Everybody these days, it seems, wants chickens, whether as an antidote to that sad business of factory farms, security against the latest food scare, or the simple, old-fashioned pleasures of a homegrown omelet. But there’s one thing almost nobody wants to do, and that’s get up at the crack of dawn — weekdays, weekends, holidays, etc. — to let those little cluckers out to peck.
Not long back, we covered a solar powered chicken coop that actually moves, robotically, around your yard, giving your chicks some exercise without actually having to open the coop. Maybe it’s Occam’s Razor, but we like this solar powered chicken coop door scheme from chrisatronics better. Not only because it’s simpler, but because, given basic tools and a day or so of mechanical inclination — and, okay, probably a geeky programmer friend — you can build it yourself.
The actuator for raising and lowering the door is a strong gear motor from a windshield wiper. Two switches in a parallel arrangement recognize when the door is open or shut. A battery juiced with solar power from a small solar panel provides the juice, and a photoconductive cell does the handy work of sensing when the sun has reached the right position to open the door in the morning (and shut it again at night). All circuitry is assembled on a circuit board, with the “brain” of the system being a MSP430 microcontroller from Texas Instruments.
This microcontroller runs on the popular LaunchPad development board and can be programmed in C to handle and process all inputs and outputs of the system. A push button on the LaunchPad can be used to program new brightness thresholds, and is directly connected to the circuit board.
It may sound complex, but — as Hackaday attests — christronics has done a great job of breaking all this down, and the system consists, basically, of eight components, connected by blue wires (that transmit signals) and green wires (that transmit power). Surely your sleep (and your omelet) is worth it.