The Hen House Project

Our hens are a lot of fun, they come up to you and talk to you and they have now boundaries. Since predators have to cross large fields, I have not had to pen them but protection at night is very important.
I did not want the hens to have to wait for us to get out and about for them to enjoy a pretty sunshiny day so I decided to make an automatic door for them. I found that unless I mounted it on ball bearing rails, I could not keep it aligned when motoring it up and down so I had a number of these drawer rails and installed them as shown. I have since sealed the wood.
This is from the back of the door and you can see the motor which is available cheap is a worm gear drive 12V motor used to move car seats forward and backward. The motor is attached to a long threaded rod by clamping vinyl tubing to the motor and the rod, offering some buffering. The rod goes through a large wing nut that is loosely captured in the wooden block as shown. In the top of the rod is a magnet and on the bottom of the rod is a magnet. When the door is all the way up, the magnet turns on a sensor that tells the PLC to stop and the magnet on the top of the rod does the same. There is to the right of the door, a switch that allows a manual raise or lower signal, above that is a daylight sensor to tell the PLC to lower or raise the door and the blue wire above that goes to an air temperature sensor to let the PLC know if it is just too cold to go out.

Here is the PLC. The cost of the basic unit with power supply is just over $110 and the right most module adds more than $100 more to read temperature.

The output for the motor goes to two relays that are wired similar to a house switch that has two switches that control one lamp. That way I can reverse the voltage to the motor easily with just two outputs on the PLC.

The software for the Click PLC is free and all from Automation Direct – here is what the program looks like:

As you can see, conditions on the left have results on the right either with “AND” of “OR” conditions and these turn on and off the relays that control the motor. I also have logic for indicator lights that I will be hooking up soon.

The hens need more than a door though. I make sure they have plenty of food and water and a light that comes on and keeps the inside nice and bright during the day and shuts off automatically at night. The heater and the water feeder have thermostatic controls to prevent the water from freezing and to keep the coup comfortable.

All in all, the hens are happy and continue to tell me so. So things here just keep getting better and better. – Loretta just obtained 6 more birds to add to the brood when they are a little bigger.

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