CoopBoss after Groovy?

Who is using the CoopBoss (circa 2016-17 timeframe) by John Rucker? We still are and will miss its functionality when groovy is shut down. What are your plans? I am technical, but definitely not a coder. The CoopBoss hasn’t been manufactured for a while, but its owners have invested a lot into those coops! (Check out my video of the finished installation.

The CoopBoss is a piece of hardware and requires not just a driver (formerly a Groovy device type handler), but also several small SmartApps having to do with its operation - measure indoor/outdoor temps, control door actuators, turn on/off lights and auxiliary fans.

I’m hoping to preserve at least the door open/close function, which could be replicated by a driver that turned on a switch for nn seconds. The other functions are “nice to have” but CoopBoss owners will really miss the automation of opening and closing those coop doors!

I was also thinking that this functionality could be replaced with a simple 110v switching outlet or generic switch controlling 110v to a relay like this one that in turn, took the DC power supply used with the CoopBoss and controlled that 12v power to the linear actuators. Adding some generic window-sensors to the door would give an open-close condition - all things that you used to be able to see in the CoopBoss Apps but could see individually using SmartThings automations. Using typical Zigbee or Zwave sensors we would be able to get Door - Open/Closed and Temperatures.

Before I go buy a bunch of toys to recreate that functionality manually, what are you fellow CoopBoss owners doing? Is anyone interested in coding new edge drivers for the CoopBoss that we could at least use to manually control the CoopBoss or use ST automations to control basic open/close functionality?

Haven’t seen a CoopBoss, but it sounds like you could probably use the Virtual Door in the Virtual Hub Kit edge driver I released.

You can get a switchable relay instead of a smart plug.

Edit: that Zen17 also has dry contacts, so you can put it inline with other door controllers


There’s a lot more to the coopboss project than just opening a door. It’s designed for chicken coops, and there are sensors, lights, lux level checks, weather checks, alerts… It was a whole package with both DTH’s and multiple smartapps.

The CoopBoss is a management system for your backyard chicken coop. Its primary function is to safely and reliable manage your coop’s door. The CoopBoss monitors the sun and will safely close your coop door at sunset and open it again at sunrise plus a lot more

Here’s the original GitHub page, describing the functionality:

It’s replacing the smartapps functionality that is likely to be the most complicated part of the project.

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And another article by the project designer about some of the features:

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That virtual door would work for the door and contact sensors. Would need a lux sensor automation for the opening and closing of the door. There is also a counter primitive (consumable) in that driver that could be used to count the hours of light. The lighting portion can be done, but would need a few automations.

  1. Count the hours of light (lux or artificial lighting) by having an hourly automation that uses the lux and updates the “consumable”
  2. Continue lighting until the counter hits 0, then shut them off and reset the counter for the next day
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Coopboss was one of the most successful standalone smartthings projects because it was a lot more than just a collection of devices. For example:

Intelligent enough to tell the difference between a stormy dark sky and sunset. This was a big one for my wife as the chickens will run into the coop to get out of the rain and therefore that door better not close solely on light level.

I’m not saying it can’t be re-created for the new architecture, I believe it probably can, but matching the management functionality is going to take more than just a couple of routines. :umbrella: :hatching_chick::hatched_chick::hatched_chick::hatched_chick:

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Also note the use of custom attributes. Here’s an article on the technical specs of the project:

you can do some very slick stuff like add sliders that allow the user to pick the sunlight level for a close or an open. You can even set the sensitivity of the door’s object detection circuit, so if a chicken is in the way, the door will bump up against her and open back up.

I hear you, but at this point - with unsupported hardware, I think owners could do without the thunderstorm detection (although that was really cool!) if we could just a) control our doors automatically from an automation as well as manually from the device, and b) use other sensors for the extra “nice to have” information.

John did a tremendous job on the original CoopBoss, and you have to admit - thunderstorm detection to close the doors, as well as light sensors to open them is really the Cadillac of functionality. Given the likelihood that it will simply stop working, I could easily do with reduced functionality to get by (using replacement hardware and automations)… but would love to see if someone is interested in picking it up before disconnecting that cool project box.

The key functionality (if we can get an edge driver for that box) would consist of being able to display and act on data from the device (Temperature, lux, and open/close status) in the devices area of ST.

We can probably do everything we need using automations with a good device driver:

  • at Sunset minus 16 hours, open the door (replacing the auto open using the built-in light sensor)
  • at Sunset plus 20 minutes, close the door
  • If temperature in coop exceeds nn degrees, turn on fan (pick your own switch for this)

I just checked and the only real SmartApps that we used were:

  • Turn a hue lightbulb a different color if door got jammed (nice to have, but not required)
  • Send a door jamming amp level to the box to save and use (independent of ST). Most users already have this set already, so its not critical either.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but an edge device driver might get us enough control of the CoopBoss to leave it there rather than replace it. That might take us from a Cadillac to a Yugo, but hey - a Yugo is better than a bicycle. (maybe arguable, but you get the picture :smiley: )


The edge driver will also execute locally, so the chickens wouldn’t be locked in during an internet outage. Same goes for the vent fan. :slight_smile:


Absolutely, there are going to be some people who would be happy if they could just open and close the door, and I’m not trying to discourage anyone who just wants to turn it into a simple switch or a garage door type device. Different things will work for different people.

I just wanted to clarify for those who have never heard of coopboss before that it was a lot more than just a door opener.

It was designed specifically for chicken coops by somebody who kept chickens, and knew what the various issues were likely to be.

If, as you say, all that’s available at first is a stripped down version, some people will want to use it, others will decide instead to replace it with one of the other competitors now on the market, even if that doesn’t have smartthings integration.

When you’re dealing with the management of live animals, different people will have different priorities and budgets.

So, absolutely, a discussion of what might work just as a straightforward switch is definitely worth having. Along with combining it with a few simple sensors, like light and temperature. It’s just not really a replacement for the coopboss functionality until it deals with the advanced features and I figured that probably wouldn’t be obvious to someone who was unfamiliar with the original product.


The Virtual Hub Kit was built to enable the local replacement of SmartApps with the edge driver. It does require some “programming” by creating automations using the primitives, but the idea was to enable DIY smart apps.

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Ah yes, point well made and received. I’m essentially on a micro farm and animals have a certain priority here, but we definitely don’t name them - except the pets, and chickens are not pets on our farm. Sometimes we quickly forget that some folks will see that extra functionality as essential for their needs.

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@TracySmith If you use the sunrise/sunset triggers in automations, I think that reintroduces the cloud into the equation. You could use a motion sensor to trigger the lights between certain times of day. Maybe the times between the sunrise/sunset of your shortest and longest days of the year.

Looks like the safety features of the CoopBoss would be the toughest to replace. There is functionality for door jams and max current protection.


Yes, true. I’ve used sunset triggers for years and haven’t had too many problems with them. That said, a local only solution make sense. With the purpose of lights being to wake up the hens early and give them 13-16 hours of daylight each day (based on a natural sunset time, so they keep laying all year), so I’m not sure if detecting their motion would work - in the winter the lights come on between 3 and 6 am to give this amount of light). So I’m trying to think through how to do that locally.

Thanks for the tip - I’ll marinate on that a bit - for now cloud hasn’t been an issue, as it doesn’t have to be an exact time, but I do like the idea of finding a way to make it run locally.

Regarding the door jam/max current, that value is set and stored in the CoopBoss itself. Once set up, it doesn’t really need to be recalibrated - maybe if you get a new linear actuator, but the values are very similar from one actuator to the next (of the same size / same model). After we set the initial values, I don’t think its ever been recalibrated or the values stored again.

That’s the nice part about the CoopBoss - John put the ability to totally run offline / non-cloud into the system when he designed it. Having ST devices to control the door, lights, etc and status to look at is all convenience. The app to set the jam threshold is really needed only for a new CoopBoss. Since they aren’t made any longer, it is a nice to have (for new actuators) rather than a must have (for new CoopBoss installations). But yes - he did pour some heart & soul into that device. That’s why we spluged and bought one. You could see all the design work he put into making it an exceptional device.

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You would use the lack of motion to shut them off during the hours of your shortest day of the year.

For example:

  1. Turn lights on at the desired start of the day (e.g. 3am-6am)
  2. Turn lights off if no motion during “shortest day hours” (e.g. 9am-4pm in December)
  3. Turn lights on at the end of the shortest day (e.g. 4pm)
  4. Turn lights off at desired start + 16

You would have lights on during daylight for little bit between the time the shortest day is over and the actual sunset.

You mentioned that you use Hue for some stuff. If you switch out the lights, you could even use the Hue “Wake up” automation and “Natural light” feature in Hue to give the chickens circadian lighting that dims :slight_smile:

Sounds fun. Good luck :+1:

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With chickens, the whole point is not to match the natural light cycle. you want it much brighter in the winter because you will get more eggs. :sun_with_face:


The variable time is in the morning. So the “on” time is based on Sunset time minus 16 hours (or whatever length of time you want them to have light).

The on time wakes them up - you never want to ‘catch’ chickens by turning off lights when it is dark outside. By their very nature, they will come back to their sleeping place every single night - as they detect natural sunlight fading. If you turn off the lights on them, then shut the door, some will get caught outside.

I guess you could emulate sunset by getting dimming bulbs and dropping 1% brightness every minute until it is off.

The other issue is that we’re also talking about a chicken coop. The only time it is not dusty is when you’ve pressure-washed it before a new flock of chicks is raised. I was also thinking about whether motion sensors would work with a good thick coat of pine-chip and chicken mash dust on it… A lot of folks don’t realize that to keep natural pests like mites away naturally, chickens will go outside, dig a melon-shaped hole, and sit in it and thrash around to get the dirt dust up in their feathers to suffocate the pests. That same dust gets into the chicken coop and coats everything in sight. Big farmers use toxic chemicals to take care of this. Pet chicken owners give them baths. We go natural… the way they were designed before chicken coops existed.

That said, I’m all in for testing some different configurations and devies. Maybe motion sensors can handle a good layer of dust - who knows! That’s just something I never considered before. And figuring out how to either emulate sunset or do a calculation on sunset time in our area without the cloud would be a bonus, but not necessarily a requirement. We’ve been running since 2017 with that cloud-based calculation. Its not a crisis of the doors fail to open (or close) on a particular day - but I do like the idea of cloudless, if possible.

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@blueyetisoftware I failed earlier to say thanks also for this tip. I ordered a similar ZigBee device tonight to start playing with. I might pick up the zen17 too, and see which works better for us. The one I picked up uses the same load contacts as the Zooz, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up under load.