Let the chickens out. Let the chickens back in. Let ’em out. Let ’em in. . . .
Ian wasn’t having it anymore. While he wanted to give his chickens daily access to a larger space outside their coop, he couldn’t stay tied to their schedule. Not every day, anyway.
So being the tech savvy guy he is, Ian dug into his box of spare computer parts, added some components he found online, and fashioned a solution that has simplified his life.
Ian’s solar-powered automatic chicken door opener
Now, you can find automatic chicken coop doors online, assembled and ready to go. But for Ian, solving the chickens-in/chickens-out problem was only part of the fun.
The rest was getting the chance to experiment with some of the electronic components, solar panels, and computer boards that have become more and more available and affordable. Take for instance the “brain” of his setup, a handy little barebone computer called the BeagleBone. As Ian puts it, “there’s a revolution going on” that’s centered around devices like this.
When Ian first emailed me a description of his automatic door setup, it was still a bit over my head. So he invited me out to his Northeast Portland home for a closer look at how it all works. And he was kind enough to let me shoot video as he explained what he built. Take a look:
Oh, he also built this chicken coop
A do-it-yourselfer through and through, Ian also built his own chicken coop, using The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop plans. He says his flock of three is quite happy in their modern home:
I found the plans very well oriented to my limited building experience. It took me four weeks from parts shopping to final construction — I also have a one-year old who competes for my time :). I borrowed tools from the Northeast Portland Tool Library to help keep costs down, and if I did my accounting right, I think all the materials cost me about $280.
Many thanks to Ian for inviting me by and for sharing this neat idea. Have you added any solar or electronic gear to your backyard chicken coop? Let us know in the comments below.