My Houdini Chickens

Houdini Chickens from Alan Graham on Vimeo.

Chicken Run is just a movie...or is it?

This is a surveillance video I made to try and figure out how our chickens kept getting out of their coop during the night. I also discovered why the cat had been so manic every morning...they had been eating his food while he slept.

Turns out they learned that the chicken wire on the side of the coop bends one way (for exiting) and bends another way on top of the coop (for entering).

Song: Carnage By: The White Buffalo (Available on iTunes, Thanks for the use of the song!)

Alan Graham's automatic chicken door Alan's DIY "Cat Jet" litter box ventilation system ... iPad home automation Read the rest

iPad home automation

Admittedly I'm a first class dork, and I have been writing about home automation for many years. From climate control, to music, to hard core energy savings (vampire devices not allowed), I use automation to make my life a little better. For example I'll be heading out on vacation in July and while I'm gone, lights will turn on randomly at night, outside motion detectors will make people think someone is home, plants will get watered, chicken coop doors will go up and down, cameras will keep an eye out for the pet sitter, water mains will be watched, and I'll be able to login remotely and check that all is well and the house hasn't burned down.

The one hitch in my system for years is that since I've been building my own UI's for controlling the house, I've been limited because touch screen devices were either too expensive or limited by functionality and screen size. I've had a touch monitor, Nokia N800, and even an iPhone mounted to my walls. However as soon as I got my iPad home, I knew that I'd found the perfect touch device and started to rebuild my UI from scratch.

First I found some metal framing material at Lowes and built a mount for the wall. Then I embedded a rare earth magnet in the wall and spackled it in place so you couldn't see it. I cut a strip of tin, flattened it, and mounted it to the back of the iPad behind some velvet. Read the rest