Instructables

Light Sensitive Chicken Coop Door

Hi, I recently started keeping my own chickens and have really enjoyed the whole experience. The chickens were all really friendly and provided hours of amusement. Until a few weeks ago I had 4 of our feather friends in a nice Coop. That was fine until one night, for the first time ever, we forgot to close the door to the coop. Unfortunatley the fantastic Mr Fox must have been casing the joint for some time and siezed his opportunity. Three of the chickens were nowhere to be seen, the fourth lay dead under our rhubarb. So why am I telling you all this sad tale? well, I have stumbled accross a solution to this ever happening again. On Ebay I can purchase a 'VSB Automatic door opener', but it'll cost about £100. This is also not ideal as by current door for the coop opens horizontally not vertically, which would mean replacing the door. I'm also concerned that the light unit will be underneath a roof with this design, so it may close prematurely, leaving the chickens trapped in the yard. I'd like to have a go at making my own automatic closer for the coop, possibly solar powered (with a rechargeable battery) that could be mounted to the side of the coop. I don't mind adapting the door to make a vertical opener, if that makes the project easier. The specs for the bought units are: Compact geared motor with steel gears ensuring extremely long life. Battery life now 3 to 4 years with an HS sliding gate or 2 years with a 1.5-kg sliding gate featuring a 50-cm lift. Dorkeeper operates considerably more quietly now. Thanks to 40-kg breaking strength, the rope can hardly break any more. Electronic shutdown of motor within one second when the sliding gate is blocked.Once the blockage is removed, the sliding gate will be opened within three minutes. The strain on the batteries is virtually negligible. Tensile force: 200 g to to 3 kg, with idler UR on the sliding gate (pulley) 6 kg. Does anyone have an ideas how to make something suitable/similar? I have included photo's of the coop showin the current method for closing (Metal foding arm)

Picture of Light Sensitive Chicken Coop Door
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Nemesis201077 (author) 4 years ago
I've been looking for something similar and have recently had a breakthrough. I intend to make a circuit as the image shows. I'll then be able to set a timer to activate the circuit in the morning, then in the evening. There's also a manual button to run the system. Try this for the timer switch http://www.reuk.co.uk/Convert-Digital-Mains-Timer-To-Low-Voltage.htm it will only need to provide power for the period required to open the door. I'll be using a geared 12v motor from an old drill to spin some 6mm threaded rod. This will be atttached to the door using some wood and 'Tee Nuts', when activated in the morning the motor will 'pull' the dor towaqrds the motor until it reaches the limit switch, the circuit then switches over and goes idle until power is reapplied from the timer and the motor spins to 'push' the door away. I'll put up a full instructable if it works properly.
i did think of doing this (with the thread) but if a chicken is standing in between when the door closes it is more likely to hurt it so i used the lowering method as it only puts the weight of the door onto it, also sorry it took so long but yes you could use a 12v motor just use my circuit but put a 5 v regulator in between, and also you wouldnt have to use both boards in the box but at the prce they cost its worth it as you can simply plug a laptop in and change it easily depending on time of year etc, once again my appologies for the delay, have been busy getting some more chickins :) hope this helped.
stocky3 years ago
http://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Chicken-door-opener/ Litterally just posted this, haha i made mine a while back and thought id post it, if you dont want to make it yourself tell me and i'll do it for you it will be about £60-70 so alot cheaper and also all of the parts are listed so if it wears out its easier to fix than the ebay ones :)
Nemesis201077 (author)  stocky3 years ago
Hi stocky, thanks for the message. This does look somewhat simpler than my design, which is probably a good thing. I would suggest that adding a timer as an option would be a good idea though. during the height of summer, when it gets light really early, foxes may still be around. By having the option of a timed unit you can set it to open a little later in the day than the light sensor would usually. I might well try your system first, as I messed up the circuit board for my idea. I'm a complete electronics novice and don't think I had it set up correctly. I found some really useful PCB software that does all the routing from a schematic, but I can't find any for stripboard, which is what I intended to use. for the timer element I'd recommend doing this idea http://www.reuk.co.uk/Convert-Digital-Mains-Timer-To-Low-Voltage.htm
if you look under the what you need step theres a website that is brilliant for parts, also use stripboard and then simply cut the rail inbetween the chip pins, so that the legs arnt on the same rails, i simply scratchen between the top and bottom pins with a knife, this will stop pin 1 and 14, 2 and 13, 3 and 12 etc being on the same rail. :) you dont need to get the pcb software tbh just use wires and connect the parts with that instead, not as professional but works.
Nemesis201077 (author)  stocky3 years ago
Yeah, I could do that with your circuit, the one I've got is a little more complicated I think. That's why I think I'l probably use yours first, then go back to this idea later. Any feedback on the circuit diagram here is always appreciated. There is an indicator LED which will be red if the door is open and green when closed, so I can easily see from my bedroom at night if I forgot to check the door had closed. It should work to spin the motor one way, then the other as my doot is monted to slide horizontally ti will be spinning a threaded rod which will pull/push the door until it reaches the limit switches. You'll see I've got a switch on the left of the diagram to select between the timer and manual operation, I might add a third option so it can use the LDR's as a switch too. I've bought the components for this from ebay & www.bitsbox.co.uk who are very competitively priced. I've also salvaged a 12v dc geared motor from an old electric screwdriver of mine, which should produce enough torque to fit the bill.
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This is a great idea but using a microcontoller would surely be simpler, and could essentially do the same things, also a 12v geared motor will give enough im sure, the only reason i used a worm drive one is theat the door cannot fall down (for example if you try and turn a normal geared motor output by hand it will turn, if you try with a wormdrive gearbox it wont) this means that i dont have to leave my motor on to hold it open :), essentially thats what the thread will simulate, just remember to check it stays dirt/food free as it will jam easily. i like the led idea, an improvement i'd like to add to mine is some kind of blutooth connection availably where i could simply turn on my phone/laptop and open/close it at will but this would be a new project probably. :)
Nemesis201077 (author)  stocky3 years ago
These are probably dumb questions. 1)in your 'ible you've mounted both PCB's in the box, is that necessary? or do I buy something like this http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/RKP14C-Compact-Project-Kit-PICAXE-14M-Self-Build-/250629348199?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Components_Supplies_ET program the chip and then mount it onto the circuit you've provided? 2) I'd intended to run my system using 12v to ensure the motor had enough Ooompf to operate correctly, would I need to change your circuit to do this?
pyroal4 years ago
http://blog.stead.id.au/2010/01/building-automatic-chicken-door-opener.html