building the electric eye chicken coop door

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Randy Rooster, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. Randy Rooster

    Randy Rooster Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ive envisioned having a chicken coop door that actually closes at a few minutes after dusk and opens a few minutes after dawn automatically, since I first had a bird killed baecause I forgot to close them up at nite. How can it be done if it can be?

    I think if some one could come up with a package that actually worked for under $100 they might become a millionaire.
     
  2. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    Using a solar cell seems an obvious place to start. A windscreen wiper motor from a wrecked car would open and close a chicken door easily enough if it was on a good hinge.

    An alternative to the solar cell would be a clock or timer mechanism but you would have to adjust it for the seasons.
     

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Furnaces use an "eye" to watch for a flame, no flame it switches the fuel pump off or closes the solinoid to kill the gas. 24 volt AC I think, but perhaps the voltage doesn't matter? (I really doubt it matters, so long as its low voltage) Just rig it to a relay that cycles a door opening motor.
     
  4. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Many schemes one can build. Lot depends on how big, heavy the door is and exactly how it operates.

    The sensor can be a simple photocell. These change resistance as the amount of light changes. I use one to sense ambient light in my control computer. It works by building / spanning a sensor for input via the gamecard, that can allow direct control of 110 VAC or DC devices via X-10. Very cheap, the resistance change is huge, bright sunlite to dark, like in the MegOhms, you use a parallel resistor to span it to the desired range.

    http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=465&type=store

    You can use a computer or dream up an electronic way to generate a bi-stable event based on setpoint. Something called a Point of Sale computer works wonderful in building a home automation type system. They still sell the one I use for ~$70.

    Then you must dream up the actuator. Depends on how handy you are.

    Simple is latch the door open by hand, release it via the controls, let gravity close / latch it closed. The relays in a car air handling system are perfect for this function. Duh, I am in the process of throwing a complete unit away.

    Or you can have it spring powered with a latching system.

    Or use air powered actuators, or look for a small electric one. Your air source can be a pumped up tire reservoir with solenoid valves to actuate. As in found in dishwashers or clothes washers.

    The usual problem is to build the linkage to get the leverage, range of stroke needed. Yup the car windshield motor / linkage, if you can stop it exactly in the stroke can do both Open / Close functions from one motor / direction of rotation. Basically the same problem as automated greenhouse vents. Could web search for those.

    All depends on the parts on hand. Fan motors and gear trains with limit switches out of washers or other appliances. Rube Goldberg would be proud. :worship:

    Being a millionaire from automating chicken house doors. Who would have thunk the demand would be that great. :eek:
     
  5. unixguy

    unixguy Member

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    I am working on this for my poultry house as welll... I am planning on using the
    actuator from an old 8' satelllite dish positioner.

    Gotta love linear motion.

    Unixguy.
     
  6. unixguy

    unixguy Member

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    Most of these actuators have BUILT-IN, Adjustable, limit switches,
    and can be picked up at junkyards for a song. Just maske sure that
    they still work. New ones can be found with 18" travel for $75.


    Unixguy.
     
  7. Randy Rooster

    Randy Rooster Well-Known Member Supporter

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    but what about plans or an off the shelf kit? you take this up to the chicken forum and they be all over it i bet
     
  8. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    O' Boy this could be up there with "Why did the chicken cross the road"???

    Or did the chicken make into the coop before the door closed? Would anti-collision provisions have to be provided? Could give "Pressed Chicken" a whole new meaning. :p

    I can see it now. $5000 limitatorque actuator recycled to control Abe's hen house door. :)
     
  9. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    garge door opener conected to a timer. solar eye could activate on a real cloady day! only thing is how to get the stray chickens in! maybe a feeder comes on 5 min, before the door closes?
     
  10. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    YES, the garage door opener is probably the best actuator for this application.

    A timer won't work as daylight, sunrise, sunset changes daily and with the seasons, weather.

    We need a computer and the power of software. Get the Epson IM-X40 here.

    http://www.timeline-inc.com/hacker.html#bank

    Is the one listed as Embedded 486 Computer $69.00 or 2 for $149.00

    Complete enhanced Intel 486SX-33 based computer in ultra small (9-7/8L x 6-5/8W x 3-1/8H)case, Ideal for embedded operations or as a second computer.


    You can slap in a 2.5" hard drive or just do it via a floppy or even an external ZIP drive, really can deck this puppy out. :D Doesn't have a floppy or hard drive as shipped but you can find them.

    Or can use an old laptop, the one above is really built well for the purpose.

    Now can control the garage door opener with either relay out via the parallel port or X-10 via the serial ports. Plus can do adaptive control. We have both time and the ability to sense ambient lightning conditions with the computer. Can bring a lot of data back in via either the gamecard or the input bits of the parallel port. Even store chicken count / status numbers in the IAC.

    Plus so, so much more. We can start to count the chickens, both in and out and generate status reports and logs. Call wayward chickens that have not returned to the coop before closing the door via a bell, call chickens for automated feeding, maybe even get into egg production monitoring, poop depth, Lord so much to be done. Even automated chicken weighing or nest monitoring is not out the question. :)

    Rethinking the design of the door can also take this coop's game to a whole new level too.

    Can the mail box door be next???????? ;)
     
  11. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    A 486 microcomputer controller is WAY overkill for something like this.

    Shouldn't need much more than a photocell to sense dusk/dawn, a 555 timer chip to give the chickens some extra time to make it in, a relay to activate a small motor to open and close a counter-weighted door with maybe a contact sensor to detect when the door closes, and a couple of chips for control logic.
     
  12. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    OK guys, the robot builder to the rescue.

    No PC or laptop needed just simply use an avr atmega8 chip programmed in bascom.

    Parts list
    cds cell
    atmega8
    homemade linear actuator (10$)
    motor driver circuit (non relay)
    small dc gear motor
    2 micro switches
    mounting hardware

    collision avoidance could be added with an IR pair.
    set the time at 1/2 or 1 hour after dark to insure everyone is in.
    lol that was easy, i might just have to make this one.

    added - just checked all of my sources and this only cost about 40 in parts to make.

    GA
    www.botsandbytes.com
     
  13. Randy Rooster

    Randy Rooster Well-Known Member Supporter

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    come on alien do it and link us to some pictures and make up a set of plans to sell - you might also even be able to come up with a kit eh?
     
  14. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    LOL I have already talked to my partner and the machine shop has been called.

    Needed 1 victim to test this thing on his/hers poor chookies.

    GA
     
  15. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Well I'd volunteer, but I doubt you want to come all the way to OK to install it. <G>

    I'd love to have something that would close the door since I do have the occasional senior moment and once in a blue moon I'm not home at sundown. But I have an 8 foot wide, 1 ft high pop door on the coop. Keeps a few inconsiderate birds from blocking a small door so the others can't get in.
     
  16. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    OK, I ripped a couple of parts out of a robot and came up with some working code based on the minimilistic hardware needed so that part will not be an issue.

    New thoughts -- opinions needed?

    sensor at the door that fires off a strobe, alarm etc if something, including a chicken comes to the door after closing?

    training buzzer that sounds a buzz say ten minutes before the door closes, or maybe 30 min then 20 min then 10 min ? etc...

    door size 24 inches square? with rails for self installation.?

    override button?

    GA
     
  17. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    Well, for a more minimalistic approach, forget my 555 timer suggestion and use an RLC circuit energized by a solar cell - that way you get detection and timer in one circuit.

    Sun goes down, the RLC slowly de-energizes. When the voltage drops below the threshold level of a diode, that could trigger the door close.
     
  18. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    John, I am familiar with this circuit and it would work but I see a little problem with it...there is no timing device? you get door full closed or open based on threshold. Another issue might be during heavy, dark cloudy days??

    I am thinking the cds cell because I can convert out to A2D then wait for a zero reading on an A2D port that will trigger a timing circuit (or code).

    For both of our idea, the addition of a pot would allow the user to tune the sensitivity... I suppose there would definately be the need of an adjustment based on ambient light at each individual location, ie yard lights etc...?

    GA
     
  19. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    I just hope no chicken gets injuried in this experiment. Remember Murphy's Laws are still in effect. Surely there will be a train track nearby and the headlight will hit the sensor at exactly the right angle to cause a mystery door oscillator to happen.

    What about moonlight??? Full moon and the fox is on the prowl!!!! :eek:

    Remember all hardware screwups are best fixed with software. Solder is a poor software substitute and has no ability to be tuned in an adaptive manner. :no:
     
  20. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    I think that the timing is inherent in the circuit - you would pick the component values such that you have a fairly long time constant.

    Dark cloudy days would be a problem. It might be better to use a photoresistor as suggested above, because you'd have better control over the sensitivity.

    Off the top of my head here, but the photoresistor could act as a pull down resistor that controls whether or not a DC source such as a motorcycle battery is energizing the RLC circuit. In practice, you'd probably have a 1000 ohm resistor in series with the photoresistor.

    when there is enough light to 'open' the photoresistor, the battery would keep the RLC voltage at 6 volts. When it gets dark enough to 'close' the photoresistor, the RLC voltage would decay according to the time constant resulting from the component values.

    Naturally, the same battery that energizes the circuit could also power the motor.

    This all makes me miss my school days, or at least makes me wish I had an O-scope!