The raccoons become active after dark though and thats when the chickens are most vulnerable. Lately it's becoming a bit of a pain to make sure someone is home right at dusk. We've had our friendly neighbors close the door on more than one occasion. So that got me to thinking of a solution to the problem. One solution which crossed our minds is to get rid of them, but then all the work of building them a home would be for nothing. Besides, we like the chickens, and it doesn't seem right to get rid of scar face after he's come back from such dismal odds (he's back to crowing even!). So I got the idea of an automatic door. Right now I open and close the walk-through door each day, but there's always stuff in the way of the door that requires a sweep of the foot. Luckily the walk through door has a dog door already installed.
A buddy of mine at work loves this kind of stuff so I posed the problem to him. At first we were thinking a rack and pinion type setup with a gear driving a rack of teath to open the door. The current plan is to use a long threaded rod in a screw-driven type fashion. The diagram here (minus the homer head) was the result of a quick brain-storming session. There have since been many revisions to the drawing (such as the fact that the bolt is currently in the way of the door). The door will probably be built using drawer slides. A nut will be welded on a bracket that can be attached to the door. The threaded rod will spin in the nut raising it up and down.
The difficulty lies in the electronics really. The specs are as follows:
- I want the door to close and open on a timer (open at dawn, close at dusk)
- The motor needs to stop running when the door is fully open or fully closed
- The door must be secure when shut, gravity holding the door down isn't enough to keep a raccoon out.
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