I own three VSB Chicken Door Openers and have just bought a forth for another hen-house; I thought it was about time to write an Equipment Focus review!
I first bought a VSB chicken door opener made in Germany by AXT Electronic in 2007 and had some time getting to know them pretty well.
If you are not familiar with these devices, let me give you a little background information about what they can do and how they work.
What is a VSB chicken door opener?
The VSB chicken door opener uses a motor and electronic circuit to open and close the pop hole of your hen-house at dawn and dusk. It can help protect your chickens from unwanted night-time visitors like foxes and badgers (or raccoons in some other parts of the world such as North America).
The unit comprises a printed circuit board with a conformal coating (a kind of varnish that keeps moisture off the components) and is mounted inside a weatherproof plastic ABS box.
The unit is powered by four ‘AA’ size batteries that mount in a carrier inside the box that lasts up to 2 years depending on your door’s weight and the quality of the batteries you use.
A small motor is used to lift the pop hole by winding in an excellent (but robust) cord.
VSB Automatic door opener options
There are a few different versions of VSB chicken door openers available:
The VSB – For mounting on the outside of your hen-house, this is the basic model.
The VSBbi is designed to be mounted in the same way as the VSB but inside the hen-house. It includes an external light sensor on an extension wire, designed to be mounted outside the hen-house.
This is the option I have always gone for as firstly, it makes the VSB unit much less obtrusive and secondly provides extra protection for the unit against harsh weather conditions.
Although the unit is mounted inside a plastic box, there are still holes on the bottom for the cord and (optional) timer cable to pass through. When mounting the unit inside, the sliding pop hole door should also be fitted to the inside of the hen-house, but do be careful as not all hen houses can accommodate the VSB and an internal pop hole door inside.
There is a battery timer (available separately) for the VSB chicken door opener that can override the VSB opening and closing signals from the light sensor. The reason for wanting to do this is that the standard unit will open the pop hole when it gets light, so during the summer months, when it gets light at 4 am, it stops the automatic door from opening when birds such as cockerels can disturb your sleep and before people are around. Remember, you can still have a visit from Mr Fox in the early hours when things are quiet.
I set the timer to open the door at 7 am, and then it closes as normal at dusk. The timer is powered by one D Cell Battery and is very easy to install by pushing on two connections to the main VSB door opener.
As you will probably appreciate, now owning 4 VSB chicken door openers must say something about how useful I find these units.
I have given the VSB chicken door opener/closer 4.5 stars rating. I would have liked the timer to be integrated inside the unit, since it’s essential to keep the door closed in the early hours of the morning during the summer months, when I’m still in bed and I would like some sort of warning that the battery level is low to allow me to change the batteries before the unit stops working.
The units are well constructed using modern surface mount technology and are suitably waterproofed for their environment. The real test has been the test of time, and other than replacing the batteries and replacing the cord once (on a pop hole that is made from 18mm ply and is rather heavy) in 4 years, I can recommend these units.
You won’t have to worry about locking the chickens up again if you are away when it gets dark, providing you replace the batteries every year and check the cord over for wear and tear from time to time.
The cost of the VSB far outweighs the cost and pain of losing your chickens to a predator.
There are also other companies offering similar products that you can see here.