While prepping for the upcoming apocalypse, the [prepforshtf] folks had time to design and build an automatic chicken feeder. It’s a very simple design (the best kind) that is made from standard PVC drain pipe. The pipe is positioned vertically and filled with chicken feed. A T-joint at the bottom of the pipe allows chickens to access the food inside. As food is eaten away, gravity pulls more food down to the feeding area.
That sounds pretty straight forward but it quickly became clear that checking the food level was a chore, almost as much as just feeding the chickens everyday. To remedy the requirement to constantly check the food level, the automatic feeder system was taken apart and modified to include a level indicator. Now, inside the 4-inch pipe resides a plate that resembles a butterfly valve.
This plate doesn’t control the flow of feed like a normal butterfly valve would, the feed actually holds the plate in a vertical position until the feed level drops below the plate. Since the plate has a heavier side, it will rotate when the feed no longer holds it in position. A large red pointer was attached to the plate’s axle and, since it is on the outside of the feeder, it allows a clear indication that the feeder needs a refill.
This is a great project that shows that even simple projects can be very beneficial in everyday life. With no electronics or batteries to fail, this feed indicator will certainly be very reliable. No doubt the chickens will be happy. Check this out for a more involved electricity-powered feeder.
Every once in a while we get sent a link that’s so cute that we just have to post it. For instance: this video from [Ludic Science]. It’s a wind-up chicken toy that kicks a pendulum back and forth. No more, no less.
But before you start screaming “NOT A HACK!” in the comments below, think for a second about what’s going on here. The bird has a spring inside, and a toothed wheel that is jammed and released by the movement of the bird’s foot (an escapement mechanism). This makes the whole apparatus very similar to a real pendulum clock.
Heck, the chick toy itself is pretty cool. It’s nose-heavy, so that under normal conditions it would tip forward. But when it’s wound up, tipping forward triggers the escapement and makes it hop, tipping it backward in the process and resetting the trigger. The top-heavy chicken is an inverted pendulum!
And have a look, if you will indulge, at the very nice low-tech way he creates the pivot: a bent piece of wire, run through a short aluminum tube, held in place by a couple of beads. Surely other pivots are lower-friction, but the advantage of using a rod and sleeve like this is that the pendulum motion is constrained to a plane so that it never misses the chicken’s feet.
Our only regret is that he misses (by that much) the obvious reference to a “naked chick” at the end of the video.
Continue reading “Chicken-powered Pendulum”
By now you’ve seen almost anything Tweet. But have you seen the (French) twittering chicken coop? (Google translate link) [Hugo] had kept two chickens as part of a household-waste reduction campaign, and then afterward started work.
Even if you don’t read French, the chickens’ twitter feed basically tells the story.
The setup can take IR photographs of sleeping chickens and notify [Hugo] when it’s time to collect the eggs. Naturally, an abundance of other sensors are available. The coop can tweet based on ambient temperature, nest temperature, light level, motion sensor status, or the amount of remaining chicken feed. You can easily follow whether the two fowl are in the coop or out in the yard. It’s like Big Brother, only for birds.
The application is, frankly, ridiculous. But if you’re into home (or coop) automation, there’s a lot to be learned and the project is very well documented. [Hugo] used OpenCV for visual egg detection, and custom Python code to slightly randomize the tweets’ text. All of these details are up on his Github account.
And if you just can’t get enough chicken-coop hacks, be sure to check out this mobile chicken coop, this coop in the shape of a golden spiral, or this Bluetooth-enabled, talking chicken coop, among others. You’d think our name was Coop-a-Day.
In and of itself this mobile chicken coop is a pretty nice build. There are some additional features lurking inside which you don’t find on most coops. [Neuromancer2701] built-in a set of sensors which can be accessed wirelessly. It makes it a snap to check up on the comfort of the hens without leaving the couch.
At the heart of the sensor system is an Arduino along with an Xbee module. The build isn’t quite finished yet, but so far three sensors have been implemented. A thermistor is used to read the temperature inside the coop. To make sure there’s enough water, two sheets of foil tape were applied to the water reservoir. The CapSense library measures the capacitance between these plates which correlates to the water lever (we’ve seen this type of water level sensor before). And finally, there’s a sensor that can tell if the door to the coop is open or shut.
He’s having trouble automating the door itself. This can be pretty tricky, especially if you go for a super complicated locking mechanism like this one.
[Marchelo] wanted to build his own chicken coop. He started researching different designs and ended up basing his build on the golden spiral.
In addition to the interesting shape, a ton of clever design choice made it into the build. For instance, [Marchello] took the time to dramatically round over the lumber used as the skids of the base. This, along with wheels on one side, will make it much easier to slide the coop if he needs to move it. Also, the roosting boxes are an addition to the side wall of the hen-house. The roof for these boxes is hinged, so checking on the chickens, or harvesting eggs happens at a comfortable height for the farmer. And finally, the plank that allows entry for the hens doubles as the door at night. So far this is a manual-operation, but we could see some mechanization as a future improvement.
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.
Continue reading “Chicken coop door using threaded rod”
It turns out that as the days get shorter, chickens lay fewer eggs. But you can trick them into keep up production using artificial light. [Jpitz31] decided to build his own timed coop light to bridge the gap until the days of plentiful sunlight return.
He already had an LED camping light to use, but needed to find a way to power it and to switch it on and off on a schedule. He chose an ATmega328 for the latter, as he had a bunch of extras sitting around. As for power, there isn’t AC available where the coop is, so he opted for a 12V lead-acid battery with hopes of adding solar charging features in the future.
Switching is handled by a relay, with accurate time kept by a DS1307 real-time clock (it’s the red PCB seen above). Everything fits nicely on the board, and we have a couple of feature suggestions for future improvements. The linear regulators will eat up some extra power so moving to a switching regulator will help save juice. Also, it would be very easy to add a light sensor so that the light will only be on when the ambient light drops to a preset level. This way he won’t need to mess with the schedule as the length of the days change.