Hardware Project with a Friend - Micro-controller for Solar Powered Chicken Coop

in #embedded3 years ago (edited)

I'd like to share a project I'm working on for a friend. He is a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student at Western University in Ontario.


His father has built a chicken coop on his property and as part of his hobby bought a Solar Panel. This solar panel will be used to heat the chicken coup during the winter, and run a large light. It also has some external plugs that allow devices to be plugged in charged from outside. One of the crucial parts is the inverter which converts electricity between AC and DC.


My part of the project is to write the code for the microcontroller which controls the flow of electricity, for example deciding if we should charge the battery or heat the chicken coop, based on things like battery temperature, battery charge, and temperature of the coop. There are also some safety features such as turning off the transformer if the battery or microcontroller case get too hot.


General overview of the program is as follows:

- Turns on and off inverter, 12v load, and 24V load based on temperature, and battery states.

- Gives three LED outputs to convey simple information about the state.

- Relays state of 2 LEDS from the inverter to the remote switch.

- Relays the push of the remote switch to the inverter.

- Turns fans on and off based on temp to avoid overheating.

- errors that occur can be saved as a variable and displayed as a blinking red LED. The number of blinks can be looked up by a printed table.

- Errors include Voltage out of normal range, and temperature out of normal range.

- Water temperature is monitored to avoid boiling or freezing.

- BMS (Battery Management System) is monitored to determine if loads should be active or disconnected

We’re in different cities at the moment so collaboration has been one of the most difficult aspects. My typical programming process is to write code and then test it to see the result and do this many times over and over quickly. However with this project I keep needing to get him to upload the sketch and test it, this has been a huge headache and causing issues on both ends. We plan to setup a remote desktop on his laptop connected to the Arduino so that I can upload sketches and test the serial output myself.


Well we’re using Arduino for this project we’re interested in exploring other micro-controllers that have more pins. Arduino is based on C++ but gives you a lot of methods out of the box that makes things easier. So I’m interested to find out what steps will be needed to go from Arduino based projects to micro-controllers running C++.


@tipu curate

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I am a big Raspberry Pi fan (I have 11) and use a couple of them for monitoring wired temperature sensors in the house. I am teaching myself Python so that I can monitor and log a couple temperature sensors that send there readings wirelessly (915MHz motenio's). I used to have a RPi monitoring my solar charge controller and battery SOC (check out my older posts). I moved and do not have the solar, but hope to get back into it in the future.

You could add the STEM tag to these posts and earn yourself some STEM tokens.

Drop me a line if I can answer any questions about Raspberry Pi's.

Thanks I haven't heard of STEM tokens, I'll have to check that out.