Building an automatic chicken door

Thread Starter

HalfacreFarms

Joined Mar 21, 2023
5
Hi there, I'm new and apparently not as cool as I once was.

I'm trying to build a circuit to automatically open and close my poultry doors using a CN101A timer (I have two) and either standard relays or the F-1020 relay I have purchased from Amazon. I'm using a linear actuator with an automatic stop feature. Ideally, I'd like to set it up with one timer to open the door at a prescribed time, then have it close at a prescribed time. I figured I could set it up like a momentary switch, but can't wrap my head around the wiring for it. I used to have the setup pictured in the link, but it just wasn't durable. https://blog.netscraps.com/diy/heavy-duty-automatic-chicken-coop-door-ii.html

Thank you in advance for helping me out!
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,264
Welcome to AAC.

You are either going to have to use a latching relay or have the relay energized to hold the door open or hold it closed. The choice would depend on what you consider “fail safe”. If you would want the door to open if the relay failed then you should hold it closed—or the reverse for failing closed.

The method would be to wire the relay so the NO (normally open) contacts performed one function while the NC (normally closed) performed the other. But, frankly, I don’t think it is a good idea to use the timers you have. They don’t seem suitable to safe and reliable operation. I think you need a timer that has more than one output.
 

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,290
Ahhhh, the infamous "Chicken-Door" request ............

This is a somewhat common request ............
https://duckduckgo.com/?q="Chicken+door"+"forum.allaboutcircuits"&t=brave&ia=web

The mechanical aspects of operating the Door are sometimes
more challenging than the controlling Electronics.

I would say that being able to operate the Door extremely slowly,
( maybe a full minute to close ), would be a bonus,
so as to not trap a Chicken under the closing Door,
and to provide a larger time window for the Chickens to re-enter.

I also think that a relatively quiet "Beeper" would be good too,
as well as making the Door substantially oversized,
so that it forms an "Awning" or "Overhang" over the Entrance when open.

A simple and cheap "Lamp-Timer" from Walmart can do the Timing.
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Chicken Door .png
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Last edited:

Thread Starter

HalfacreFarms

Joined Mar 21, 2023
5
Ahhhh, the infamous "Chicken-Door" request ............

This is a somewhat common request ............
https://duckduckgo.com/?q="Chicken+door"+"forum.allaboutcircuits"&t=brave&ia=web

The mechanical aspects of operating the Door are sometimes
more challenging than the controlling Electronics.

I would say that being able to operate the Door extremely slowly,
( maybe a full minute to close ), would be a bonus,
so as to not trap a Chicken under the closing Door,
and to provide a larger time window for the Chickens to re-enter.

I also think that a relatively quiet "Beeper" would be good too,
as well as making the Door substantially oversized,
so that it forms an "Awning" or "Overhang" over the Entrance when open.

A simple and cheap "Lamp-Timer" from Walmart can do the Timing.
.
.
.
View attachment 290401
.
Thank you for your reply and help. The mechanics come easy to me, it's the circuits that confuse me. Thanks again!
 

Thread Starter

HalfacreFarms

Joined Mar 21, 2023
5
I have done some additional research and found this diagram, which I think will work. I have used the CN101A timers before and they're pretty reliable when used for either open or close operations, but the relay has always been the problem because they seem to always fail. What say the experts?
 

Attachments

LowQCab

Joined Nov 6, 2012
4,290
It looks like it should work,
it also looks rather expensive !!

Replace the Battery every 2-years, ( or sooner), so that You don't get a surprise one Day.
That's right ..........
Throw-away a perfectly-good, working Battery, if it's more than 2-years old, it will fail.

Who says Relays fail ?
If the Relay is properly suited to the job, and kept dry,
it should easily last ~10-years in your application.
Some are completely sealed, and last much longer.
The Contacts should be rated for at least 2-X the Load, 4-X is better,
and it must have Contacts rated for DC-Current, AC-Ratings are completely irrelevant.

This Relay requires Soldering the Wires to it,
but it will last forever in your application,
and only costs ~$3.oo.
( Let me know if You can't Solder and I'll pick a different model )

All of this stuff should be mounted in a Water-Tight-Box so
that the connections don't corrode over time.

The Relay-Coil, and the Motor, must have Suppression-Diodes added across them.
This reduces or almost eliminates arcing between Switch/Relay Contacts,
and will extend the life of all parts.
Are You familiar with these ?

Your Solar-Panel is almost guaranteed to be too small, get 2 or even 4.
~3-Days with overcast Weather may leave You with a dead Battery.
Multiple Solar-Panels require Diodes to separate them from each other.
Larger Solar-Panels are more fragile than several smaller ones.
Leave at least 1/2" of open space behind the Solar-Panels for cooling.
If they get too hot, their output drops considerably.
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.
.
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,241
The method I always recommend is no power supply, no relays, no clock, no switches, no timer, no microntroller, no battery, no...

A solar panel barely capable of pulling the door up at sunrise by a string rolled on the shaft of a 'toy' DC motor even in cloudy times.
As soon as there is daylight, motor winds up the string and keeps pulling the sliding door up all day against a stop until sunset when the door closes slowly by its own weight and diminished pull.
Like an elevator in a building, a counterweight can be implemented for a weak motor/panel. Not clock dependent, works by amount of light any season.

Found a similar thinghy image on the web :
1679519014050.png
1679518242790.png
 
Last edited:

camerart

Joined Feb 25, 2013
3,736
Hi h,
A couple of thoughts:
It may be an idea to count the chicks 'in' to make sure you have no stragglers, but before Mr Fox wakes up.

If you look at racing pigeon lofts, they walk through hanging spokes, which could be locked once they're all in.
C
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,398
The circuit shown in post #3 is what I would recommend if the linear actuator has only two wires and switches to disconnect power in one direction when it reaches a limit. The wiring drawing shown in post #5 Looks rather expensive, and includes a complex power arrangement scheme and an un-needed night light circuit. OF COURSE, I do not like wiring diagrams as substitute for circuit diagrams.
So a question is about the available power: Does the system run off of mains power? Or is it powered by a battery? That factor affects a number of choices.
 

Thread Starter

HalfacreFarms

Joined Mar 21, 2023
5
The circuit shown in post #3 is what I would recommend if the linear actuator has only two wires and switches to disconnect power in one direction when it reaches a limit. The wiring drawing shown in post #5 Looks rather expensive, and includes a complex power arrangement scheme and an un-needed night light circuit. OF COURSE, I do not like wiring diagrams as substitute for circuit diagrams.
So a question is about the available power: Does the system run off of mains power? Or is it powered by a battery? That factor affects a number of choices.
Thank you for your reply. The linear actuator has an automatic stop feature and I will be using a rechargeable power tool battery until we get our solar panels set up.

We have about 600 birds we're trying to manage and they're easily trained to the door's opening and closing.

I'd use a simple photovoltaic sensor except we have a security light that would constantly trip it.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,398
OK, battery power means that standby power should be minimized, and that also means that a convenient mains powered time switch with a normally open and a normally closed contact set is not an option.
But with an investment in 600 chickens, and a building to house them, I think that the effort and materials to provide a bit of mains power would be worth while. EXCEPT NOT IF you need to pay to have it installed.
 

Thread Starter

HalfacreFarms

Joined Mar 21, 2023
5
OK, battery power means that standby power should be minimized, and that also means that a convenient mains powered time switch with a normally open and a normally closed contact set is not an option.
But with an investment in 600 chickens, and a building to house them, I think that the effort and materials to provide a bit of mains power would be worth while. EXCEPT NOT IF you need to pay to have it installed.
We figured out that it might be cheaper to install solar on each of our outbuildings than to have our electric run underground. We have to upgrade our service to 200 amps, install a new service panel and probably put it in a new building. It's a whole deal. The farm we purchased hasn't had any major improvements since Jimmy Carter was a boy. Considering I used to farm completely off grid, it's a step up.

I'm troubleshooting my wiring now as I have power to the manual switch to operate the linear actuator, but the timers aren't working. I'm going to have to pull it apart and test each timer individually. The relay and switches work, so it has to be the timers.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,398
Certainly timers can be trouble! The contacts oners mechanical timers may have issues, and the tripping mechanisms on some models are poorly designed and made with a poor grade of plastic. A circuit with no relays could reduce power consumption a bit but the very simplest version I come up with uses two batteries, one for the opening direction and one for the closing direction. But that scheme needs no other parts, except the two timers, two batteries, and the actuator. And the timers will have just a simple normally open contact. But with that scheme you would want a means to verify that the door has closed.
How long a wire would you need to run from where you live in to where the chicken door is located? I do have an idea.
 
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