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Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

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Sparky
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Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Sparky » Sun May 31, 2015 12:24 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums
September 23rd, 2014, 05:40 PM
by Doc


A couple or so years ago we had an "incident" that we call the Easter Massacre. This was when a fox killed all 13 of our hens. The problem was we left the coop door open so we could sleep in and not have to get up so early to let them out. We had gotten away with this in the past but this time Mrs Fox needed to feed her babies. :cry:

So.... I decided to build an automatic door controller. Here's what evolved out of that:
https://youtu.be/rveU2gJXrD4


I'll have to dig up some more video. The original thread here has been lost. I'll piece together what I can.


Lately, with Chris Savage's help I have been "reverse engineering" my design into a schematic so I can start on a PCB. Currently the controller is on Propeller Proto USB board.

Stay tuned!

doc

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Sparky » Sun May 31, 2015 12:33 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on September 23rd, 2014, 05:44 PM by Doc

During the design phase I spent a lot of time sitting at the coop monitoring light levels with PST and my laptop and I didn't have a good way to hold my laptop up high enough for the USB cable to reach the PropBOE inside the coop. So... my solution was a custom mount on the coop for my MacBook Pro! You can't just go buy something like this at the store. :mrgreen:

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Sparky » Sun May 31, 2015 12:43 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on September 23rd, 2014, 06:14 PM by Doc

I should take a moment to describe the mechanical aspects of the door. I wrestled with ideas of opening and closing the existing foo (in the video, you can see it hinged back to the right of the opening). Ultimately I decided that I would leave the original door intact and functional in case I needed to close/seal the coop separately from the automatic door. What I came up with is a vertical door that slides in a slot frame mounted on the inside of the opening.
https://youtu.be/027lz0RtDEM

I used a high density polyethylene (HDPE) cutting board as the door. I placed switches in the path of the door inside the frame and raise and lower the door with a gear motor from the Parallax Motor Mount & Wheel Kit through a Dual Relay Board and HB25 Motor Controller. Originally I breadboarded the circuit on a Propeller Board of Education but eventually transferred it to a Propeller Proto USB Board.

Here's another video from the inside:
https://youtu.be/e7X4GPve6h0

I had to reprogram the timing because the line would sometimes hop off the rim of the wheel. Leaving it to spool on the shaft and adjusting the software timing fixed that.

doc

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Electrons-R-Fun » Sun May 31, 2015 12:48 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on September 28th, 2014, 05:30 PM by ElectronsRfun

DOC,

I had a couple of questions.

I saw the battery on the side of the chicken coop, I suspect it is a 12 volt battery, so I wanted to ask how are you charging the battery? Solar would be cool. How do you know when to charge it? Any monitoring system.

Is the door actually strong enough to keep predators out of the coop? The door looks reinforced from the (redwood?) framing

I am not sure if you are using the time of day to open the door or the amount of ambient light or a combination of both or a combination of sensors? How will you protect the sensors from the elements in the finale version?

Jason

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Sparky » Sun May 31, 2015 12:56 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on September 28th, 2014, 06:56 PM by Doc

Originally Posted by ElectronsRfun

... I suspect it is a 12 volt battery, so I wanted to ask how are you charging the battery? Solar would be cool. How do you know when to charge it? Any monitoring system.

Yes, it is 12 volts. Good eye. I built solar panels at first but under calculated the voltage on the build. I plan to redo that soon. I never got around to a charge controller. I may just purchase one although I will keep an eye out for good schematics of charge controllers.

Is the door actually strong enough to keep predators out of the coop? The door looks reinforced from the (redwood?) framing

The door is high density polyethylene (HDPE) and is very strong. It's heavy enough and slippery enough that it's very difficult to push up to open. The framing is screwed into the coop wall with a series of deck screws so I feel like it's pretty secure.

I am not sure if you are using the time of day to open the door or the amount of ambient light or a combination of both or a combination of sensors? How will you protect the sensors from the elements in the finale version?

The controller works entirely from light levels with thresholds for dusk and dawn in software. The sensors are all inside the coop and protected from the elements. Currently they are attached directly to the protoboard but ultimately a finished product will have pluggable connections for the sensors to allow for a variety of placement options.

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Savage///Circuits » Sun May 31, 2015 1:05 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on December 15th, 2014, 02:16 PM by Chris Savage with edits

So glad to see this post restored in all its glory! :D

As far as a charge controller, Here is the one I am using. It is very simplistic.

Your project connects directly to the battery, and the battery connects to the solar panel as shown using the PB137 SLA regulator. Of course, the overall current is limited to the maximum of the PB137 (1.5 A), but in solar projects your circuit should be well below that kind of current draw anyway. This worked well with the 18 volt solar panels Parallax used to have available.
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In this configuration the solar panel runs your circuit during the day while keeping the SLA battery charged/topped off. At night the circuit runs from the battery.
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I'm only responsible for what I say, not what you understand.

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Re: Automatic Chicken Coop Door Controller

Postby Sparky » Sun May 31, 2015 1:11 am

Originally posted on the Savage///Circuits Forums on March 18th, 2015, 10:39 AM by Doc

Sorry for the lack of attention to this project. I've been meaning to get a working solution to the solar power going. Perhaps I will have more time soon. Thanks for that circuit Chris. I have those parts already and expect to use that design.

Thanks again!


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