Light controlled wildlife feeder

I want to create a box where the lid opens up based on ambient light. Basically the lid closes at night and is open during the day. It will be a wildlife feeder that deters (nocturnal) raccoons from eating all of the feed but allows daytime wildlife to feast heartily. Is arduino the correct setup. My basic design is to have a linear actuator opening the lid but was also considering a crank type system (similar to a steam engine drive wheel). I need to either be able to control how long the actuator extends when enough light is present and reverse the action when not enough light is present or turn a servo motor with a crank a certain distance. Id prefer to use the actuator since the lid will be about 10Lbs and will need to extend about 10”. Is this possible? if so, how hard would it be for a newbe be to program? Thanks in advance for the advice!!! Ive attached a crude drawing.

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This doesn't really need any computer at all, just a light sensor, a couple of relays, and couple of microswitches. I've got a schematic I did ages ago for someone else, attached. Replace the "timer" with "light sensor".

What have you got for a power source ?

Hen door relays.jpg
tincupchalice (author)  steveastrouk3 years ago

So i can skip all the programming? Yay!!! I was planning on using a 6v battery with a small solar panel. Should i modify?


Solar Panel:

Well a solar panel + battery would make a useful power source, and you can use THAT to detect the lack of sunlight - win all round.

tincupchalice (author)  steveastrouk3 years ago

So I'm going to take the schematic to RadioShack and tell them to give me everything I need to build what's there then simply replace the digital timer with the solar panel/battery and it should work?

You're going to need to switch the single relay on the left on and off when you have light and power, that might take a bit more effort. Wire the relay to the panel, and the rest to the battery. When the panel volts drops, the relay will drop out, but the motors will be powered off the battery and close the door.

There's quite a bit of fiddling about needed to get everything just so.

tincupchalice (author)  steveastrouk3 years ago

Thanks Steve! Ill get started with this and update as i can

You may also need to open the solar panel to get to a diode that's inside there, which you'll need to be on the panel side of to trigger the light relay.

Toga_Dan3 years ago

will the lid make enough noise to scare the chpmunks out of the bin? or could they get trapped inside?

tincupchalice (author)  Toga_Dan3 years ago

We don't have chipmunks in Louisiana.

Better be a powerful motor or you'll need to add a latching mechanic too it. Otherwise a coon will tear right into it with little effort.

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