# DIY Chicken coop door opener

#### DrJack

Joined Jul 30, 2011
2
Hello everyone,

Well, our proposal was ignored; they spent about $14 million and a year to install the automated systems; and right when they were finished the decision was made on high to move the plant. #### praondevou Joined Jul 9, 2011 2,942 Well, our proposal was ignored; they spent about$14 million and a year to install the automated systems; and right when they were finished the decision was made on high to move the plant.
Very interesting story. Well, it depends on your position and status if your proposal is being ignored or not, I learned that!!
Sometimes they just don't want to listen to it because it's too simplistic or comes from someone who wasn't asked to bring in their own ideas.

Joined Jul 7, 2009
1,583
Something that really bugs me is that nothing I've seen so far is both energy efficient, and gives positive feedback to the humans-in-charge so that they are alerted if there is a problem
In other threads I've tried to explain to people that these "simple" chicken door controllers aren't all that simple when you have to account for the fact that a design failure or operational failure can result in the death of your birds -- and the thing may have to operate in environmental extremes (below zero to above 100 deg F here where I live). The inside of a chicken coop gets pretty dirty from the birds flapping around (feathers, dust, and CS). I've seen no designs (DIY or commercial) that give the feedback you mention. Currently, my feedback is a bike reflector on the door of our coop that lets me see from a distance whether the door is open or closed.

We aren't overly attached to our chickens, but we are extraordinarily attached to one of our ducks, who is imprinted on humans and is our favorite pet. Both my wife and I would be devastated to lose this bird because she has so much character (it's one of those things you have to see to understand). Since our ducks are trained to go into the chicken coop every night, any automated door opening/closing design I would install would have to have my stamp of approval -- and I wouldn't approve until I had seen it operate without a failure for at least a couple of years.

This is deeply connected to why my wife and I still manually open and close the coop, every day.

#### THE_RB

Joined Feb 11, 2008
5,438
Here's just a start of an idea based on your requirements for reliable and dirty environment etc.

Imagine a see saw on a bearing pivot, as a vertical panel. Like a 4 foot x 1 foot plank of wood, horizontally, but on edge. So when it seesaw pivots through maybe 20 degrees it either covers the entry hole or opens it.

A decent sealed bearing (like a $10 car wheel bearing) would make it extremely reliable. Then a small container on the back of each side of the seesaw, filled with water, even with some antifreeze if you like. By pumping water from one container to the other you can reliably seesaw the door either way, and it will be stable in either position. It uses no energy when stopped. And here's the good point, you can run a couple of tubes back to the house and put a little water pump ($15 indoor fountain pump) and a valve if needed.

So you can control if from inside the house. As there is no mechanism and no electricals etc in the coop it should be extremely reliable. The 2 hoses (1 hose?) from coop to house can be poly irrigation hose, cheap and indestructable.

Joined Jul 7, 2009
1,583
Hi, RB -- I came up with that one a few years ago too (although mine was just a counterweight that filled up to open the vertically-sliding door and was drained to close the door). I didn't like the fact that I'd have to use a 50-50 mixture of ethylene glycol and water in the winter (meaning I'd have to find a pump that would reliably operate with this material) and that there'd be a fluid that is tasty to animals but also poisonous (but that part could be handled by e.g. putting screens or nets over the containers). The other part is finding a reliable drain solenoid valve.

It has the advantage of mechanical simplicity in the coop. But now the critical reliability area is the pump and solenoid valve. If someone knows of some good recommendations, I'm all ears. The other thing that would be easy to do is to use some microswitches on the door for the critical feedback that Wookie mentioned. Also, the fluid tank levels could be monitored with independent sensors and squawk if the state isn't correct at a certain point in time.

Thanks for the reminder -- this method is now back under my thinking cap for my coop...

One other thought: eliminate the drain solenoid valve by using something like a systolic pump that can be run in both directions? Ooohh, and these things are reliable...

Here are some notes I made a few years ago about these methods:

Water weights

The simplest setup would just have a tube running to the coop. The next simplest setup would have two switches that indicated closed and open door; these would be used to double-check the operation.
This would require a pipe to be run for the sensor switches and the fluid lines.
A 12 V system could be used -- the pump could be a windshield washer pump. In fact, there could be two pumps in parallel for reliable operation. The fluid could also be a water and alcohol mixture.
To avoid evaporation problems, a line could come back to the house that would vent the top of the container in the coop to the reservoir. Then the system could be completely closed.
A backup mechanical timer could be used to provide an additional on-off signal in case the photoelectric detector didn't work. Or, there could be two independent photoelectric detectors.

Hydraulic

Similar to the water weights, except a piston would be used to provide the mechanical movement. The pump would pressurize one side of the piston to open the door and pressurize the other side to close it. The movement distance needed is 12".
I could make this piston on the lathe with some 1.25" or 1.5" PVC rod. I have a 1" reamer that can reach over 6". If this rod was drilled with a long drill, then both ends could be reamed concentric with the first-drilled hole. A 1" diameter piston has 2.5 square inches of area, so to get 3.5 lbs of force, only 1.4 psi is needed. And we're only talking a volume of 30 in3 or 1/8 of a gallon of fluid to move. A small pump would handle this just fine.
A nice feature of the hydraulic is that the motor can be run until the motor current increases to a set value, indicating the piston is at the end of its travel. This could obviate the need for limit switches (or they could just be used as a check to set an alarm if they aren't properly indicating).

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