I am a professional product developer and I would like your input for a new product idea.

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by henwaytech, Nov 2, 2013.

  1. Love it! I will definitely buy one.

    0 vote(s)
  2. The design is interesting.

    6 vote(s)
  3. Don't bother.

    2 vote(s)
  1. henwaytech

    henwaytech New Egg

    Nov 1, 2013
    Hello All!

    First post on BYC! Thank you all in advance for the warm welcome. Let me quickly introduce myself...

    I am an electrical engineer and I own a product development company. That means that businesses pay me big money to help them develop and launch new electronics products. I love my job. I love jumping aboard innovative businesses and helping them direct the future of their company.

    But there's something terribly wrong with my picture.

    I witness lives change with the electronics that I design, yet I struggle daily because I lack simple electronic knickknacks in my chicken coop. For example, it's fall where I live and the temperature is 60 deg F during the day but less than 40 at night. I use a heat lamp to keep my coop warm but with the wide temperature range this time of year I ought to unplug it during the day to save electricity. It stresses me out at work when I forget to unplug my coop's heat lamp before I leave, and it stresses me out when I forget to plug it in at night. Even if I get it right, it stresses me out that I have to remember to do the chore before I leave the house.

    So the solution is a thermostat, right? Something like this guy: Farm Innovators Thermo Cube Thermostatically Controlled Outlet Seems like it would work... but yet I don't have one. I think that's because there are some things about the design that I don't like. #1: I don't like the hard ON/OFF control. I would prefer that it dims the intensity of the heat lamp to keep the birds at a constant temperature. Instead, it's heat or no heat. #2 I don't like shutting the light off abruptly. It startles the girls. (Try it yourself: Go outside on a quiet night and unplug the lights and listen. If your birds are like mine, you'll hear slight coos and rustling which I assume is discomfort.) And #3, I don't like the shape of it. It's a free hanging plug and it's kinda clunky and ugly.

    I propose a redesign.

    Here is my amateur sketch of the product I want to design:


    Estimated Retail Price: $25.00 USD + shipping

    So, I ask you all to please comment on this new design idea. Tell me if there are any nice-to-have's that I may be overlooking, or if the product idea isn't that great. Any feedback will help me determine if it's worth designing a functional prototype.

    My name is Roy Stevens and I am a proud owner of 6 Rhode Island Reds. Coop moral is high and egg production is maximum. My only hobby is making sure my ladies are as happy as they can be because they're much more than egg layers to me... they're my therapy. I visit with them every time I get home from work because simply watching them for a few minutes helps me change gears from the cut-throat product design industry to my home life.

    Thank you all,
  2. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    I don't have heat in the coop but I understand the reason people do, have your lights come on a couple of hours before daylight instead of just shutting the lights off if the light goes off when their not on the roost they won't be able to see to get up on it.The thermocube has been around for a long time and people swear by them.
  3. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I don't heat my coops either. But I do put on the lights for laying. I use a simple timer.Less than 10$ probably, bought at thrift store for $1. Just a few dollars. Light on early in morning. then off by 8 a m, back on at 6 as the girls get back into the coop for the night, then lights out at 8 when everyone is on a roost.

    DH visits with the birds after work for the same reason. Everyone should have chickens.
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Chickens don't need supplemental heat once they are fully feathered, but your idea would be PERFECT for building INCUBATORS if your thermostat is sensitive enough to hold 100*

    I'd design one with a direct plug-in version also
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. kg7il

    kg7il New Egg

    Nov 30, 2010
    Graham / Eatonville, WA
    I don't heat the coop either. Pretty mild here south of Seattle / Tacoma.

    It does get cold some nights in the winter, but my birds are feathered out in the winter.

    I do have a light on to extend the daylight and increase laying.
    I could see one that goes on at dusk and runs x hours.

    Right now, my light is on 24 hours a day.
  6. chickisoup

    chickisoup one Blessed chicki Premium Member

    I have my coop light on a timer and I have an oil filled heater (the one that looks like the old steam registers in houses) that sells for less than 50 dollars and comes equipped with several different power/temp settings including a "snowflake" setting that kicks the heater in when the temp drops below 35o and off at 45o. Far safer than using the heat lamp which starts hundreds of coop fires every year. I should add that I only use this heater when it gets either really cold AND wet to help the girls dry out or the temps get and stay too close to zero or below. Otherwise I have a waterer that has a two stage thermostat (one in the tank another in the tray) to keep the water from freezing, a well insulated coop and a protected run. Oh, and my girls play in my greenhouse when the snow is blowing .
    1 person likes this.
  7. henwaytech

    henwaytech New Egg

    Nov 1, 2013
    Hey guys,

    Thank you all for the feedback!

    It's still a mystery to me if this if a viable business idea or not because the responses so far come from users who don't use or need heat lamps. A lamp that toggles based on ambient light is a nice idea, and just as easy make from a development standpoint, but doesn't help reinforce the need for a temperature controlled heat lamp -- which is the feedback I was looking for. If there is enough interest in a light sensitive device then I can investigate this a little further...

    Anyways, I'm still going to make the heat lamp controller for my own interest, so if anyone would like one just respond to this post and I'll build you one.

    Thanks All!
    Roy Stevens
  8. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    For both ideas you would need the controls as far from the light as you can get.

    The heat or light off the bulb would effect the controller an make it act crazy.
  9. henwaytech

    henwaytech New Egg

    Nov 1, 2013
    @rebelcowboysnb The temperature at the base of the lamp is a higher temperature than ambient but it's proportional. So long as it's proportional I can use math to estimate the surface temperature of the ground. I did an experiment to prove it's proportional by attaching a thermocouple to the base of the lamp and another on the ground directly below the lamp. I recorded the value of each thermocouple 10 times throughout the day (spread out from dusk to dawn) for several days. I was convinced after the second day. The bulb was a 250W lamp. I realize that people could use different wattage lamps but I have no reason to doubt that the same control algorithm wouldn't work the same for a 100W bulb. For example: regardless if it's a 100W light or 250W light, if the temp sensor is cold, the controller is going to increase the duty cycle until it's warmer. If the temp sensor is too warm, the control is going to decrease the duty cycle until it's just right.

    I thought of a new idea last night which was inspired by @chickisoup 's comment. How about a smoke detector sensor that will cut the power to the lamp if it detects smoke.; and it doesn't turn the light back on until you unplug and re-plug in the cord.

    Thanks guys,
  10. chickisoup

    chickisoup one Blessed chicki Premium Member

    NOW THAT'S AN INNOVATIVE IDEA! To my knowledge there is nothing like it available and I could see everyone with a brooder wanting one.

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