Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Power to my Peeps

Have you ever finished a project that has been so long in the opening phases that it seems will never get off the ground?  This weekend I treated myself to a set of Ryobi battery power tools - A Father's Day gift to myself!  I have finally moved forward on a backyard project that has been stalled for longer than I want to admit to.

My chicken coop is made from a 10x6x6 dog kennel with a chicken wire top to keep out the hawks and lower surround to keep their heads away from the cute little backyard predator - My dog, Chelsea.  Keeping chickens and my dog in the same yard was a learning experience as she is a very smart dog as most cattle dogs are.  My final solution for keeping the dog from killing the chickens was something made to withstand a dog's abuse.

In the first year I learned something about having a small flock (3) as opposed to the dozen chickens we had growing up and that is in the short days of winter egg production drops from 2 to 3 eggs a day to as little as 3 eggs in a week.

When reading up this subject on the Backyard Chickens website, the best solution for this was to have a timed light to give the birds those extra hours of light to keep up the egg production.  My solar power project was launched.

More than a year ago I purchased the lumber and stored it on top of the coop.  Next was a solar panel from Harbor Freight which actually has had some use over the last year to drive a small fan to make a breeze for the girls in the heat.  I picked up all the other sundry items needed for a charging a battery and timer for the light.

Anyways, the design is simple in that the end boards hold the frame to the sides of the coop and a pair of 2x6 make up the sides.  The new battery powered circular saw is sweet!  As long as gravity keeps on working the frame will not move.  A small pallet on the end makes a shelf for the battery and the electronics will be mounted on the side opposite of the panel.  I've left room for additional solar panels if the single proves to not be enough.

Other possibilities have presented themselves with the addition of a power source in the back yard as well - Automated irrigation for the garden is the first thing that comes to mind.  Sticking with my geek background it will probably be a clone of the system I have in the front yard using a low power PC to control a relay board.  Weather proofing will be the next challenge for the electronics.  Also in the event of a major power outage I'll have a charged battery to connect my inverter to, keeping some of the house lit up when the rest of the neighbors are in the dark.

Thanks for looking.

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