Automating the chicken Coop

I’m not overly keen on cage eggs, so i got a few chooks for around home. Legally we are allowed 5 hens (no roosters) since we live in town. Not wanting to annoy neighbours i went for snuggly quiet little silkies which are the poodle of the chicken world .

Since I am not overly keen on early mornings, i have been trying to find a good way to automate the chicken coop. I made a basic sliding door up and down, tied a piece of string to that, ran it through a pully inside hte top of the coop and out the back.

This meant i pulled the string, it pulled the door up. I could tie it off during the day, or easily close it. Since the chicken coop is near my bedroom but outside, i ran the string in a bedroom window – on weekends i open window, pull string, close window and go back to sleep.

Now days thats getting a little old, i want to automate things!

When the chickens were smaller, i set up a raspberry pi with a basic install of rasbian, i installed a raspberry pi camera on that, and put it all in a case. This was ideal for just watching the chicks whilst at work, and when i was integrating new chicks.

Moving on to the more fun project, i ended up using scraps of things from all over the show. My son had an arduino car that had a servo AS3013 (3kg) that i took, along with a plastic end spinning thing. I attached a piece of dowel to that, and made a crappy mount.  This is what my high tech setup looks like.

The idea is that the string for the sliding door wraps about the dowel, pulling it up.

The 3 wires from the servo go on the 5V, ground, and pin 18 according to which has them neatly in a row, and the Pi itself goes in a nice container to keep dust away. I had to drill out some space for the wires going to the servo.

To make the servo work, i installed the RaPi GPIO librarys

sudo apt-get install -y wiringpi

After this i can just create scripts like this to run the servo (this is continuous rotation servo)

# This switches pin 18 to pwm if its not already
gpio -g mode 18 pwm
Now you can tell gpio to set the PWM clock to those numbers:
gpio pwm-ms
gpio pwmc 192
gpio pwmr 2000
# This here tells its the placement
gpio -g pwm 18 200
#sleep whilst it turns for 2 seconds
sleep 2
# Stop the turning and reset that
gpio -g pwm 18 150

Likely im doing this wrong, but it works for me, it was simple and easy to setup and do. THis is from tutorial at

Once i had the servo moving, the camera working, and all that , i made a web page that simply runs the php scripts using exec, this means i can click ‘pic’ and get a pic realtime without running a webcam. Terribly insecure and probably not good, but its on local network only, not a major issue. Door scripts are on a crontab to run at a set time.

I uploaded all the code for this to

Now i just need to wait for a sunny day to install it all 🙂