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Automated Poultry Controls. Team Members. Client. Faculty Advisor. Tetteh Akornor CprE Moses Castellano CprE Zachary Schmid EE Brian Schmoll CprE. Murray McMurray Hatcheries Webster City, Iowa. Dr. Randall Geiger. Design Team Dec03-04. Design Requirements. Abstract.

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Automated Poultry Controls

Team Members


Faculty Advisor

Tetteh Akornor CprE

Moses Castellano CprE

Zachary Schmid EE

Brian Schmoll CprE

Murray McMurray Hatcheries

Webster City, Iowa

Dr. Randall Geiger

Design Team Dec03-04

Design Requirements


In hobby poultry farming, free-range chickens are best grown under tightly controlled environmental conditions. This project will develop a modular control system that optimizes the environmental conditions for these birds. Some of the controls include the opening and closing of the coop doors, the amount of feed provided to the chickens, the ventilation and temperature of the coop and the amount of sunlight to which the chickens are exposed. Final product cost is driven by perceived value of hobbyist, not by economics of commercial chicken production.

  • Design Objectives
    • System is easily operated by any involved individual
    • System must be durable
  • Functional Requirements
    • Outputs present conditions to an easily readable display
    • Menu access for control of system variables
    • Modular control of doors, ventilation, feed and heat will come from the micro-controller
  • Design Constraints
    • Sensors must handle adverse weather
    • System must handle close contact with animals
    • Control must be provided to two doors, heating, ventilation and feed systems
    • Low cost, ease of installation and use, and reliability will need to be considered
  • Measurable Milestones
    • Project Definition – 10%
    • Research – 10%
    • Project Design – 15%
    • Implementation – 40%
    • Testing – 25%

Proposed Approach and Considerations


  • Proposed Approach
    • Problem Definition – research current equipment in the field of chicken farming and determine how we may control them from the micro-controller
    • Implementation Selection – select compatible pre-made components
    • End-Product Design – use the selected components to create a working prototype
  • Technologies Considered
    • Sunrise Detection – either a photo-sensor may be used for detection or an equation may be used to calculate the time of sunrise.
    • Connection Port – connecting to a laptop computer using either USB or Bluetooth
    • Programming Language – language for control of the micro-controller and menu commands is needed
  • Testing Considerations
    • Lab Testing – testing of the software will be completed to assure that the micro-controller will function as required
    • Field Test – testing hardware with software to check for proper output values
  • Problem Statement
    • General Problem Statement – A system for environmental controls is needed for hobbyist chicken farmers
    • General Solution Statement – Create an automated modular controller which reads environmental sensors and adjusts temperature, ventilation, light, and doors
  • Operating Environment
    • Sensors exposed to outdoor weather
    • Equipment in immediate vicinity of farm animals
  • Intended Users and Uses
    • Used by an adult or child with adult supervision
    • Used for control of small flock, 25-200, of chickens
  • Assumptions
    • Coop, ventilation, heaters and other equipment currently in place
    • Control unit located inside chicken coop
    • Maximum of two sensors per measured reading
  • Limitations
    • Installation procedure should be easily understood
    • Modular design for more flexible product costs
    • Minimum 50 sq. ft. coop, Maximum 900 sq. ft. coop
  • Expected End Product
    • A program will be written for control of the microprocessor
    • A prototype will be assembled

Financial and Personal Effort Budgets

Project Schedule