Rethinking the VSB Opener

After years of success with the automatic chicken coop door opener from Europe, it was time to build are new expanded chicken house. This was a great opportunity to refine the system a little. The two goals were to consolidate the timer and actuator into a single box, and convert the two to a single, lithium battery power source. Update: experience showed that the batteries did not last long enough. I speculate that this was because of the litte power supply circuits. I removed the batteries and connected a wall-wart type of AC adapter instead, which has been working fine.

Here is the result:
Combined chicken coop door opener and timer
Here’s a tour of the components. You probably recognize the VSB circuit board and mechanical timer. These days they ship a solid-state timer, but I think it is a drop-in replacement. There are three other circuit boards. The one in the top, middle, near the black push-button switch, is a battery status indicator. When the switch is closed, there are LEDs that light up to indicate the battery charge level. The other two circuit boards are little adjustable power supplies from China via eBay. They are very simple to use- volts in on one side, volts out on the other side. The tiny brass screw on top of the little blue component is the adjustment. As shipped, the screw is set for a high output voltage, so it took around 15 counter-clockwise turns to get it into the adjusting range. I adjusted the one on the left to 1.5 volts and connected it to the timer, then adjusted the one on the right to 6 volts and connected it to pins 1 and 2 on the VSB. I shorted pins 5 and 6 as before with a jumper (to bypass the on-board optical sensor), and connected pins 3 and 4 of the timer to pins 3 and 4 of the VSB. There are a few extra slots on the terminal strips because I’m planning to use the same supply voltage to power our water level monitoring system on the rain barrel. These slots will also make it easy to add another two or three lithium cells in parallel, should it turn out that the battery duration is not sufficient.