Automatic Coop


Dec 16, 2017
North Central Florida
Being a new chicken "farmer", I have been looking for a way to automate my new chicken coop. First, I installed an automatic water and feeder using 4" septic PVC pipe and a couple of elbows and a "Y" connection. How to make them is all over "Pinterest". My next task was to come up with a way to automate the chicken door. Again, there are many methods on "Pinterest" and the one that I liked the most was using an automatic car antenna. There were a bunch of posts showing how it worked, and a few that showed a bunch of wiring hooked up. But none that I could find actually showed how to wire up the battery, solar panel, solar controller, photo cell, and the antenna. After a few attempts, I was finally able to figure out to how wire everything up. I don't have a picture of the coop door with everything working, but what I do have is a wiring diagram that will make it an easy task if you want to go with an automatic opener.
Coop Door Opener Wiring 4.jpg
Using a photo cell is not the best because it will close the door before dusk and during a thunderstorm when it gets dark. Wanna know how I know? Better than a photocell is a timer, better yet is a controller that adjusts the time each day.

I used an arduino and other clones but they are not 100%. I finally settled on using a Raspberry Pi 3 with a terminal strip breakout board. The RPi turns on the lights and opens the door in the morning 13 hours before sunset. The RPi turns off the lights at sunrise and closes the door at dusk. It's important to not close the door before dusk. The RPi is connected to my LAN and adjusts the open and close time each night at 2am as well as updating the system clock.

The antenna door systems can be dangerous and if it closes on a bird in the door it can kill them unless you design a "floating" door that won't crush a bird that is stubborn.

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You are correct about the door shutting if it gets dark early i.e. thunderstorm. It sounds like you have power to your coop. My coop is not hooked up to any power hence the solar panel & batteries. I guess I could use a 12V timer, but then I would have to remember to reset it when the days get longer or shorter, and daylight savings time. I do have a floating door. It is made of a sheet of a 1/8" aluminum 14"X18", and really doesn't weight all that much. I mounted a eye screw near the top of the door that the antenna picks up when it retracts, and when the antenna extends it's just weight of the door that causes it to come down. I tried extending the antenna with my hand in the doorway, and I think there is little chance that one of the hens could be hurt. As far as having the door shut early, I'm not overly concerned about the chickens being out in the run after sunset. The run is as predator proof as I can make it. It is covered with 1/4" hardware cloth, and on the outside perimeter of the run, I buried 1/2" hardware cloth out 2'. There are roosts, water, and feed in the run. I am making a playground out of pallets where the hens can climb in, around, and under or just roost.
Naw all you need to do is add is a 12v delay timer so the door doesn't close until some delay time you set after the photocell says it's time to close.

I'm set up almost the same way with a pretty tight run attached to my coop. I do have power in the coop for the lights. My neighbor asked why I even have a door... well the door came first.

The RPi runs off of 5vdc so a 12vdc to 5vdc converter would work.

Finally looked up "Raspberry Pi 3". I guess I'll stick with the setup I have. I have no computer skills other than to turn them on, email, and surf the internet, and all I know about electricity is how to flip a switch.

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