Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let there be light

In between my experiments with an automated coop door, I made a simple LED coop light. Now, I dropped the plans to extend daylight since the chickens are still laying even with the short days. They're a bit inconsistent: some days three eggs, today only one, but I want to see what their natural response is before I try to change it. And to be honest, with almost 5 dozen eggs sitting in the refrigerator (even after giving lots away!), I don't really need to increase production.

Anyway, I do need a light when I go out there after dark to lock things up and check on them. Since there's no AC power out there, I rigged up an efficient light using six standard white LEDs and the 12V lead-acid battery that will eventually also power the auto-door. Works great! There's more than enough light for me to see: in fact when I turn it on, the ducks usually come over to see what I'm doing and the chickens start getting down from their roosts. Back of the envelope calculations are that it could run continuously for about 3 days on that battery, so the 2 minutes/day I use it should be no problem at all. It'll be interesting to see how the battery fares when the temp consistently drops below zero!

I'm considering making this a standard product over at the site so let me know if you're interested. Tentative price is about $15-$20 for the 6-LED light fixture, just needs a 12 volt battery to run.


I can't believe it's been a month since my last post here. I've been spending a lot of time over at forum (I'm that CedarLake guy :-) that I've been neglecting my own readers.

It's past Thanksgiving, which means Winter is well ensconced here in Minnesota. Lows tonight should be hovering a bit above zero, and the birds seem to be doing just fine. They don't like the snow much, but they do eventually come outside. I'm working on providing them with liquid (as in not ice) water since the coop/run is too far from the house to run power. I'm still taking the 1 gallon waterer inside at night, but I have a water supply in a 6-gallon tub buried in the ground. With just a 6" thick flat of wood chips sitting on top of it for insulation, the water remains liquid except for a thin skin of ice on top. I use that to refill the water supply for the ducks each morning.

Two things I want to try:
1) Building a solar heater for the water: this will just be a mini-greenhouse that houses the water supply that the birds can walk into to take a drink.
2) Since I know that the underground tank will probably stay liquid, I would like to try an automated waterer using it. Only problem is I haven't found a battery-powered submersible pump yet. I have lots of aquarium pumps, but they run off 120VAC.

The greenhouse I'd like to try building this week sometime, but I have too many projects...

As a former co-worker used to say "got more balls in the air than a giraffe!"