Automated chicken coop door is solar-powered

[Fileark] has been busy with the hacks lately. This time around he’s built a solar-powered chicken coop door that opens in the morning, and closes at night. A single motor slides the door open and closed using a loop of spring-loaded string. There are limiting switches on either side of the door jamb to ensure proper positioning. The grey box seen above houses the hardware; a regulator for the solar panels perched atop the roof line, a battery from a broken UPS, and the driver board itself. An AVR chip running the Arduino bootloader monitors a phototransistor to detect sunup and sundown, driving the door motor appropriately using a pair of relays.

Check out the demonstration and hardware overview after the break. [Fileark] was inspired to build his after seeing the alarm-clock coop door. We don’t know if he got a chance to look at the vertical coop door, but we think his less mechanically-complicated solution is just as elegant.

Comments

  1. Amos says:

    Coops are out of date, anyway. Chicken tractors are much more efficient.

  2. MarkF says:

    Great project….the noise doesn’t scare the living crap out of the chickens?

  3. steve says:

    I hate to be the negitive nacy to start off the arduino bashing, but couldn’t you do the same thing with a voltage divider on each side of the charging diode and a voltage comparator? not only does this not need a uc it doesn’t even need the phototransistor; you know since the voltage from the solar cell will be lower then the battery voltage when the sun is down?

  4. Ben Wright says:

    Great project – clean install and enclosure. My only sugestion would be to upgrade the motor to a surplus power window motor for a car. These motors are quiet and some have a bracket to mount to a flat surface. The solar panel array looked a bit excessive for your needs. I don’t know what the wattage you used was but your load is minimal with the motor only running for 30 seconds a day.

  5. bunedoggle says:

    @steve – By using an Arduino he now has the ability to add additional functionality like temperature dependency or an optical sensor to detect if a chicken is in the way or any number of other cool things.

    And the Atmel micro was only a few bucks. Probably not much more than the components to build a solid state circuit version, but infinitely more versatile.

  6. lwatcdr says:

    @steve.
    What about cloudy days? Atmel micros are really dirt cheap and offers some flexibility and expandability Maybe a fan to cool the coop, an alarm, or even and XBee so the coop is networked.
    Even if you do none of that an AVR runs only a few dollars so why not?
    Now if he had a robot that gathered the eggs and feed and watered them as well…

  7. Filear says:

    @Steve, that’s actually a really good idea comparing the battery voltage to the solar. There are a lot of possible ways to achieve the same effect. I finally chose the Arduino clone ($10.00) for a few reasons. 1. I wanted to wait a period of time after the sun went down (10 min), this is also the dead band so it wont accidentally flutter and open/close the door when a cloud passes by ect. 2. I built in a 7 second pulse to the motor so even if my limit switches break the motor will stop fairly quick and not burn up. 3. I set different light level for closing and opening for instance the door can close when the LDR is reading 200 but open when it is 600 (More deadband)

  8. Filear says:

    By the way, a not so smart chicken decided it was a good idea to roost in the doorway the other day, my motor is so weak that she wasn’t injured and the 7 second pulse that closes the door (stops even if the limit switches don’t work) saved my equipment and the chicken. She decided it was still a fine place to sleep even though it was a bit cramped.

  9. Jordan says:

    wow, that’s awesome.

  10. Mary says:

    What happens if the door closes before all of the girls have gone in for the night?

  11. GWDeveloper says:

    Mother Earth News is running a contest for automatic chicken coop doors. You should enter this into it.

  12. Thomas says:

    Having raised chickens as a kid, it would have been nice to automatically let the chickens out and have them locked away at night – damn raccoons.

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