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!
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21311082 w=470&h=300]

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]

21 thoughts on “A Solar-Powered Automatic Chicken Coop

  1. 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.

  2. 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:
    Limitation: Your door has to lift with 4lbs or less, but at least you won’t crush a chicken on the closing cycle.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    1. 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

    2. 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.

  9. Well I guess I have to somewhat eat my words. As to hating string doors. Well I absolutely love mine. And I never intended to make one either, since there is four major things I have issues with. Just for some reason I had all the parts and the idea struck. I Removed all the issues.


    1 String. People use string or rope, to me the string is weak point that can kill a bird if the bird was under it when it snaps. If the door is so light, and not an issue, then why even do it.
    2 Motor Mounting and spool. I see so many very nice ideas and designs (great stuff and some are very impressive) but they all seem like too much effort and adjustment. Then connecting the string and driving a spool or shaft. Again so many very nice ideas and designs , yet still too much effort.
    3 Security. Most of these doors are either too light or flimsy to the point predators can lift them. Most don’t lock. And even the one that do, yet again, same as mounting the motor. Seems like too much effort and adjustment.
    4 Failure. Now this is the one I have not seen ANY door have. If they fail there is no safety feature that keeps the door from falling on a bird. It becomes a guillotine. Again if these doors are either too light or flimsy, then why even bother.

    Issues SOLVED:

    1 String. The line is stainless steel cable Adjustable Picture Hanging Wire kit with a maximum load-bearing up to 44lb and the Stainless Steel Fishing Leaders are: Test: Approx 40 lbs / 18 kg. Is far better.
    2 Motor Mounting and spool. Motor already comes with, a geared drive train, spool and way to mount.
    3 Security. Locking system took two minute to figure out and 5 min to mount.
    4 Failure. Safety feature was already half done. I seriously doubt this will ever fail to the point the door falls, but it’s there. Should the line ever break or motor gears fail, when the door falls it will jam and stop. Kinda like elevators are meant to do.

    Well in two hours I put this together just because I had the parts. LOL Turns out I really love it LOL. Plus like two days later when the idea struck for the safety feature. What you think?


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