1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

A "float" automatic coop door

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by waterouzel, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. waterouzel

    waterouzel Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Last winter after about the third time of waking up in the middle of the night not remembering if I closed the coop door or not I decided I had to have an automated door. The nearest power was 500 feet away beyond 25 rows of grapes and a gravel parking lot. I considered solar but the expense and the fact that my coop is well shaded made that difficult. It was then I remembered I had an 11/2 inch irrigation supply line under 60 psi within 50 feet of my coop. After some tinkering around I came up with a very reliable automatic door. The photos show it in stages of construction.

    The door by itself. It consists of a piece of hardware cloth sandwitched between two aluminum window frames and covered with aluminum flashing. The floats just fit inside 4 inch pvc and have more than enough buoyancy to lift the door.


    The 4 inch pvv float chambers and the supply line with the solenoid valve. I don't have a photo of the drain valve but it is installed just beyond the 4 inch T. The door slides up and down in a 2x4 grooved frame that also supports the float chambers. The little elbows coming off the sides are to allow over flow as it's impossible to time the fill to just fill the chambers.

    The two parts together. The wood discs just above the floats fit in the top of each cylinder and provide a guide for the roods to move in.

    I use a standard irrigation solenoid valve to fill the system and float up the door but a special valve is required to empty the system and close the door as there is virtually no pressure to operate a solenoid valve. Both valves are battery operated and manually timed according to the hours of daylight. I find I have to change the times about once a month. I like my hens to out at dawn and want the door closed soon after they roost.
  2. waterouzel

    waterouzel Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Here is a close up shot of the rod going thru its guide, a piece of 1/2 in copper pipe. I used threaded rod to make assembly easier but it tended to bind when moving thru the hole in the wooden disk. I made a sleeve for each one out of 1/4 inch spaghetti hose and coated it with grease so solve that problem.


    Here is the final painted product in the closed position with the pipes all underground. Notice the fill valve on the right. The drain valve is in a box underground off to the left. I use the excess water to irrigate plants around the coop. The overflow pipes drain off thru 1/2 inch plastic irrigation pipe.


    Door is open as it would be in the morning.

    I have two short videos of it operating but haven't figured out how to post them. Is it even possible to post videos on the forum?

    This has worked very well but I do have to regularly check for battery strength on the valves. I was fortunate to have most of the plumbing parts left over from another project. 4 inch pvc is a tad expensive but one could make cylinders out of marine grade plywood. My chickens are so used to it that they run to the door as soon as they hear the valve open and water start to flow even though it takes a few minutes to raise the door.

    It's been a fun project and I would be happy to answer any questions.

  3. wingsofglory

    wingsofglory Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2011
    Palmer Alaska
    I love it!!!

    It even looks very nice all finished, installed, and painted.

    Good work!
  4. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    [​IMG] okay that is the most creative auto pop door i have ever seen! well done [​IMG] oh and [​IMG]
  5. waterouzel

    waterouzel Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Thanks for the kind words. It' been a fun project. I think I've figured out how to share two videos of it in action using photobucket.

    Opening in the morning.

    Closing. Notice how slow it moves so a chicken won't get caught.

  6. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Very innovative!

    Just hope it never gets below freezing
  7. waterouzel

    waterouzel Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2008
    Quote:We do have light frosts at night and I plan on putting foam insulation around the supply line. The rest I'm not too worried about as the whole system is never under pressure and there is always room for expansion if it does freeze hard. A simple way to guard against frost damage would be to have the supply valve open and have a manual valve downstream to choke off the flow to a trickle and program the drain valve to be open all night insuring enough flow to protect it.
  8. outlawfarmer

    outlawfarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2010
    New Hampshire
  9. wava1vaughn

    wava1vaughn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2011
    Cairo Ga.
    Hi from Ga. Very interesting [​IMG]
  10. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    Wow. Really smart solution!! [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by