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Author Topic: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer  (Read 27118 times)

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hillfooter

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2010, 22:11 »
Just for Woverine Forsham Cottage arks have developed an autoomatic door opener / closer which will cope with ramps and sideways opening doors.  There's two models depending on travel required the bad news is they cost £180 or £200 depending on the model. :(  http://www.forshamcottagearks.com/gadgets-and-gizmos/pullit.htm

I'll be posting the 3rd installment of this project soon.  It's written but I want to illustrate it with some photos which I'm yet to take but hopefully in the next few days if I can also enrol on photobucket.  Something I've been resisting todate.

Also on the Forsham site is a useful article on winter preparations.

HF
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hillfooter

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2010, 05:05 »
Part 3 -  Assembling the Electrical Controller

In this part we’re going to start the construction so things should be a little less technical and heavy once we start to put things together so get your screw drivers and wire cutters at the ready.  We’re going to start with the electrical controller which is pretty easy.  We’re going to just lash the bits together first in order to check things are working before we deploy them permanently.  This will help to pull things into focus and give you a pretty good feel for how the final system will work.

We’re going to need the parts we identified in Part 2a.  Two 12Vdc PSUs, the programmable timer and terminal blocks and in order to test it works we will need the aerial.  A mains flying socket lead will be useful too so we aren’t struggling about on the floor trying to use a wall double socket.  Find yourself a table or bench top where you can work undisturbed and layout the parts at a convenient working height.

I actually bought one of the “rat in a snake” supplies from badger2606 on ebay  http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110592077489
and I’d recommend you do to especially if you don’t want to have to use a multimeter  to check the polarity of the dc output.  This comes with ready stripped leads with the polarity identified and although it costs a little more it’s a good quality PSU fully protected with bags of power.  Get two.  Badger says it doesn’t have a mains plug fitted but the one I got actually had a European mains plug fitted so if you get this you can either cut it off and fit a UK mains plug, or use a euro to uk adaptor, or substitute a lead with an IEC plug one end (like on an electric kettle) and a UK plug on the other.  I have a box full of old mains leads so I was able to find one to use.  If you want to fit a UK plug there’s lots of web sites which will show you how, just google “how to fit a UK mains plug“ for a list of links.

  

If you don’t use one of these PSUs but have a plug top one it will be terminated in a tubular type of connector which you will need to cut off.  Obviously don’t power the unit up while you are stripping wire as you don’t want to risk damaging the electronics.  Leave about 10cms of cable still attached to the plug if you think you might want to reuse it in the future but it’s not needed for this project.  The dc lead from the PSU will likely be twin insulated wires laid up as a figure of 8 cable.  Split the two wires out into Y tails about 15cms long and cut one about 5cms shorter than the other as a precaution against them shorting together once the insulation is stripped.  Strip 2cms of insulation from each lead.  To strip insulation you can either use the wire cutters with the back towards the direction you are going to pull the insulation off.  Holding the wire in one hand and the cutters in the other carefully nick the insulation with the cutters, so as not to cut the wire just the insulation, pull the snips away with the stripped insulation leaving the bare wire.  A little practice might be needed to pull off the insulation cleanly without damaging the wire.  Another method is to nick the insulation with a craft knife and bend the wire sharply on the nick to get the insulation to split.  It will then be easier to pull off with you r finger nail or the back of the snips.  If the cable isn’t a twin figure of 8 but a round cable you will first need to strip the outer overall insulation and you should then find two wires underneath which you will need to strip as above.  Alternatively if it is a round cable you may find that it is laid up with a central conductor and an overall thin wire screen (like a coaxial cable).   If so separate the wire screen conductors from the central insulated wire and twist them tightly together so you form two wires.  Strip the end of the central wire which should be the +positive lead and the overall screen the –negative.

Cut off a 5 terminal strip of terminals.  The wire will be stranded so twist each of the two stripped stranded wires tightly (it maybe better to double the cut wire first if the strands are very thin so the screw bites better) and insert each wire in opposite outer most  terminals of the strip and tighten the screw to secure.   Plug in the PSU to a power socket and turn on the power.


  
Setup the Multimeter with the red probe in the red V voltage terminal and the black probe in the OV or COM terminal and the rotary switch set to 20V in the Vdc section of the dial (maybe marked V with a straight line above it).  Switch on the MM and the LCD screen should show approx 00.0V.  Probe down on the two wires in the terminal block (you can make connection on the terminal screws).  The LCD should show 12.00 to 15.00V or thereabouts.  If the display shows minus 12 ie -12.00 reverse the probes so the minus sign is no longer displayed.  The wire connected to the RED probe will be the +positive terminal and that connected to the black the –negative terminal.  Mark the +positive wire with red PVC tape or a freezer label, or similar.  Do this for both power supplies marking the polarity of the wires.  If you are unsure how to use a multimeter there are several instruction videos on facebook and the like, just google “how to use a multimeter” for a list.  If you still don’t feel competent to do this ask a friendly electrician to do this for you.  If you take it into him he shouldn’t charge you much if anything to do this.





We are now going to connect the aerial and test it extends and retracts properly.  Power down the PSU’s and taking the –negative wires from both PSU’s twist them together and insert in one end of the 5 way terminal strip and secure the screw.  If the PSU’s are different current ratings take the higher one and screw its +positive wire into the opposite end of the 5 way terminal strip.  Screw the remaining +positive wire from the other PSU into the centre terminal of the strip.


  
Examine the aerial cable it should consist of three wires, two of which will be for the +positive and –negative of the 12V supply and the other should be the up/down signal wire.  Check the aerial instructions to check which colour is which wire.  It will be something like brown (or red) for the +positive, black (or blue) for the negative and white (or yellow) for the signal. If the wires have crimped on bullet terminals,  ring or spade  terminals cut them off and strip the wires as for the PSUs.   Screw the +positive wire into the end +positive screw terminal on the 5way strip and the -negative into the –negative screw terminal.  Leave the signal wire unconnected.   Check the connections before turning on the PSUs .  Turn on the power the aerial should remain retracted.   Touch and hold the Signal wire on the central +positive terminal screw head and it should extend.  Hold it so that it is pointing away from you and extends freely without hitting anything.  When it reaches the top of its travel you may hear a number of clicks which is the clutch slipping before it switches off the motor.  Removing the signal wire (open circuiting it) or connecting it to the common –negative terminal  should cause the aerial to retract.  At both extremes of travel the aerial should switch off the motor drive, possibly after several clicks of the clutch.  Repeat a couple of times to ensure it extends and retracts reliably.

Assuming that went ok we are now ready to deploy the components into their final locations.  The only difference between the test set up and the final deployment is that the signal PSU will be plugged into a programmable timer to operate the door at the required times.  Programme the timer so the ON time is set for the door closing time, I suggest 30mins after dusk, and the OFF time at the time you want it to open in the morning.  Make sure if it’s a 7 day timer you select the everyday setting.  Also you need to set up the initial phasing so it starts from either open (OFF), or closed (ON), as you wish.  Usually if it’s a digital timer there’s a manual auto button which when pressed repeatedly cycles through -  On - Auto – Off - Auto.  If you want to start it with the door open cycle it to Off then press one more time to Auto, or if you want to start it with the door closed, cycle it to On and press once more to Auto.
  
It’s a good idea to set up a second programme which closes the door for a minute (whatever is the smallest period settable) say 2 or 3 mins before you want to permanently close it for the night.  This way the chickens are warned the door is closing and if they miss it or are unfortunate enough to get their tails trapped they get a second chance or are quickly released before the door closes finally for the night.  They soon get to know the procedure.  The door moves quite slowly typically taking around 8 seconds to close and 10secs to open for a three loop pulley and 2/3rds of this for a double loop system so the chances of being trapped are remote and it's never happened to mine.   You’d need a very slow chicken or a very dumb one to be trapped.  If you set the closing too close to sun down you could lock them out though so you might have to exeriment inutially with the optimum delay.

We won’t of course be locating the aerial close to the controller so we will be extending the three wires (+positive & -negative supply and signal) from the controller terminal strip using a twin and earth mains lighting type cable with a terminal strip each end.   Also I’d recommend mounting the terminal strip at the controller end on a small board (a short length of floor board is ideal) in which we would drill a hole to mount it on a nail in the wall of the garage or shed. The PSU components would be mounted or put out of the way as best fits the location.

See the photos.

In the final post we’ll cover the actuator installation on the house.

HF
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 12:28 by hillfooter »

joyfull

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2010, 08:01 »
thanks HF very indepth as per usual, however I would like to point out you never lash things together -

We’re going to just lash the bits together first in order to check things are working before we deploy them permanently.  This will help to pull things into focus and give you a pretty good feel for how the final system will work.

perhaps the term should be we're going to have a dry run and join the bits together ......

 :) xx

« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 08:02 by joyfull »
Staffies are softer than you think.

hillfooter

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2010, 00:50 »
Sorry it's been a long time coming but I wanted to include some photos for ease of description and my camera has been playing up.  In fact I 've just bought a new one though I took the ones in the post with the old canon in it's working moments!

I was hoping to finish teh description in this post but as it's so long I'll cover final wiring and testing in section 6 in a further post.

Part 4 (a) Pop hole opener

In this part we’re going to cover fitting the aerial actuator and pulley system to the house which is going to need some basic woodworking skills, sawing and drilling. I’m going to describe how to fit this to a small ark type house like the Forsham Lenham.  It can be fitted to any house with a vertically dropping pophole though you may need to adapt the design to suit.  If you have a shed type of house without a vertical pophole you can buy a ready made door assembly on ebay

(http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Aardvark-joinery  

or http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Poultry-house-door-pop-hole-sliding-let-hatching-eggs-/260682765212?pt=UK_Pet_Supplies_Poultry&hash=item3cb1e7539c

are two such) which is easy to fit but here I’ll just describe fitting it to a Lenham and add a few ideas in my final post about dealing with adapting it to other house designs.
 In order to work safely and effectively it will be best to have some way of clamping the work pieces such as a bench and vice or a portable vice or if not available a G clamp.  
The tools you are going to need are an electric drill (battery operated preferably) with a 3mm drill bit and a 22mm and 32mm flat bit.  A Tenon or small cross saw , a no 2 pozidrive screw driver, a pair of bull nosed pliers and a pair of mole grips would be useful too.  We’re going to need some screws of various lengths depending on the wood sections we’ll be using but probably 25mm 8guage, 35mm 10 guage, 70mm 10guage would be a good selection.  A screw eyelet for fixing the cord to the door and a small spring washer and split ring for fixing the cord to the antenna.  The parts we will have to make are a clamp to hold the aerial, a couple of supports for the waste pipe.

Before you start you need to ensure the door drops freely under gravity without sticking.  If not you will need to remove it by unscrewing the runner guides and trimming the guides and door edges on which the door runs so that it runs smoothly.  If the door is wet, dry it first and give it a coat of water repellent paint such as Cuprinol Timbercare preservative.  Rub the running edges with a wax candle before refitting it to reduce friction.

Aerial Clamp

The aerial is fitted to the rear wall (opposite end to the pophole) and the antenna extends in the 32mm tube which runs under the roof ridge.
  
The aerial is held by a clamp we will make.
To make the clamp we will need a block of wood of approx 100mm square by a 50 – 70mm thick.  The diameter of the aerial tube I used was 22mm so assuming yours is the same, drill a 22mm diameter hole through the wood as accurately at right angles as possible, as shown in the below diagram.  Saw through the hole to form a two piece clamp.  Drill two clearance holes in the body of the clamp for fixing it to the house wall  and drill two clearance holes in the top part of the clamp to take the two clamping screws, as shown.
  

clamp diagram

Here’s an alternative clamp you may find easier to make as there’s very little woodwork to do.  A block of wood with the metal strap usually provided with the aerial formed round a round metal tube (such as a copper water pipe) as a former.  Don’t use the aerial tube itself as a former as it’s aluminium and easily deformed.  Put a rubber cushion such as a small section of bicycle inner tube round the aerial tube to protect it in both designs.

alternative clamp

Aerial Support Tube fixing

The antenna will extend inside the plastic waste pipe which is fixed under the roof eaves inside the house.  It will be supported by resting on two support brackets also made from a small block of wood as shown below. Note the notch cut in the bracket needs to be a snug fit for the pipe outer diameter (marked as 35mm on the diagram but adjust to suit the pipe you have)


tube support


Attaching the cord to the Antenna

Next attach the cord to the antenna which is best done with the mast slightly extended which you can do as follows.  Twist the aerial copper conductors of the positive (12V) and up/down signal wires together .  Ensuring the leads from the PSU are separated from one another (use the terminal strip to ensure this if necessary) power up the PSU and touch the aerial (brown or red) positive 12V (and signal) wire to the positive PSU wire and the negative aerial wire OV (black) to the negative PSU wire momentary so the antenna raises 20cms or so.  Quickly remove one of the connections when the antenna is raised enough to allow you to get at the top section.  The antenna will stay at the length extended when the power is removed.
The best way I found to attach the cord is to use a spring anti-shake (split) washer that is of a diameter which allows the antenna top section to run through it but not the button on top of the mast.  Open the washer up by twisting the ends apart using a couple of pairs of pliers (a small mole grip is useful to hold one end securely and use a pair of pliers on the other end).  Attach a small split ring the sort you get on key rings through the washer and close up the gap with the pliers.  Tie the cord to the split pin and you are ready to fit the bits to the house.  Here’s a photo of Henrietta the helpful hen showing you what the attached cord looks like.

cord connection to antenna

Fitting the Aerial and tube to the house

Now using a flat drill bit, drill a 32mm or similar large hole in the house end walls, big enough to allow the aerial tube with its chrome nut to pass through.  The hole needs to be as high up on the eaves as possible to allow maximum door elevation while still allowing enough room to fit the clamp and tube inside the house.  Henrietta the helpful hen is showing you the correct position to drill the holes in the photos below.  The holes need to be in the same position on the front and rear walls so they are aligned as the tubing will connect them.
 



Next measure accurately the distance between the holes under the eaves and allowing 4mm or so for clearance cut the tubing to this length.  Now fix the two tubing support brackets in place inside the house underneath the holes using a couple of wood screws of suitable length, so that when the tubing is placed on the brackets the holes are roughly central on the inner bore of the tube.  Fit the tube in place.
Fit the lower part of the clamp on the outside rear wall of the house using longer screws which will extend through the wall and bite into the bracket support for added strength.  Again ensure that this is positioned so that when the aerial is fitted the antenna runs centrally through the tube.

We are now ready to thread the cord and fit the aerial clamp.  Using a thin garden cane insert it through the front of the house through the tube so it protrudes through the back wall.  Using sellotape or similar, tape the end of the pull cord to the cane and pull it through the tube out the front.   A second pair of hands are now useful to feed the aerial into the tube at the rear while the cord is pulled through the front.   Insert the aerial as far as it will go so that the clamp can be fitted around the tube.  Fit the upper part of the clamp and tighten down the screws but not too much that the tube is deformed (use the rubber to protect it).  If you have difficulty engaging the clamp screws because of the roof overhang unscrew the lower part of the clamp and fix to the aerial tube first and then screw it back on the rear wall.

Fitting the door pulleys

We can now fit the front pophole door pulleys and attach the cord to the door.  
It’s important to ensure that there is enough clearance between the pulleys to allow a lift which gives an opening of 250 to 300mm or so for the chickens to enter and leave easily.  This is why you need to mount the tube as high under the eaves as practical.  You can position the bottom pulley part way down the door so that it doesn’t constrain this distance too much.  If the aerial has more extention than is needed that’s ok as long as it doesn’t protrude through the front of the house.  Excess movement can be taken up by allowing the cord to go slack at the full extension of the antenna.  It’s important that that the top and bottom pulley are vertically aligned to give a nice straight pull and fall to prevent the door jamming.  Chocking the house legs with wedges  so the door is reasonably level and the pophole vertical maybe necessary if on unlevel ground like my houses are.   You should make your pulley mounting blocks of suitable dimensions so the top pulley is spaced off the  house wall and directly vertically above the bottom pulley see the diagrams and photos.




Mount the double pulley on the house above the single pulley which is mounted on the door.



Thread the cord so it passes over the left side top pulley wheel and passes down the front of the lower pulley and the goes under the lower pulley wheel and returns up the back to the right hand side upper pulley wheel.  Over this wheel to the front and down to the door where it is tied to an eyelet ring screwed into the door besides the lower pulley . see photos and diagram.



Don’t worry about adjusting the cord length we’ll do that once we’re completed the wiring as a last task when we test the set up.
In the next post we’ll cover completing the wiring and testing.

Best wishes
HF


« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 01:41 by hillfooter »

hillfooter

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2010, 01:38 »
Part 5   Wiring the Aerial electrical connections panel and the cable to the Controller.

 In this part we’ll cover the final wiring up and testing.
First we need to wire up the aerial to a connection panel of some sort and I suggest that this should best be done using a small wooden panel such as an off-cut from a floorboard or similar.  I used a Perspex panel which I happened to have.  I used three small M8 bolts for the terminals and connected these as follows.  Reading from left to right,
 


1.   the +ve 12V wire to the aerial (usually brown or red),  marked +12V DOWN in photo
2.   not connected, used for connecting the cable up/down wire and clipping the signal from the aerial to using a croc clip. Marked AUTO in photo
3.   the –ve wire from the aerial (usually black or blue cut off the ring tag if necessary), marked 0V UP in photo



Terminate the up/down control wire from the aerial (usually white) with a crocodile clip and leave hanging for the moment.

Rather than using bolts on the terminal plate as I have done you can use a terminal strip but you need to physically separate the terminals so there no danger of shorting them with the croc clip.  If you do use terminal strips connect a 5cm or so loop of bare copper wire protruding from each terminal to allow the croc clip to be clipped to that terminal.
We can now connect the controller to the aerial terminal plate.
You should have the controller assembled and installed in a dry indoors/ outhouse location with the three wires +ve 12V power, -ve 0V power and Up/down control signal fixed in the terminal block. Don’t power it up yet and for initial testing don’t use the timer as we will simulate this by manually turning the signal PSU on and off.  Have both PSU’s plugged into a double socket but switched off.
Using a three core cable (mains lighting twin and earth cable is ideal) wire the corresponding terminals on the controller terminal strip to those on the aerial terminal plate.  See wiring diagram.



(NOTE we are only using wire which is intended for mains use we are NOT connecting to the mains.  Just thought I’d make that doubly clear!).  So now you should have the brown cable wire joining the +ve terminals and the blue cable wire connecting the –ve terminals and the bare copper wire connecting the up/down control signal to the centre AUTO terminal on the aerial terminal plate.  Double check these connections.

Testing that the antenna extends and retracts smoothly.
 
It’s best to have two people, one at the controller and one at the house to do this.
1.   At the controller turn on the power PSU (ie the one powering the +ve –ve wires) and leave the signal one off for the time being.)
2.   At the house check that the antenna extends fully.  If it doesn’t check you have the signal wire croc clip connected to the +VE DOWN terminal and double check your wiring.
3.   Now check the antenna retracts fully by unclipping the croc clip from the +ve terminal and clipping it to the –ve UP terminal. (Note as soon as you disconnect the croc clip the antenna will probably retract without needing to clip it to the –ve terminal as disconnecting the croc clip removes the power from the up/down signal.)
4.   Now we will check the AUTO operation.  At the controller turn on the signal PSU leaving the power one still switched on.  At the house clip the croc clip to the AUTO terminal.  Switching the signal PSU on and off should respectively extend and retract the antenna.  If it doesn’t check the wiring of the signal PSU.
5.   We now need to adjust the pull cord to the correct length.  Manually extend the antenna by clipping to the down terminal.  Pull out any excess slack cord through the pulleys to slightly tension it.  Tie the cord to the ring on the door so the door is just at the bottom of the travel you want in the closed position.  Now raise the door manually by clipping top the –ve UP terminal.  Check there’s enough head room for the birds to go in and out and that the door doesn’t foul against top pulley.  You might need to iterate this to get the best cord length.  Note it’s best to slightly have the cord in tension at the door closed position to avoid slack cord coming off the pulley wheels and trapping between a wheel and its cage.
6.   Now programme the timer according to its instructions.  If you have a digital timer I suggest you set two programmes.  The first should be ON when you want to close the door at night and OFF when you want to open it in the morning.  The second is just an added safety feature to untrap any chicken unfortunate enough to get trapped by the door closing.  It’s never happened with me so this is just optional but it’s not a bad idea.  This second one should come ON one minute after the first goes OFF and go OFF just one minute later.  This ensures any chicken trapped is released after a minute worst case.    Having set the timer, introduce it to the circuit to control the powering of the signal PSU.

Note to correctly phase the timer when you finally put it into operation some need to be set to the auto setting from the correct ON or OFF phase.  For example if it is set during the day when you want the door open ensure it is first set manually to OFF before setting AUTO on the timer or vice versa.

Congratulations you are now done.  Just dress the cable neatly out of the way so you’re not tripping over it by clipping it to a fence or running it over head on plant stakes.   Check it works as you expect the first couple of times and you can then enjoy a lie in and leave it to operate on its own.  If you need to operate the door manually when cleaning foe example you can move the croc clip to the appropriate OPEN or SHUT terminal.

If you have a 12V electric fence energiser you can power it from the +ve and –ve PSU wires. Run extra cable or put an intermediary terminal strip along the cable run at a convenient point to tap off these connections.

The design so far described doesn’t lock the door in the shut state but to prevent a fox lifting the door a simple mechanical shield can be made at the bottom of the door so it drops into an open slot which prevents a fox getting its nose under the door bottom to lift it and a similar arrangement can be put round the top pulley to prevent it being used as a ‘handle’ to raise the door.  A final post will cover variants and a more positive locking arrangement which can be simply made to prevent a fox lifting the door.

To prevent driving snow from freezing on the door and preventing its smooth operation it is best to arrange some shelter by adding a covered “porch” over the door.  Also always position the door pointing away from the prevailing weather to give as much shelter as possible.

You can add a simple flag to the door so it's easy to tell from a distance whether the door is open or closed. Here Polly the parrot flies when the door is open and roosts when shut.  Similarly a bicycle reflector can be used to tell in the dark from a distance with a torch.





Best wishes
HF
« Last Edit: November 20, 2010, 01:48 by hillfooter »

joyfull

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2010, 13:42 »
thanks HF for taking the time to do this  :)

billathome65

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2011, 14:37 »
Was asking about an inexpensive system and this answers it to a T The coop im getting has a hinge door but easy enough to convert. We got a scrap yard near us so picking up an electric arial and wiring is not an issue.

Do you have more info on how this wiring is done





As this aint to clear to read



What is the box thing under the Arial motor with the yellow wire going in As I see it is coming out the back of the coop? 


The best way to learn to do something is to do something.

hillfooter

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2011, 18:47 »
Was asking about an inexpensive system and this answers it to a T The coop im getting has a hinge door but easy enough to convert. We got a scrap yard near us so picking up an electric arial and wiring is not an issue.

Do you have more info on how this wiring is done





As this aint to clear to read



What is the box thing under the Arial motor with the yellow wire going in As I see it is coming out the back of the coop?  I assume your are refering to the wiring diagram.  The "box" is just the terminal plate or the perspex panel in the photos.  The yellow wire is the UP/DOWN signal wire which goes to the aerial this is actually a white wire in the photos.  Basically the motor should have three wires +12V brown in the photos, Ov blue in the photos, and the UP/DOWN wire white.  With the +12V & OV applied to the brown & blue wires,  applying +12V on the white wire will raise the antenna and disconnecting or applying 0V will lower the antenna.


Glad you are finding this useful.  If you are getting a second hand aerial make sure it's a three wire type where two wires are the battery supply wires (+12V), and the 3rd wire is the UP/DOWN signal.  There are also older aerials which are operated via a changeover switch (or relay) which are a little more complex to use though still possible though to simplify things I haven't included how.

If you have any more questions it might be best to PM me if you are able so it doesn't depend on me seeing your post to respond.

I have three houses using this design and a fourth using an electronic light switch in a field which is battery powered.   They have performed without a hitch over the freezing weather in ice and snow with only one door failing to open one morning when some frozen droppings kept it shut. Once I cleaned this off and cleared a ledge below the door where it had lodged it hasn't happened again.  However it's advisible to protect the pulleys from snow using plastic sheeting or an entrance porch shelter to prevent driving snow packing round the pulleys.

Best wishes
HF
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 18:49 by hillfooter »

Maria M

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Re: How to make a simple automatic pophole opener/closer
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2013, 12:04 »
Part 3 -  Assembling the Electrical Controller

In this part we’re going to start the construction so things should be a little less technical and heavy once we start to put things together so get your screw drivers and wire cutters at the ready.  We’re going to start with the electrical controller which is pretty easy.  We’re going to just lash the bits together first in order to check things are working before we deploy them permanently.  This will help to pull things into focus and give you a pretty good feel for how the final system will work.

We’re going to need the parts we identified in Part 2a.  Two 12Vdc PSUs, the programmable timer and terminal blocks and in order to test it works we will need the aerial.  A mains flying socket lead will be useful too so we aren’t struggling about on the floor trying to use a wall double socket.  Find yourself a table or bench top where you can work undisturbed and layout the parts at a convenient working height.

I actually bought one of the “rat in a snake” supplies from badger2606 on ebay  http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110592077489
and I’d recommend you do to especially if you don’t want to have to use a multimeter  to check the polarity of the dc output.  This comes with ready stripped leads with the polarity identified and although it costs a little more it’s a good quality PSU fully protected with bags of power.  Get two.  Badger says it doesn’t have a mains plug fitted but the one I got actually had a European mains plug fitted so if you get this you can either cut it off and fit a UK mains plug, or use a euro to uk adaptor, or substitute a lead with an IEC plug one end (like on an electric kettle) and a UK plug on the other.  I have a box full of old mains leads so I was able to find one to use.  If you want to fit a UK plug there’s lots of web sites which will show you how, just google “how to fit a UK mains plug“ for a list of links.

 

If you don’t use one of these PSUs but have a plug top one it will be terminated in a tubular type of connector which you will need to cut off.  Obviously don’t power the unit up while you are stripping wire as you don’t want to risk damaging the electronics.  Leave about 10cms of cable still attached to the plug if you think you might want to reuse it in the future but it’s not needed for this project.  The dc lead from the PSU will likely be twin insulated wires laid up as a figure of 8 cable.  Split the two wires out into Y tails about 15cms long and cut one about 5cms shorter than the other as a precaution against them shorting together once the insulation is stripped.  Strip 2cms of insulation from each lead.  To strip insulation you can either use the wire cutters with the back towards the direction you are going to pull the insulation off.  Holding the wire in one hand and the cutters in the other carefully nick the insulation with the cutters, so as not to cut the wire just the insulation, pull the snips away with the stripped insulation leaving the bare wire.  A little practice might be needed to pull off the insulation cleanly without damaging the wire.  Another method is to nick the insulation with a craft knife and bend the wire sharply on the nick to get the insulation to split.  It will then be easier to pull off with you r finger nail or the back of the snips.  If the cable isn’t a twin figure of 8 but a round cable you will first need to strip the outer overall insulation and you should then find two wires underneath which you will need to strip as above.  Alternatively if it is a round cable you may find that it is laid up with a central conductor and an overall thin wire screen (like a coaxial cable).   If so separate the wire screen conductors from the central insulated wire and twist them tightly together so you form two wires.  Strip the end of the central wire which should be the +positive lead and the overall screen the –negative.

Cut off a 5 terminal strip of terminals.  The wire will be stranded so twist each of the two stripped stranded wires tightly (it maybe better to double the cut wire first if the strands are very thin so the screw bites better) and insert each wire in opposite outer most  terminals of the strip and tighten the screw to secure.   Plug in the PSU to a power socket and turn on the power.


 
Setup the Multimeter with the red probe in the red V voltage terminal and the black probe in the OV or COM terminal and the rotary switch set to 20V in the Vdc section of the dial (maybe marked V with a straight line above it).  Switch on the MM and the LCD screen should show approx 00.0V.  Probe down on the two wires in the terminal block (you can make connection on the terminal screws).  The LCD should show 12.00 to 15.00V or thereabouts.  If the display shows minus 12 ie -12.00 reverse the probes so the minus sign is no longer displayed.  The wire connected to the RED probe will be the +positive terminal and that connected to the black the –negative terminal.  Mark the +positive wire with red PVC tape or a freezer label, or similar.  Do this for both power supplies marking the polarity of the wires.  If you are unsure how to use a multimeter there are several instruction videos on facebook and the like, just google “how to use a multimeter” for a list.  If you still don’t feel competent to do this ask a friendly electrician to do this for you.  If you take it into him he shouldn’t charge you much if anything to do this.





We are now going to connect the aerial and test it extends and retracts properly.  Power down the PSU’s and taking the –negative wires from both PSU’s twist them together and insert in one end of the 5 way terminal strip and secure the screw.  If the PSU’s are different current ratings take the higher one and screw its +positive wire into the opposite end of the 5 way terminal strip.  Screw the remaining +positive wire from the other PSU into the centre terminal of the strip.


 
Examine the aerial cable it should consist of three wires, two of which will be for the +positive and –negative of the 12V supply and the other should be the up/down signal wire.  Check the aerial instructions to check which colour is which wire.  It will be something like brown (or red) for the +positive, black (or blue) for the negative and white (or yellow) for the signal. If the wires have crimped on bullet terminals,  ring or spade  terminals cut them off and strip the wires as for the PSUs.   Screw the +positive wire into the end +positive screw terminal on the 5way strip and the -negative into the –negative screw terminal.  Leave the signal wire unconnected.   Check the connections before turning on the PSUs .  Turn on the power the aerial should remain retracted.   Touch and hold the Signal wire on the central +positive terminal screw head and it should extend.  Hold it so that it is pointing away from you and extends freely without hitting anything.  When it reaches the top of its travel you may hear a number of clicks which is the clutch slipping before it switches off the motor.  Removing the signal wire (open circuiting it) or connecting it to the common –negative terminal  should cause the aerial to retract.  At both extremes of travel the aerial should switch off the motor drive, possibly after several clicks of the clutch.  Repeat a couple of times to ensure it extends and retracts reliably.

Assuming that went ok we are now ready to deploy the components into their final locations.  The only difference between the test set up and the final deployment is that the signal PSU will be plugged into a programmable timer to operate the door at the required times.  Programme the timer so the ON time is set for the door closing time, I suggest 30mins after dusk, and the OFF time at the time you want it to open in the morning.  Make sure if it’s a 7 day timer you select the everyday setting.  Also you need to set up the initial phasing so it starts from either open (OFF), or closed (ON), as you wish.  Usually if it’s a digital timer there’s a manual auto button which when pressed repeatedly cycles through -  On - Auto – Off - Auto.  If you want to start it with the door open cycle it to Off then press one more time to Auto, or if you want to start it with the door closed, cycle it to On and press once more to Auto.
 
It’s a good idea to set up a second programme which closes the door for a minute (whatever is the smallest period settable) say 2 or 3 mins before you want to permanently close it for the night.  This way the chickens are warned the door is closing and if they miss it or are unfortunate enough to get their tails trapped they get a second chance or are quickly released before the door closes finally for the night.  They soon get to know the procedure.  The door moves quite slowly typically taking around 8 seconds to close and 10secs to open for a three loop pulley and 2/3rds of this for a double loop system so the chances of being trapped are remote and it's never happened to mine.   You’d need a very slow chicken or a very dumb one to be trapped.  If you set the closing too close to sun down you could lock them out though so you might have to exeriment inutially with the optimum delay.

We won’t of course be locating the aerial close to the controller so we will be extending the three wires (+positive & -negative supply and signal) from the controller terminal strip using a twin and earth mains lighting type cable with a terminal strip each end.   Also I’d recommend mounting the terminal strip at the controller end on a small board (a short length of floor board is ideal) in which we would drill a hole to mount it on a nail in the wall of the garage or shed. The PSU components would be mounted or put out of the way as best fits the location.

See the photos.

In the final post we’ll cover the actuator installation on the house.

HF

Nice, I loved it and this will surely help me on doing the works.. Thanks is not enough..
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 03:11 by Maria M »



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