The DIY that finally stumped me.

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Even if you have no interest in installing an automatic, sliding door opener (but really who doesn’t) please read this post.  Because at the end of this post I’m asking for your help.  But if you don’t know anything about circuit boards or mechanical stuff then don’t worry about it.

So, where we stand at the moment is, if you want to install an automatic, sliding door opener then read on.  If you know about circuit boards or motors and such, read on.  Everyone else … you should probably read on as well.  It just seems dumb to have already invested this much time into a post and not finish reading it.

My very best friend in the world, Amazon and I had a little rendezvous last week.  On some kind of whim I decided I was going to  install an automatic door opener for my chicken coop.  Other than when they get sick, chickens pretty much take care of themselves. As long as they have food, water, and  Netflix they’re A-O.K.  They wake up on their own and get their own breakfast and every night when it starts to get a bit dark out, they put themselves to bed, one by one walking up the coop ladder to their sleeping quarters where they snuggle down on their roost.

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Of course, there’s one thing a chicken can’t do.  It can’t open a door.  (Technically it also can’t put it’s own lip gloss on, so it’s probably closer to two things that a chicken can’t do)

So every morning, whenever the sun decides to come up, the chickens all stand at the coop door screaming to be let out.  BAHHHCK BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCHOCKKK.  If sunrise is at 6:00 a.m., that’s when it starts.  I’m not what you’d call an early riser, so having to run outside at 6 in the morning to let the chickens out, disrupts my beauty sleep by a good 2 hours.

Chickens also have a tendancy to be eaten by raccoons.  In fact, every single night this week I’ve had to run out to the coop at around 10:00 p.m. to scream, yell, and storm at raccoons.  They mainly just look at me and fart.  Raccoons are very rude.  And gassy.

So every single night, no matter what, that coop door has to be closed before it gets dark out.  But sometimes I’m not home at night.  That means I either have to lock the chickens up early before I go out for the night (which makes for some angry chickens) or I have to rush home screaming ‘I HAVE TO CLOSE THE COOP I HAVE TO CLOSE THE COOP” to anyone slowing me down.  This could be small children, the elderly or law enforcement. Doesn’t matter. If they’re slowing me down from getting to the coop before dark, they’re getting yelled at and quite possibly even shanked between the 3rd and 4th rib.

So that’s why Amazon and I decided it would be fun to install an automatic door opener.  They make door openers specifically for chicken doors, but that’s not what I have. I have a regular, person sized, swinging door.

After a bit of browsing and also the purchase of THIS BOOK by The Nester FINALLY, I picked out the automatic door opener I thought would work well for me.

 

 

 

Product:  Skylink Swing Door Opener

Cost:  $196 (US), $250(CA)  (paid for it myself … NOT a paid post)

Installation:  Kindda easy

 

 

 

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Things like this are scary as hell when you first take them out of the box. For real. How am I supposed to figure all of this out and put it together without, I don’t know … ripping someone’s throat veins out.  ARGhakdkj.  But then I took a deep breath, made a coffee and got started.

The first step for me was to sand down my coop door. If you’re installing this on a regular house door, you’d do the same but only if the door sticks quite a bit.  The door opener actually has a setting you can use to give the door more force when it closes in case you have a bit of a sticky door.

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You can see what I mean by having a regular door.  This isn’t some plywood square that lifts up and down to let the chickens out. It’s a real door.

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So, I needed a real door opener.

 

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Step 1 – Screw the rail into your door frame, 7″ away from the edge.  Just closer the door, put the rail in place so it lines up with the edge of your door and mark where your rail goes.  Then screw it in.  So far, everyone still has their throat veins.

 

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Step 2 – Remove the side panels from the motor unit.  They don’t really tell you how to do this in the instructions.  BUT, you push up with your thumbs …

 

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… then pull away from the top.  This exposes the circuit board and controls inside.

 

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Step 3 – Screw the motor unit onto the back plate.  The reason it doesn’t already come assembled is because the unit gets screwed to different spots on the back plate depending on how your door opens.  In-Swing to the left, In-Swing to the right, Out-Swing to the left or Out-swing to the right.

 

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Screw the unit to the plate by lining it up with the right spots.

 

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That circuit board in there is the thing that angers me.  More on that later.

 

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Step 4 – Activate the unit. The instructions tell you how to do this, but basically all you do is push one of the buttons in, and plug it into power at the same time.

 

 

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Step 5 – The motor will start running automatically and the pin on top will spin around letting you know you’ve set it up properly and it’s almost ready to install.

 

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By the way, they make things easy in terms of hardware because all the steps come with a corresponding bag of hardware that’s all marked and labelled.

 

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Step 6 – YAYYYYY.  All you have to do now is screw the back plate (with the unit) to the door.  You need to leave 2mm from the edge of the door.

 

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The only thing left to do is attach the arm and plug it in. Seriously. So easy.

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Step 7 – Stick the arm in the rail channel and slide it towards the unit.  I keep saying unit. Which is a euphemism for man parts.

 

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Step 8 – Slip the other side of the arm onto the rotating pin on the top of the penis.  I mean unit. It won’t fit very well.

 

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Step 9 – Open the door until you hear the arm click into place.  Now it will fit well.

 

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Step 10 – Plug it in and try it out!

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I also ordered the magnetic lock assembly because I have literally been outside and seen raccoons hanging off of the hardware cloth on my door.  So I wanted something to really hold the door closed. The magnet can withstand 100 lbs of pressure.

 

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Once the magnet is installed all you have to do is plug that wire into the unit.  Heh.

This couldn’t have been easier to install, although I have to tell you it took me over half a day because I kept referring back to the instructions, plus I had to stop and take photos, plus there was snacking to take into account.  Now that I’ve done it once I’m pretty confident I could install one of these things in a half an hour or so.

Which coincidentally is about the amount of time it took me to disassemble the entire thing so I could send it back to my pal Amazon.  Why, you ask?  Because the description online said it could be used with a timer.  What it meant was the unit has a timer in it which will allow the door to stay open for 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 seconds.  Um … that won’t work for what I want.

Also the only way to open the door is with a remote control.  Great for when I’m laying on the couch in the middle of a rainstorm and don’t want to go outside to close the coop door, but really not at all practical for when I’m not at home.

It was the moment I realized I couldn’t hook this thing up to a manual timer either, that I started looking for throat veins.  It’s all laid out on my dining room table at the moment, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer, but I can’t help but think there’s a way around this.

I really do love everything else about this opener.  It closes really solidly, it’s strong, and if I can get it to do what I want, it will be really, really practical and worth every penny.

But I can’t figure it out.  I just can’t.  I know there has to be a way to fiddle with the circuit board, or add another circuit board, or maybe remove the circuit board. Or add a relay timer or, or, OR SOMETHING.

 

Now we’re at the part where I ask all of you mechanical and electronic nerds for help.  Or maybe you have a mechanical, electronic nerdy friend.  Or husband.  Or wife.  Or cellmate.

It isn’t a complete emergency.  There is a fix if no one has the answer.

I emailed the company and even though they replied promptly (within 24 hours) their only recommendation was to  buy two additional product of theirs (A mini security system for $99, and a Receiver/Repeater for $30 that would allow me to link the door opener to a timer through my router, plus allow me to monitor the door’s status from my cell phone.

But that’s ANOTHER $130.  So if you can help me do it for less money, that’d be great.  This Skylink automatic swing door opener works great.  Totally recommend it.  Love it.  Easy to install.  But I need it to do more!

Waiting for your help opening doors for me …

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140 Comments

  1. Cynthia Jones says:

    So, where exactly do you go at night ?

  2. Lynn says:

    Just a silly though could you not plug it in to a timer ???

    • Karen says:

      No, lol! I should have explained that better in the post, but no. It can’t because it only works with the remote. Plugging it into a timer just turns the power on and off to the motor. But the motor being powered on doesn’t open and close the door. The signal running from the transmitter (the remote) to the receiver (the circuit board on the motor) is what makes it open and close. ~ karen!

      • David says:

        Hey Karen,
        So my fiancee sent me this, she follows you religiously and many times we’re doing projects she found on your board.
        This is a simple fix. I assume your transmitter has two buttons: one for open/one for close. If you pull this apart you can solder in a small timer across each of these buttons. It is very simple but because I don’t have the circuit in front of me I can’t tell you exactly where to do it.
        I’ve done these in the past to turn machines on and off early enough to have it heated up prior to employees arriving. I’ve used ones similar to this in the past:
        http://www.amazon.com/Industries-EW120B-Multipurpose-Control-120-277/dp/B007NKZWYO/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1441026179&sr=8-19&keywords=dry+contact+timer
        bit expensive for your needs but this is similar to what you are looking for. Another method would be two small 24 hour timers, solder them in across the buttons and have one set for the morning on the open button and the other on the close button.

        Either way do not remove the buttons. Solder around them. this way you can still use the buttons if you so choose.

        This is a rough way to do it but functional. There are much better ways to do it but without programming experience and the right tools (I have no idea what electronic equipment you have!) it is very difficult not to make a small mistake and ruin the entire thing.

        You have my email if you have any further questions. If you send the model number I can try to track down the circuit diagrams and lay out a simple timer setup for you. Not hard, just not common for most people.

        • Karen says:

          Thanks David! Yes, the transmitter has 4 buttons that can all be programmed to open or close. I actually took a look inside it when I first discovered I had a problem but just ended up staring blankly at the board and closing it back up again, lol. The cost to buy the parts from the company to make this work for me is $130 so it may end up costing somewhere in the same as fixing it myself though. Plus if I spend the $130 I have the added bonus of the whole set up working with an app for remote monitoring. If I’m completely wrong lemme know and I’ll send you a photo of the inside of the remote! ~ karen!

          • David says:

            It can be done for a few bucks. Send me a photo and I’ll send you a list. How self sufficient do you want this? I can design with light sensors and you’ll have a little fun electronics DIY. can be designed and done for under $70 (With light sensors) with readily available electronics. I’m an Electrical Engineer if you ever have future projects.

            Question, do you use the same button to open and close or is it two separate ones.

            And my fiancee has already sent me a message that now I’ve posted I have to make a pizza oven. This escalated quickly.

            • Karen says:

              Yeah that is kind of a rule. Now that you’ve posted you have to make a pizza oven. :/ Sorry ’bout that. I’ll get back to you. 🙂 And I’ll DEFINITELY be contacting you for future electrical/circuit board help! ~ karen

            • Since ultimately you want the door to close as dusk falls, and this happens at wildly different times depending on the season (especially in Canada!) the light sensor is probably the best option. I intend to do this when I finally get around to building a better coop someday. Though I’ll probably use the small sliding hatch version intended for coops–I think they’re even solar-powered.

            • David says:

              Hey Kristin, be aware of doing solar in Canada. these will typically require small backup batteries and since the winter in Canada has more darkness than light the batteries tend to drain and not recharge to an expected level. Those solar door openers are usually designed for worst case between 35-40 degrees north. So you may need an extra panel to ensure charge on your battery doesn’t drain.

            • Karen says:

              Kristin is in California as far as I remember, David. 🙂 I however … am very definitely in Canada, lol. ~ karen!

            • Karen says:

              Yes, but I can’t do that with this particular door opener. 🙁 I may be sending it back. I really like the sliding coop door that someone linked to earlier because it’s OUTside mounted, and it can run horizontally which might work better for my coop. Also it looks like better quality than any other other ones I’ve seen. Stainless steel. ~ karen!

            • Cindy M says:

              Wow…..David to the rescue. We can’t have chickens in our backyard but I can have a pizza oven! David??

            • Making a pizza oven is a lot of fun!

            • IRS says:

              Ah, yes, fond memories of dad, who was an electrical engineer. Those guys can figure out anything. So what are are we up to by now, about $800 per egg?

  3. Bwright says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to install a proximity activated dog door, and attach the transmitters to the chickens? Keep the full size door closed and locked for yourself and let the chickens control their own door. As long as none of them decided to end it all in a suicide by racoon pact, your all set.

  4. Katie says:

    My husband has our outdoor lights rigged up to a solar sensor…when it’s dark enough, the lights turn on automtically. It works by completing the circuit, so I feel like you should be able to hook something like that up to to your opener. I don’t know how much it qas, but I guarantee you it was cheap…that’s how we roll!

    • Karen says:

      Again, that’s just running power, like a manual timer. That sort of thing won’t work in this situation. :/ ~ karen!

  5. Marilyn Harrison says:

    Hi.
    I come to your site to find out what to do as I am not much of a DIY type of person so,with that said, ,sorry, I don’t have a darn clue. lol but, hope someone can help you with this.
    Thanks for all your help on your site.
    Take Care.

  6. Edith says:

    Is there a way to cover their range area (outside of the door) with a some sort of wire mesh to keep the raccoons out?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Edith! Technically it may be possible, but I’m not sure it would be practical. Or attractive, lol. Not a bad thought for me to consider though! ~ karen

  7. Therese says:

    Don’t you think the company ought to just send you the extra stuff you need and fall on their knees to thank you for the huge shout-out you just did for their product? You’d complete your project and write another great post, they’d look like the good guys and everyone would love them. Win, win!

  8. Kathleen says:

    Why don’t you ask a question one of us might be able to answer? HUH? I became so excited thinking, maybe, just MAYBE, there’s something I know that you don’t.
    But noooo, there isn’t! 🙂 Damn! 🙂

    Am coming back to see if someone does know…
    (And I’m off to Google obscure engineering sites to see if I can answer the question!)

    Have an awesome day!

  9. Stephanie says:

    This isn’t what you asked for, but personally I’d return your big door opener & just add a chicken pop in your big door (little door inside big door-cheap & easy & can be done stylishly). That way you can just buy an actual automatic chicken pop door opener which comes with timers or solar activators. But I do GET that there should be a way to make your big door opener work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stephanie! Yeah, I don’t want to cut a hole in my door though. I really, REALLY like how my coop looks and it took wayyyy too long to build it to screw with the design. It’d be like cutting a hole in the middle of an Eames chair, lol. I just can’t bring myself to do it. ~ karen!

  10. Pam says:

    All I’m looking at is pic #4 and your gorgeous haircut and colour. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pam! My friend Renee does it. She’s been doing it for decades. If you’re in the Hamilton area, she’s with David Church! Both of them were Vidal Sassoon trained in England. ~ karen!

  11. Anon says:

    Your butt is too distracting.

    I prefer to remain an anonymous admirer.

  12. Brenda says:

    It sounds like you need to rig up a timer to a ball bearing on a sliderail that gets pushed down the sliderail and lands on the remote button really hard so from a good height / you will need to experiment – you know the kind of thing PeeWee Herman used to make his toast and coffee in the morning – that is all – you are welcome – I am curtsying – you are doing a standing ovation – I am blushing (twaren’t nothing)

  13. Milton says:

    Karen, the instructions say you can select with a switch between timer mode, open/close mode, or toggle mode. If you select the bottom position for toggle mode, it looks like you can plug a contact closure switch with 2 wires into the T3 holes at the top and open it or close it with a timer to activate the contact closure.

  14. Hazel says:

    Sorry, no great technical advice from me either.
    My only thoughts would be either building a Hensdeep of a chicken run to keep the racoons out (not very attractive, as you said) or building a chicken-sized pop hatch and installing an opener on that. Could you put one in the person-sized door?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hazel. I briefly thought about that but it would be easier just to spend the $130 on the equipment, lol. Putting in a pop hatch would involve cutting through the hardware cloth I have there, insertig and framing a window, and I’d also need rails for it to travel up and down … Bleh. ~ karen!

  15. IRS says:

    Hmmm. I have bugger all insight into your dilemma, but it seems to me that the only ones who have the right idea are the raccoons. A few questions though. If you do manage to figure this out, what is the plan? That the door automatically closes at, say, 8:00 PM (sundown these days) every night while you are out roaming the local parks and alleyways, looking for transients to roll for their beer money? Great, but what if one of your feathery little cluckers is a bit tardy returning from a long day of pooping and scratching, and goes through the door just as it’s closing? Not a nice way to get flattened. Also, raccoons are notoriously crafty, as evidenced by all the so-called “raccoon proof” garbage cans and compost bins they manage to open every Monday night on my street. They figure those out faster than a 4 year old figures out how to open a child-proof cap on an aspirin bottle. If the furry little bastards learn that the KFC door closes every night at a certain time, you can be sure they will be on the chicken side of it when it closes. Then they will be locked in with little Cutlet and the others, and you will come home to nothing but a coop full of feathers, and a smug and bloated raccoon. It sounds like this gadget could be great for letting the chickens out in the morning, so you don’t have to haul yourself prematurely out of your cat poop stained sheets, but it may not be such a good idea in the evening. Aren’t there any local kids you can hire to close the coop for you at night? I’m sure they would be happy to work for you for a little cash. Or vodka, or weed.

    • Karen says:

      All logical thoughts, but chickens like going to bed early and all at the same time generally. I’ve never gone out past dark and found one of them wandering around lookin’ for someone to hang with. And raccoons are smart but they’re also stupid. For instance my raccoons don’t seem to really believe I’ll hit them over the head with a shovel, when in fact I very well might. They’re never out before dark. Basically chickens always go to bed early and raccoons always show up late to the party. That’s why so many people use automatic coop doors. At least that’s what the guys in the park tell me. ~ karen!

  16. Laurie says:

    I would do a little research at http://www.instructables.com .
    They do wonderful things with an arduino. It is a mini computer that does simple tasks like open doors at certain times. I am no expert on them but I am guessing someone there has made something like that.
    Hope that helps Karen.

  17. Grammy says:

    Then only helpful advice I have is that you should listen to Brenda and IRS because they both sound really smart.

  18. Judy D. says:

    I don’t know how much room you have around the coop, but what if you remove the door in question and put the whole coop within a large dog run. The chickens will be able to go in and out of the coop whenever they want. When they’re outside the coop, they’ll be contained in the kenneled area and raccoons, etc. will be unable to reach them. Karen, the price on these large kennels is fairly high. I bet if you wanted to do something like this, your blog followers could chip in some $$ and pay for the kennel. If just 200 of us put in $7.50 each, I think it would cover what you’d need. A GoFundMe.com account can be set up for ‘donations.’ 🙂

    Here’s a link to a website that has a video so you can see several options. http://www.k9kennelstore.com/‎

    I’m anxious to know what you think. Remember…where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    • IRS says:

      Yeah, I’d chip in seven and a half bucks. I’ll make it an even ten if you get another coop cam. With night vision. I want to see some frustrated and pissed off raccoons hanging from the kennel walls, while the newly emboldened chickens shake their tail feathers in safety, just inches away. I’m sadistic like that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy D! Between my house and my high fence, the whole run area is actually enclosed. I also have swinging gates. The raccoons get in by climbing up the fence and then climbing down the coop. So really, I already have the dog run portion. 🙂 What I *could* do as someone else suggested is put a hardware cloth roof over everything. But I’m so anal that I would do that in combination with the automatic door, lol. ~ karen!

      • IRS says:

        Put in the hardware cloth roof, and then aim a camera upward at it. Watching chickens scratch and peck gets old fast, but watching a drooling, miserable raccoon, sitting on uncomfortable hardware cloth while its unattainable dinner sashays past a few feet below, now THAT is popcorn-worthy entertainment. Popcorn and a martini.

      • Shanon says:

        Karen-I have two commercial broiler houses, and raccoons are the bane of my existence. Once the little a-holes figure out a way to get into a chicken house, it’s almost impossible to dissuade them from visiting nightly. My houses are 36′ x 550′, so we have large industrial fans on one end to keep the birds cool. All it takes is for one raccoon to think that gaining entry through a fan that’s not running is a smashing idea, and every raccoon for miles will follow suit. Problem is, those fans have a tendency to turn back on at VERY inconvenient times (for the raccoons). This summer alone, the score is: Fans: 3 dead raccoons/Raccoons: 4 dead fans/Shanon: -$500. We have grates to cover the fan cones, but the little rascals will climb around and work it over until they can find a weak spot or break the connecting hangers. I’ve even had them peel back a loose corner of chicken wire – and remember, these houses are the length of 2 FOOTBALL FIELDS, and they still manage to find that one little weak spot. Good luck with the opener – if your raccoons are as determined as mine are, you’ll definitely need to watch your ladies!

        • IRS says:

          Yeah, the little bastards will never think of changing up their routine to go for an Early Bird dinner. *pun definitely intended* *sarcasm also present*

  19. Karen, sorry I can’t help, the minute I saw circuit board I quit any notion I’d be able to help.
    We couldn’t even assemble our new patio furniture at the weekend…too many different size screws etc!
    Will be interested to see how this develops, or could you install an automatic gun instead to shoot the racoons? That’d teach them to hang off your coop doors!

  20. jainegayer says:

    Well I hope you get this figured out. I don’t want anything to happen to Cuddles (and of course the other chickens). Big, bad raccoons!

  21. Amy says:

    I know this doesn’t help much right now, but I’ll ask the hubs when he gets home. He’s an electrician and does this sort of thing for a living! Hopefully he will have an answer or it will be solved before 5pm.

  22. Good for you for making yogurt! Next you’ll be making cheese! That is much more up my alley. Installing something prebuilt I can do too but wiring a circuit board, not so much. I did wonder when I saw the remote how it was going to open and close without your help though. Good luck figuring it out.

  23. Ann says:

    I thought about putting in a automatic pop door for my coop. But I constantly bring in new chickens and sometimes they all get contrary with each other and the older ones won’t let the younger ones in the coop at night. So I will have to go out for several nights in a row to make sure the chickens are all in. During the summer I leave their pop door open at night for ventilation. I can do that because my chicken run itself is totally closed in, even above. And then the coop itself has a good wire fencing enclosure around it since originally that was my run. They can get out of the coop as early as they want and roam around the small original run until I come out and open the door between that and the big run. It is rare that I don’t have my husband to close up the small run door if I am not home myself. But if by chance no one is home to do it, I feel the enclosed big run and the fact that my livestock guardian dog is in the pen right next to the chickens, probably keeps everybody safe enough. Then I go out in the dark when I do get home and close up the inner run door just to be sure. My front chicken run only has 4 chickens. A disabled one and 3 fairly young hens. They are sleeping in an open dog house right now while I slowly plan how to build another fancy schmancy chicken coop for them. I know it will never be as fancy as yours but a girl can dream. Meanwhile those 4 could be picked off by coons but I keep hoping that because they are under our bedroom window and the dog is between them and the field that they will be OK til I can make them a safe house. Oh my what we will do for our crazy poultry

  24. Cathy says:

    OK, here’s the thing. Even if you get this to work, when you are off to God knows where and it is coop time, how are you going to get all those chicks into the coop remotely? Isn’t it a bit like herding cats…..over the phone? Will they be assigned a number?

  25. judy says:

    I have no clue how to solve your dilemma, but IRS’s comments have me teary eyed from laughter. Thank you for continuing to teach, entertain and inspire us all!

  26. Tigersmom says:

    I got nuthin’. But I’m pretty sure you already suspected as much about me as far as this kinda stuff goes.

    I feel confident, however, that some of your other readers will be able to come through for you. Good for you on having some secrets. Everybody should.

  27. Su says:

    my eyes started to glaze over at the picture of the circuit board…. good luck with it all…

    one suggestion… did you youtube it? I have found some great videos there on how to do just about anything I wanted to tackle and didn’t have the first clue where to start….

    yes your hair is divine… and NEVER EVER apologize for a nice butt…. it heads south soon enoug

  28. Susan says:

    This is just an idea, and I don’t know if it would work, but you said connecting t to a timer only turned the power on. But since you only need power long enough to open or more importantly, I think, close the door, what would happen if you taped the close button down? So the power comes on at eight, let’s say, closes the door, and if the timer allows, depending on how precise the time increments are, five minutes, and then turns off. You would have to switch which buttons you tape down if you want to sleep in after a night of galavanting. Would that work?

  29. Carolyne says:

    Use the timer to activate a automated finger to push the remote button to activate the door.

  30. Kathy says:

    I’d bag the big door plan, and put a chicken pop door on the actual coop.[Unless there are more openings on the little coop than the actual door] That way, couldn’t you lock the outside big door when you leave? Then when the chickens go up to roost, the small door could lock them in.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, there’s really nowhere to put a pop door Kathy. Even if I did decide to cut open one of the solid doors in my coop to do it (which I don’t want to do because I don’t want to wreck the design) to install a pop door you have to have room above the cutout of the door for the panel to slide up and down. There’s nowhere to do that in my coop. Above the small solid doors is the roost so there’s nowhere for the pop door to travel upwards. And putting one in the main door would just be a nightmare and really unattractive to boot. :/ ~ karen!

  31. Mary W says:

    Get a chicken friendly dog!

  32. Charlotte says:

    If the sky was the limit, then you could perhaps add a smart lock to the this existing system and control it from your phone? Or, from the sublime to the ridiculous, how about this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRm2U72pu90

  33. Jenifer says:

    Gosh, this project has gotten complicated…Have you become a party girl and are out clubbing all night, every night? Maybe a Chicken Nanny could be hired…I hear that’s all the rage in Hollywood.

    My suggestion? Make nice with your neighbors…surely they can be bribed (or blackmailed?) to pop over and shut the door. (Give them an egg or two…or a automatic, sliding door opener.) Or hire a Chicken Nanny…

    Probably not what you wanted to hear but you lost me at circuit board.

  34. Andy says:

    Karen, if you have the answers to the problems that *IRS pointed out, I would bargain with the manufacturer for the additional parts they recommend. If they are willing to work with you, than you WOULD have something positive to say about their customer service.

  35. Ei Con says:

    This is a bit roundabout but bear with me. Basically you want something that will activate the remote’s button at a scheduled time. So I was thinking of a different situation where the need is the same. Like “I want to trigger my cars autostart key fob to start my car every morning at 6 am.” So I googled “how to autostart car with timer ” and found this post reply:
    DIY it.
    cheapo $1 watch with alarm
    splice watch’s alarm wires into transistor/relay
    relay activates remote start fob’s button.
    Now I know this reply is lacking all the technical details one needs but perhaps it’s a clue as to what direction to look for a solution. All remotes are basically the same. Google for a timer solution for any kind of remote (TV, car etc) and maybe you can apply results to Your remote.

  36. Teresa Garcia says:

    Probably not very helpful now, but we have a full size people door to our coop and were running in to the same racing-home-before-dark-while-terrified-that-the-raccoons-had-already-figured-out-we-weren’t-home-yet thing but we got the Ador (http://adorstore.com). Yes we had to cut an additional door just for the chickens in to the side of the coop, but it opens when the sun comes up and closes at dusk. It has worked through rain, sleet, ice and 110 degree days. It has never failed in over a year and it’s probably my favorite thing ever. I can now sleep in past sunrise and we never have to race home. It took about a week for the chickens/ducks to figure out that it was closing at dusk with or without them, but they now all make it in to the coop every nite. And although we have also found raccoons and foxes in the back trying to get in to the coop, nobody has made it in yet.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa. You know what? I really like that one. I just don’t know that I have anywhere to put it on my coop. :/ I’ll look into it further tho. ~ karen!

  37. Cred says:

    A relay will control the power so you will basically still only have a timer attached to your device and won’t fix your problem- unless the relay could be attached directly to the motor and essentially replace the remote controller. My expert isn’t home right now but I think you’d need a PLC so you can program the activation of the door. Hubby is an electro-mechanical/PLC controller/robot tech (dumbest diploma title ever) but handy guy to have- I’d bet he has your answer albeit it may not be a simple diy. You may have to know how to program PLCs- although if there’s a homeowner version/diy hack to do the job, he will know that, too.

  38. Ron says:

    Karen,

    It is possible to add a hardwired pushbutton (momentary contact) to operate the unit in toggle mode. The Skylink Model WB-001 is suggested as a hardwired option and doesn’t require a wireless code to be sent. See page 32 of the DM100 manual. If you need some other means of sensing such as timer, photoswitch, motion detector etc. you can use an interposing relay to give you the contact closure that you need to operate the door.

    Please email me if my explanation isn’t clear and you want to discuss further.

    Ron

  39. Marguerite Roberts says:

    So many great ideas here in the comments. I have to wonder why you haven’t contacted Grommit of Wallace and Grommit. This is just the sort of problem he excels at. He also like being filmed. Just sayin’.

  40. Erika says:

    As a last resort you could make a buttload of chicken pot pies and be done with this headache. 😉 j/k!

  41. Andrea says:

    Anything that has a remote can be worked wireless from a cell or pc…my husband has done this with our outside lights and music…it’s like a smart home device but your chicken coop door is included. There are only a number of cell phones capable of doing this however. You need an X10 product or a similar product and of course a program that sends the message from the cell to the sensor which talks to your door opener. I am just putting the idea out as there might be an expansion from this idea that may be cheap, effective way to keep cuddles safe.Its basically getting your remote to talk to you cell phone and you control the door yourself from bed or from your night destination.

  42. Ella says:

    Sorry no practical advice, except that I like the unit/euphemism comment. 🙂

  43. Jaime says:

    You need a dusk-to-dawn photocontrol. Having worked for an electrical manufacturer in my previous life, I remember a lot chicken farmers that use that for timing the opening and closing of coop doors automatically.

    Now, how to rig that to the opener? No idea. Lol

  44. leslie says:

    I have heard of raccoons attacking during the day but rarely. Amazing that they don’t figure out the chicken schedule. maybe they work? (probably for the government)

    • Grammy says:

      I don’t know about Canadian ‘coons, but here in California I have personally witnessed racoons being active in broad daylight. I was camping on the coast and had a closed cooler full of ice and various meats in various containers, including chicken marinating in plastic containers. Since it wasn’t bear country, I figured everything was safe in the latched cooler while I took my backpack full of lunch, water, a thermos of coffee, and books (this was before electronic readers) down to the sand to breathe in the salt air and listen to the waves crashing while I read and ate for the day. Upon return to my campsite (only about 60 feet from the shore but behind a dune) in the early afternoon (about 2- or 3 p.m.) I found shredded wrappers and destroyed containers all around the site, with a tiny shred here and there of chicken that had apparently been slung in enthusiastic revelry and not picked up. The pork ribs were just that — empty bones scattered about. My whole menu for several days had been consumed by racoons and what they didn’t eat (milk, cheese, etc.) they just trashed and left lying on the ground to spoil. I made myself a sandwich for dinner (peanut butter and bread were locked in my car) and proceeded to warm myself by the campfire while enjoying some more coffee. The gentleman in the next campsite came out of his little camp trailer and said, “You have a visitor. He looks like the same guy who ate all your food this morning as soon as you left. He had his family with him then.” I turned my head and there sat a racoon on the camp table, leaning over to see if I had anything else he might want. Creepy little bastard.

      • IRS says:

        I think Canadian ‘coons are closely related to American ‘coons in their “screw you” behaviour. Either that, or they all attend the same trade shows to get better at their craft. They may have their ingrained habits, as Karen pointed out above, but they are nothing if not adaptable. I have seen several just in the last week alone, that were out and about not only in broad daylight, but with lots of people around. One such occasion was in front of a giant Loblaws grocery store, right near the door. I swear I saw a shopping list in his paw. The first 2 items read “chickens” and “eggs”. Then “potato chips”. Since these bastards evidently watch Karen’s chickens with the same single minded intensity of the British paparazzi watching William and Kate, it won’t take them long to figure out the game. When they see the little cluckers marching home at a regular time, and then see that the door closes WITHOUT the fierce little shovel-wielding, blonde lady who swears like a sailor being there to close it, they will quickly learn when it’s dinner time. The chickens won’t change their schedule, but the ‘coons happily will.

  45. Liz says:

    first thought to cross my mind was an app. you can literally find apps these days to open your garage door, control the lights, music, thermostat..everything! in your house. Surely some awesome nerd could help you sync your coop door to a phone app. Seriously

  46. Milton says:

    Have caught several raccoons, many possums and a few stray cats in this trap. Had to put a concrete block on top to keep raccoons from turning it over and figuring a way to spring the latches but otherwise it works great. Cat food, sardines and marshmallows seem to be the preferred bait for raccoons. I usually relocate animals to more remote areas outside the city. Always wear heavy gloves when working with the trap and animals.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/37-inch-l-x-12-inch-w-x-13-inch-h-collapsible-large-animal-trap-90218.html

    • Karen says:

      Hi Milton. I actually used a very similar one last year to get rid of a really, really bad raccoon that would hang off of the coop hardware cloth. I relocated it and it was not an easy job! ~ karen

  47. peg says:

    all I could think of with your opener is, “is it water proof”?

  48. Wisconsin Gal says:

    I don’t know anything about circuit boards and electrical engineering stuff, but I WANT your slim, defined thighs!

  49. Maria says:

    Is the remote a “RF” or “IR”?

    if it’s “IR” you can use your phone, an app, your WIFI and a Global Caché Flex WF with an IR emitter.

  50. Irene says:

    My clever electrical engineer type person agrees 100% with Mark. 🙂

  51. Stephbo says:

    Make your cats earn their keep by training them to push the remote buttons at the appointed times. BAM! Problem solved.

    • IRS says:

      I like the way you think! Those bed sheet fouling, hairball producing free loaders have had it way too easy, for way too long. A few posts ago someone mentioned a Japanese woman who screams at her cats something in Japanese, and they all hurl themselves into the litter box to poop on command. Karen needs to bring this fine lady over for a visit, to train her cats in proper doorman duties. Poop-on-command training is optional, but when the Japanese lady is finished at Karen’s, she can come to my house to train my hubby to piss in the toilet, and not on the floor around it.

  52. Stephbo says:

    Amen to that, sister!

  53. Brenda J. MOORE says:

    Couldn’t you have just plugged this into an automatic timer which plugs then tint your power source?

    • Karen says:

      Nope. The unit is always powered on. It’s not a matter of turning the power on and off like with a lightbulb. It’s hard to describe, but no it’s not feasible. :/ ~ karen!

  54. Amy says:

    Karen, I asked my electrician hubby and he said it can be done. But, (I know) he said the system is made that it won’t like you tampering with it. He also said, if you do get it rigged it may not last as long as it should. I’m sorry. Wish I had better news.I do hope you find a solution. If you have any other electrical questions let me know and I’ll pick hubs brain for ya. 🙂

  55. Penny says:

    So, here is what we did when we had raccoon issues. A neighbor, who has chickens, told us to play talk radio, meaning, a radio station that only has talk sessions, no music. Evidently, raccoons don’t like the human voice and won’t enter the area. Before we tried this raccoons came up on our deck and dug in our big flower pots pulling out plants and dirt. They also would snake their little arms up into the storage area under our gas grill and make a mess. Not to mention the little “nightly gifts” they would leave us. Since we play talk radio the problem is solved. You need to get an analog radio and plug it into a timer with dusk/dawn settings. Since we have done this we have had no issues with raccoons. Of course, there is no telling how decerning your chickens are and if they will accept someone talking all night. Will you get your morning egg production? Who knows?

  56. LazySusan says:

    Pay the $130 and get the full system that allows you to monitor it remotely. The peace of mind you’ll get from that remote monitoring, on the nights you’re not home (snipe hunting, no doubt), will make up for the additional cost in spades in just a few month’s time.

  57. Kim says:

    Hi Karen,
    As usual I know nothing about electronics or technology. However, it chills my heart to think of poor Cuddles being mauled by a hungry raccoon after all he has survived so I do have a suggestion for you. GET A DOG!

    My Dad used Australian blue heelers to protect his girls. They’re fantastic dogs! Very loyal and protective. They took down anything that dared enter the property including several coyotes. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Cattle_Dog)

    Even his little 10 lb terrier house-dog could take down an armadillo like it was nothing. I don’t think she has ever forgiven me for adopting her after his death and bringing her to the city where she is limited to using her expertise to annihilate the occasional water bug or cockroach that comes onto the patio.

    I know you have kitty babies so you may not be a dog person. In that event, I suggest getting more “barn cats”. It would be a win-win. They keep the rodent issue resolved and you have a logical explanation for anyone who calls you the crazy cat and chicken lady 🙂

    This is a link to a website for chicken owners to discuss issues in a forum. I hope it helps. Take care, Kim

    http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/22037/which-dog-breed-is-best-to-protect-chickens

  58. JGL says:

    Do you happen to know what the remote transmits using? RF? Wifi? Bluetooth?

  59. Nancy says:

    I agree with Edith. Just close the whole thing in. Very safe. No muss, no fuss. I feel sure that you can make it look great. And I didn’t even notice butt photos?

  60. Terri says:

    I would strongly suggest enclosing the run’s roof, no matter what you end up doing with the door. Our California raccoons would be over it in a heartbeat, within a week of the automatic door going into operation They scale our house regularly to get into the backyard and make a mess of the birdbath with their purloined fruit. They’re not afraid to lose a little sleep for a sure meal, either…say stay up a little later in the morning – or to wake up a little earlier in the evening. Or just flipping go without sleep – I’ve actually seen one show up at noon(!) this summer when I was trying to lure our house cat back with food (gotten out to go on a wild spree…sort of on a feline Rumspringer. Fortunately, he got it out of his system and deigned to come back in after a couple of weeks, luckily before joining the ‘coons or the coyotes or the local bobcat, for um, dinner, ahem). Anyway, I had to keep putting the food out at different times of the day, trying to avoid feeding the masked bandits, instead. If California raccoons are that wily and the 100th monkey syndrome holds true, it’s only a matter of time before the Canadian raccoons get word through the wildlife internets…Good luck with it all!

    • IRS says:

      You’re assuming that our ‘coons are the “slow cousins” to your hoity toity American ‘coons? Hmmmmph! I have to defend their honour here. 😀 Yours have it easy, what with your gorgeous, warm California weather. Our ‘coons not only have to master the art of ripping open trash cans and compost bins, pooping on lawn chairs and in bird baths, and getting into chicken runs (the raccoon equivalent of the deli counter), but when winter comes, and it’s cold enough to freeze a rat’s arsehole, they have to learn how to break into our houses through the roof vents. Yours can lounge right through a Cali winter, while ours are busy tearing up attic insulation, pooping in every nook and cranny, and having wild orgies at 3:00 AM while we are trying to sleep a few feet below.

      • Terri says:

        Not underestimating them – in fact, the complete opposite! Was trying to say is, I don’t think it’s going to take the Canadian ‘coons much time at all to figure out any new system! Smart little rascals. P.S. In their defense (I can hardly believe I’m defending the bandits!) while our California raccoons often may have had an easier time of it in some ways (though we do get snow and freezing temps in our mountains and foothills where we live – at least in good years, just not as prolonged as up north), its not been an easy life for them in our current drought and wildfire situations . They’ve had to get even more pro-active, competing for what little resources are still available. Unfortunately, in out area, those resources seem to be located largely around my fruit trees and kitchen garden 0~0

        • IRS says:

          Very true, Terri. Your awful drought is a challenge for every living thing in your area. We Canadians are blessed with an abundance of everything, and the ‘coons are smart enough to get their share of it. I think the upshot of this whole comment section is that it boils down to those who are suggesting technical solutions to Karen’s problem, versus those of us who know the limitless potential of a raccoon to cause mayhem, and who suggest building a Supermax prison for the chickens. And while I hold a PhD in procrastination, I cannot believe the amount of tine I have spent in this particular comment section, all in the pursuit of avoiding working. I’m good!

  61. Terri says:

    Oops – meant ‘Rumspringa.’ My apologies to any Amish folks reading this on their own spring break.
    Also, do you not have hawks, up there? Growing up, we always had chickens and though, fortunately, we didn’t have a raccoon issue at my childhood home (not near enough water sources, I think), we DID have plenty of hawks, so that was the main reason we had our chicken run totally enclosed.

    • Karen says:

      There are a TON of hawks here Terri, but the coop is in such a narrow and small space (with bits of rose bush hanging over etc.) that hawks won’t try to swoop down. ~ karen!

  62. CG says:

    I agree with the people saying “figure out a way to automatically push the remote button”. That, or figuring out what type of light the remote emits and getting THAT on a timer. If that’s not something you feel willing to do, then it sounds like spending $130 is in your future.

  63. SusanO says:

    I haven’t read all the posts but shouldn’t that styrofoam be removed in the last picture?

    • Karen says:

      The styrofoam is actually meant to be there SusanO. It allows for a bit of cushion and wiggle room when the magnetic lock closes. ~ karen!

  64. Joslynne says:

    http://theartofsimple.us9.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=90ec68c37f41a2b5f37b27e8e&id=6b28482800&e=53f1062868

    I really don’t have any idea about all the logistics of this story…but just today at another blog, I got a story about garage door openers and I thought…Wow, what a coincidence…check out this link if you think it might be helpful!!

  65. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    If we had read the papers that came with this opener to begin with..we would have known that it was not going to do all that we wanted it to do…Then we could have sent it back to our BFF Amazon without going through the work of installing it and then reading the papers and then un-installing it…huh…I do know a bit about raccoons but obviously not as much as some people know so I just best hush my mouth bout that too…huh…My best advise would be that we just put out the $130 extra and then we will have something that we really want that works how we really want it to and then we can stand back and do the happy dance and make a video of that please as I do enjoy your videos no matter what they are about…I shall be waiting to see what you decided to do..

  66. Milton says:

    Karen, you have such creative readers. Reading the guard dog suggestion made me think we’ve used an X10 Robo-Dog alarm which simulates a vicious German Shepard that has probably scared away a few intruders in the past from our back garden shed. In checking I find it is apparently no longer available. Amazon does list another similar barking dog alarm which seems to be pretty highly rated with 349 reviews. Other than disturbing your girls’ sleep when an intruder came by, this could be a good substitute for a dog or talk radio which would also give you the satisfaction of knowing you were giving the intruder a scare.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002XITC5G/ref=s9_hps_bw_g60_i1

  67. janpartist says:

    What you really seem to need is a raccoon zapper. Not a raccoon killer just a zapper. And, should the said raccoon be somewhat damp it would be possible to have it be a raccoon killer. In which case there is stew.

  68. Cindy M says:

    All I can think of is to run a couple of electrical wires around the outside of the coop at raccoon heights. You can turn it on and off at will. But….if a chicken can’t sleep one night and gets up to have a smoke outside…hopefully it will not feel the need to stick it’s beak outside the coop. But it doesn’t solve the problem at the 6am trips out there to open the door. Never mind…
    Now I have a visual of a smoking chicken.

  69. Vanessa says:

    The extent of what I came up with is “put it on a timer” which you have implied won’t work. There’s really no way to just have it on, and then the timer clicks on and the door shuts? what about duct tape? Tape the button down on the clicker? Could work…maybe.
    All I know is I have my electric curlers plugged into a timer, and it works awesome! By the time I get out of bed they are hot. And I also have it shut them off…cause I always forget.

  70. Mindy says:

    Clearly you just need to keep your galavanting ass at home. Spend the $130 on booze and chocolate.

  71. Mikki Anderson says:

    Have you considered doing an inset door in door and just using auto coop door opener?
    1. The girls no longer have to wait on you to let them out;
    2. You still easy have access for eggs/cleaning;
    3. Racoons are screwed cuz the coop door openers are great at keeping those little bastards out;
    4. You save money since the coop opener is way cheaper and actually works. I use the 98.00 one on Amazon works GREAT.

    It’s a win/win for almost everyone, the racoons are still screwed but that was kinda the point.

  72. Suzanne says:

    Could you plug it into a timer for outdoor Christmas lights?

    • Karen says:

      Ah, if it were only that easy 🙂 No. Because of the mechanics of it and the way it operates, just using a regular timer won’t work sadly. ~ karen!

  73. Jenn says:

    Return that thing. Put a pop door in the human door. Use the curtain motor style motor (also available on Amazon: search Add-A-Motor Chicken Coop Automatic Motor), with either a timer or a WeMo plug. Point a security camera at the coop so you can ensure the door is shut from your phone. My coop is close to our house like yours and I open and close the coop as a dang party trick! I also work out of town during the week and this is the only way I can get a good night’s sleep without worrying about the little girls. Also, on cold days, I can wait until it warms up to let them out into the yard.

    You can actually get a aluminum U channel that you can cut with a hacksaw at the hardware store and you can drill into it with your regular drill bits and your own lady-arms.
    Make SURE that your pop door goes at least an inch below the bottom ledge of the door frame so the little raccoon fingers can’t reach down and lift the door.

    Your only concern is going to be weatherproofing the motor, but it’s small enough, you can modify a half gallon jug and easily protect it.

    If you want to see pictures of my coop, door, and it’s free WiFi setup, let me know! I did it all in an afternoon, and it’s been working great for three years now. Also, I’m not sure I’d trust a magnet to be strong enough that a raccoon can’t open it. Apparently if a toddler can open it, then a raccoon can.
    Good luck!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Jenn. When I built my chicken coop I actually used rare earth magnets for all the doors. I can barely open them let alone a raccoon! They’re unreasonably strong, lol. So the magnet isn’t a problem. Also since it took me 3 months to build the coop by myself and have it look nice outside of my dining room window I don’t want to hack something together as a door opener and be staring at it. I’m looking into a galvanized coop door (pop door) with a solar sensor that works off of a battery. It’s half decent to look at … I just have to figure out where to install it. It can be used vertically or horizontally which is a plus for me! ~ karen

      • Katie sweeney says:

        Hey Karen! I’d be interested to hear what you ended up doing! This is the EXACT dilemma I (and I imagine most urban chicken owners) deal with. Sometimes I’m like “chug that beer, it’s getting dark!!” or I call the neighbor in a panic at times. We built your coop almost 2 years ago so I’m anxious to see what works for you! xoxo

  74. MARILYN JOHNSON says:

    The above is why there is very little automation in the world of common folks. They require specific technicans and lots of money.

  75. I started reading through the comments but they get squished on my phone so I got lost around comment 50 or so.

    I would love an update on this project and what you decided to do. I recently turned a child’s playhouse into a chicken coop and would really like a timer run swing door opener. I almost bought the skylinK one you have and then realized I didn’t see a way to connect it to a timer. In doing research on how to make a swing door opener with a timer, I found your blog post.

    All that to say – please tell me what you decided to do. My chickens and I thank you in advance.

  76. Megan says:

    Ummmmm, not sure if the problem has been solved yet, but, how about plugging the “unit” into a timer, since it operates when the power is off you can interrupt the current there instead of with the remote.

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