Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Automatic Chicken Door

I'm not very good at getting up early. I can do it once in a while if the situation calls for it, but I prefer to sleep in as long as possible. I'm an early-to-bed, late-to-rise, type. Nine hours of shut eye a night suits me just fine.

My chickens agree with me about the importance of going to bed soon after the sun dips below the horizon, but they take issue with my desire to slumber well past the crack of dawn. They don't attempt to hide their displeasure every time I open the door to release them from their coop at 7:30 a.m. "We've been waiting an hour-and-a-half for you, you jerk!" they tell me in chicken language.

It doesn't feel good to take abuse from chickens. I had to do something about it. So I built an automatic chicken door. I blatantly stole the design from this fellow, whose ingenious use of an automatic curtain puller was the basis for the system. When you apply 120 AC power to the puller, it turns in one direction until a little plastic nub flips its own switch off. When current it reapplied, the motor turns in the opposite direction, again shutting itself off.

So, I plugged the puller into an ordinary appliance timer, set to turn on for a moment at 6:30 a.m. (opening the door) and again at 9:00 p.m. (closing the door after all the chickens have gone in to sleep for the night). I'll have to adjust the timer a few times throughout the year to keep up with the changing sunrises and sunsets.

So far it has worked like a charm, and my chickens are thrilled with it.