Automate Your Poultry With CoopCommand

A fresh egg taken from beneath a slumbering hen is something to which the taste of a supermarket equivalent rarely compares. The satisfaction of having a contented flock does come at a price though, in the form of constant monitoring and husbandry of your poultry’s well-being. It’s a problem that [hms-11] has tried to address with CoopCommand, a system to automate the monitoring of and environment within a chicken coop. It controls a light to counteract for shorter winter days, warms their water when it’s cold, has a fan for cooling and ventilation on hot days, and a camera to keep any eye on them.

At its heart is an ATmega328 controlling the coop functions, and an ESP32 camera board for network connectivity and visual monitoring. An alphanumeric LCD and a set or buttons provide the interface, and all is fitted on a custom PCB in a smart 3D-printed housing. Meanwhile all the files can be found in a GitHub repository.

A machine cannot replace human care and attention when it comes to good animal husbandry, as there’s always an essential need for the poultry owner to attend to the needs of their charges. But a system like this one can make an important contribution to their welfare, with a consequent increase in their laying ability.

24 thoughts on “Automate Your Poultry With CoopCommand

  1. And again we see a DHT22 estimator.

    Why, oh why.

    Use a BME280 and don’t forget to reference the DS18B20 against the much more precise BME280.

    Otherwise: ++ for the pcb and overall build. Nice work. Egg liqueur!

    1. I haven’t used the DHT22, but my experience with the DHT11 is that it is basically a temperature/humidity estimator with a built in binary noise source.

      BME280 is a far better choice!

      1. The BME looks great… but there is no stock anywhere and the usual places show availability something in mid October. The result is that at times one has to use what one can get.

  2. I didn´t see mention of it, maybe where he lives it is not necessary. But around here, we need to care also if the water is cool enough in the summer, because the chicken get ill when only offered stale and/or warm water.

  3. I’d be interested in how it handles being in the coop for a while. Chicken feathers tend to gum things up.

    I have a coop in my backyard and don’t need any of the lights/heat/cooling thank goodness. But I did hook up an teensy with a light sensor to automatically open and close the door to the roost in the evenings and mornings. The electronics were easy. Hooking up the mechanicals was more a a challenge. Things that run reliably on the bench did not run reliably installed in a chicken coop.

    1. my automatic door opener runs on a clock but I’m changing it to light sensor soonish. and a chicken coop is a harsh environment. they pull the wires, feathers in the threaded rod, straw bunched under the door keeping it from closing all the way.

    2. I’m running an NodeMCU (ESP8266) inside the coop to open and close the door at sunrise/sunset (actually civil sunrise/civil sunset). I’ve been running it for about 3 years now, without a case (yikes!) and while it gets dusty, I haven’t had one single hardware issue with the electronics.

      YMMV, but if you put it in a case, it seems to work well.

  4. My dad rigged a wind up alarm clock to wind up a string around the winder for the alarm which turned as the alarm jangled. The string pulled a weight off a shelf which fell and pulled down the knife switch to light up the coop and get them up early and laying. Depression era hacking. Use a timer not light conditions, get ’em up early and producing.

  5. The issues and benefits this project addresses are real. A properly automated hen house allows the owner to leave them unattended for a few days and get away.

    All of the items and issues are also available separately, so the question becomes finding value added benefit to their integrated operation (and the risk of complete failure if something goes wrong).

    I’m using an Insteon plug in I/O module to control the sliding coop door, and this includes a magnetic reed switch to confirm the door is closed. Door operates using a linear actuator and cable (pulley system increases door speed and since door closes by gravity, will not crush a bird that should get in the way). ISY-994 automation module in the house that runs all the lighting operates the door based on calculated dusk/dawn. Overnight the ISY-994 checks the door contact is closed every 5 minutes and produces a chime via X-10 chime module if the door jams or fails to close. All logic and controls happen on the property and are not dependent on any cloud server.

    4″ water storage via pipe and nibs are insulated and heated using Ama**n 12′ of water pipe trace heater with stat that seems very reliable around the freezing point. This has kept up with a couple rare -20C nights. And not warmed the water unnecessarily when conditions are above 0C.

    A Honeywell non-programmable digital stat operates at 12V just fine and controls a decent sized 12V axial fan when things are too warm. Keeps the ammonia fumes under control in the summer too.

    WYZE cameras are cheap and easy to set up! I have a v2 inside the coop and a v3 for surveillance outside in the run… easy to view and already integrated other Wyze cameras around the house. See which bird is in a nesting box and that all is well. Observe their nightly roost positioning ritual. You can even talk or whistle back to them (they take notice, but not much else). Records 12s snippets of strange sounds or movement at night if predators are looking for a way in. IR lighting from the camera works well at night. We debate how sensitive the chicken eyesight is to IR, but they seem to sleep just fine.

    Hope this helps!

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