankee Flipper. 

      • digi_owl says:

        Thanks for sharing, that was hilarious. Especially the contrast of the stoic announcer and the chipmunk voice-overs.

        Squirrels snacking on the bird feed, and the lengths they will go to do so, are always entertaining.

  6. RJ says:

    Squirrels can be stopped with squirrel baffles. Baffles are simple, reliable, stress-free for the birds and won’t leave the birdseed wet and moldy.

  7. Andrew Menke says:

    dae notice the recursive youtube video?

  8. TaymonBeal says:

    I’m a programmer who primarily works in Python and my first reaction was still “they built a robot python”?

  9. pjcamp says:

    That’s a lot of work just to annoy a squirrel.

    Much easier to make use of evolution. Hot peppers are thought to have evolved to prevent mammals from eating the fruits. Birds have almost no sense of taste and so chomp them on down, thereby giving the seeds wide dispersal.

    Aha! So you take your seeds and give them a light coating of spray cooking oil, toss them liberally with cayenne powder, and stick them in the feeder.

    First time I did this, the squirrel took a couple of bites, then jumped 20 feet sideways and started wiping his face on the ground.

    No more problem. Very satisfying. You can even buy super duper hot pepper just for this purpose, but regular cayenne works just fine.

  10. gjpetch says:

    For the love of god, someone please make a kit version of this, but make it target pigeons. So much sleep lost to early morning pigeon cooing, so much time lost on cleaning pigeon poop…… the pain… the pain….

    • CountZero says:

      I want one of these to target the damned neighbourhood cats that come into my garden and lurk near or under the Acer with the feeders in. Firing lemon juice with hot chili powder dissolved in it.

  11. miasm says:

    The OpenTLD that Tarantino suggests at the end is pritty kewlz.

  12. CH says:

    Dunno… move the feeder away from the tree branches?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Owing to the pesky effects of gravity, the feeder has to be suspended from something, and the squirrels can almost certainly climb that something.

  13. Kimmo says:

    This ‘problem’ makes me wish I live somewhere squirrels do.

    Aside from them being just as cute and interesting as the birds to my eye, I could have endless fun tinkering at solutions.

  14. 3William56 says:

    Got to love a geek who harnesses super soakers, AI and electronics  to solve what a few cents of plywood could do. Legend.

    Though the idea of working out “squirrelness” gives me the heebies. Uncomfortably close to the scenario in (IIRC) Robert Sheckley’s short story “Watchbird” where a squad of learning weaponised remotes are sent to discourage murder, and end up stretching the proposition to treading on an ant. How long before a passer-bye eating a peanut gets a facefull of supersoaker? Hello Skynet!

    BTW: “Yaketty Sax”, not Wacky. Unless you meant it as a description. Benny Hill will now chase you around at high speed.

  15. Alan says:

    I purposefully feed the squirrels in my backyard.  I even bought a purpose built squirrel feeder that was difficult for birds to get into.  Why?  I dunno.  Don’t they have as much right to a free lunch as a bird?  Besides, the squirrels are permanent residents of the neighborhood.  Almost all the birds are passing through.  I’ve learned to identify a couple of the squirrels, and noted behavior patterns and personalities.  

    One problem I’ve had is I had to abandon the feeder, because there was one squirrel who would sit on it and chase away the other squirrels (the bully squirrel, who seems to bully in general and gets pissed when I’m late with the food).  So now I just throw it out into the yard, and both squirrels and birds enjoy it.

  16. I wonder if there is a way to do it with a airsoft repeater, Paintball marker, or with the Nerf Stampede blaster

  17. I was hoping this was a gun that automatically fired squirrels at large constrictors… Someone please make that.

  18. serpent says:

    What? An autonomous, turret mounted, pest-shooting sentry gun, and no Aliens reference?

  19. Peter Dunphy says:

    just add tabasco sauce to your water and you will notice a greater effect on the squirrells

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