Projects: ChickenPi [Latest Update, 14 July, 2016]
The ChickenPi Project is actually a number of different smaller projects linked together under a single theme - they are all related to observing and managing my chickens in their coop. The core projects are functional and useful. These could well be of interest to others who have their own chickens. Some of the peripheral projects are primarily for my learning purposes, and may be less directly useful to a wide audience - you still may find somethings you can use. The final category of projects are also for learning, but may actually be mostly for fun and entertainment rather than being useful for managing your chooks.
The ChickenPi is a suite of software and hardware components based mostly around the RaspberryPi single-board computer and the GPIO hardware interfaces built into it. The RaspberryPi is an ideal platform for me - cheap, stable Linux operating system, many user support forums, and lots of people just like me who are happy to share their lessons learned and their fun and innovative projects.
The core functions of the ChickenPi are as follows:
- Automatic Door Control: Motor control circuit and proximity sensors interfaced to the RaspberryPi and automatically controlled to open around dawn and closes after sun-down. The open/close times are calculated for the location (lat./lon.) of the ChickenPi and varies with the time of the year. [STATUS: Complete, functional since about August, 2013. Still working *with a number of additional reliability improvements, as at July 2016]
- Manual Door Control: Implemented as a local push button switch to open/close the door when you are doing maintenance work on the coop, or if you want to lock your chooks away for some reason. [STATUS: Complete, functional since about August, 2013. Still functional as at 14 July, 2016]
- ChookLook: RaspberryPi camera on a pan and tilt mechanism with servo-motors controlled use to monitor the chooks. [STATUS: pan & tilt hardware and software has been assembled and tested in the coop. I had a lot of trouble getting ht systems to be reliable - I couple of (cheap) servo motors failed for various reasons and I was unable to get the system to point exactly where I needed it in a repeatable manner - something that is undesirable given the fact that I wanted to use the image streams for some of my other projects (eg. streaming the video to the net and, ChookEggCount) and I wanted to start with a stable, reliable stream. I now have three separate video streams form the coop, focussed on: Main House overview; Nesting Boxes (for ChookEggCount), and; Roost (for checking on the hens overnight). As at July 2016, I consider this project completed/functional (with the pan/tilt component removed and not to be reinstalled anytime soon).
Additional functions planned:
- ChookEnvironment: temperature and light sensors interfaced to the RaspberryPi to capture long-term environmental information in the coop. [STATUS: hardware interface tested in the office, need to develop data management and publishing strategy - as at July, 2016]
- ChookCheck: using the ChookLook camera above, implement chook head-count on the roost at night to warn of missing chooks! Also visually check status of feed hopper, water supply, and external door status. [STATUS: Logic for look locations established, fixed camera feeds in place. Nothing further - as at July, 2016]
- ChookEggCount: using the ChookLook camera above, implement an egg monitoring/counting function and store the information in a managed database for future use. [STATUS: This is underway and progressing well. The fixed camera stream from the Nesting Boxes is yielding excellent images for the purpose of egg detection and the initial image analysis program is working well. I can currently detect the darker eggs quite reliable during daylight hours and I seem to be getting acceptably low false alarm rates and low missed detection rates on these eggs. I haven’t started on the detection of the lighter coloured eggs yet. I have uploaded some of the image data and my current detection performance results to GitHub: https://github.com/chickenpi/ChookEggCount. Status updated 26 July, 2016]
- ChookTrends: data analysis and display routines for exploring the ChookEnvironment and ChookEggCount data, publish in an accessible form for others to use. [STATUS: not started - as at July 2016]
Not so functional plans:
- Suggestions at the moment include: ChookTweet (e.g.., number of eggs in the nesting boxes!), ChookTunes and ChookFooty. We'll wait and see...