Automated chicken coop (a smart home for your flock)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mrchaos101, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. mrchaos101

    mrchaos101 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 28, 2015
    Here is my thought:

    1 Raspberry Pi (a small computer the size of a credit card that runs on linux) computer unit (40.00 on eBay), a motor (6.00) and a photo cell (4.00). I think I can code the computer to use the photo cell open and close the coop door by day light. Or can be coded to open and closed base on the time of day. Most of the code needed is on the web, just need to cut and paste. You dont have to be a computer programmer to do this. Just follow diretions, and cut and paste.


    The above photo is the basic wiring of the Pi unit and electronics. This unit would need to be modified to add the photo cell as a trigger event. ALSO, the battery pack can be removed and replaced with a solar batter that is attached to a solar cell to recharge. More details on the above unit and some basic Python code can be found HERE Keep in mind, if you want to hook your coop door to your phone, or access the computer through your home network you will need to add a small Wifi card to one of the USB ports. They are cheap on eBay well. This can be taken a step further even, by using Bluetooth.

    2nd project: Use same Raspberry Pi (in my case im going to buy a 2nd) and hook up a water proof thermometer. Drill hole in to auto water system and insert. ALSO a 2nd probe down low to detect moisture. Code in this box will send warnings to my phone when water temp gets to 32 degrees or less, it will also alert men when the moisture sensor is "dry" letting me know water is low.

    3rd project: This will be environmental controls, Keep tabs on temp and humidity in my coop. ALSO may code this unit to kick on a fan or swamp cooler if it gets too hot.... may code it to kick on some sort of heat unit as well.... this 3rd project I am still thinking about as I DO NOT want my power bill to increase. I may look to a solar solution.
    I have seen many auto door type projects, but none of the "smart home" type where a PC is used to send data to the web or your smart phone.

    4th project: Another Pi for me..... Using Bluetooth, the coop it's sellf will "see me comming" (I will be in blue tooth range). It will then turn on lights, open doors and send all current enviormental, water and feed stats to my phone in my hand. When I walk out of blue tooth range, the coop will then turn off lights etc.

    5th project:A Pi Sentry! Using the Raspberry Pi, you can hook up a small web cam, and motion sensor. The sensor can be set so that it watches over a small trigger area… I.E just infront of the feeder. Chickens are in bed at night and should not be outside feeding. If I am getting any visitors eating my grain they will trigger the motion sensor and the web cam. A photo of who my robbers are will be taken and sent to my cell phone so they can be dealt with accordingly.

    Any thoughts on these?
    HarleyQ likes this.
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You seriously over estimate my abilities.

    I am sure it would work rather well, but I truly need to get moving outside each day, a couple times a day, and the chickens make me do it
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'm all for technology, except just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.

    Applying it to chicken keeping defeats part of my purpose......I'm raising chickens to be more in touch with my food.

    Tho I'd love to have a bells and whistles coop cam operable from my laptop....but am too broke to afford it.
  4. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2014
    North Canton, Ohio

    Same here, love to have the tech but too broke. Raising kids in private school and building a coop can be expensive.
  5. NTBugtraq

    NTBugtraq ex-Surgeon General

    Closing the door when the sun goes down presumes all chickens are back in the coop, you should consider adding a RFID tag to the chickens and a counter in the PI code that does not close the door if all are not in. Perhaps an alarm to you if that happens so you can check if you've lost one, or there is just one guy stumbling around outside the coop that needs a little prodding.

    I love the idea that much of the mundane is handled by computer, it does not remove you from your food but instead may allow you to focus more attention on bird habits, individual peculiarities, and other things of more interest than whether they have water. It does not necessarily result that you forget about them.

    However, MrChaos101...I would be extremely interested in purchasing such a system if it could provide me with 1 very important piece of data...and that is; who has sat on a nest and for how long? Someone else on this site proposed a system whereby you could use RFID to identify who was sitting in which nest and for how long. I have done a lot of programming in my life, but I cannot get my head around these PI systems and the electronics of it all.

    Knowing who has nested and for how long may be able to tell me who is no longer nesting to lay an egg. Should this happen enough, it makes a reasonable cause for considering to cull the bird. Why feed a layer who isn't laying? That can be a real game changer to my < 100 layer flock. Also, knowing who is laying more prodigiously than others can allow me to identify eggs that may carry that trait forward...another good use of the technology.

    What do you think?
    HarleyQ likes this.
  6. mrchaos101

    mrchaos101 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 28, 2015
    Yup you should be able to RFID to do this. Should be able to to put RFID sensor at each nest. Put sensor on each Hen leg. When Hen is in the nest your good to go. Not sure how to handle the variables for that..... to know what chicken... thinking you could just call your box sensors BOX1, BOX2, BOX3 etc. Then on the sensors for the hens, use a marker to mark numbers (name the birds) HEN1, HEN2, HEN3. Have a loop. If HEN1, or HEN2 or HEN3 enters BOX1 =True, then BOX1 Timer start etc. Once hen leaves just have it log to a file. BOX1 was seen by HEN1 for 1hr 22m 32s, HEN3 0h 45m 15s, etc.
    Think I seen the same article you were talking about somewhere. Ill have to go back and look. I think the guy has a lot of the code to do this posted for free. Just need a PI and the electronics (sensors and RFID tags etc.).
    This could be fun as well.

    I am now looking at spending a good chunk of money to have an 300w solar panel system. Something strong enough to kick on a window AC/Heating unit. Want to hook it up to a PI to turn AC or Heat on and off in summer and winter. I want to go solar because I don't want the bill that comes with this. Lots of unknowns on this for me.....doing research. (this is the project 3 I listed above)
    HarleyQ likes this.
  7. NTBugtraq

    NTBugtraq ex-Surgeon General

    I just tried to say I would pay for what I want, which could fund what you want, idk, I don't want to pay for much of what you want...this is called crowd-sourcing, be open to take your idea in a slightly different direction to get paid, if in doing so it furthers what you want...just a thought
  8. roborob

    roborob New Egg

    May 14, 2015
    I am planning a project similar to yours. Have you started yet?

    In my project I plan to use a Raspberry PI (or ODROID C1 or Pine A64). Here are my use cases:

    Door automation:
    I will have a system that will open and close the chicken door based on light detection. Door operation will have a manual override which I can operate over the wireless network. Door operation will also have an automatic override, which will close the door when all the chickens are in and preset time threshold (don't lock them in during the day, only in the PM).

    RFID tags and place antennas at the (automated) door and at each nesting box. This way I can close the door when all chickens are in, which may be sooner than the programmed time thus providing a little more protection each night. I will also be able to track which chickens are laying and when. I will also be able to tell if a young hen is laying outside. My chickens are "Pasture Raised" and I occasionally find eggs in the hay bales, under a bush, and once even right in front of the chicken door!

    I am considering placing a weight sensor under each nesting box so I can track whether the nesting box visit was productive or a possible egg eating event. RFID tags will also help in this area as they can detect when the nest is empty and reset or zero the scale (if needed). Also, I may add a weight sensor to the feeding system and detect low feed events. I may also use weight to detect low water events as well.

    I plan to use LED lights to extend the "daylight" thus extending the laying cycle during the winter months. Also, like you automatically turn he lights on when I approach the coop at night.

    I plan to monitor the temperature inside the coop. In the summer this will turn on a fan to manage heat.

    I plant to monitor the humidity inside the coop. At any time when the humidity is too high, this will turn on a fan.

    I am considering a watering system for inside the coop. A simple PVC and water nipple setup. Monitoring and controlling the water temperature in the winter months will be a necessity.

    Egg collection:
    If I decide to go all out, I may automate a tilt or sweep mechanism to move the eggs from the nesting box to a collection trough (out of reach of the chickens).

    I am not sure how far I will get or how long this will take, but I am very excited to get started. If anyone has experience or ideas please feel free to chime in.
    HarleyQ likes this.

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