A Solar-Powered Automatic Chicken Coop

Although we’ve featured many chicken-related hacks here, this chicken coop features a solar-powered door to save one from having to open up the coop in the morning.  As [chrisatronics] puts it “keeping chickens has one major drawback: You have to get up with them in the early morning and open the door at the coop. Everyday. Including Sundays and holidays.” This would help explain why so many people seem to be hacking their coops.

Solar power may be an interesting idea in itself, but when coupled with the fact that a chicken coop isn’t necessarily near a power supply, this becomes a very expedient solution. Controlling the setup is a MSP430 microcontroller (programming featured here for Linux) with a salvaged windshield wiper gearmotor. [Chrisatronics] did a great job writing this hack up, so if you want to try this yourself, make sure to check out the article.

Also, don’t forget to check out the video after the break for the ‘coop in action!

For another way to open your coop in the morning, check out this hack. Or combine it with a methane generator, and you’ll be on your way to energy independence in no time!

via [430h.com]

Comments

  1. Fritoeata says:

    i know http://www.tideals.com have their “solar energy harvesting” msp430 pack for only $75… i wonder how much,if any, this would save on the cost?

  2. f says:

    As soon as it comes to motors which actually need to move anything, energy harvesting won’t cut it any more. Motors waste so much energy, any low-power considerations on the MCU side will be completely futile.

  3. Dave says:

    Nice job! Good choice of motor too- I have a few of these laying around! I installed an off the shelf solution for my father’s chicken coup. Here’s a link to the motor, but it includes instructions and a parts list for the timer, battery and solar cell:
    http://www.smarthome.com/31427/Add-A-Motor-D20-Chicken-Coop-Motor/p.aspx
    Limitation: Your door has to lift with 4lbs or less, but at least you won’t crush a chicken on the closing cycle.

  4. ds2ktj says:

    This is an older one…I think it may have even been featured here before or I stumbled across it in a web search. I went the solar route until I found that the compact battery I was using only had enough juice to open the door for a couple days without sun. I figured a $40 6W solar panel would keep my battery topped off – but it didn’t through several rainy days. I ended up switching to a 500 mA trickle charger since I do have electric nearby.

    I also ended up using a cordless screwdriver that I had kicking around that had a bad battery.

  5. TomB says:

    I promised my wife I would build one of these once we were ready to get chickens. It’s great to see someone else’s implementation!
    What’s especially exciting, is that I have the MSP430 kit and was hoping to use it for exactly this!

  6. Fritoeata says:

    Thanks Chango!
    I’m a n00b… I need all the help into technology I can get. Mechanical design is my forte and trade, I struggle with alot of the electronics theory

  7. Luke says:

    I’d like to see/try to make a setup like this without the micro-controller. Seems like the logic is pretty simple:
    if sunny and not upper limit switch: raise door
    if dark and not lower limit switch: lower door
    if (laser detecting a chicken standing in the door): disable motor

  8. lwatcdr says:

    You could could delete the charging relays and replace it with a simple charging circuit. I assume that a gel cell or motorcycle battery is being used and not say an Li cell.

  9. smartypants says:

    I’m not sure what it is, but there is something fowl with this plan…. Maybe its just me. I have been cooped up for a while…

    (I could go on and on and on…)

  10. Velifer says:

    um, just build a coop large enough that they can hang out inside for a bit, get some food, water, lay eggs, THEN go outside after you fill the coffee mug.

    It also keeps the rooster a bit quieter, so it’s easier to sleep in a little longer.

  11. HondaMotor says:

    Funny you should mention the methane as an alternative source of power to the electrical circuit. Scoop the chicken poop into a collection canister once in a while, the only electricity needed to ignite it would be a momentary spark from a high voltage transformer (old microwave xformer, etc.) and the hydraulics could be scavenged from a newer model wrecked car with a door system on the climate control vents.

    Advantage: No sun needed, you could still use the poop for fertilizer when it dries out and the electricity could be little to none, or simply using a manual flint spark from a BBQ lighter) while you’re feeding the chickens.

    Also, immune from EMPs! ….lol

  12. echodelta says:

    4 pound doors can be lifted by, sly fox, cool coon, etc etc. Unless guillotine speed, chickens aren’t that dumb they will move. It’s the poor hen that is left out I feel sorry for.

    • N0LKK says:

      I haven’t seen a chicken coop automatic door build where, the builder also intended to use it to lock up the flock at night. I think they mostly are for those who have other need to venture outside that early. In the event no one is home by dark thirty to round, and pen up the birds, a few birds would be lost

    • N0LKK says:

      News to me that auto climate control systems are now hydraulically operated. Why would anyone want to introduce hydraulic lines in the cabin of a car.having one oil pressure gauge line that could leak was/is bad enough. Auto climate controls system doors have been pneumatically operated for decades now, with the Earth’s atmosphere provide the pressured air. Wouldn’t the gas (CO2?) created by burning methane diminish when the gas cools down? In event of a severe EMP event one might have all the time in the world to tend to their flocks.

  13. pockpock says:

    Is it just me or does the accumulator look like an oven?

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