Irising Chicken Coop Door

What’s cooler than a door that irises open and closed? Not much. They add a nice science-fictiony detail to any entryway. [Zposner]’s dad wanted an automatic door for his chicken coop, so [zposner] took some time and came up with a nice door for him with an iris mechanism. You’ll need to watch the video.

[Zposner] used a combination of laser cutting and a CNC router to cut the pieces, then sanded and painted the wood. After assembly, [zposner] started work on the control mechanism. He’s controlling the door with an Arduino and a motor shield; to let the Arduino know to stop the motor, [zposner] used limit switches which get hit as the mechanism rotates. Once the switches were in the right place and the code written, it was time to finish assembly and install the door on the coop. To keep the Arduino that safe, it was installed in a plastic container with a screw lid, and then hot-glued to beside the iris.

Unfortunately, chickens don’t necessarily care how cool something is, and in this case, they didn’t realize that the iris was a door – they refused to exit the coop through it. [Zposner] tried a few things before settling on putting the chicken on the edge of the door – then the chicken would realize that it could go through it.

[Zposner]’s dad now has a snazzy door that opens with a switch. It was a great project for [zposner] and his dad to work on and, even if the chickens seem unimpressed, they did a great job. Check out the iris porthole that a Detroit Hackerspace built into its door, or, if you really want to build an iris mechanism, but don’t have access to a CNC router, a laser cutter, or, you know, wood, you could build this out of bits you have lying around.

25 thoughts on “Irising Chicken Coop Door

    1. Well, Jaffa can’t fit through the gate. Solves most problems involving malevolent entities, actually.
      But then that one time a Goa’uld serpent crawled through…

    1. Why stop there — you could remove the servo and electrics by using a cord. Kinda not the point – you don’t want to have to be out at the appointed times to open and close the door. The one night you’re out with friends and return home late will be the night a predator ravaged your flock. Yes, as presented, this project is triggered by a switch. However, the controller can be programmatically updated for deciding when to open and close. Making a state machine to periodically monitor an LDR (or even use an RTC, which I personally feel is silly and just one more thing that could go wrong) upgrades this from manually switched to fully automatic.

      My own coop door controllers (I’ve designed and constructed a couple) are ATTiny based, use an LDR, and drive a DC motor to open and close a galvanized sheet “guillotine” style shutter door.

      Cool is, well, cool. Reliability is important though. Over time the more likely some cruft from dustbaths and cobwebs and other gunk will find its way into a gear portion of it and bugger it up (either by jamming, or leading to wear). That’s why a simple counterweighted guillotine-type shutter door riding in a slot with sufficient play is about as straightforward as it gets for reliability. The first few weeks after you construct a project like this, you’re going to be out checking it all the time and thinking “I..am..awesome!”. Outside of gross design and assembly issues, it should be quite reliable in the beginning – it’ll be sometime after you’re not checking out your coolness that it faults because something is no longer in tolerances.

      As to the raised concern about power – since THIS project at this stage clearly uses a toggle switch right on the project, it should be obvious power is out. I however run mine off of solar charged LiIon – plenty of reserve power to run an extended period of time without sun (remember, it should only need to drive the motor for a short period of time twice a day), but I have a barrel jack for a wallwart if I’d rather. Low power sleep mode is your friend when running off of battery.

  1. this could have been so much easier…. blabla… overkill… blabla… 555… why arduino,.. does it user GPS to get the time or anESP to connect it to the internet… WHO CARES! This is a great project. It screams overkill on every step of the build and therefore i can only say:

    I LOVE IT!!
    Cool project, seriously!

  2. Add a light sensor to open at dawn and close after dark and there’s no worries about decapitating the chickens. That’s when you want to open and close the door anyway.

    I built my own automatic chicken coop door opener/closer using an arduino, motor and a all-thread rod as the door sliding mechanism. Unfortunately a chicken coop is not a clean environment and what worked great in the shop shortly gummed up and stopped working in place. I’ll get back to fixing it at some point – right now it’s just as easy to go out manually open and close the door.

  3. If you wanted to automate this and assure that no predator enters with the chicken you’d use video recognition set to detect “chickeness” and exclude “raccooness”. Speed up the door action a hundred-fold and use a piston to launch the chicken at high speed through the rapid open and closing of the aperture.

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