help with auto chicken door

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by erfjr81, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
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    ok basically what i want to do is build a chicken door that will open in the morning and stay open all day then when it gets dark close

    i have a photocell that came out of a battery operated landscape light
    i have a 6 volt cordless screwdriver wich i have attached a spool that will reel in the cable to open the door and unreel to close it
    i have 2 limit switches and a 6 volt power supply

    so i need a relay or something to to tell the motor to come on and wind the spool in one direction when the sun comes out
    and tell it to come on and wind the spool in the other direction when the sun goes down

    the limit switches will tell the motor to stop once the door is closed and tell it to stop when door is opening
     
  2. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
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    what could be used to help me do this as far as the limit switches go i have that under control i need a way for the photcell to tell motor to turn 1 way when in daylight and turn other way when in dark

    all help is appreciated
     
  3. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    just get the last chicken to close the door behind her.

    I can see it now, you'll check when the door is closed, a head or leg will be hanging out, or the skunk will be feasting all night.
     
  4. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
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    ummm no actually they have a completly enclosed yard and the door is for the hen house no animals could get in anyways and the door is luan wood very light weight so if a leg got stuck they could easily get out
    and they sell automatic chicken coupe doors for $200
     
  5. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
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    How much electronics knowledge do you have?

    I'd recommend a simple comparator circuit, driving a relay or something. What would power the relay? You could perhaps run it off the 6V cordless battery, or have a dedicated power supply.

    Also you probably couldn't use a standard comparator circuit with dusk and dawn because clouds around the right time might cause the door to open and close rapidly, which could annoy the chickens... However, I made a very similar circuit to turn on a light in the dark and turn it off in the light - for a bike light. It used a 555 timer. It would not switch on and off near transition thresholds and had a built in delay (about 2 seconds.) I attach the circuit - maybe you can adapt it. With an additional diode across the relay coil you could use a SPDT relay on the output instead of operating the microcontroller.
     
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  6. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
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    wow thats pretty high tech lol im an electrician and have some electronic knowledge but am not on your level by any means
    i have played with a 555 timer before in an electronics kit but didnt know i could do anything like that with it

    would it be to much to ask for some help designing a circuit ? maybe a parts list with the relay i would need

    i like the idea of a delay how hard would it be for a 10 minute delay

    also if it would make things easier i could use 2 different power sources one to drive the motor one direction and another for the other direction looking for a simple solution but willing to do it right

    and thank you for the schematic tom66
     
  7. gootee

    Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2007
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    OT: Remember that if you want them to keep laying eggs year-round, you need them to always have light for about 16 hours per day.

    I knew a guy who used rain-guttering and a plastic auger to bring the eggs to his kitchen window. He had a row of sloped-bottom cages with openings across the bottom so the eggs would gently roll out and into the angled (at that point) gutter. His chickens never left their cages, though. Also had two other troughs/gutters for automatic feeding and watering. The water one had a hole drilled at one end for a bathroom sink type drain (with black plastic hose running outside) and it would open the drain and flush the trough out with water and then close the drain and re-fill it with fresh water.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
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  8. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Aww, come on! Im not a tree-hugger, but you cant leave the little ladies locked up 24/7.

    Let them run around when they want.

    Well, gootee, when you say "never left their cages" I pictured a chicken-sized cage.

    Did they have wiggle-room?
     
  9. gootee

    Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2007
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    The cages were not extremely small; probably about 1.5 feet wide and 2 feet deep and 1.5 feet tall. But no, they were in them 24/7/365. They had it pretty nice, with heat in the winter and a fan in the summer, and usually music when the lights were on. I think he had a TV for them, for a while. They always seemed content and maybe even happy, whenever I saw them.
     
  10. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Better than alot of people have it! ;)

    I retract my previous grief.
     
  11. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
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    I'll try and get a schematic up later. But a delay of 10 minutes would require a massive capacitor - the circuit was designed for a maximum of 30 seconds or so.

    You could either use one power source (the screwdriver) and run wires from that to power the circuit, which will happily operate off anywhere from 3V to about 15V, or you could use a second battery just for the timer and relay. Keeping the relay energised though requires a lot of, well, energy. So you might need a big SLA battery to run it for a few months. Or, if mains electricity is available you could use a step-down transformer.
     
  12. Mr. Mik

    New Member

    Oct 26, 2010
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    I guess the idea is to keep them warm at night?

    I have some free-ranging chooks in very mild climate, they walk up a long stick to the opening in their enclosure. Dogs, cats and foxes will not make it in, but the darn possums do and will cause some commotion and get their(?) share of the chicken food.....

    So I have thought about this issue but from a slightly different angle.

    I would like a solar panel charging a battery that has sufficient capacity to open and close the door for a week without sun.

    The light sensing mechanism needs to be tolerant of full moon light without opening the door, but not close around dawn if a cloud suddenly makes it a lot darker. The chooks would be on their way home around that time.

    I think a photo-diode or photo-voltaic cell and an op-amp comparator together with a delay timer is the way to go.

    Alternatively, I could electrify the chicken feeder after dark.....:D that'll teach the possums!
     
  13. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Well, moonlight is sunlight. Many people dont realize that the moon does not produce light. You are seeing the sun reflected off the moon.

    Try taking a photograph of the moon and you will learn that quickly.

    Instead of light-only, use a PIC with a real time clock, so It only checks the light detector if it is after 6pm (or whatever).

    This would be pretty easy to implement.

    A PIC, motor, motor driver and power source.

    A typical wall wart transformer or solar and a battery would handle everything.

    If going for solar, Id skip the stepper and go with limit switches and a geared DC motor.

    The geared motor could be connected to a linear gear on the door and raise and lower it like a guillotine door.
     
  14. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    The subject has come up 3 or 4 times since I've been on the board. Have you got the mechanics figured out? The electronics is relatively easy after that. I used to raise chickens in a coup much like yours. The real problems I had were raccoons (they consider chickens tasty, and are very strong and have hands) and black snakes (eggs).

    I had wired up a set of lights inside and out (the yard) for my nocturnal visitors. I remember getting into a shooting contest with a skunk once. We both lost.
     
  15. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Agreed. That is what I was thinking about when I said use a guillotine door with a geared motor.

    A worm gear in the gearbox will work as a break when the power is removed. That should help keep the door from moving with a decent amount of strength. Much more than a take-up spool connected to a string drawbridge type would.

    The geared option would slow the speed of door operation to help from smashing or catching chicken legs/heads/etc in the slamming door.
     
  16. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Remember this is a dusty, fairly dirty environment. I wouldn't have any gears exposed I could help. The other side is the door won't be able to be opened by critters with hands.

    I mentioned the lighting because I suspect most coups have some electrical service for lights.

    Ever see chickens play football? I'd toss a grasshopper in there and watch them play. Rough on the foodball though.
     
  17. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    Bang, contest over. You must be a bad shot Bill, or were you having a pissing contest.

    All kidding aside;

    here's a circuit for switching the motor with limits, only cause I'm too lazy to draw it out;
    http://www.sunlesssystems.com/circuits/metercircuit.pdf
    Now you need the actual control.
     
  18. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
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    haha yea they do play some rough football i have 3 kids so they r really like pets for them with perks free eggs and after a few years maybe dumplings :)
    yes i have 120 volts ac in the coop have a heat lamp connected to a timer

    the door will slide up and down like a guillotine but the screwdriver im using is already geard pretty slow and wont turn easily if its not in motion wich im sure is strong enough to hold the door up during daylight hours

    i wouldnt really care if the doors closed because of a cloud i would check on em most nights and besides might help teach them to get their butts inside if it starts to get dark

    i was originally thinking a constant 12 volt source broken by photocell to energise two relays then another constant 6 volt source feeding to the common of the relays and from nc to the motor and from no to the motor wich i thought the photocell would de energise the relay causing nc to go opne and no to close reversing the polarity and putting limit switches in line with the motor so that the travel of the door kills power to the motor but relays are energised at all times am i completely off track?

    thanks for all the help
     
  19. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    A simple photocell would be simplest, but you might also think about a simple clock circuit (real clock, and in timepiece) for really dark cloudy days as a backup.

    If you can work it with switches you are not off track. Like I said, for most of the experienced types here the electronics is not hard. Mechanics is the hard part.

    What part of the world are you?

    You shoot a skunk with a 22 and he will spray everything in sight. Kind of a last reaction.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2010
  20. erfjr81

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 25, 2010
    13
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    on top of a mountain in southern wv

    and yes i would rather have a fancy circuit that ran off a clock i could set with a battery backup and hope that maybe you guys could help me with that but i need a temporary fix while im workin on the high tech version wish i had the brains of you guys lol
     
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