Chicken coop door using threaded rod

There’s no rooster to wake them up, and [Steve] and his wife are fine with that. What they’re not fine with is having to get up early anyway in order to let the chickens out of the coop. Like many small-scale egg farmers they sought out an automatic solution for opening the coup in the morning.

[Steve] had seen a bunch of different automatic coup door hacks kicking around the Internet. But all of the ones he could find used a vertical door and pulleys. His setup has a door that opens horizontally and he realized that he needed to build some kind of linear actuator. What he came up with is a system built with hardware store parts. He’s using a plain old piece of threaded rod along with a coupling nut (they’re usually 3/4″ long or so). The nut is held firmly on the door using a conduit mounting bracket, while the threaded rod is turned by an electric screwdriver mounted to the jamb. Two limiting switches are made up of magnetic sensors often used to ring the door entry bell when you enter a store. An Arduino takes care of scheduling and controlling the motor for opening and closing the door. See for yourself in the high-production-value video after the break.

For what it’s worth, we have seen at least one rope and pulley door that slides horizontally.

19 thoughts on “Chicken coop door using threaded rod

    1. Just what I was thinking. I love HaD but the editors aren’t known for their grasp of the English language.

  1. Hmmm..I designed one a year and a half ago but never posted anything anywhere. It’s been working flawlessly for well over a year now.

    I learned a couple lessons along the way – screw-driver motors suck for this application – while they are fast and have torque – they are too fast for the chickens :D Plus if they break or burn out – well they are a pain to replace. I opted for A $20 wiper motor. I have a custom etched board with speed control – which was necessary for the screw driver but not for the wiper motor. Cheap design but can handle up to 70A (at this point 10 due to component and power supply choice – and if I needed 70 A to open a chicken door clearly I have other issues ;) ) forward and reverse. Sunrise/set detection and “status notification”. Could easily add more features.

    Having had chickens for a while I wouldn’t want the screw drive – too much dust. I guess I should to a writeup of “Yet another Coop Door”.

    1. Sounds like you have a a very robust design on yours. This one has been running without any problems for 11 months now with the same drive motor. I really didn’t have room for a bigger motor in this coop. The way the motor is mounted, it should be easy to replace the motor when I have too. Also, the door travel motion is not very fast; it takes about 30-60 seconds to close.

    2. If the motor is too fast, just PWM it to the desired speed.
      Also dust should not be a problem if you do not run the motor all the time, just put the whole thing in a container. You probably should do that anyway to avoid rain.

      1. LOL – Door and motor are enclosed inside the coop. No mater what they get dusty. PWM for the screwdriver worked – but it would stall occasionally at the slow speeds I was trying to drive it at. At full speed even with the built in gear reduction it opened and closed the door like it was a blast door :D The speed controller I designed had PWM for this purpose. Eventually the cheap motor in the screwdriver failed after a few months and instead of spending $10 on something that would last only another few months I bought a good wiper motor from monster guts.

        It’s difficult to “fully enclose” the screw portion of the sliding door above at a reasonable cost that’s the part likely to get gummed up by dust….but I guess a piece of PVC with a slot and some “dust fingers” could work for that design. Mine opened vertically and used a much less expensive “winch” design. The door is light enough to not injure the chickens and heavy enough to close reliably.

        Electronics are actually mounted outside the coop in a weather tight enclosure (grey PVC Electrical Box) on mine. Cheap and reliable.

    1. Our hens are really good about getting into the coop after dark. So, that hasn’t been an issue for us. Also, the motor current is monitored by the arduino in case a hen doesn’t get all the way in the coop and is in the path of the door. On high motor current, the arduino stops the motor and sends a message via radio to a computer in the house that emails me to let me know.

  2. Stupid city dweller question: I thought the door was for predators, but it seems like the chickens are in a complete enclosure anyway, so what’s it for exactly?

    1. good question. The Eglu coop is a portable coop and “run” that has wheels to make it easier to move it around. The outer part of the “run” is enclosed with a fence type material. The coop is more secure and would keep predators out that may dig, claw or push their way under the fencing.

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