Dog House to Automated Chicken Coop

I'm a Do It Yourself (DIY) fanatic, so of course I did the woodwork as well as the Arduino work.  The coop is an old doghouse I built with my friends Dan and Jeet in 2006 using some plans from a plywood company.  Another friend Rob started me on the conversion project after noting it would make a good coop.  And since my dogs weren't using the house in the mild SoCal weather the conversion was started.

The house got a new paint job, "chicken porch", ramp, and egg shaped windows.  I also raised the coop with some 4x4s because chickens feel safer with a high spot to roost.  Plus a raised coop provides shade underneath on hot days.  

And hopefully some protection from predators above.  I spotted this hawk about a month after we got the pullets.  I think he was sizing up Penny.

Take a closer look at the hawk's claws (zoomed in below)...  those claws look pretty sharp!  Take care of your young birds by providing some shelter such as a raised coop.  In my case I was fortunate to have girls wise enough to stay under the coop while this guy was around.  Without a place to go to hide I don't think this encounter would have ended well.

I knew I'd need a way to get into the coop to clean out chicken poop and work on stuff, so I hinged the roof.

I added nesting boxes on the right side, also with a hinged roof to easily collect eggs.

I cut round holes in the side of the house for access to the boxes.  This provides a cozy place for the chickens to nest and lay eggs.  I cut the boxes to fit large plastic bins so if I ever wanted to clean the boxes it would be very easy.

Inside the coop I put down a rubber sheet over the plywood floor to make cleaning up easy as well.  I throw some dry straw down after cleaning up.

On the left side is the automatic feeder.

On the back is a box, again with a hinged roof, for the Arduino project box and wiring.

The green power cord loops in on the side.  Make sure to always include a drip loop with any cords.  In other words make the wire go low before going to anything that is exposed so the water drips off at the low point.

There are a lot of wires in this box.  It's a mess, but all contained and dry.  Wires come in from holes in the coop.  The Arduino project box is suspended on a piece of wood inside the box.

Below you can see USB connector that plugs into my laptop when uploading the latest Arduino code to make adjustments to the operation of the coop.


  1. Congratulations for your project. Already know your youtube channel and I was amazed with the work of the aquarium. Now your chicken impressed me more. Want to know more details of the feeder. I'll see if I can get one too. I want to innovate by making one for my beehives. I live in Brazil, specifically in the state of Goias I'm playing with the arduino. If you want to see what I'm doing comes into my youtube channel:

  2. Cool. I liked your videos too, but can't understand Portuguese! Small world we live in. I just added a bunch of text to this blog last weekend so maybe that will help in your work to make a feeder for your beehives.

  3. I like your answer. I'll start putting the caption videos. Do not miss to watch. I'm working on a project for my bees. I'll be able to monitor the hives. His ideas are inspiring me. Be sure to post updates.

  4. Hi Roger,

    Love everything you've done! Funny, although many folks have laughed at me for planning on doing much of the same thing... it's so great to see someone else who like to to "over-do" it.

    I so appreciate you taking the time, not only to post the info, but your materials, video and Arduino code. I'm going to be doing the same. (and if I ever use any of your ideas/code, I'll of course be giving you full credit - and if I buy any of the same gear, I'll certainly be using your affiliate code wherever available) =)

    In addition to what you've already done, I was planning on a few more things to my coop/yard:

    - motion detector light, audio file (of cougar or big cat) and auto-sprinkler to keep the critters at bay (we're up here in Auburn, CA -Sierra Nevada Foothills)

    - electric fence on timer (not so technically creative, but almost essential in these parts)

    - moisture / heat sensor to kick on exhaust fan (I've read that chickens are susceptible to respiratory infections --- especially with all the poop)

    if you have a mo' i'd appreciate it if you could take a look at my site sometime. ( --- very much still under construction, but if you scroll down a bit, you can see some of the (non-geek) stuff i've done thus far) at tell me what you think. I'm sure you're just as busy as me, (and certainly a far more experienced Arduino Programmer -- I'm a php guy) but maybe we could trade ideas sometime? - no pressure, I just dig what you've done - great minds!)

    Anyway, thanks for posting, fellow chicken nerd!!


  5. Hi. Great site you have. I've had an automated coop for a while now, all build in Lego RCX and NXT though. But I want to "upgrade" to Arduino, in the style you have done.

    One question: does your system take power-failure (like power outage) and restarting itself into consideration? I notice your battery powered Real Time Clock which is the main component the Lego system is missing, but the Arduino would have to restart itself as well. Any thoughts on this?


  6. Hi! I love that you converted a dog house to a coop! I was wondering if you could explain how you converted the roof so it opened?

  7. Sorry for the delay folks!

    Mathias, I do not have a power backup except for the battery in the RTC to keep time. The Arduino will start up just fine if there is temporary power loss. We do not lose power very often here, and if I go on vacation I always ask a neighbor to watch my girls. You could certainly hook up a battery, though in my build I had 24V components. If you went with a battery hookup I'd look for 12V components as 12V batteries are cheaper and easier to come by.

    Lara, In converting the dog house I just took one side of the roof off and attached a hinge on the ridge. Then I put two arms on the inside front/back of the house that I could swing up to hold the roof, similar to the hood of a car. This way I don't need to hold up the roof while cleaning up inside.