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“El Pollo Palace” – My Automated, Energy Efficient Chicken Coop

By dhnaves, Jul 15, 2015 | Updated: Jul 15, 2015 | |
  1. dhnaves
    Arduino Chicken Coop
    [​IMG]


    Welcome to “El Pollo Palace” – My Arduino Automated, Energy Efficient Chicken Coop
    I had sketched out what I wanted to build and gave myself about a $300 budget. I had so many materials already, so I thought I could do it. (outside of the serious techno-pimpage I desired)

    What I Wanted

    • Medium Size Coop
    • Medium Size Run
    • Something durable
    • To build it from recycled materials
    • Security from predators
    • Automation
    • Weatherproof
    • Semi-Modern looking (not too “Countryish)
    • Green & Energy Efficient
    • Technically Advanced

    What I Have

    The Coop Overview Video
    El Pollo Palace El Pollo Palace El Pollo Palace Automated Chicken Coop - front Automated Chicken Coop - front Automated Chicken Coop - front Arduino Chicken Coop Controller (labelled) Arduino Chicken Coop Controller (labelled) Arduino Chicken Coop Controller (labelled) Arduino Chicken Coop Door Arduino Chicken Coop Door Arduino Chicken Coop Door LCD Readout - Arduino Automated Chicken Coop LCD Readout - Arduino Automated Chicken Coop LCD Readout - Arduino Automated Chicken Coop Live Chicken Cam in Auburn CA Live Chicken Cam in Auburn CA Live Chicken Cam in Auburn CA Night View - Predator PIR Motion Detector Alarm & Deterrent for Chicken Protection Night View - Predator PIR Motion Detector Alarm & Deterrent for Chicken Protection Night View - Predator PIR Motion Detector Alarm & Deterrent for Chicken Protection Arduino chicken coop door Arduino chicken coop door Arduino chicken coop door Photocell - Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Photocell - Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Photocell - Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Steps Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Steps Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Steps Chicken coop nesting box Chicken coop nesting box Chicken coop nesting box El Pollo Palace - Arduino Automated Chicken Coop El Pollo Palace El Pollo Palace - Arduino Automated Chicken Coop Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing Wiring Diagram Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing Wiring Diagram Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing Wiring Diagram Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Opening Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Opening Chicken Coop - Interior Exit Opening PreviousNext Go to slide 1Go to slide 2Go to slide 3Go to slide 4Go to slide 5Go to slide 6Go to slide 7Go to slide 8Go to slide 9Go to slide 10Go to slide 11Go to slide 12Go to slide 13Go to slide 14

    I’ve been building the coop off and on now since Spring of 2012 (keeps me sanely away from my computers) and below is what I’ve built or am still building:

    The Chicken Coop Controller
    [​IMG]

    Arduino Chicken Coop Controller Arduino Chicken Coop Controller This would be the brains of the entire system, encased in a simple plastic organizer with the dividers removed. It’s set within a UL approved metal electrical housing, which is nestled within the El Pollo Palace Network Operations Center or “E.P.P.N.O.C.” =)


    When I started my chicken coop, I knew I wanted it to be technically advanced, but I didn’t really want it to *look* too high tech, and not too “country” either. So I just went for it and I’m pretty happy with the results. Being the chicken nerd I am, I loved every phase of combining technology with building a chicken coop and raising chickens. (I actually don’t think I’ll ever want to stop adding to it b/c it’s just too fun) I mean, why shouldn’t technology keep them safer, more comfortable, and healthier? Ok, and why shouldn’t *I* have more fun with it? =)

    What was the most important part for me (like most of us chicken owners) is keeping the chickens safe, especially at night. So for the automation part, it was all about the door. Predators are strong, sneaky and relentless critters, so you have to really get this door part right. After a while, you realize that one of the biggest pains is opening and closing the door every morning and evening. We chicken owners can’t go out to dinner without worrying whether or not a raccoon or a fox has been eyeballing them all day, waiting for the sun to go down to get into the coop to have *their* dinner. I also installed a chicken cam for a little added comfort.




    [​IMG]


    Automatic Chicken Coop Door

    I wanted a small door to open automatically (via Arduino / morning/night) to the outside world. Doing this would relieve us from worrying if the chickens were safe at night and to be able to leave the house when we wanted) This door will be located on the side of the coop and will slide open (vertically) so the girls can up & down their ladder about 18? to the ground level. (although ladders are really not needed as my chickens can fly straight up to the door without trouble)
    I’ve lived with the chickens and the coop for some time now and have learned quite a bit… especially about their habits. This is important, because no matter how much I’d like to automate this coop via my Arduino Control Center, the chickens will ultimately dictate how it’s made and how it will operate.
    The Installed Arduino Chicken Door

    How I built the Automated Chicken Coop Door

    Testing the door with the Arduino

    The Elements
    The Photocell
    Photocell
    When I first started this coop project I wanted to use a real-time clock and an Arduino library called Time Lord, but since I was a newbie to Arduino and struggled with the implementation of Time Lord I decided to go with using a photocell resistor instead. I’m actually glad I did since chickens come home to roost based on light, (not time) and with a photocell I won’t have to worry about a real time clock resetting due to power outages or battery failure, I think it will be less prone to problems.
    Photocell application and installation
    I first soldered the photocell to my cable, applied heat shrink tubing and encased the connection within a 1/4 inch plastic audio connector case. I filled the casing with silicone and capped the very tip with clear plexiglass to project the photocell from the elements. then I simply drilled a hole above the coop door monitor, and finished the outside with a brass grommet.
    [Click thumbnails for detailed images]
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-photocell-detail
    arduino-chicken-coop-photocell-sensor-exterior
    arduino-chicken-coop-photocell-sensor-exterior-2
    arduino-chicken-coop-photocell-sensor-detail
    Photocell - Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    Photocell – Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    arduino-chicken-coop-photocell-installed-exterior
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-photocell-drilled-hole
    Arduino Chicken Coop Door-installed - Interior Close-up Connections
    Arduino Chicken Coop Door-installed – Interior Close-up Connections
    The Door
    Auto chicken door - interior view of locks/mechanics
    Auto chicken door – back view (from interior of coop)
    Auto chicken door - front view
    Auto chicken door – front view (from exterior of coop)
    As you can see, the door construction is fairly straightforward. I began framing out the door with 2 x 2s, capped with 2x4s and screwed everything together with 1/2 inch galvanized deck screws. The door itself is a 1/8 inch birch, sandwiching in OSB plywood door locks ~and in the pictures (below)~ is the 1/8th inch acrylic. Note: I have since swapped out the acrylic with more 1/8 inch birch because I cracked the acrylic… being too rough with all the testing. =(
    I cut 1/2 inch grooves into the backsides of the 2x2s so the door could slide easily. I gave myself enough room for 1/4? of play. You can see in the pictures I’ve also rubbed a bar of soap over the edges all moving parts to ensure that they will move freely. If you’re taking on this project I’m assuming you have basic carpentry skills and can simply take a look at the pictures below to come up with similar ideas to build your own. ( which of course is my way of saying I didn’t do a great job documenting this exact process with plans or dimensions) =)
    [Click thumbnails for detailed images]
    Auto chicken door - interior view of locks/mechanics
    Auto chicken door
    Auto chicken door - interior view, looking up
    Auto chicken door – interior view, looking up
    Auto chicken door - interior view, looking down
    Auto chicken door – interior view, looking down
    Auto chicken door - interior view, lock detail
    Auto chicken door – interior view, lock detail
    Auto chicken door - front view
    Auto chicken door – front view
    The Switches
    At first I was going to use micro switches for this build, but after testing them I felt they would wear out over time, being mechanical-type switches. So instead I chose to use Reed Switches, which are essentially magnets that when you get close in proximity throw an electromagnetic field thereby becoming a switch with open or closed values. ( high/low | 0/1)
    The Door Motor
    Chicken Coop - 24 Volt Door Motor
    I chose a 25 RPM model, but you can certainly buy a different speed (just not *too* fast) Here’s the motor I purchased (linked to saved search of similar motors at Amazon.com)


    Here’s a saved search of a DC 24V 25 RPM 6mm Dia Shaft Magnetic Gearbox Electric Motor 37mm at Amazon
    [Click thumbnails for detailed images]
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-motor-detail
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-motor-spool-detail-2
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-motor-spool-detail-mounts
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-motor-spool
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-motor-enclosure-detail
    The Installation
    [Click thumbnails for detailed images]
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-pre-opening-construction
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-post-opening-construction-interior-3
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-post-opening-construction-interior
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-pre-opening-construction-exterior-2
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-post-opening-construction-exterior
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-post-opening-construction-exterior-2
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-installed-construction-exterior
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-installed-interior-full
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-installed-interior
    arduino-chicken-coop-door-installed-interior-3
    Arduino chicken coop door
    Arduino chicken coop door
    Arduino chicken coop door
    Arduino chicken coop door
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed - interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed – interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed - interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed – interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed - motor housing
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed – motor housing
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed - sans cover
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed – sans cover
    Arduino Chicken Coop Door -installed interior
    Arduino Chicken Coop Door -installed interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed - interior
    Arduino Chicken Door: installed – interior
    Coop Door Status LEDs
    I created a visual aid for checking the status of the door from the house. (red for open, green for closed) It works like a charm. It’s triggered by the status of the top and bottom switch of the door.
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    Chicken Coop Door Status LED Lights
    chicken-coop-door-status-led-door-closed-no-danger-detail
    Parts Used
    (my affiliate links)
    Arduino Automated Chicken Coop Door Parts
    Arduino MEGA 2560 Board R3
    Arduino
    Tontec Brand New Original High Quality C…
    Tontec
    DFGB37RG-136i Cylinder Shape DC 24V S…
    Amico
    Recessed Alarm Contacts Door Window …
    uxcell
    20pcs Photo Light Sensitive Resistor Phot…
    sunkee-E
    Stackpole Electronics - 10k Ohm Resistor…
    E-Projects
    BB830 Solderless Plug-in BreadBoard, 83…
    BusBoard Prototype Systems
    Genuine Polycom SoundPoint IP Universa…
    Polycom Inc.
    power supply for 24v motor
    Wall Adapter Power Supply - 9V DC 650mA
    ZJchao
    power supply for arduino
    Acrylic Sheet, Transparent Clear, Standa…
    Small Parts
    12>
    Get WidgetPrivacyAmazon.com
    The Wiring Diagram for the Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing Wiring Diagram
    Arduino Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing Wiring Diagram
    Close-up of the motor controller
    More than a few people have asked for close-up photos of the motor controller (the Fritzing library didn’t have an image of the L298N Stepper Motor Controller)
    Here’s the L298N Stepper Motor Controller itself:
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    Here’s the top half of the connections (labelled)
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door (top connection details)
    Here’s the bottom half (labelled)
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    L298N Motor Controller for Automatic Chicken Coop Door (bottom connection details)
    Note: the Stepper Motor Controller Board is indeed the l298n (the one in the pic might look different b/c I broke (fried) a couple of them while testing – but it’s definitely the same model… sometimes suppliers send the same product but with different layouts)
    Notes on the wiring to make the board/motor work: (I used only 1 motor – Motor B)
    5v (from arduino)
    gnd (from arduino)
    enab (to enable the motor b)
    int1 (direction 1 – up)
    int2 (direction2 – down)
    24 v in to l298n board (vms *or* vcc in some controllers)
    24v gnd in to l298n board (gnd)
    motor b out + (24 volts to motor)
    motor b out – (gnd)
    Here’s a closeup of the Automatic Chicken Coop Door Fritzing diagram
    The Arduino Code for the Automatic Chicken Coop Door
    David Naves
    David Naves
    Please note:
    I’m hoping that if you use or modify my code or ideas, you will share *your* coop project with me and the world (pictures, whatever) I’m big on sharing.
    Also, since I’m a firm believer in sharing, if you have questions or comments, please ask them through comments in this blog, (below) instead of trying to email or call me directly… you’ll find you’ll be waiting a verrrrrry long time for an answer. =)
    Cheers,
    //D
    Insider info
    To hopefully save you some time, I’ll let you in on the trick that FINALLY got this door to work with the light levels, debouncing the switches and *the chickens*. (as you’ll see in the code)
    Check the light levels every 10 minutes to avoid the readings bouncing back and forth between dark/twilight/light during those dawn/dusk minutes. Then, when “dark” is reached (for me i chose >= 0 && <= 3 based on when my chickens actually went & stayed in the coop) enable motor dir down > debounce the switches > stop. Then do the opposite for morning. I’m sure there are different, maybe more efficient methods, but this code has been running flawlessly for a while now and I’m feeling confident enough to go out at night without worrying about predators. Although I still somehow find a reason to check the ChickenCam from time to time. (currently waiting for my new servo motors and night vision web cam to arrive in the mail)
    Code updated 02/06/15


    /*
    * Copyright 2015, David Naves (daveworks.net, davenaves.com)
    *
    * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
    * modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
    * as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3
    * of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
    *
    * This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    * but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    * MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
    * GNU General Public License for more details.
    *
    * You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    * along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
    * Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA
    * 02110-1301, USA.

    */

    /*
    * I'm hoping that if you use/modify this code, you will share your
    * coop project with me and the world (pictures, whatever)
    * I'm big on sharing.
    * Cheers,
    * //D
    */



    // libraries


    #include <OneWire.h> // load the onewire library for thermometer
    #include <LiquidCrystal.h> // load the liquid crystal library



    // print debug messages or not to serial
    const boolean SerialDisplay = true;




    // pins assignments

    // temperature chip i/o
    const int photocellPin = A0; // photocell connected to analog 0
    const int enableCoopDoorMotorB = 7; // enable motor b - pin 7
    const int directionCloseCoopDoorMotorB = 8; // direction close motor b - pin 8
    const int directionOpenCoopDoorMotorB = 9; // direction open motor b - pin 9
    const int bottomSwitchPin = 26; // bottom switch is connected to pin 26
    const int topSwitchPin = 27; // top switch is connected to pin 27



    // variables



    // photocell
    int photocellReading; // analog reading of the photocel
    int photocellReadingLevel; // photocel reading levels (dark, twilight, light)

    // reed switches top and bottom of coop door

    // top switch

    int topSwitchPinVal; // top switch var for reading the pin status
    int topSwitchPinVal2; // top switch var for reading the pin delay/debounce status
    int topSwitchState; // top switch var for to hold the switch state

    // bottom switch

    int bottomSwitchPinVal; // bottom switch var for reading the pin status
    int bottomSwitchPinVal2; // bottom switch var for reading the pin delay/debounce status
    int bottomSwitchState; // bottom switch var for to hold the switch state



    // photocell reading delay
    unsigned long lastPhotocellReadingTime = 0;
    unsigned long photocellReadingDelay = 600000; // 10 minutes

    // debounce delay
    unsigned long lastDebounceTime = 0;
    unsigned long debounceDelay = 100;





    // ************************************** the setup **************************************

    void setup(void) {

    Serial.begin(9600); // initialize serial port hardware


    // welcome message
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Processes running:");
    Serial.println(" Timer doReadPhotoCell every 10 minutes - light levels: open or close door");
    }


    // coop door

    // coop door motor
    pinMode (enableCoopDoorMotorB, OUTPUT); // enable motor pin = output
    pinMode (directionCloseCoopDoorMotorB, OUTPUT); // motor close direction pin = output
    pinMode (directionOpenCoopDoorMotorB, OUTPUT); // motor open direction pin = output

    // coop door leds
    pinMode (coopDoorOpenLed, OUTPUT); // enable coopDoorOpenLed = output
    pinMode (coopDoorClosedLed, OUTPUT); // enable coopDoorClosedLed = output
    digitalWrite(coopDoorClosedLed, LOW);

    // coop door switches
    // bottom switch
    pinMode(bottomSwitchPin, INPUT); // set bottom switch pin as input
    digitalWrite(bottomSwitchPin, HIGH); // activate bottom switch resistor

    // top switch
    pinMode(topSwitchPin, INPUT); // set top switch pin as input
    digitalWrite(topSwitchPin, HIGH); // activate top switch resistor



    }

    // ************************************** functions **************************************



    // operate the coop door

    // photocel to read levels of exterior light

    void doReadPhotoCell() { // function to be called repeatedly - per coopPhotoCellTimer set in setup

    photocellReading = analogRead(photocellPin);

    if ((unsigned long)(millis() - lastPhotocellReadingTime) >= photocellReadingDelay) {
    lastPhotocellReadingTime = millis();

    // set photocel threshholds
    if (photocellReading >= 0 && photocellReading <= 3) {
    photocellReadingLevel = '1';

    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Photocel Reading Level:");
    Serial.println(" - Dark");
    }
    }
    else if (photocellReading >= 4 && photocellReading <= 120) {
    photocellReadingLevel = '2';
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Photocel Reading Level:");
    Serial.println(" - Twilight");
    }
    }
    else if (photocellReading >= 125 ) {
    photocellReadingLevel = '3';
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Photocel Reading Level:");
    Serial.println(" - Light");
    }
    }
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Photocel Analog Reading = ");
    Serial.println(photocellReading);
    }
    }
    }

    //debounce bottom reed switch

    void debounceBottomReedSwitch() {

    //debounce bottom reed switch
    bottomSwitchPinVal = digitalRead(bottomSwitchPin); // read input value and store it in val

    if ((unsigned long)(millis() - lastDebounceTime) > debounceDelay) { // delay 10ms for consistent readings

    bottomSwitchPinVal2 = digitalRead(bottomSwitchPin); // read input value again to check or bounce

    if (bottomSwitchPinVal == bottomSwitchPinVal2) { // make sure we have 2 consistant readings
    if (bottomSwitchPinVal != bottomSwitchState) { // the switch state has changed!
    bottomSwitchState = bottomSwitchPinVal;
    }
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.print (" Bottom Switch Value: "); // display "Bottom Switch Value:"
    Serial.println(digitalRead(bottomSwitchPin)); // display current value of bottom switch;
    }
    }
    }
    }



    // debounce top reed switch
    void debounceTopReedSwitch() {

    topSwitchPinVal = digitalRead(topSwitchPin); // read input value and store it in val

    if ((unsigned long)(millis() - lastDebounceTime) > debounceDelay) { // delay 10ms for consistent readings

    topSwitchPinVal2 = digitalRead(topSwitchPin); // read input value again to check or bounce

    if (topSwitchPinVal == topSwitchPinVal2) { // make sure we have 2 consistant readings
    if (topSwitchPinVal != topSwitchState) { // the button state has changed!
    topSwitchState = topSwitchPinVal;
    }
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.print (" Top Switch Value: "); // display "Bottom Switch Value:"
    Serial.println(digitalRead(topSwitchPin)); // display current value of bottom switch;
    }
    }
    }
    }


    // stop the coop door motor
    void stopCoopDoorMotorB() {
    digitalWrite (directionCloseCoopDoorMotorB, LOW); // turn off motor close direction
    digitalWrite (directionOpenCoopDoorMotorB, LOW); // turn on motor open direction
    analogWrite (enableCoopDoorMotorB, 0); // enable motor, 0 speed
    }



    // close the coop door motor (motor dir close = clockwise)
    void closeCoopDoorMotorB() {
    digitalWrite (directionCloseCoopDoorMotorB, HIGH); // turn on motor close direction
    digitalWrite (directionOpenCoopDoorMotorB, LOW); // turn off motor open direction
    analogWrite (enableCoopDoorMotorB, 255); // enable motor, full speed
    if (bottomSwitchPinVal == 0) { // if bottom reed switch circuit is closed
    stopCoopDoorMotorB();
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Coop Door Closed - no danger");
    }
    }
    }



    // open the coop door (motor dir open = counter-clockwise)
    void openCoopDoorMotorB() {
    digitalWrite(directionCloseCoopDoorMotorB, LOW); // turn off motor close direction
    digitalWrite(directionOpenCoopDoorMotorB, HIGH); // turn on motor open direction
    analogWrite(enableCoopDoorMotorB, 255); // enable motor, full speed
    if (topSwitchPinVal == 0) { // if top reed switch circuit is closed
    stopCoopDoorMotorB();
    if (SerialDisplay) {
    Serial.println(" Coop Door open - danger!");
    }
    }
    }





    // do the coop door
    void doCoopDoor() {
    if (photocellReadingLevel == '1') { // if it's dark
    if (photocellReadingLevel != '2') { // if it's not twilight
    if (photocellReadingLevel != '3') { // if it's not light
    debounceTopReedSwitch(); // read and debounce the switches
    debounceBottomReedSwitch();
    closeCoopDoorMotorB(); // close the door
    }
    }
    }
    if (photocellReadingLevel == '3') { // if it's light
    if (photocellReadingLevel != '2') { // if it's not twilight
    if (photocellReadingLevel != '1') { // if it's not dark
    debounceTopReedSwitch(); // read and debounce the switches
    debounceBottomReedSwitch();
    openCoopDoorMotorB(); // Open the door
    }
    }
    }
    }



    // ************************************** the loop **************************************

    void loop() {

    doReadPhotoCell();
    doCoopDoor();

    }
    Lessons Learned
    What I’ve learned about the door, Arduino, light and construction:
    Best to check the light levels every 10 minutes to avoid the readings bouncing back and forth between dark/twilight/light during those dawn/dusk minutes
    Test your door with your chickens to see if any of them like to hang outside after hours
    Testing the actual light values outside is very important (many variables involved: light from neighbor’s house, clouds, internal/external coop lights etc.)
    Debouncing of your switches within your Arduino code is important (door will jump around and fail as electronic readings vary greatly by the millisecond)
    Reach out for help on the Arduino Forums before pulling out your hair. (be nice, do your homework and ask very specific questions)
    I changed from micro-switches to reed switches (magnets) because I didn’t want the mechanics of the micro-switches to fail over time
    What I’ve learned about the chickens:
    Keeping on a light within the coop can keep chickens outside longer (I think b/c the ambient light shines outside) And that’s important when it comes to automating this door, so they won’t get accidentally locked out.
    They can jump and fly (high and far)
    They love to roost in safety at night, but want nothing more than to get OUT as soon as it’s light out









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