Every project needs a main project box and this one is no different.

The box must be moisture proof, since that will keep out the cold and wet in the winter months and by being waterproof, that will keep out the red mites that love to feed on the chickens blood whilst they sleep - which can make them anemic and eventually die, they will find all manner of crevices to hide out in, so we must be vigilant when making the project.

We also need to get heat out and have all the wiring from the various sensors and controls coming into the box, so I selected a larger IP68 waterproof box from Maplin

The main unit is now built and looks like this.

Now that the system was up and running in the office, the operating current could be measured and an estimate of the run time could be produced. The initial measurements were not good, something was taking too much power, also the servo's were doing odd things at random times, another defect on the list to look at.

After a bit of time, I determined that the MOSFET drivers I had selected were the cause of the problem, this was for several reasons.

We've got a finite amount of battery power in the 12AH, 12V leisure batteries and a finite amount of solar energy from the sun during a day, so we need to know when its coming and when its going if we are going to win in our challenge to run off-grid - even during mid winter when everything works against us. The main unit logs key parameters every 15 seconds that we can analyse the data and draw some graphs for future analysis, hence we need to gather this information first. Additionally, the user-interface on the main unit allows us to see instantaneous values.

The new chicken coop has arrived on a very large pallet and its been assembled

As you can see, its a lot larger and gives us much more room to add things in, plus the door goes upwards, which is exactly what we need. Its also built to last, the wood is thick and the construction is robust - so spot on to what we wanted.