The popularity of raising chickens has exploded in recent years, particularly in urban areas. Hens can lay an egg every day, and chickens can gobble up pesky bugs in your yard. You can even pet them, if you’re into that sort of thing. But, as with any other animal, they do require care. Fortunately you can use technology to take the labor out of that job. That’s what YouTuber Sean Hodgins has done in his latest video with this internet-connected, solar-powered, Twitch-streaming chicken feeder.
Hodgins built this chicken feeder for Sweet Farm, which is an animal rescue. This can, of course, automatically feed chickens at certain times of the day. But it can also be controlled over the internet like any other IoT device, while also streaming a live video of the feeder on Twitch. There is even a large LED matrix on the feeder to display messages when someone donates to Sweet Farm. The solar panels charge large batteries to ensure that the feeder can be placed anywhere outdoors and still be operational.
To build it, Hodgins started with some candy dispensers. Those were then modified with DC gearmotors attached to the dispensing mechanisms using 3D-printed mounts. The motors are controlled by a Raspberry Pi through a custom driver module that Hodgins had developed earlier. A webcam connected to the Raspberry Pi provides the video feed. Finally, an LTE modem is used to connect the Raspberry Pi to the internet, even when it is out of range of wireless networks. All of those electronics, along with the dispensers, are mounted on a heavy duty welded-steel frame that will hold up for decades.