In the spirit of the geek within, we decided that crawling into the chicken coop to plug and unplug wires for heaters, and not having a good overview of the conditions in the chicken coop could be solved with an arduino! The project is fairly simple, but also very useful. A box in the coop that measures the temperature and humidity in different locations, relays for heaters, a network connection, and a restful api so scripting and automation could easily be set up on a server and adjusted over time without having to upload new code to the arduino. There is also the possibility for control via an app. It's all controlled over ethernet via the powercord.
Step 1: Prototyping and Defining Needs and Wishes
With a project like this, there are a lot of things that could be controlled, like an automated door, sensors to check if doors are open or closed, light sensors, and you could even figure out a way to check if there are eggs in there! This project, however, was meant to help us out over the winter. We visit the chickens all the time, and interact with them as much as we can, so for us some of those extra things would be overkill, and a time stealer. Once the needs we had were met, I wrote the software and created a breadboard prototype (video attached). The prototype seemed for us to do exactly what we wanted, so after two days of soldering and building a box, Coopilicious was complete! We got it installed, and worked a bit more on refining the app for it. Documentation and pictures on the way was not really considered, and the idea of posting it here came after completion when we showed it to some people that showed us this site. Therefore pictures are lacking, and the box is already sealed (there is a lot of dust in a chicken coop). A video review and schematics will be the next step in the process!
Step 2: Putting It All Together
Installing it in the coop! Still looks a bit messy, so wires need to be sorted out. Having a remote access makes us able to turn the heating lamp off without disturbing them when they are settled in for the night, and then switching it to the ir ceramic lamp instead so they get some dark for better sleep.