Z-Wave controlled 12 volt chicken coop door opener: ideas needed

With the demise of @JohnR 's Coop Boss, I couldn’t find any other projects with a 12volt linear actuator powered chicken door that I control with Smartthings so I borrowed from here and there to piece this together. Eventually, this will be solar powered.

I used a Fortrezz MimoLite, a DPDT relay, a 12-inch linear actuator, a small reed switch, and an old 12volt transformer for now. I used @johnconstantelo 's garage door controller because it uses the Mimolite in a latched configuration and takes advantage of the sensor to state if the door is open or closed.

I’d like to add two things… a hardwired override button to open and close just in case and some type of sensor to avoid squishing slow chickens.
I would appreciate some feedback as I am very new to building this type of project. I’m sure the design could be streamlined and would like to hear thoughts on how the two features on my wish list could be added.

The contraption works but this wiring diagram is from memory so…


I can already see the headlines: CHICKEN squashed due to ST Cloud Downtime!

From your schematic it appears that the linear actuator moved in one direction or another depending on polarity. The relay switches the polarity when energized. I am guessing the end of line must be implemented with something on the actuator.

If this is the case, then a simple override would be a switch between COM and NO of the MIMOlite to forcibly close the contact regardless of what the MIMOlite’s relay is doing. With just one switch you can close the MIMOlite relay but not open it. A second SPST switch in between the power source and the MIMOlite COM (this would normally be closed) would allow you to open the circuit regardless of the MIMOlite’s relay.

An option you have for the override that forces the MIMOlite COM/NO contact closed is where you connect to the power source… before or after the switch in series. I would do whatever guarantees that the OPEN THE GATE override will always work.

Can you tell me what the COM / NO contact status is for OPEN GATE and CLOSED GATE?

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I really appreciate the help Alex!

Correct. There will be a door on the actuator arm with the reed switch magnet.

I think I see what you are saying… bypass the mimolite with a switch?

I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you are asking!

Switch M = MIMOlite relay (COM / NO)
Switch O1 = SPST switch, normally closed. When open it forcibly opens circuit even if M or O2 are closed (unless it is bypassed with dotted line connection for O2)
Switch O2 = SPST switch, normally open. When closed it forcibly closes the circuit as if M were closed. The dotted line indicates an alternative connection for that side of the switch. Connecting before O1 will result in O2 being able to close the circuit regardless of O1 and M being open. Connecting as shown with the full line, O1 can override both M and O2.

To figure out which one of the options makes more sense I need to know whether the relay must be powered or not to OPEN the gate. I am assuming that the most important override is to OPEN the gate to prevent hurting any chickens.

Got it. I’ll test it later tonight and let you know. Yes, we don’t want to injure the ladies but the actuator is very slow moving (30 sec +/-) so they should have plenty of time to get out of the way and I’ll set it to close well after dusk when they are already inside and settled.
My preference would be just a dead simple button or switch which toggles open/closed in case the power goes out or ST fails somehow. Ideally it’s spouse / teenage daughters / chicken sitters friendly :wink: I understand that it may not be possible. I appreciate the help!

The problem with this override method is that it forcibly opens/closes the gate excluding the ST portion entirely. Therefore, once you override it, you must leave the switches as-is until the ST side can be set accordingly. This override will work regardless of what happens to the ST side or MIMOlite. Operating it would be simple but possibly confusing… I gave a stab at trying to label the switches but none of my solutions looked dead simple to understand without knowledge of how the system works.


Switch O1 (full line diagram)

ON (closed)
OFF (GATE OPEN) (open)

Switch O2 (full line diagram)

ON (GATE CLOSED) (closed)

I took a look at this MIMOlite web page:

…and found the following:

The output relay is, typically, commanded via Z-Wave commands. In addition, the user can configure the input SIG1 trigger condition to be mapped to the output relay. Thus, for example, Relay 1 can be automatically turned on based on Input SIG1 being triggered.
The relay activation can be set via a jumper or via ZWave for either momentary or latched operation

You might be able to use SIG1 to control the relay manually but I could not find any information on whether you can have both zwave and manual control (and which one overrides the other). Also, this might allow you to force the relay to close but not the inverse. A bit more info on this input is here:

If you did not require the override to operate when ST is not working, then one could do everything you want with a simple zwave switch (to detect manual override without needing access to any smart device) and writing the appropriate webcore piston to do all the magic.

I really appreciate your suggestions and I’ll experiment to see what I can do. I’ve gotten a lot further along in this project that I expected so I’m holding out hope that these last few items can be inplimented. Worse case is I continue to use the hinged door on the outside of the coop when needed. No big deal.

For the anti-squish function, I’m looking at something like this to sense higher voltage and trip a relay - https://www.globalpc.co.nz/Electronics/Kits-Toys/Power-Kits/Product-Specification-K4005.aspx

From what I’ve found, for the SIG1 input to trigger the relay, the Mimolite needs to be configured using a PC and some Fortrezz software or possibly using a configuration function in ST but that seems to have disappeared. This seems daunting to a Mac guy! plus I’m currently using the SIG1 input for the reed switch.

Fortrezz marketing materials also mentioned being able to wire the Mimolite to reverse polarity thus eliminating the need for a relay. I emailed support and they couldn’t tell me how to make it happen, so I’m not sure how versatile this device truly is.

Not sure but I believe what you read has something to do with the diodes on the power input and not on the MIMOlite being able to invert polarity to something. If it had a a DPDT relay then it could do it but since it doesn’t I do not see how. You could remove the relay and power a DPDT relay directly but while that simplifies the circuit a bit, it may make it messier to setup. I have a MIMOlite at home that I purchased years ago for a project I never completed so I can look at it closer and do some testing if time permits (rather if kids permit).

The device you found appears to take action if a voltage threshold is reached therefore it would only help if the chicken detection sensor only had a variable analog output based on what it was detecting. Say for example that an IR barrier were enough, it could be used to force the gate open if the barrier was interrupted. Same way a garage door safety IR beam works. These barriers often have a relay in them that can be used directly without the need for the circuit you found. An example of where I did this can be seen here:

Can you share a picture of the door you automated?

What I saw was on the FAQ page: “Can I control a DC motor driving it in two directions, forward and reversed, using the MIMOlite relay?
Yes. See wiring diagram document. You will notice that two DC batteries are necessary. Be cautious on the Motor ratings for Voltage and Current. MIMOlite relay can support only 10A on the relay contacts.”

Thanks for this! I’ll take a look asap.

The components are only in a box right now as I wanted to get it up and running before installing.

Just an FYI…I’ve been working with some 12v-24v actuators to release a spring hinge, and the best find I’ve made for actuators are after market car door lock/unlock. I wouldn’t say that they’re waterproof, but certainly they’re safe for outdoors. I found a set of four on eBay with remote control for $17 USD.

Kind of been fun to play with…I’m wanting to come up with a use for the other 3.



I found that FAQ but there is no diagram to be found. The only way I can think of to reverse direction of the motor with a single SPST switch (or relay in the case of the MIMOlite) is as follows:

2 batteries, as they stated, one with the positive hooked up to the motor and the other inverted. Then the COM of the switch can be connected to the other end of one or the other battery to power the motor making it turn in one direction or the other. If instead of Battery 1 and Battery 2, you used a power supply, you would end up shorting it. Using two power supplies would also possibly result in a short… as many power supplies have negative tied to ground so the two power supplies hooked up as in the drawing above would be shorted via the common ground. Floating power supplies? Maybe but that is just complicating matters and I am not sure of the result.

Hey there, I’m working on the same problem right now and it was great to stumble upon your post. I’ve got a MIMOLite, DPDT relay, and an Actuator. Were you able to figure out the hardwired override button and a sensor to avoid squishing chickens? Thanks!

I was not and I’ve moved on to a raspberry pi version of this project instead. Much cleaner, cheaper, and expandable! I’ve got motor control and temperature readings running now. This all connects to ST via WebIOPi. It’s pretty slick. I’ll be attempting to add a IR tripwire or proximity sensor and maybe a camera soon.
Regarding anti-squish technology in the original system… my thought was to use something like the Seco-Larm E-9611-2B25 which would cut power to the actuator when the beam is broken. To be honest, my ladies are extremely predictable and the actuator takes 80 seconds to close. I’ve set the closing time to 20 minutes after sunset and I’m sure they will be just fine.
All of these components started to add up and seemed overly complicated so I started looking for other solutions and found Pi.
How far along is your project?

@HeyBriguy would the set up you have pictured also work with two reed switches on the mimolite or would I need the mimo2+?

That sounds awesome. My project has been working well, that is until yesterday. I have it set to open 30 min after sunrise and 60 minutes after sunset. Apparently one of my hens was roosting on the door threshold after sunset and didn’t bother to move during the 30 seconds it takes to close the door. We woke up to find a squished hen :. Anyway, I’m looking to either re-design the door from a sliding to a hinged design, or put in some kind of IR break beam sensor so it’ll stop if there’s something in the way. I’d love to hear more details about your Pi project, I haven’t worked with them much but I’d love to learn more.

Truly sorry to hear about your hen, that’s a real bummer. :frowning:
I’ll post the nuts and bolts for my pi setup when I get a chance.

I finally got around to writing up the Raspberry Pi chicken door adventure! - Solar-Powered Raspberry Pi Controlled Chicken Door

IF, You still need help I got a very good option for you.