Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by EngineeringChic, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. EngineeringChic

    EngineeringChic New Egg

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    Hi y'all,

    My name is Zoe and I am a second year engineering student. For our Design class, we have been tasked with creating an automatic chicken coop door that would open in the morning to let the chickens out and close at night once the chickens are back inside the coop. We are also planning on attaching a temperature and water sensor that would detect if it's too cold or raining so the door would not open under those conditions as well. As part of our research, we just have a couple of questions that we would like to ask you about this potential product.

    1) Would an automatic chicken coop door be of any interest to you?
    2) If so, how much would you be willing to pay for it? (Less than 100$, between $100-$200, or over $200)
    3) If you already have a chicken coop door, are there any issues with it that you would like to be resolved?
    4) Would you rather have a door that runs on solar/battery power or electric power? Would you willing to pay extra for the solar panels?
    5) Should the door open on the side or from above?
    6) Should a sensor be added on the door to count how many chickens have entered the coop and only close once all the chickens have re-entered the coop or are there usually not many stragglers come night time?
    7) What would you consider a good sized chicken coop door? 1ft x 1ft or slightly larger or smaller?

    Thanks ahead of time for helping out with our project!
     
  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    I have thought about getting an automatic chicken door. There are some on the market, but I suppose I have not purchased one because I am not sure it is worth spending over $150. There may be some doors on the market that are less expensive since I last looked on the internet. I think more people would like a solar powered door because not everyone runs electricity to their coop. It can open from the side or above, but it must not close on a chicken causing injury. It also must be predator proof, meaning a raccoon could not pry it open. I am not so sure about a sensor counting the chickens; sometimes chickens go in and out. They do typically settle down to roost once it is dark because chickens have poor night vision, so their are not stragglers after dark. Chicken doors tend to be a little taller than they are wide - maybe 14 inches high by 10 inches high.
     
  3. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    Hi Zoe,

    [​IMG]

    Interesting Project.

    1) Would an automatic chicken coop door be of any interest to you?
    I already have one. The Ador1.

    2) If so, how much would you be willing to pay for it? (Less than 100$, between $100-$200, or over $200)
    About $200 seems to be the average price....some more, some less.

    3) If you already have a chicken coop door, are there any issues with it that you would like to be resolved?
    Not at this time.

    4) Would you rather have a door that runs on solar/battery power or electric power? Would you willing to pay extra for the solar panels?
    Electric with battery backup or just battery. Solar is going to add more to the price.

    5) Should the door open on the side or from above?
    From above Is probably easier to make it more secure.

    6) Should a sensor be added on the door to count how many chickens have entered the coop and only close once all the chickens have re-entered the coop or are there usually not many stragglers come night time?
    EEK! That would probably be impossible. Chickens go in and out of the coop all day long. You need to have it close at dusk. Chickens are already on their roosts before then.

    7) What would you consider a good sized chicken coop door? 1ft x 1ft or slightly larger or smaller?
    18" high, 12" wide is sufficient, but you'll get many opinions on what people think the "ideal" size is.

    Keep us updated!

    Jim
     
  4. Pondboss

    Pondboss Out Of The Brooder

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    Eggcelent Project! Sorry, I could not help myself. I was planning a coop of my own, this has been delayed for various reasons, and found myself asking the same questions. Unless you live a farmer's life style where 'early to bed & early to rise' is your motto, an automatic chicken coop door would be of interest. Along with automatic watering and feeding systems, this gives you the freedom to be out and about (or safely warm in bed) without chicken considerations. Current commercially available models come in at price points ranging from just under $100 to $200 an up. To market your door successfully, you would have to come in on the low range and/or offer features not available in current offerings. I would think about building a 12V unit with an adapter that plugs into your basic 120V line voltage, that can easily be upgraded for battery backup and/or solar power. This way the unit would appeal to regular backyard keepers and to those who live off-grid or keep chickens a greater distance from the home.

    I would recommend a vertical sliding door, especially if pricing becomes an issue. A vertical door requires a simple low power motor to operate. You did not mention if your side opening doors would be hinged or sliding. Horizontally sliding doors may work, but IMHO would be more susceptible to jamming or being fouled by debris. I have seen hinged doors operated by some sort of armature, but that adds quite a bit of complexity to the design and considerations of crafty night bandits over-powering the closure mechanism and prying it open. The other question you asked is about the size of the coop. Since coops generally have raised roosting areas, you can generally count on them being at tall enough for vertical units (small A-frame Chicken Tractors excluded). There are many coops designed for just a few chickens and many tend to be fairly small. (Of course, I recommend roomier accommodations for the ladies, but web searches have brought up some pretty small examples.) So, to make the coop more appealing to a larger segment of the public, vertical is the way to go. Again IMHO. As for door size, the recommendations already posted are fine.

    Never count your chickens before they have roosted! Ah... or something like that.

    Some other considerations are a special model for bantam chickens. This would have reduced dimensions to better fit these smaller sized birds. The temperature sensor is a good idea. Since humidity and ventilation issues are very important in keeping chickens, I would rather see a humidity sensor instead of rain sensor. Chickens have enough sense to stay out the rain, and they may still need to get out to access food and water as these are not always available inside everyone's coop. Of course these sensors would be most helpful with a wi-fi connection back to your home network so that you can track their conditions. I just read somewhere that chicken's like classical music so a Mozart mp3 player.....
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  5. eggsellentfarms

    eggsellentfarms Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't have time to fully answer your questions now, but to your number one question, I say, Yes! Unfortunately, like many members on this forum, I like to do things myself and not spend a lot of money. But I know there are lots of people that would likely be interested in your door if the quality/price was right. I have actually been searching for a pre-built yet fully customizable chicken coop automation system. I haven't found what I'm looking for, so I'm thinking of trying to make my own based on an arduino chip system. It would control lighting, door, feed, water, among other things, and have wifi to connect to the internet/home network. And if I'm successful, I may try to sell some myself.
    You may want to work on creating something that people could use to control their own doors, rather than make the whole setup.
     
  6. rbuck4x4

    rbuck4x4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds very good, when you get the details worked out please let me know. This is something that I intend on getting for my coop.
     
  7. ontherange

    ontherange New Egg

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    1) Would an automatic chicken coop door be of any interest to you?

    Yes!

    2) If so, how much would you be willing to pay for it? (Less than 100$, between $100-$200, or over $200)

    There are already some pricey ones (> $200) so if you could get nearer the $100 price point while still being sturdy and reliable that'd be pretty cool.

    3) If you already have a chicken coop door, are there any issues with it that you would like to be resolved?

    yes, make it automatic ;-)

    4) Would you rather have a door that runs on solar/battery power or electric power? Would you willing to pay extra for the solar panels?

    would pay more for solar, but choices are good.

    5) Should the door open on the side or from above?

    Above.

    6) Should a sensor be added on the door to count how many chickens have entered the coop and only close once all the chickens have re-entered the coop or are there usually not many stragglers come night time?

    No, though there is at least one door that automatically reopens after a certain time, stays open for a minute, then closes again, all for stragglers. But it's not hard to imagine how keeping count could get screwed up (a chicken going in and out a few times, sitting hens messing up the count, smaller chicks bouncing around, etc,).

    7) What would you consider a good sized chicken coop door? 1ft x 1ft or slightly larger or smaller?

    My preference is for a kit to include everything but the door (thinking vertical doors here, so a usual adjustable rope/pulley thing) since some folks like to make doors particular to a certain design, and/or breed of bird (we only have bantams for example). But in general, a little more tall than wide looks better I think.

    Please keep us informed Zoe, looking forward to hearing how the project turns out!
     
  8. EngineeringChic

    EngineeringChic New Egg

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    Thank you guys so much for the responses to our survey (and I apologize for the late response with mine). Your views were taken into account when we designed our prototype and after several weeks of hard work and designing, we finally have our functioning automatic chicken coop door! It works by receiving light readings through a light dependent resistor (a photocell like sensor) which sends those readings to the micro controller which tells the motor to either open or close the door. It may seem simple, but a lot of computer programming and electrical wiring went into making this door. Here's a picture of our final prototype:
    [​IMG]

    The door has an opening of 16"x 16" so even larger chickens (possibly even turkeys) can fit through it. Those are also the dimensions our original client who proposed the project suggested, so we stuck with those. The control box and motor, which can't be seen, simply need to be water proofed and it could theoretically be used in a chicken coop.

    Again, thank you guys so much for all the help you've given us for this project! :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  9. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1) Would an automatic chicken coop door be of any interest to you?
    Yes, very much so. It would conveniently keep the chickens safe at night.

    2) If so, how much would you be willing to pay for it? (Less than 100$, between $100-$200, or over $200)
    I would pay between $100 and $200 dollars for an automatic door, depending on quality. I would consider all models in that price range.

    3) If you already have a chicken coop door, are there any issues with it that you would like to be resolved?
    I do not currently have an automatic door.

    4) Would you rather have a door that runs on solar/battery power or electric power? Would you willing to pay extra for the solar panels?
    I would rather have a door that runs on solar power. It is environmentally friendly and will cost me any electricity. Depending on the door, I would pay more for the solar panels, however I would prefer that the panels came in a package with the door and not have to be purchased separately.

    5) Should the door open on the side or from above?
    I could care less as long as it opens.

    6) Should a sensor be added on the door to count how many chickens have entered the coop and only close once all the chickens have re-entered the coop or are there usually not many stragglers come night time?
    A sensor would probably be expensive. My chickens generally go in at dusk, and I don't think a sensor would be necessary. I don't have any stragglers in the flock currently.

    7) What would you consider a good sized chicken coop door? 1ft x 1ft or slightly larger or smaller?
    1ft by 1ft is fine. Possibly a little taller could help, but it wouldn't need to be much wider than 12 inches.
     
  10. jimmywalt

    jimmywalt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check out this link...... I made one for $5 bucks with an automatic car antenna from a junk yard.

    My automatic coop door for only $5 bucks:
    http://goo.gl/C1rmZd


    To answer your questions.
    1) Would an automatic chicken coop door be of any interest to you? Yes
    2) If so, how much would you be willing to pay for it? (Less than 100$, between $100-$200, or over $200) I'm cheap, so as inexpensive as possible. I bet most would pay $100 but not a lot more. There are ones out there on the market that go for $200+ (and that's just crazy to me, unless you have 50 chickens!)
    3) If you already have a chicken coop door, are there any issues with it that you would like to be resolved? No issues with my door. It's on a timer, closes just after dusk and opens just after dawn each day. I do have to reset it with the time change in the spring/fall but that's not a big deal.
    4) Would you rather have a door that runs on solar/battery power or electric power? Would you willing to pay extra for the solar panels? No wouldn't pay extra for solar unless I was a chicken farmer! Batteries get weak and have to be replaced, so I would only do electric.
    5) Should the door open on the side or from above? Either is fine. Most plans online open from above. Mine opens from the side.
    6) Should a sensor be added on the door to count how many chickens have entered the coop and only close once all the chickens have re-entered the coop or are there usually not many stragglers come night time?Only if a sensor was cheap and was extremely accurate. Problem with this is what if one chicken never came home, the door would remain open and allow night time preditors into the coop.
    7) What would you consider a good sized chicken coop door? 1ft x 1ft or slightly larger or smaller? Yes that's the standard. I fixed mine this winter to only open 8" wide (it opens from the side).
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014

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