What the Chook?

Keeping and eye on my crazy chickens

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I have six chooks (that's Oztraiiiiian for chicken!) in my backyard. They get up to all sorts of mischief, I love watching them, but as I'm often away at work I miss a lot of the antics. For instance one of the black chooks (whom we christened "Darth Vader" from a chick) has taken on the Alpha role and thinks she is a rooster - she bosses the other chooks a fair bit, tries to crow like a rooster, attacks me if I dare enter the pen when she is home and is the escape artist of the pack.

This project is an ongoing project to monitor the chook house and make some sense of these crazy birds.

I am starting with something relatively basic:

- temperature/humidity
- light
- motion to monitor activity and trigger a camera
- methane detector to detect poo levels (although may have to drop this if I can't get power usage down) 
- basic camera to take some simple low-res pictures
- some push buttons that I can press to indicate how many eggs I've collected each day

I'll add more sensors later as required - I'm not overly interested in automated door opening or anything - the data gathered is more interesting.

The whole thing connects to my home wifi network and pushes the data up to the web, initially this will just be graphed in ThingSpeak - if time permits I'll come up with something fancier. 

Oh - and to set myself an extra challenge - I'm going to see if I can run the thing off 2 AA batteries. If I can't get the battery life I'll fallback to a rechargeable battery and solar panel.

  • 1 × GCDuiNode board I use the GCDuiNode board here as it's super easy to add networking to - but you can use any other Arduino board that runs from 3.3V - eg. Pro Mini
  • 1 × DHT22 Temperature/Humidity Sensor Thermal Management and Protection / Thermistors
  • 1 × LDR Resistor Networks / Thick Film Networks
  • 1 × TLG10UA03 Wifi UART Allows you to connect to wifi via the serial UART of your Arduino
  • 1 × Breadboard Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components

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  • RS232->TTL conversion

    Steve Dalton08/10/2014 at 21:21 0 comments

    Yay, I heard back from the vendor that sold me the camera... apparently I can easy convert my RS232 camera to a TTL one by desoldering the MAX232 chip and adding a zero Ohm resistor (or just making a solder bridge).

    Still haven't decided on the wifi - will do some more work on this in the week.

  • Delays

    Steve Dalton08/07/2014 at 22:06 0 comments

    Project has been delayed a bit as I ordered the wrong camera (RS232 instead of TTL... doh). If you are doing this project yourself, get the TTL one as it's easier for Arduino. Rather than spend more money on mine I will probably just use a MAX232 to convert it.

    Also the TLG10UA03 is drawing way too much power for my liking. I'll either to switch to using a NXP nrf24l01+ radio with a base station at the other end to bridge it to my home ethernet network or I could even add the electricImp... but this does add a lot of extra complexity and cost - so might just try the NRF for now. 

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Steve Dalton wrote 07/28/2014 at 03:28 point
Yeah - there will be a camera on them - but not a full video feed - just some snapshots as I am trying to make this all low power as I don't have power going out to the chook pen.

If I wanted video I'd probably just hook up a raspberry pi + camera on a solar panel.

Just realised yesterday I stupidly ordered the wrong camera (RS232 not TTL) so might have to set the camera idea aside for the moment and just stick with the other sensors.

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Joe Pardue wrote 07/27/2014 at 15:19 point

I may have missed something but do you have your camera on the Internet so that folks elsewhere can watch your chickens? I have 9 pullets and have been thinking about doing something similar to this project so I'll be following you to see how it goes.

And as I was about to sign off it just occurred to me that I did not enter any contact information in my account. I guess I have to check back here to see if I get a response? I'll look to see if there is anyway to automate notification of responses.

I have some chairs and an upturned stump table under a dogwood tree next to the chickens and my wife and I have tea-with-chickens late in the day. You are correct that they are fascinating to watch.


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