I subscribe to Instructables.com, a great website where people post instructions on how to make all kinds of stuff–from sewing, to metalworking, to electronics. Each week they send out a newsletter showing some of the top new posts added. This week’s newsletter included an “Arduino Controlled Chicken Coop” instructable. Arduino controlled? I had to click to find out. I know an arduino is a piece of electronics, but that is the far reach of my knowledge there.

This guy (the author calls himself “Robot-Chicken” – the photo is funny!) did a bunch of research and came up with a chicken coop that would open up in the morning (you set the time for each month) and also close up about a half an hour after sunset, after your chickens have gone in to roost. Here is the link to the instructions for the self-opening chicken coop.

According to the article at Instructibles.com, the main features of this wonder are:
“-> Based on the Arduino architecture for easy prototyping and adaptation to your coop requirements
 -> Uses common parts easily found at your local DIY/hardware store/shop such as cheap electric screw drivers
 -> Uses a real time clock to maintain time even when the device is temporary disconnected from power
 -> Adjusts the opening and closing times of the door according to the current month – you can set it to your own timezones
 -> Provides a manual override just in case one of your lovely darlings misses sunset!
 -> Provides a min and max temperature reading inside the coop from midnight so you can keep an eye on your brood’s well-being
 -> A display which can be switched on and off to read out the current “open” or “closed” status and will not disturb your feathered friends sleep at night.”

Really, I need this for my own family, let alone the chickens! He closes with an estimate from eBay for the parts that were under 30pounds – so in 2012, at about $1.59 dollars to the British pound, $48.00. Not bad for something that can provide protection to your coop, and you don’t have to get up extra early to do it!