Homemade Incubator

By Ridgeline Hens · Jan 11, 2012 · Updated Jan 10, 2015 · ·
  1. Ridgeline Hens
    This is my $12.00 bator
    It maintains a perfect 99.5 degrees, at 55 percent humidity.

    I used parts laying around the farm. they are as listed.
    1 old tower cooling fan from a discarded computer. (12vdc)
    1 discarded cell phone charger. (12vdc)
    1 new from store hot water element stat. ($12)(more on this later)
    1 old Coleman chest cooler
    1 piece of plexi glass
    some duct tape.
    1 lamp assembly from a lamp I made in shop class 35 years ago
    part of an old cigar box.
    1/4" X 1/4" mesh wire.
    1 40 watt clear light bulb.
    1 discarded fry pan with handle removed.

    click on the pics for full size

    Picture 2 shows the bator done with the hot water stat wired and mounted. This stat did not work the lowest setting would not shut off the light bulb untill 105 degrees.
    I ended up using, an old space heater stat I had in the barn, not used for 5 years, its highest settings works perfect for maintaning 99.5
    The wire mesh I cut and bent to make a safe shelf for the eggs and chicks as they are hatched, away from the fan and bulb, and up off the floor to allow air flow under the eggs.
    The fan runs all the time and is wired directly to the cell phone charger, both 12vdc, just try to match amperage as close as you can, all requirements are labeled on each devise.
    the fan is mounted in an end of an old cigar box, and bolted through the drain hole in the bottom of the cooler, (very stable)
    I did drill a few 1/2" holes around the side, and a couple in the plexi glass.(all can be covered with duct tape to fine tune humidity).
    I tried different size light bulbs, the 40 watt, is what worked for this cooler.

    Update: Feb 2014.
    I have changed the stat to a Bi-Metal thermostat, It works really great
    I also changed the bulb to a 60 watt halogen. Have eggs in it as I write.

    I have hatched 5 batches in the bator to this point. Rate has been 99% it holds 12 eggs I had 2 quiters, all other viable eggs hatched to healthy chicks.

    Here is my latest project....

    I really like the re-purposed mini fridge, the inside is clean white plastic one piece shell, that will be easy to disinfect, the outside shell is thin powder coated steel, with all the fridge parts out it is very light, and super insulated with high density foam, pic one is the original orientation, I will use the back of the fridge as the bottom. and a 40 egg auto turner will fit nice. I used a STC-1000 PID controller for a thermostat, very accurate. can't wait till I set a batch in my new bator. ( P.S. the controller reads C degrees only. 99.5 = 37.5 )


    here is the final configuration, using halogen bulbs ( 72 watt)


    Setting eggs tomorrow, 2/16/2014, I have it fine tuned to hold %47 humidity, and the PID controller works great at maintaining perfect temp, the nice thing about the PID is that you can set the differential degrees to as low as .3 degrees I have mine set at 37.8 (100 F) which turns off the heat ,( with a .3 degrees differential ) when the temp reaches 37.5 ( 99.5 F. ) it turns the heat back on so temp never varies more than .5 F degrees ever . I will update as I hatch with a hatch rate.


    Update! 12/23/2014
    Set a new batch of eggs today, set 20. Mainly standard Salmon Favorelle, and bantam Fav's,
    I also added a second circulation fan, mainly as a backup if my main one fails. My incubator has been in the barn covered with a tarp since last Easter, and when I brought it in to set up and run, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the PID controller kept its programing, and runs perfectly maintaining temp as described above.

    Best Wishes....Merry Christmas:)

    Update: Jan. 10th 2015.
    13 Eggs made it to Lockdown this morning.

    Best Wishes Phil.

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    eggs4me2 likes this.

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  1. penny1960
    I am impressed one heck of DIY very well explained maybe add the drilling you had to do to set this up
  2. eggs4me2
    We have power outages here and if I filled those quart jars with sterile water and ran them through the pressure canner they would never go bad and would maintain the temp for a while during an outage...
    Thank you for the great incentive.
      The Cottages likes this.
  3. Achelois
    That's awesome. I think I need a better stat.
  4. Ridgeline Hens
    Hatch results:
    set 17 eggs. at the first candling I removed 8 unfertilized eggs, 7 hatched healthy chicks, from 9 eggs. 77.8% rate
  5. Ridgeline Hens
    I have mine set at the high end at 37.8 and low end 37.5 that is a half a degree F, (.3 C) with the added heat sink I have in the incubator, ( 1 quart mason jars, filled with water) my temps stayed very stable and the controller turned on and off when it was suppose to. never varied for the whole incubating time.
  6. Achelois
    Where did you buy your thermostat? I've been looking for a 220/230/12V version that will keep the temperature that accurate. I bought this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/301046051017?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 on the understanding (or misunderstanding?) that it would allow programming in 10th of a degree celsius.

    It doesn't. It reads in a tenth of a degree, but the programming is very limited. I can try to keep it between 37-38 degrees but it won't switch the load on until 35.9 and won't switch it off until 38, and then it continues to climb higher by the time the fan forces the hot air from the lamps towards the egg end. So huge fluctuations. I hoped it would average out but I think I just need a new controller :/
  7. Daedalus62
    Thanks, Phil... I understand how the turner works now.
  8. Ridgeline Hens
    I have this new bator wired so that I only have one plug that powers everything, power is 110 vac. that power cord feeds a double gang junction box, and from the junction I have a addition single gang outlet box, the 12 vdc adaptor that powers the cpu fan ( that runs constantly ) is plugged into the outlet box. the power for the PID controller comes from the main junction box, power to the light bulb (heat source) is fed from the controller box, the power that feeds the egg turner is also fed from the main junction box, but has a 2 wire splitter plug so I can remove the egg turner at lockdown without disturbing any other wiring in the main junction box. The egg turner does run all the time and tilts the eggs to a 45 degree angle in both directions very slowly, 4 times a day. I hope that helps. Phil
  9. Daedalus62
    Hi Phil,
    Thanks for your input.
    Sorry to insist in my question, but... Just for my knowledge, cause I'm not familiar with those egg turner units...
    So, you just plug in and it's in very slow CONSTANT motion, turning the eggs?... Or, it's connected to some separate timer unit that powers it, say turning the eggs every few hours?... Hope this was clear...
  10. Ridgeline Hens
    Cost for this project:
    $ 39 turner.
    $ 17 PID controller.
    $ 5 for new cpu fan DC
    $ 8 for 24" X 16" plexiglass
    $ 6 assorted electric boxes, and hardware.
    total $75
    more than I thought at onset, but oh well...most likely the last one I will ever have to buy or build.
      eggs4me2 likes this.
  11. Ridgeline Hens
    the egg turner is a store bought turner, they go for $39, at the local farm store, it is powered by 110ac.
    the humidity is controlled by the vent holes I have drilled into the sides, and a few in the top door, the number I have maintains 47% at the current ambient room humidity, which is my target during the first 18 days, at lockdown I will cover enough of the holes to raise the % to 55%.( which may be as much as half of the holes) I have 20 3/8 inch holes overall. I know there is many that use the dry hatch method, but I have had much success with those humidity%'s.
      eggs4me2 likes this.
  12. Daedalus62
    Hi Phil,
    Nice project, re-purposing at is best. Congrats!
    Two questions:
    1 - How is the egg tray turner motor driven?... I suppose you have some kind of cyclic timer circuit in there... Or...
    2 - How did/will you fine tune humidity?... Just add/remove water through that tube?
      eggs4me2 likes this.
  13. Ridgeline Hens
    it is 2 wires coming from the power supply, most dc fans have 3 wires or more, you only use 2 of the wires from the fan,, trial and error, to run fan, coming from the supply, one of the wires will have a mark all along the wire, either writing, or a dash line, this is your positive side, the other is common, usually the fan wires are blk, red, yellow, most likely the red is positive, and the blk, common, you need to see witch way the fan spins, if you get it to go, if the blade is going backwards, change the wires around.
  14. Joshua G
    Very nice, how do you set up the phone charger to supply power to the fan? Do you splice the wires?
  15. ChirpChickens
    yeah.. i realized that about 2 min. after i posted.. :p
  16. Ridgeline Hens
  17. Ridgeline Hens
    that powers the computer fan that keeps air moving in the incubator, computer power supply cooling fans are 12 volt dc.
  18. ChirpChickens
    so what did you use the phone charger for??
  19. Ridgeline Hens
    Update to my incubator. 118/2014, I have hatched 5 batches of chicks now, setting 12 each time, the last hatch I had one quitter, other than that, and the quitter I had on the first batch,, 100% and we are getting ready to set next week.....great FUN!
  20. Ridgeline Hens
    12 eggs in , 11 hatched, other one cracked but did not hatch.
  21. YellowChicken
    Well, how well does it work? Hatch rate?

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