My DIY automatic chicken POP door opener/closer


10 Years
Apr 3, 2012
I wanted to share with you my DIY automatic coop door opener/closer and hopefully get some feedback. But first I think I should begin with some background information to explain why I built my own opener. I purchased four Barred Rocks in March/2012. The original plan was to use a chicken-tractor I purchased. However, I was not happy with it for many reasons. So… I decided to build the Garden chicken coop. I finished that build a couple of months ago.


Here is what my Coop/Run looks like. My backyard slopes a bit so I used OZ deck postings and raised the entire coop/run and built a small deck to enter the run.

I deviated from the Garden Coop plan in that I did not build a small access door. Instead I made the entire inside wall a door. Here is what it looks like closed.

Here… the wall/door is open. I really like having the entire wall open instead of a small door because cleaning is so much easier. However, because of this design I have no room to add a traditional chicken coop door opener. There simply is no room above to have a motor of any kind. Besides… they are expensive!

This is a difficult picture to see (difficult to take as well) but this is the POP door. It’s basically Plexi-glass on two tracks and some fishing weights attached to the top of the glass to add weight. If you look closely there is a twist-tie placed on the top center of the glass where the weights are attached. Also, but impossible to see is heavy-duty fishing line. That fishing line is used to open and close the door.

In the back of the coop is this enclosure. Notice the fishing line at the top of the coop (with a pulley) running down into the enclosure.

And here it is… The engine for the automatic chicken pop door opener/closer.

It’s a fairly simple design. At the top I have a 5” clothes-line wheel that balances two containers. Each container has a small ECO185 water pump inside that I purchased from Amazon for $12 each. You’ll notice that the fluid in each container is blue. I am using premium windshield washer fluid that is rated not to freeze up to -30 degrees. At the top of the enclosure you will see three Intergalactic outdoor electric timers. One for each pump and the third one is for the light I have for the coop house. The electric cable goes into the enclosure on the right side and plugs into a three-way electric splitter.

In this picture you can see the orange three-way electric splitter.

Each of the three electric timers are plugged into the splitter. And the water pumps themselves are plugged into the electric timers. Also notice the cloth-line on the right-hand side has a small clamp attached to it. This is where I attached the heavy-duty fishing line that is used to open and close the pop door.

When the container on the right-hand side is filled with fluid it goes down which pulls the fishing line down. This action causes the POP door to open. In the evening when the right-side container pump turns on and drains it fluid to the left-side container, the right side container rises which causes the POP door to close.

Each pump only turns on once a day for one minute. Very simple…

I like to think of this gizmo as a proof of concept beta unit. My original plan was not to hang this enclosure so low where it hangs over the hardware-mesh but higher up on the coop-house itself. But because my coop/run is already high up… I chose not too at this time because I would need a ladder to access the timers if I needed to.

Winter is coming fast where I live (upstate NY) and the temperature is already dipping in to the 30’s and I have other projects to do. But next Spring I plan on rebuilding this entire enclosure. It really does not need to be so large and I will hang it up on the house itself so it won't block the view over of the hardware mesh. The enclosure itself can easily be taken down as only a couple of screws on the inside are used to attach it to the coop.

I estimate that the entire project cost me about $100. What do you think?
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chknkids... I've had this unit running for a couple of weeks now and it has yet to fail me. However... I do agree with you in that the fishing line should be replaced. I initially used wire... the type you use on the back of frames for paintings. That didn't work out so well. I was thinking about using wire-cord but I might just wait until Spring when I redo the enclosure. Maybe I'll add another line of fishing string for backup purposes. That would be quick and simple.

Kelliot... thanks!
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I like you ingenuity! Great idea! Those commercial ones definitely are expensive!
If your power goes out is it possible the chickens will be locked outside or inside?
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CarolynF... good question about the power. Where I live power failures happens often. For the POP door I only need power twice a day for one minute. One minute at 5am to open the door and one minute at 9pm to close the door. If a power failure occurs anytime in between it has no affect on the door at all. However, when a power failure occurs at my home the UPS (battery backup) I use for my computers start to beep and that sound will wake me up in the morning (though I normally wake at 5:30am myself to go to work) and I will know that I have to manually open the door. I'm still awake by 9pm so again I would know. If I was worried about power failures though when I go away for a few days... I have a plan for that. I'm getting the electric for the opener from my shed. In my shed I have electric outlets. From that outlet I run an electric cord to the coop. What I would do is place a UPS in the shed and attach the electric cord to the UPS itself. Because my opener uses so little power... I believe the UPS could power the door for well over a week by itself if I lost power that long.

Here is a APC UPS BE350G... it cost $40 at Amazon. I like this idea... when electric is working it is constantly charging the battery. When there is no power, the coop door is powered by the batteries. Pretty simple I believe and cheap.
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HappyBooker1... thanks for the info. I will look into that.

What I think people need to understand though... the fishing line does not support the weight of the containers. The clothe line rope does. The fishing line only supports the weight of the plexi-door itself which is (and only when the door is open) less than 2 pounds. The fishing line I use now currently is rated to support 40 pounds. That's why I am in no hurry at this time to replace it.

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