Who are you ?

I'm Tim and we are the Chilton family.

Why do I do this ?

For several reasons really

  • Because I can
  • Because it interests me
    You learn lots of new things that you didn't know, even solutions to problems you didn't know existed.
  • Its not the same as the day job, so its quite relaxing
  • It's better than watching TV
  • I can get more sleep as I don't have to worry about the girls
  • There are less arguments about who's turn it is to let the girls out or put them to bed.

Why are you publishing all this information

I've spent many an hour on-line researching things and learning from others and this has allowed me to reach where we are today. I hope that the information presented here is of use to someone, because if it is, then I've given something back to the community.

What have you learned doing this project

The most important thing is that it will always take a lot longer than you expect to get what you want done and that the trivially simple 5 minute job will open into a can of worms and take you to a completely unexpected place. Also, some of the complicated things are far easier than expected.

Did the children learn about electronics and computers

Well, the answer is yes and no.

They are partially involved, much in the same way that someone is involved in a complicated jigsaw, they drop in and drop out when they want to and are more interested in the "interesting bits", but being teenagers, their interests change too.

Conversely, there have been some interesting discussions about issues, fixes and ideas, which is what I wanted.

What was the scope creep ?

Yes, lots of it

  • BedTimeLight mode was fun, turning on and off the inside light to help the girls roost, they really like this.
    We've gone from one or two early roosters getting up onto the bar to more than 90% going up there. The last 10% are pecked off and have to sleep below - such is the chicken hierarchy, however when the next batch of chickens turn up, then the sleeping positions will change again

Whats next ?

Well, there's plenty still to do, tasks include :

  • Get the project to a point where it meets all the initial design requirements, currently the door servos are not installed, which was supposed to make it easier to collect the eggs
  • There is currently no web interface which will allow us to control the unit and see whats going on inside the house
  • I need to get those PCB's designed and built
  • I need to fix the SPI programming issue

On the fun to do list is

  • RFID's on the chickens to monitor who's in and out, who's staying in the laying area or who has not come home to roost tonight, since this tells you a hen is unwell or hurt.
  • Siri integration - for theĀ HEN9000 pop hole door thing ...

How much and how long ?

The simple answer is just "far too much" on both counts. However this must be balanced against whats been gained, which is an easier life, a lot of fun and a a lot of learning.

What about bugs ?

There are no bugs (of the software kind), just a collection of un-documented features that will not be appearing in future releases

As for living bugs, its a chicken coop, there are bugs, but only until a Chicken sees it move, at which point it turns into a tasty light snack

Is it worth it ?

Yes, for the reasons listed above.