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Thanks for coming out this morning. This session is called Robot Chickens: How a Netduino secures and feeds our backyard flock. Though, if truth be told, it should be called
How a Netduino is going to secure and feed our backyard flock since this system is obviously here with me today and not installed yet in the backyard. So that got me thinking about other ways I could have titled this presentation. First I came up with
How to spend $200 and 80 hours to get out of doing a chore that takes 5 minutes a day. Because that’s what we technology folks do, right – it’s all about solving a problem.
Another option was
How to hijack your wife’s Amazon prime account and make them think she’s a geek.
But in fact we’re here to talk about our backyard chickens…
Right now we only have 4 chickens because in a grand stroke of cosmic irony, we lost a chicken a couple weeks ago to a predator. But we have Dolly, Brownie, Izzy, and Vader. They live in our backyard in this
Coop. I built this coop using free plans from the internet.
You know you’re in deep with chickens when the “free” chickens that arrive at your house make you spend $300 in lumber to build a house for them.
So for those of you who don’t have chickens living at your house, let me tell you a bit about these simple animals. Basically, they EAT, Scratch the ground, POOP, Squawk and make noise, Occasionally LAY EGGS, and eventually go to SLEEP. And they do this all day, every day.
Now one interesting fact about chickens is that they are INTUITIVE PHOTOSENSORS -
Chickens are intuitive photosensors
They naturally rise at DAWN ready to go,
And they will always head in to their coop to roost as the darkness sets in. They will always find a high spot to roost, and will huddle together most of the time.
Another key fact about owning chickens is that they have lots of natural predators.
In my backyard, we’ve chased off
So with the need to lock them up every night to keep them safe, and open the coop up every morning so the birds can get out and eat, someone in the family has to remember to go out to the coop twice a day.
And when the sun goes down earlier, as it is during this time of the year, if you want to go out to dinner, you essentially put the chickens at risk by not securing them, giving predators an opportunity to attack.
So I had a basic plan: Automate the door, so it could open and close according to the amount of daylight, and also automate the feeder so that a new pile of food would be released each morning.
The main logic behind the automation is quite basic:
Let’s talk a bit about the components that went in to this system.
First and foremost is the Netduino plus 2. I chose this model for its Ethernet connection, since I ultimately want to be able to monitor and also control this system from a web based mobile site.
Next, to handle the raising and lowering of the coop door, we need a DC motor and a special motor controller called an H-bridge. The H-Bridge is what allows us to control what direction the motor turns.
For the feed dispenser, we use a servo motor.
We have some LEDs to indicate if the door is open or closed.
Finally we need a photo-resistor that is our sensor for detecting the amount of daylight.
Robot Chickens! How a Netduino runs our backyard chicken coop
How a Netduino secures and feeds
our backyard flock.
How a Netduino is going to secure
and feed our backyard flock.
How to spend $200 and 80 hours to get out
of doing a chore that takes 5 minutes a day.
How to hijack your wife’s Amazon
prime account and make them think
she’s a geek.
The Chickens (not robots)
Dolly Brownie Izzy Vader