Automatic Chicken Door Opener




Introduction: Automatic Chicken Door Opener

Hi this is my first instructable so sorry if it's not perfect.

Basically i bought some chickens a while ago and thought about making something to automatically open the door when it gets light cos im pretty lazy in mornings ;) .
After looking on ebay i found out they were between £90 - £110 so i decided to get my thinking cap on and make my own.

I have seen a few floating around but they all seem to be done by time not by light level.

What it must do:
open the door as it gets light
close the door when it gets dark
pretty simple huh? haha

Before we begin i would like it know i am planning on making some of these up and selling them online for about £60-70 if anyone cannot or doesnt have the time to make it themself. i will post it up when thery're on ebay.

so...anyway thats enough chat lets get on with it.

Im also plainning on adding a solar pannel with a diode to charge the batteries when its light but not allow the batteries to discharge through it.

here is the project set up as a trial in my garage  :)

Step 1: What You Will Need:

i went to which i would advise all of you to go to, really quick delivery (one of my orders was at 11 oclock in the evening and arrived midday next day).

PICAXE-14M microcontroller
PICAXE-14M Starter Pack (USB)  (for ease of project)
IC Holders (14 pin)
IC Holders (16 pin)
L293D motor driver
Stranded Wire   (either colour will do)
Worm drive gearbox pair (solar motor)
ABS Box largest one
Light Dependent Resistor ORP12
10k potentiometer
2 x Miniature Microswitch
Stripboard (perfboard)

non-techsupplies stuff:
Fishing line
peice of wood the same size as your chicken coup door
small screws
small scraps of wood

Soldering iron
Wire cutters
Wire strippers

Step 2: The Circuit

Here is the diagram for the circuit, its hand done so sorry about quality :P

Step 3: Building the Circuit

This is the basic build steps,

mistakes i mad:

Installed a regulator that was then removed as it is run at 6v ( 4 AA batteries) and has no problem with the voltage


Was going to insert the chip into the ic holder but then decided to use the prototypeing board and simply use wires to connect the boards together, i did leave the ic holder there though as it makes it easier to work out were to put the wires.

Step 4: Programming the Chip

simply insert the chip, open the picaxe programmer, make your program and press F5.

Before i give you the code i want to explain how it will work.

1) test the circuit by running the motor forwards then backwards
2) if the light levels are high then start the motor running in a direction untill the switch is pressed (the swich it pressed when the door is fully open)
3) once the light levels decrease then run the motor in the opposite direction untill the other switch is pressed.

Step 5: The Enclosure

You will have to cut some of your box's sides so that the wires can be fed out of it but thats pretty much it, simply fit the boards in place and then close it up.

Step 6: Making the Door

Simply cut your wood to the size of the coup door put a hinge at the top and a screw sticking out of it at the bottom, now mount the motor above the door and wrap a few turns of fishing line around the spindle you may want to add some tape or glue to hold it there.
now mount the LDR where it will see the sun when it rises in the morning.

now insert the batteries and wait a few seconds for the tests to run

now simply go out about 2-3 hours after your chickens have fallen asleep and turn the pot very slowly untill the door closes, now when the light is any heigher than this the door will open, thats how easy it is to tune :)

I've included my test set up, all attatched to my bench before i do the real thing, and a video of it in action i simply cover the ldr and then expose it to the light to simulate the sun rising and setting.

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    Question 6 weeks ago on Step 6

    How long did this work until you have to fix or redo? Video of it still working?


    6 years ago

    Hi, I will make this, but i can not read the chicken timer flowchart.cad file.

    In what program do I open it? Or could you send it to me in *.plf for the programedditor of pixaxe?

    Thank you,



    10 years ago on Introduction

    Can you rig this up too a timer instead of light sensors cause i live in the middle of woods and i don't want it too close in the middle of the day


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    you could, a good cheap alternative, would be a ANOLOGUE alarm clock, you would need one where it beeped for 1 miniute then after that stopped (timed out) most do this.
    you could then remove the buzzer and wire it to the input of the chip instead.

    then modify the program so that when it received the input it would open the door then wait for 70 seconds (to give it a chance to stop), then when it hits the same time but PM the hands will align again and it will go off once again the door would close and it would wait 70 seconds.

    the best times to pick would be 7 so that it went off at 7am and 7pm.
    If you need any help i would be happy to give it


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    sorry for the long weight on this having started uni i have not had time to build much so i havn't yet.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Just wondering how your door has been working for you? I have been considering trying to make a door that slides to open. Think a modification like this might work?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    i did try something that slides but an issue i found was that it could slide close with a chiken in it, also its alot easier for it to get jammed.
    this way the makimum weight on the chicken will be the door weight which isnt enogh to hurt.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I am pretty lazy in the mornings too. this is a really cool plan. I think I am going to add these to some of my chicken coop plans. Thanks for the post


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    thats ok, my pleasure, if you need any help or any advice please ask, btw i would reccomend using a wall adaptor if there is power near by (you can use an old phone charger just check its 5v and lowish apms) or put a cheap solar pannel on top of the coup as the microcontoroller/motor combination uses battery power fast, just an idea :)