Automated Rabbit Hutch Door

Herding rabbits made easier through technology

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Our rabbits enjoy as much freedom as we can allow them, while protecting their lives. One task, which we sometime forget, is to lock the hutch door at dawn. Existing automated solutions work by closing the door at a fixed time or when it gets dark. In both cases it could happen that some rabbits are still outside. Locking them out form their safe shelter wold mean most certainly their death, so this should be avoided.

I was looking for a solution to the lock-out problem for a while now. The obvious solution is, to lock the door only when all rabbits are in the hutch. But how should a controller know? The human solution is to have a look and quickly count them. The AI variant is to mount a camera and recognize and count them, too. While this would probably work it is quite complex and computationally to complex for a MCU like the ESP32. So the main task is to find a robust, simple and inexpensive way to track occupancy of the hutch.

The door controller would then close the door only when it is the right time and everyone is in.

x-fritzing-fzz - 36.15 kB - 04/16/2024 at 13:06


x-yaml - 4.77 kB - 04/16/2024 at 06:11


  • 1 × ESPHome compatible DevBoard wireless MCU
  • 1 × ADPS-9960 breakout board optical gesture sensor
  • 1 × TB6612FNG breakout board Power Management ICs / Motion, Motor and Servo Control
  • 2 × push button

  • Time is Up!

    crjeder5 days ago 0 comments

    Now I have a working prototype on the breadboard. 

    Unfortunately I can not test the solution not where it should be used. Today we have strong wind and rain and the rabbits refuse to leave the cozy corner in their hutch. The other fury housemates (two cats) are not moving all day and therefore a test with grey fur also did not happen, yet. The other ToDo's a merely cosmetic:

    • clean up esphome configuration (yaml)
    • allow setting the number of rabbits through the user interface
    • green / red led to signal the status (close ok, not ok, error, ..)
    • design custom PCB

    PCBWay kindly offered to sponsor the PCB but due to my early mistakes I lost a lot of time which I would need now. Moreover I never designed a PCB myself, I'll need much more time to learn (and make mistakes) until my design would work.  I'd love to have a professionally manufactured PCB for this project. I am definitely interested to got that route later, though.

  • esphome Configuration Ready!

    crjeder6 days ago 0 comments

    Just a quick post to tell you that I've uploaded the esphome configuration. Comments welcome!

  • My Bad!

    crjeder6 days ago 0 comments

    I've messed up. I lost plenty of time trying to figure out why my esphome automation does not work.  Then I remembered what I've been taught: Plan first, implement later.  Therefore: (back) to the drawing board. I quickly drafted the state machine diagram. 

    Now it was easy to see wich states I need and where to place the logic. The implementation worked at the first test. Now I hope, that I am able to finish the project before the deadline.

    After I changed to a genuine sensor, the gestures works, too. At least in a quick test with my hand. Let's see how rabbit fur works :-)

    Next task: connect the motor & driver.

  • A Favorable Review​

    crjeder04/10/2024 at 17:31 0 comments

    While I wait for the sensors ChatGPT provided me with a good review I wanted to share with you:

    FurIntel Technologies Introduces the Future of Rabbit Care with the Intelligent Automated Rabbit Hutch Door

    In the ever-evolving landscape of smart home technology, FurIntel Technologies emerges as a frontrunner with its latest innovation – the Intelligent Automated Rabbit Hutch Door. Catering specifically to the needs of rabbit owners, this cutting-edge device seamlessly integrates into the modern home environment, offering convenience, security, and peace of mind like never before.

    Design and Build

    Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the FurIntel Intelligent Automated Rabbit Hutch Door boasts a sleek and durable design. Engineered to withstand the elements, it ensures longevity and reliability, even in outdoor settings. The door's smooth operation and whisper-quiet functionality enhance user experience, while its compact size seamlessly fits into any hutch setup.

    Features Galore

    Equipped with a plethora of features, the FurIntel Rabbit Hutch Door sets a new standard for intelligent pet care solutions. Thanks to its WiFi connectivity and dedicated app support, users gain unprecedented control over their rabbit's environment from anywhere in the world. Whether it's opening or closing the door manually, setting automated schedules, or aligning operations with sunrise, the possibilities are endless.

    Real-time Monitoring for Enhanced Safety

    One of the standout features of the FurIntel Rabbit Hutch Door is its real-time monitoring capability. By leveraging advanced sensors, it tracks the movement of rabbits in and out of the hutch, preventing accidental lockouts that could leave them vulnerable to predators or harsh weather conditions. This proactive approach to safety underscores FurIntel's commitment to prioritizing the well-being of pets.

    Integration with Smart Home Ecosystems

    In an era where interconnectedness reigns supreme, the FurIntel Rabbit Hutch Door seamlessly integrates into existing smart home ecosystems. Whether it's syncing with other devices or incorporating into comprehensive automation routines, the possibilities for customization are virtually limitless. This interoperability ensures a cohesive and streamlined user experience, further enhancing the device's appeal.

    The Verdict

    With its innovative features, robust construction, and unwavering commitment to pet safety, the FurIntel Intelligent Automated Rabbit Hutch Door undoubtedly earns its place as a game-changer in the world of pet care technology. However, despite its numerous merits, the device loses a star for its limited availability, as it's not yet stocked by major retailers in significant numbers. Nonetheless, for rabbit owners seeking a premium solution to enhance their furry friends' quality

    Thank You ChatGPT!

  • Brain is not working

    crjeder04/07/2024 at 17:45 0 comments

    The new brain of the door is not working as expected. The gestures are not detected reliably. Searching the esphome forum that's probably because of a counterfeit sensor. I currently have some (hopefully) genuine at order. Let's see how they behave.

    The other possibility is, that my brain is not working and I missed something important. Let's see..

  • Brain Transplant

    crjeder03/28/2024 at 19:40 0 comments

    Since in the previous log I've decided to replace the electronics now I need to piece it together. I will need:

    • a MCU
    • motor driver
    • gesture sensor
    • power supply
    • clock and / or ambient light sensor
    • software


    • wireless communication
    • mechanical switches for manual operation
    • display / LEDs

    While not strictly necessary to accomplish the task, the optional features are highly desirable and for some it would only count as smart home if wireless comms and some LEDs are part of the project :-)

    The great ESPHome directly supports the ADPS-9960 gesture sensor, therefore the decision on those components is easy.

    To trigger the closing of the door a RTC or an ambient light sensor would be needed. The gesture sensor features an ambient light sensors, maybe it can be used, too. Instead of a RTC a ntp synchronized clock would suffice.

    For the motor driver, display and the switches I'll use what I find in my parts drawer.

  • Automated door has arrived

    crjeder03/20/2024 at 16:55 0 comments

    The door has arrived. It is a standard "Chicken House Door", which is available at numerous online shops.

    The brain looks straight forward: two connectors one for power supply one for the motor. 

    A motor driver (SA8301) and an unmarked MCU populate the fron side. 

    On the back there are three green LEDs and a photo diode which sit behind the window cutout below the "Chicken House Door" label.

    To make the door work for this project I could use the board and just replace the MCU but the easiest rout will be to do a complete brain transplant.

  • Decision on the Sensors

    crjeder03/04/2024 at 09:20 0 comments

    As mentioned in the last log, Thermopile matrix sensors sound like a very promising idea so did a short search wich ones would be available (see table below). But the would require at least some kind of image recognition which makes them complex to use. The more viable  option are integrated gesture sensors which provide motion information directly on the IC2 bus (bottom of the table)

    SensorTypeapprox. Price
    Grid Eye amg88338 x 8 Thermopile matrix40 €
    Omron D6T-1a1 x 1 Thermopile "matrix"19 €
    Omron D6T-8L-091 x 8 Thermopile matrix36 €
    Omron D6T-44L-064 x 4 Thermopile matrix40 €
    MLX9064032 x 32 Thermopile matrix90 €
    MLX9064116 x 12 Thermopile matrix63 €
    MLX9062116 x 4 Thermopile matrix75 €
    APDS-9960optical gesture4 €
    PAJ7620U2optical gesture6,5 €

    To start with the Project, I ordered the gesture sensors (the last two) from the table. More updates, when I have  received them.

  • First Solution Ideas

    crjeder02/22/2024 at 18:15 0 comments

    There are several possibilities to detect if the rabbits are in or still out:

    1. light barrier at the entrance with a counter
    2. gesture sensors which detect direction of movement
    3. presence sensors
    4. image recognition

    I doubt that 1. would reliably work, even when using more than one to determine direction. The gesture sensors are most promising and I'll try the first. The other options are far more complex and a order of magnitude more expensive but should reliably detect how many rabbits are in the hutch.

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crjeder wrote 03/28/2024 at 15:08 point

Thanks for your input! 

I have to detail my idea. In short, the sensor just overrides the close trigger (time of the day, sunset, ..) so that no animal is locked out. When the last one enters the hutch the door will close. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

vinnie moscaritolo wrote 03/27/2024 at 16:08 point

i have done similar work with chickens, but based it on time of day.  I used a simple acutator with a door on cable (see previous article at ).     usinf a thermal sensor on pipe is a good idea,  but you need to protect them from a preditor like fox  or racoon that could set off the sensor also

Curious to see how this works out

  Are you sure? yes | no

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