Automatic Chicken Door HOWTO by Adam Monsen

the original flock of four chickens

This is the story of four chickens who meet a hungry little furball and quickly become a flock of one.

This is the story of … The Chicken Who Lived.


Louise the Ameraucana in her coop

In the video further down this page Adam explains how he created a raspberry pi-powered chicken door using only Free Software. The basic outline is that he is using a Raspberry Pi and light sensor to trigger the door to open and shut. A Raspberry Pi is essentially a small computer with built in wifi etc that has been created to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and is used to learn programming through fun, practical projects – the basic Raspberry Pi startup kit costs around $50.  It checks in with a light sensor every 10 minutes before triggering the door to shut (or open) if the light level has gone below the level he set. He also uses a Fisheye night vision camera (which itself only costs $25) to take video inside the coop, even at night, and has it take and send a photo to give a visual confirmation when the door has been opened or shut. In his talk he mentioned that it can be logged into seperately and forced to shut, and can be used offline. The Raspberry Pi itself is very flexible and this is almost more a case study of how it can be used to create your own automated hardware+software systems than a how to build an automatic chicken coop door.

Parts Summary

1. Raspberry Pi, motor, sensors
2. Scrap wood, string, magnets

More specifically  : Raspberry Pi, Soldering kit, Camera, Wires, 12v DC motor, Fuses & holder, 32gb SD card (not 64gb as it seemed to cause problems), Mag sensors, Test leads, Power supply – His total cost for this project (although some things such as the soldering kit could be reused) was $213

In the talk he covers these features :

  • hardware interleave gravity lock mechanism
  • instant-read photoresistor poll door actuation trigger
  • photoresistor signal analog to digital conversion
  • worm gear 12V DC motor controlled via L9110 motor driver chip
  • dual hall-effect magnetic door position sensors
  • fallback door status mitigating magnetic sensor failure
  • night-vision wide-angle camera with motion-triggered video capture
  • C + bash + python polyglot control code with standardized output convention
  • offline operation with 2.4Ghz wifi for monitoring and maintenance

“I’m a hardware beginner, so this is a beginner talk in terms of hardware. I know just enough about hardware to ask someone smarter how to not make everything start smoking.

I’ve been writing software for about 20 years, so I want to get into some detail about the software.

This talk isn’t about carpentry–you’ll have to ask my wife about that.” ~ Adam Monsen

The Coop was built inside a larger shed – you can just about see the computer sitting on top of the coop on the right.

automatic door operation

The door uses a gravity lock. The strings lower the whole door as one unit and when they get to the bottom the two bottom pieces of wood swivel out and slot into place so the door cannot be forceably opened.

You can watch Adams full 25 minute talk below :

Automatic Chicken Door HOWTO by Adam Monsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. He has provided his source code for this Raspberry Pi project here

Links* to Parts Used

Raspberry Pi 3 model B with clear case by Vilros (USA | UK | Canada)

Adeept starter kit (USA | UK | Canada)

Fisheye night-vision camera (USA | UK (the particular one Adam used does not seem to be available on the UK Amazon site but plenty of similar alternatives are) | Canada)

Solid hook-up wire kit – 6 colors dispenser box (USA | UK | Canada)

25rpm 12V DC worm gear motor (USA | UK | Canada)

0.3A glass fuse & holder (USA | UK | Canada)

bag o’ hall effect (magnetic) sensors (USA | UK | Canada)

bag o’ test leads (wires with alligator clips at ends) (USA | UK | Canada)

SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-I Card (USA | UK | Canada)

12VDC 600mA regulated power supply

* The above are links to the parts Adam used in this project. In some cases it may not be possible or desirable to get exactly the same products due to stock levels, newer releases, price changes or availability in your country but as they are quite standard parts suitable alternatives should be quite easy to find if desired. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon websites. If you end up purchasing an item after clicking through  one of the links I may receive a small commission. It will not cost you anything extra at all but would be very much appreciated as even small amounts can help offset some of the costs involved in producing and giving away a free online newsletter. Thank you.


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