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Arduino Chicken Coop Controller

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Step 9: What would I improve?

Where do you start!  The ACCC has been operating for over 3 month now and seems to work fine - such a relief not having to get up or worry about whether our babies have been let out or locked in.

Reflecting over the build there are some improvements I will do over the next few months and no doubt publish ACCC v2.0:
  • Look at putting the arduino to sleep thus conserving power.  I tried running it on a rechargeable battery but the code was eating power at a rate of 40mA which meant it drained rechargeables overnight.  I believe I can get it down to 10mAh or less when asleep and then normal rate for the duration of opening and closing the door
  • If power can be conserved I will put a small solar panel up on the roof to trickle charge the motor and arduino batteries so it can be completely off the grid
  • I would like to add an LDR (Light Detection Resistor) to one of the spare analogue lines and combine the reading to fine tune the opening and closing times.  I wouldn't trigger the door opening or closing on light detection alone as it could be volatile to poor weather or the garden flood light as the fox enters our garden!
  • Alternatively instead of one fixed opening and closing time each month create an algorithm that takes current and next month and works out the daily increments to the times for opening and closing
  • Integrate the microswitches into the pine side rails for extra protect from nosey hens
  • Create a pair of flashing LEDs to show when the door is down.  At the moment we are still checking by going out to the garden.  It also acts as a deterrent to vermin as they don't like anything with flashing eyes
I really hope folks have enjoyed reading through this instructable and has inspired you to create something similar and no doubt better - please post your comments and suggestions so I can create a ACCC Version 2.0 soon!
 
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Hi R C,

Firstly, a great instructable - I'll definately be basing my set up o it in the spring.

One suggestion That would be good is some form of timed switch to trigger an LED light in the coop that would increase the light-hours - to ensure decent egg production in the darker winter months. NOT on a battery level!!! But I've read it can be better for the chickens to have a minimum of about 11hours light a day.

I'm not an electronic/programming buff, so there's every chance it may not be possible, but would be good if it was.

I look forward to version 2. Any ideas when it will be ready?

Regards,

Matt.
Robot-Chicken (author)  mdavenport31 year ago
Firstly many thanks to those who have given me some great feedback and have built their own chicken coop controller.

I am currently working on version 2 which has:
- a visual indication the door has closed successfully,
- ability to turn on a low power heat lamp when the temperature drops too low
- Improved display and time setting
- those who would like to keep the lights on for a little while to keep their egg production up. Chickens normally needs10 hours of light to produce a single egg

It is likely to be a couple of months so watch this space. Further improvements for my fine feathered friends serious or funny are greatly welcomed - R-C
Michael_oz2 years ago
Nice job, !! <- two thumbs up.

From that last photo, one improvement that the hens would like is to add a heated towel rail for their roost ;)
Don't for get the heated floors too :) A 30+ meters of insulated wire and the 12v power source and these guys will be loving it.
lford42 years ago
" I wouldn't trigger the door opening or closing on light detection alone as it could be volatile to poor weather or the garden flood light as the fox enters our garden!"

I was thinking that you could skip the arduino and go just with a photodiode and a few mosfets, but that is a good point. The fox walks near the security light, the light goes on, the door opens, and the fox gets a snack.

All around great instructable. Lots of good details..

Perhaps there is a photodiode out there that senses a wave of light that isn't emiited by the flood light but is still emitted on days with alot of overcast, maybe UVB light around 350nm. Then a temp sensor to control the heat lamp.
fabelizer2 years ago
Very nice! Looking forward to V2.0!

If I am to have hens, and Mrs. keeps saying so, then a door opener is a necessity as there is no way I am out there at 5 AM in the summer!

It would be great to see the door set times in real time format, and to adjust as you say according to light and calendar. But even without those features, it is still a very nice project!

Keep up the great work.
-fab
Robot-Chicken (author)  fabelizer2 years ago
With all the great feed-back I have been receiving I can see version 2.0 arriving soon - thanks for the support and do make sure you have an automated door if you take on the little darlings.

I would also suggest do support the British Welfare Hen Trust if you live in the UK - http://www.bhwt.org.uk/ Seeing these wretched creatures turn back to proper hens is immensely fulfilling. As one of my co-instructable comrades says 'Real Eggs Rock'