Automatic Solar-Triggered Chicken Coop Door Opener

With two attacks on our chicken so far, the idea has been boiling for some time to make a automatic chicken coop door opener. Before I started googling: I had set the followin requirements:

  • requiring no mains power or batteries, it should be self-sufficient;
  • no use of timers, but using light and darknes to determine time to open or close

After reading around, the biggest mistakes challenge seems to be:

  • avoiding to use a electric car antenna, which is no made for pulling or pushing doors!
  • not to eventually resort to timers because we cannot figure out how to use daylight; when using timers you will always need 2!

This nice attempts show exactly these as the main problems. After weeks of figuring out the wiring on the relay, the antenna fails.

Better to start with a strong enough motor; a sattelite actuator seems a good candidate, because it has stop switches built in. You could use a simple strong motor, but the you need to tell the motor when to stop working.

This is the best video on the subject, but still uses timers. Anybody intending to get into a project like this, should watch this. All construction advice given here is first rate:

So the project will consist of a few steps:

  1. Building a lightweight, sliding door for the coop, without any electronics involved and getting that door to work smoothly.
  2. Mechanics: attaching the motor to the door in such a way that it can function properly and is safe and dry
  3. Electronics: powering the motor and getting the door to open and close buy celexa 20 mg electronically, but on human command.
  4. Solar activated: adding a circuit before the motor which tells the motor when to work.

Everybody buys relays to do this; switches that a electronically activated. This is great but makes solar activation a bit difficult without still adding another circuit. So what we need is in fact a switch which activates itself by light and darkness.

The solution may well be a Velleman Daylight Switch kit, or even just stealing their schematic:

schemerschakelaarvelleman

 

 

 

 

velleman02

 

 

 

 

 

The diagram clearly show what the circuit does, there is a photo-resistor (a resistor that changes value with the amount of light available) which regulates the switching. When there is no light, the switch turn on, powering the lamp.

Where the motor is concerned, I am really looking at small satelite motors called actuators, which can be had from €35 but have the advantage of built-in stop switches. We will need to test the minimal movement span needed for the chicken to exit the coop.

miniactuator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensor: reed switch means that a magnet is used to determine that the shaft has reached the end of the stroke. If it can move a 1.5m satellite dish, it will have no problems with our coop door. We might need a different, momentary relays, which will tell the motor: do your thing and stop at the moments of dark to light and light to dark. It may be more difficult that initially imagined. But building two Vellemans will still be cheaper that buying two timers.