Automatic Pop Hole Opener

DIY automatic pop hole opener
By consdrs · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Jul 30, 2012 · ·
  1. consdrs
    Automatic pop hole opener

    This is not my own idea. We got the idea from a fellow BYCer. We now have two coops (imagine that) and our first automatic door opener was first installed in February of 09. It has been happily pulling open and pushing closed our fiberglass coop door since then without a problem. The instructions are quite easy and can be accomplished by someone with the skill level of an intermediate handy person.

    Material list:
    1. An outdoor timer (digital would be REAL nice but optional). Goodwill sold us this for $2.00!
    2. Automatic car antenna (purchased off eBay new for $18.50 delivered.
    3. Two power adapters 12 volt 5 amps min. Think LCD monitor power adapters. I purchased 2, new off eBay for under $20.00 delivered.
    4. 3 or 4 flat wire connectors (optional, can be wired, just makes it easier to connect and work with) $3.99 at Walmart.
    5. Soldering kit or wire nuts or crimp connectors. A volt meter of some sort to figure out which is hot and which is ground. Wire cutters and black electrical tape.
    6. Extension cord if you don't have power to your coop.



    New or used car antenna. One of ours is new and one is used.

    The two 12v 5 amp power adapters.

    Make sure it is at LEAST 12v 5 amp to meet the power demand of the antenna.

    This is a convenience item' this can all be hard wired but it's kind of bulky to move around and work with. This makes it easier to just "plug" in.

    Your basic grounded outdoor timer. A digital one would be real nice! Make sure it only has one on and one off per day.

    Our soldering kit and wire cutters

    Let's get started!

    1. Prepare pig tail. You will only need 3 wires so I cut off the extra one, your choice.

    2. Cut off the adapter plugs' ends with wire cutters, strip the ends.

    3. Determine which wire on both adapters is "hot" - remember this!

    4. The antenna motor requires a common ground to function, so take the two grounds from the adapters and connect them together to the wire on the plug that is going to be ground. I chose the white wire to be the ground color. So now you have the 2 ground adapter wires and the one ground plug in wire all twisted together. At this point you connect them by either wire nuts, crimp connectors. or by soldering them together. I soldered them.

    After I soldered the wires I then took the black electrical tape and taped them up.

    5. Now select one of the wires on your plug for constant power. Then connect the hot wire from your adapter and connect then in the fashion you chose in the previous step and tape.

    6. Now take your other adapter's hot wire and connect it to your third wire. This will be the on and off wire. Connect them as before.

    7. Now you have the two adapters wired to your connector plug and everything is nicely taped. Now you need to verify which wire in the plug is hot and which is ground. As you can see, the male plug end is the ground and the first female is hot.

    8. At this point you have to determine which adapter is your constant and which is the on and off and mark it. I put a green band of tape on the adapter that is the on and off adapter; also, if using a connector like I did, note the wire color.

    To make the antenna function you have to have a constant hot and an on and off. Just think of it like putting your key in the ignition of your car. When there is power the antenna goes up and when there is no power the antenna goes down.

    In this pic you can see my on and off adapter is marked in the green tape. As you can see the male plug is the ground and the second female is hot.

    9. Now we are going to do the same thing to the antenna - connect the 3 wire plug connector to it, just like the adapters. Cut off all the wires to a manageable length (optional, but makes things easier).

    This is what it should look like before connecting everything.

    10. Make the connection for the constant hot wire and tape.

    11. make the connection for the on and off hot wire and tape, color noted from step 8.

    12. Make the connection for the common ground wire and tape.

    This is what mine looked like with wires all connected, taped, and ready for action.

    13. Now we are all wired up and ready for a trial run. The brick with the green band is plugged into the timer in the off position. The second brick is the constant and plugged directly into the power cord.

    14. The picture shows that the timer is on and the antenna has extended.

    At this point you may want to mount your brick adapters to something for installation convenience. I mount mine to a 1"x4" board with zip ties. Both of mine are mounted guillotine style (up and down) with the antenna motor suspended from above the door. They are each mounted differently to the door itself based on the head size (tip) of the antenna. I used fiberglass bathroom surround material for both doors since I had it on hand from a previous project (chest freezer repair).

    We installed all the hardware in the back of the coop under the eve for weatherization and to be out of sight. You need to keep in mind the antenna extension.



    This is the installation of the opener we just made for the "new" coop. This is the back of the coop and you have to be in the run to see it. Most people don't want to go in my run... hummmm.


    I drilled a small hole in the end of the antenna and put a screw through it.

    Well, that's about it. I can't imagine not having an automatic door opener. It makes to coop so much cleaner. The doors are set to open at the crack of dawn and close a half hour after sunset. So my chickens spend no time milling around in the coop waiting for me to open the door, pooping and pooping and pooping....

    Good luck!

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Recent User Reviews

  1. ronott1
    "good article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 19, 2018
    This is a very nice auto door build
  2. Anonymous
    "Excellent article!"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 17, 2018
    Great article! I really liked the materials list & pic. Good description & clear pics.
  3. rjohns39
    "Very well done"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 27, 2018


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  1. Chicky mc
    Will this work with a light sensor timer?
  2. Duke6017
    Can anyone help me out? I have wired my laptop converters to my pigtails and wired my antenna motor to the other pigtail. I have power on the antenna side, however, the antenna is not moving. I can not figure out what I have done wrong. I have the common ground. The antenna is brand new out of the box. Unless I have a lemon, it should be very operational. Could it be that the motor will not work on anything over 12v? My converters are putting out about 17v.
    I want to explore this option.
  4. jamiejean
    This looked great!!
  5. hoosiercheetah
    I have very serious concerns about this design.
    I can't find anyone anywhere who has actually tested the amp draw of these motors under the load of raising a coop door.
    The equipment in these pictures is not intended for outdoor use, and could short out if operated wet.
    There is no need for two power supplies, a single-supply design would be safer and more reliable.
    Where is the overload protection?
    Feel free to PM me if you want to build something like this, but you don't want to burn down your chickens.
      featherhead007 likes this.
  6. Davidhalpern2
    Thank you for such wonderful detailed instructions. I am going to attempt this, but have a question. Could I use an Intermatic 12v outdoor power supply with built in timer to replace the two power supplies?
  7. 4stakes
    I would like to use a photocell instead of a timer.
  8. basser
    after looking closer at your perfect directions, I think I figured it out ! Thank you so very much. This is so simple & efficient ! Good Job
  9. basser
    Hello me again. do you think I could use 1 battery to do the same thing you have done here, or would I need 2 ?
  10. basser
    Wow, that's cool ! But I want to run mine with a 12 volt battery & solar charge it when needed. Therefore I wouldn't be using the ac to dc power adapters. also I though I could use 1 timer. Any suggestions on how to wire this up ? Thanks !
  11. 2mnypets
  12. ChickenMama17
    Would it be possible to run this off of batteries?
  13. jimmywalt
    I absolutely love this and all your detailed pictures. I'm wondering the same thing as the first person "Do you think it is possible to cut the antenna to make it fit a shorter space."?????
    Thank you.
  14. uaj0sh
    You could probably separate out the currents with two timers, or some sort of switch or something. That’s beyond my electrical engineering prowess, but I’ve been thinking about how to do that to save power etc as well.
  15. mukluk
    Nice design, much more affordable than the commercial ones. I'm off grid, do you know how much the antenna draws on that constant power feed, when it's extended but not moving? I'm wondering if there is a way to work around that and shut all the power off at times...
  16. uaj0sh
    What are you using for a door? I used the design, and my antena won't pull up a two pound piece of plexiglass. I'm going to have to design a counter weight system I believe.
    Answering the question of the 12V 3.3 amp adapter, Yes, it should. If your fearful, you can find the parts on e-bay with relative ease. I stopped by my local computer recycling shop (OEM - Colorado Springs) and they had a shelf full of them for 4 bucks a pop.
  17. uaj0sh
    I ordered the parts. I'm hoping to have them all here by next weekend. I'll require a few mods, but nothing I don't think a pulley and some string will accommodate.
  18. VoltsAndBolts
    Very cool, thanks for sharing your build.
  19. calman5565
    This is amazing.
  20. tdrennan
    also, would 12V 3.3 amp work for the adapter?
  21. tdrennan
    This is such a instructional page... thanks. Do you think it is possible to cut the antenna to make it fit a shorter space. Meaning, if I only have 3 feet from top to bottom of my coop can cut the antenna to push and pull a shorter distnace or would this not allow the antenna to work properly? thanks again... really easy to undestand.

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