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dimmer-switch homemade incubator temperature modurators

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am experimenting with making a homeade incubator without a thermostat, using a light bulb and dimmer switch combination such as used successfully by speckled pullet.

In such a set up, it will be key that temps around the incubator do not change much, as I do not want to monkey with the dimmer switch setting much once we get it to a steadyish temp.

I am wondering if any one has tried heat-sink elements in such a bator to moderate the heat?

I was thinking of zip lock bags of water or a brick, or something that would collect and hold a bit of heat.  I plan to make the little flap door speckled pullet used for egg turning, so I am hoping a quick turn of the eggs will not require boosting the dimmer switch if the eggs are sitting on a nicely warmed water bed.

Just wondering.  Would sure like it to work as well as hers did...but I worry that our home temps may vary to much.  I found a spot that only seem s to vary about 7 degress....

Avatar is a "feathered" lobster from a very deep part of the ocean.
Currently Buckeye LF, BBS Ameraucana LF, Speckled Sussex LF, and the odd Delaware, Welsummer, Jaerhon, and/or Buff Brahma Bantam.  We want SQ Speckled Sussex LF, please contact me. 

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Avatar is a "feathered" lobster from a very deep part of the ocean.
Currently Buckeye LF, BBS Ameraucana LF, Speckled Sussex LF, and the odd Delaware, Welsummer, Jaerhon, and/or Buff Brahma Bantam.  We want SQ Speckled Sussex LF, please contact me. 

Reply
post #2 of 6

I believe I was the first to suggest the use of thermal buffers - heat sinks -  around BYC. It was an idea I hit on from greenhouse experiments. I'm convinced that you will only benefit from their use. I recommend the practice wholeheartedly and have tried everything from water filled zippy bags to easter eggs full of modeling clay. You have the concept well in hand, it seems.

As for the dimmer, it is what is known as a rheostat. With a rheostat, you limit the current to a load, in this case a light bulb. In so doing you simply limit it's output, heat, although you control nothing.
With that said, you are right in realizing that ambient fluctuations require YOU to become the controlling element, since a rheostat  has no inherent reactionary control. This means a large measure of vigilance on your part.

In other words, don't leave home while eggs are in the incubator!

Now this all works good for a still air sort of arrangement using convection flow, where you are physically there, nearby. This is what I presume Cynthia has done that you are copying. Well and good. Unfortunately, these sort of incubators are not renowned for precise control, as you are aware.

Might I suggest that you take the leap and get two things

1. An inexpensive wafer thermostat controller After trying about everything under the sun, I'm convinced that it is money well spent. No wait, strike that.................... I'll say it is the BEST money you will spend on a homemade incubator, bar none.

2. Circulating fan. Look for discarded computers (which are everywhere), and take the cooling fans from them. Use 110vac-12vdc "wall wart" converters from thrift store bins to power the fan.

You're going to be plugging the thing in anyway, so why not have these features for little to no cost?
Scrounge, "re-purpose" and re-use to your hearts content on everything else, but don't skimp on these. Seriously.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Here are a few wafer controllers for not much money:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=380207647758&rvr_id=&crlp=1_263602_263622&UA=WVF%3F&GUID=1af6b9941270a0e203e14671fd6f0ed9&itemid=380207647758&ff4=263602_263622

http://dblrsupply.pinnaclecart.com/products/GQF_Incubator_Thermostat_Switch-561-540.html


Edited by Davaroo - 3/1/10 at 12:14pm

Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

My concern is how electrically challenged I am.  I am concerned that I am not competent enough to wire in a thermostat.  I think I can manage screwing the dimmer switch device into the socket, but there are some that would question that assumption. lol

I will look for the instructions for making a thermostat work with the light bulb, but at some point it would be better to go out and buy the $160 ready made incubator.  (something the spouse isn't sold on, but he is sold on me making one that might burn the house down, go figure...)

Thank you for the technical terms, the son will think I actually know what I am talking about!

Avatar is a "feathered" lobster from a very deep part of the ocean.
Currently Buckeye LF, BBS Ameraucana LF, Speckled Sussex LF, and the odd Delaware, Welsummer, Jaerhon, and/or Buff Brahma Bantam.  We want SQ Speckled Sussex LF, please contact me. 

Reply

Avatar is a "feathered" lobster from a very deep part of the ocean.
Currently Buckeye LF, BBS Ameraucana LF, Speckled Sussex LF, and the odd Delaware, Welsummer, Jaerhon, and/or Buff Brahma Bantam.  We want SQ Speckled Sussex LF, please contact me. 

Reply
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom 

My concern is how electrically challenged I am.  I am concerned that I am not competent enough to wire in a thermostat.  I think I can manage screwing the dimmer switch device into the socket, but there are some that would question that assumption. lol

I will look for the instructions for making a thermostat work with the light bulb, but at some point it would be better to go out and buy the $160 ready made incubator.  (something the spouse isn't sold on, but he is sold on me making one that might burn the house down, go figure...)

Thank you for the technical terms, the son will think I actually know what I am talking about!


You know what is funny? That is about as simple as I can get it! It's official now - I'm a nerd. lol

I get your point, though, and you know your limitations better than anyone. Better safe than sorry around electricity.

If I can be of any help to you, don't hesitate to let me know.

Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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post #5 of 6

If it makes you feel any better, I had no issues with the light bulb and heat output in/around the Sterlite container. The container never once seemed hot to the touch or overheated. It was moderatley warm when I touched the area around the lightbulb, but that was all. I used a 100 watt bulb, too.

I also left for hours on end (sometimes up to 8 hours in the daytime) and slept for up to 10 hours at night without worrying about the bator temp. The WORST issue I had is that it would drop down to 97/98 degrees on nights when we had a freeze outside. However, after I moved the bator to a DRAFT FREE area, it no longer did this.

Hope this helps!

Frizzled Bantam Cochin hatching eggs available spring 2011! http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=47689
Jacksonville, Florida
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Frizzled Bantam Cochin hatching eggs available spring 2011! http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=47689
Jacksonville, Florida
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post #6 of 6

I currently have an incubator that I made from the bits and pieces around home. I use a dimmer switch to adjust a 40W light bulb, I have a computer fan running to circulate the air, and I have jars of water in the Incubator to act as temperature stablizers. This works well so far. I keep the incubator in the basement where the temp is relatively stable. The jars help stabilize the temp when you open the incubator to rotate the eggs. I have found that when I have set the temperature and is is stable for about 2-3 days before setting the eggs I do not have to adjust it again. Also I have cans of water in the incubator to provide the required humidity. during lockdown I increase the cans by one to get the right humididty for lock down. I have gone through 2 hatches this way and have only lost eggs that were not showing any signs of development after the first 7 days.

The connectivity was really easy. I will attempt to explain how it is connected. You have the plug that goes to the wall, on the other end it goes into an electrical box. For the electrical box you have two wire comming in. One wire goes to the plug and the other goes to the lamp socket. The one going to the lamp base is just normal 2 wire lamp cord. the one from the wal may have a ground wire in it to ground the box to prevent shocks. So to the physical connections in the box. Put the dimmer in in the middle of the black wire and one of the wires going to the lamp base. Ensure that if you have a ground wire it is connected to the ground screw in the box. Connect the white wire to the other wire going to the lamp base with a marrette (twist on connector). at the lamp base you will connect each connector on the screws. Basically it does not really matter which screw you attach each wire to. Just that there is onlyone wire to each screw. I went eavan further by adding another electrical box for the DC power converter for the 12 V DC Computer fan. The sole purpose of the fan is to circulate the air in the Incubator to prevent hot and cold spots.

Use the bators in the Coop section for insperation on how to do it as there are lots of good ideas there.


Here is a link to incubator instructions on BYC that has a simple wiring diagram that is siular to how i did it. just replace the thermostat with thte dimmer switch.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=25270-home-made-brooder

I will attempt to find the time this week to take appart my electrical box and take pictures of it.

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