Intro: Automatic Chicken House Project
As part of our 2nd master’s Industrial Engineering studies in electromechanics, we have to realise a project with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi card. The project must allow to resolve an existing problem.
Our project is an Automatic Chicken House and is divided into several modules. These modules allow to:
- The opening and closing of the door of the chicken house. This realization allows to keep the chickens safe during the night and let them free during the day.
- The automation of the food delivery. When the door opens, the module gives a specific amount of food for chickens. The food is distributed once per day.
- The automation of the water delivery, based on a float to know the water quantity available for the chickens.
The main advantage of working this method is that each module can be independent. You can choose which parts you want to install.
Furthermore, this project is highly flexible because you can develop other modules like, for example, an ultrasound system to terrify the foxes during the night, a system to protect the eggs in this way that the chickens don’t break them, and many other ideas are possible.
Step 1: Project's Choice
We’ve decided to work on a problem on the environment, and particularly, on the amount of household waste make by the people. We focused on the fact that possess chickens so that increase the value of the organic waste.
Indeed, a certain amount of waste like skin of fruits and vegetables, cheese rinds, leftovers… can be used to feed the chickens.
Possess chicken allows to reduce until 20% that household waste, which isn’t insignificant.
The advantages of owning a chicken house are to reduce the amount of waste, but also, to obtain fresh eggs freely. However, to have chickens requires a maintenance, which is a big issue for the most people.
The 3 problematics we have decided to resolve are:
- The daily door’s opening and closing. If the door stays open, the chickens run the risk of get killed. This issue is we necessary need to wait the nightfall to close the door, and the sunrise to open the door. That causes a big discomfort because that depends on seasons. This problem is also meet if the people go on holiday; they are not there to open and close the door of the chicken house.
- The second problematic concerns the water level of the tank. It’s comfortable to have one indication when you fill the water tank, especially during the winter. We have thought to install one red light who switch on when the tank is nearly empty.
- The last problematic is the daily distribution of food. In this case, the problem is the amount of food given on chicken. If you give overly food, you risk having rodent who come. The solution is to give a certain amount per day. We have think to combinate this food distribution with the opening of the door. So, the chickens receive their food each morning, at the sunrise.
Step 2: List of Electronic Components
The material used for this project is :
- Arduino MEGA : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B06XKZY117/ref=o... : (price : 12,99€);
- Door : made with recycled materials;
- Electric cylinder : http://telesatshop.com/fr/moteurs-diseqc/178-supe...: (price : 43,20€);
- Electromagnet : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01F4MBQBA/ref=o...: (price : 8,10€);
- Float : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01MTYPK9I/ref=o.... : (price : 6,86€);
- Food distributor : made with recycled materials;
- Photo resistor : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B0774P1VWD/ref=o...: (price : 5,79€);
- Red LED : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01DXBNCB6/ref=o... : (price : 2,60€);
- Relays : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01H2D2RI0/ref=o...: (price : 10,90€);
- Remote control : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01NAVJLDM/ref=o...: (price : 7,99€);
- Trough : https://www.laroygroup.com/fr/products/detail/421... : (price : 11€);
- Wires : https://www.amazon.fr/gp/product/B01JD5WCG2/ref=o... : (price : 6,99€).
The total price of this project (for the 3 modules) is about 150€.
Step 3: Building of the Food Distribution System
The food distribution is created with a plastic basis that we built ourselves. On this basis, we have added an electromagnet.
If the electromagnet is not power, its shaft is outside so that the food distribution system is closed.
As the basis has been building manually, you can find the explanations in detail below.
Material used for the building:
- 1 plastic box of 3 litres (the "small box");
- 1 plastic box of 8 litres (the "big box");
- 1 plastic bottle of 0,5 litre (the "small bottle");
- 1 plastic bottle of 2 litres (the "big bottle");
- 1 plastic cup (yogurt);
- 1 spoon;
- 1 electromagnet;
- 5 nails;
- 1 rubber band;
- 2 cable clamps;
- 1 small part of twine (5 centimetres long);
- 1 glue gun.
First part: The support
Take the small box, paste a small piece of plastic inside thanks to the glue gun and cut the bottom (it makes the container of food).
Take the big box, place the small one on it and make the same whole in a way to create a path between. Then, fix them together with the glue gun.
Second part: The mechanism
Take the big bottle of water, cut its top and fix it with the glue gun. With the other part of the bottle, make two holes on his and get through with the spoon. Tips: Mark one notch on the spoon for each contact with the bottle to make the movement of rotation of the spoon more efficient.
Take the small bottle, cut it in two parts, in length and fix it with the glue gun inside the big box just above the fixed top of the big bottle. Then, take the five nails and twist them.
Fix two nails on the spoon and two others on the top of the big box. Then, fix the big bottle of water on the big box with the glue gun. The spoon must be located between the fixed top of the big bottle and the small bottle of water.
To complete this mechanism, take the electromagnet and fix it to the plastic cup thanks to the two cable clamps.
After, fix this module on the other side of the big box thanks to the glue gun. Then, make a hole on the spoon, put the fifth nail inside this hole and bind it to the electromagnet with the twine.
In the end, make two holes on the big box. The first one is for the cable and the second one for the small bottle of water to let them get out of the big box.
Step 4: Building of the Water Distribution System
For this part, we have adjusted a classical trough: we added a float and a red light on the trough. The building of this module is easy, so we haven’t many explanations.
Material used for the building:
- 1 trough (the capacity depending of chicken’s quantity);
- 1 threaded rod dig M10; 2 nuts M10; 1 ring washer;
- 1 float;
- 1 drill;
- 1silicone gun.
- Drill a hole on the top of trough.
- Gather the float and the threaded rod dig with 1 the first nut.
- Fix the threaded rod dig on the trough, with the ring washer and the second nut.
- To waterproof, place silicone on the fixing system.
Step 5: Building of the Front Door System
In our case, the chicken house existing yet. So, we have just adapted the system.
The door is a simple metal gate, and we have added the electrical jack. We also have inserted a luminosity sensor.
Material used for the building:
- 1 metal gate;
- 1 electrical jack;
- 1 fixation system for the jack;
- 2 runners to lead the gate;
- 1 luminosity sensor (photo-resistance);
- Some wall plug;
- Some screws;
- 1 drill.
- Fix the runner around the gap’s door.
- Gather the electrical jack and the door Install the fixation system for the jack.
- Adapt the height of the jack so that when the stalk’s jack is out, the door is closed, and fix them like that.
- The luminosity sensor must be installed near a window to pick up the daylight.
Step 6: Cabling
In this part, you can find the electrical schema of the 3 modules.
The photo resistor is used to know the outside luminosity. It allows the automatic opening and closing of the door.
You also have two modules with two relays. The first relay is used to release the food with an electromagnet. The second indicates when the water level is too low, with a red light. The last two relays are used to control the door.
The level sensor is used to know the level of water, and the remote control allows the manual control of the installation.
Step 7: Coding
The software’s project is easy to understand. You need to have some basics knowledges on programming.
They are some explanations on the functions:
- The luminosity sensor works in analog signal;
- We have synchronised the food distribution with the opening of the door;
- If the pins 10 and 11 are LOW, the door opens;
- If the pins 10 and 11 are HIGH, the door closes;
- The food distribution is based on a time: the system is opened after a time;
- For the water tank, it works in a binary way. If the sensor is true, the red light switches on;
- The remote control allows the project functions of the in manual mode.