Automated chicken coop door

Here’s a pretty cool implementation of an automated door, built for a chicken coop. The electronics are fairly standard, an Arduino and a used cordless drill. The end product will be not only wireless, but automated based off of ambient light as well.  We also found the locking mechanism quite elegant. He also supplied a link to another automated chicken coop door which has a decent writeup with schematics and such. Next, he’ll have to automate their feeding as well.

[Thanks Jeri]


  1. mrgoogfan says:

    a drill?

  2. hunternet93 says:

    A drill makes a good motor. It already has a gearbox, its easy to control…

  3. userjjb says:

    “We also found the locking mechanism quite eloquent.”

    I think you mean elegant.

  4. sol says:

    I like the anti-raccoon latch.

  5. slinky says:

    hunternet93 – spot on. I was kicking around what to use for a motor, stepper, brushed, etc., and thought, “what if I can find a cheap cordless drill at Goodwill?”. Ask and ye shall receive. I found one for $5 shortly thereafter.

  6. slinky says:

    btw, caleb and all at hackaday: thanks for keeping the site up and interesting! It’s been quite an inspiration to see so many creative works out there.

  7. Craig says:

    What happends if the raccoon lifts by the round piece in the center?

  8. spyder_21 says:

    what happens for you poor little chicken don’t make it back threw the door before it closes????

  9. spyder_21 says:

    what happens for your poor little chicken don’t make it back threw the door before it closes????

  10. Craig says:

    Nevermind… We’re looking at the inside.

  11. Rob says:


    It looks like there’s clear plastic over that part, to keep the circle part from coming away from the door and keep anything from getting into it.

    Also, I imagine that would be on the inside of the coop, where it’d be less wet?

  12. biozz says:

    GREAT! now all i need are chickens and im in the green!

  13. slinky says:

    Ya, sorry I didn’t show the outside. I still have to paint everything to get it somewhat damp-proof.

    @spyder_21: If they don’t make it, they’re COOKED! Bwahahahaha! Seriously though, I’m looking at PWM’ming the motor a bit before closing to make the motor “sing” – in hopes of giving them a warning.

    I have also considered an optical chicken detector that would disallow door operation if a bird is in the beam.

    Fortunately for them, closing time is mostly a manual operation at this point, since we have to herd the birds. Opening the door at the crack of dawn (when I’m fast-asleep) was the real driving reason for this project.

  14. Harvie.CZ says:

    Haha rednexhax :-P

  15. JJ says:

    Here’s a live Chicken Coop on Ustream…

  16. spyder_21 says:

    That is a really cool idea, just the thought of it is sweet. Maybe you should train your birds to open the door, 3 pecks, followed by 2 pecks, followed by 4 pecks would open the door :)

  17. Andrew says:

    Did you include an h-bridge to handle both forward and reverse or is there one in the drill? Cheap drills that I’ve seen tend not to have them.

  18. slinky says:

    Andrew, I’m using the Polulu MC33887 based motor driver:

    It’s got an internal H-Bridge with feedback and fault-sensing. I’m working on using the feedback for something useful – possibly a stuck chicken-sensor? What’s interesting is that I can see the PWM affect the feedback values.

    I was going to roll my own H-bridge, but realized that error conditions could cause blue smoke without smarts.

    Ultimately, I want to get some cheap H-Bridge controllers and then use mosfets scrapped from mainboards for the high-power section.

    At top load, the motor draws just under 5A (6v), which this controller can handle for up to 30 seconds. The door operation is much more brief than that.

    @spyder_21 – love the peck-to-open idea.

  19. Jake says:

    Is there a moat? I think there should be a moat. Any time there is a door like that, you definitely need to have a moat. And a drawbridge. A drawbridge, and a moat? Is that also part of your future plans?


  20. vonskippy says:

    We did a similar project with our Guinea Pig ranch. Nothing like seeing 50-60 Guinea Pig’s galloping out of the automatic door as the sun rises over the hills. Those were some good times.

  21. PunxyPhil says: has a much simpler, though less capable
    implementation. No arduino overkill, either. (It is an awesome tool, the arduino. Don’t get me wrong)

  22. PunxyPhil says:

    Mind you, it is strictly for sale and has no schematics posted. I’ve seen that particular one in person, so I’m aware of the components that go into making them. Good for farmers who really don’t care about microcontrollers and expandibility , probably not enough to tinker with for anyone into hobby electronics.

  23. Joe Bonasses says:

    Although you might end up with a chicken running around your yard like a chicken with it’s head cut off, uhhhh….

    But anything that uses an old drill for motion is a wonderful hack in my book.

  24. whisk says:

    What holds the door at the top? Hopefully not just the motor.

  25. Heratiki says:

    How do the chickens react to the sound of the drill operating? We have several hens that don’t like noise at all near the coop and were wondering how you would sound proof the drill so they wouldn’t mind entering. Just a question.

  26. I second the locking mechanism, very nice, simple, and eloquent

  27. strider_mt2k says:

    -who jumps out?

  28. slinky says:

    @Heratiki: We haven’t put it out in the coop just yet, so we don’t know how they’ll react.

    However, I don’t think the two hens we have at the moment will have any problem with noise.

    They gleefully follow around: lawnmowers, weed-eaters, people with chainsaws, dangerous people with chainsaws, and all the way up to the gigantic track-hoe that was ripping a shipping container to shreds.

    Basically, *anything* at any noise level that stirs the dirt up is their bestest friend. The bigger, the better.

    (watching them follow, and flee, and follow, and flee the huge track-hoe was pretty comical)

    It was like the biggest rooster they had ever seen. Bock!

  29. Ed Vaisvilas says:

    You should re-title this video, “Simple Solutions – Made Complicated.” I was able to apply the same function with a yard-sale salvaged garage door opener. The difference was that everything was self-contained (motor, circuit board which included limit controls and signal receiver.

  30. cj says:

    I imagine the tougher job was teaching chickens the ultra-secret shave-and-a-haircut knock.

  31. Sci says:

    I’d love to see it painted up in battleship grey, with fake rivets and some black and yellow hazard strip around the entrance. Maybe some spinning yellow warning lights too.

    A chicken in a cargo-lifter power-suit coming through it’s probably too much to hope for though.

  32. strider_mt2k says:


    (Sorry, blame sci)

  33. Henherder says:

    Hey @PunxyPhil “Good for farmers who really don’t care about microcontrollers and expandibility”
    HEH, You should spend some time on a farm, loads of microcontrollers there from the pump on the well that feeds the pivots to the controllers on the tractors. Almost everything on the farm these days is digital and full of microcontrollers, not just hydraulics and sweat like them olden days. Maybe you haxxors have a frontier not yet discovered for yur haxxing. Try farming automation, relieve some tired farmers. Farmers are the original hackers.

  34. blue carbuncle says:

    @ Craig and all Simple anti-Racoon trap. Anchor a quart size, clear glass bottle (vinegar) outside with a few grapes and pecans in husk in it and sprinkle a few outside. The raccoon will eat a couple and then see the jar with the grapes and stick his paw stuck when he grabs the grape and it is too big to get out. I recommend a bell on it though as he may chew his paw off trying to get away if you don’t wake up early enough. They are clever little hackers though. Another thing that works well is a dog or two. They are almost always on alert, won’t eat your chickens, and will chase a raccoon off real fast lol.

  35. costa says:

    @slink: when you do roll out to ‘production’ please include the “barnyard pimp cam” (rooster’s wireless helmet cam) live stream. thank you

  36. flapjackboy says:

    Question: Why is he wanting to stack the Seeduino onto the Black Widow board? That’s not even possible, since the BW is an Arduino clone with built in WiFi.

  37. slinky says:

    @flapjackboy: I meant physically stack, with only a couple of signal connections between the boards. Originally, I wanted to have the BlackWidow board do both motor control and wi-fi webserving, but realized I’d have to integrate the state-machines for each (maybe someday). Instead, I punted and went with the seeeduino *and* the BlackWidow to keep ‘em separate.

  38. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    A bit late but I lolled at “an optical chicken detector”.

    Nice locking concept mechanism too.

  39. Simon Wells says:

    I love the locking mechanism on the door. It would work great with our vsb door opener

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