The Story Behind the HoundRound
images to enlarge them)
Many people must have had the same
idea, to build a giant mouse wheel for their dog. In the
endeavor to exhaust an inexhaustible puppy, it almost seems like an
inevitable idea. Well, I’m impractical enough that
impractical time demands didn’t discourage me, so I actually built it.
Several hundred hours and many
hundreds of dollars later, The HoundRound was finished. I
made it an open ring design, since that looks better, is safer, and I
thought it would be less intimidating to the dog.
I knew my particular dog
(Jumbo) wouldn’t just run on a wheel like a mouse, she needed
motivation. The initial idea of a treat dispenser didn’t work
too well, as the attention span of a Schnauhuahua is about fifteen
seconds, and I haven’t yet worked out a mechanism that can deliver the
treat with such precise regularity (dogs also lack much of an
cause and effect). The peanut butter conveyer belt (patent
pending) is a very effective motivator, however. I just smear
a thin film (about ½ teaspoon) on the food-safe belt and slip it over
the pulleys. The drive pulley is slowly driven by the dog
running on the wheel, so fresh peanut butter continuously becomes
lickable for about twenty minutes. This is usually enough to
take the edge off a restless puppy.
It is especially useful on
days when it is too hot or too cold to get much exercise outdoors.
It only took a day to train
Jumbo, and the new dog (Rumpus) learned by watching her. As
you can see in some of the videos, they hop right in and usually don’t
stop until the peanut butter runs out. Sometimes Jumbo gets
and barks until I load up the peanut butter. I designed it
safety, so the dogs can use it when no people are home (unlike a
treadmill). I can load up the peanut better belt right before
I leave the house and whichever one gets in The HoundRound won’t even
notice I’m leaving.
Some additional details on the
The peanut butter conveyor
belt drive pulley is driven by a mechanism that starts with the wooden
drive wheel that rests on top of the running wheel. That
drive wheel, through pulleys and belts, drives a 60:1 worm gear speed
reducer. The output of the speed reducer turns a shaft that
is connected to a drill chuck through a series of universal
joints. The chuck holds the axle of the drive
pulley. Other treat dispensing mechanisms can be inserted
into and driven by the drill chuck.
There is a dc generator that
is driven off of the drive shaft of the gear reducer. The
resistance provided by this generator increases the rolling resistance
of the running wheel to just the right level, and it also puts out a
small amount of current at up to 6 volts. I haven’t found a
use for this electricity, but it is there.
There is a bicycle computer
that is calibrated to the drive wheel so that it accurately records the
speed that the dog is running, as well as other useful information such
as the total mileage on The HoundRound.
By using just the right
support casters, I managed to make it very quiet. The dog’s
tags make more noise than the rolling HoundRound. It has a very
small footprint, only 10x67 inches, and at the widest point it is only
18 inches. We have it positioned like a sofa table behind the
you or anyone you know wants to view the HoundRound videos over a
slower internet connection, the videos are also available in lower
bandwidth at YouTube:
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