The "Styrobator"

  1. Welshies
    Incubators are expensive. Can we not all agree?
    I, as a backyard hatchery, don't have all the money in the world. I considered spending $100 on a nice, 24 egg forced air incubator.
    But then I thought about how long that would take me to earn back... considering that and my monthly fees, I swear my eyes just about fell out of my head!
    I had never incubated before, I reasoned. I was just beginning my business, I reasoned. Why spend $100 or $200 or $300?
    I couldn't think of an answer.
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    I knew I wanted to incubate. I had so many eggs just sitting around. Chicken eggs, quail eggs... and my quail didn't go broody. How was I supposed to expand my quail business?
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    So I looked into DIY. I wasn't comfortable with it at first, I'll admit. I was pretty scared I was going to burn the house down. I still am!
    Friday morning I drove into town. Expecting to not find any reasonable prices, or even stay within my budget, I eased my way through three stores.
    Believe it or not, Walmart's prices were outrageous.
    The Dollar Store had a few things that I needed. Duct tape, a 25 watt bulb, and some wire mesh I needed to convert old rubbermaids into quail breeding pens. All of that was under $5.00.
    Canadian Tire had the rest. I picked up a styrofoam cooler that was "40 can capacity", or in bird talk, about a dozen chicken eggs or 30-40 quail eggs. $15.00. I kept walking.
    My initial plan was to not include a fan, because I wasn't comfortable with wiring anything on my own. However, I saw the perfect fan in the office supplies aisle. It was a desk fan, and it's noisy, but it runs on batteries and works just fine at $13.00.
    I grabbed a thermometer/hydrometer for $10.
    Then I was off. $40 for an incubator? That was awesome!
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    Of course, I still had to build it (in hindsight it was easy, but at the time I was afraid to try).
    Being a photographer meant I had a plug-in light socket at home. I used that, first ducktaping it just barely in the incubator. At the time, I didn't realize the end of it would get super hot.
    I gathered a plug-in light socket, 4 AA batteries, my fan, my thermometer and hydrometer, duct tape, scissors, and picture frame glass.
    Construction was a bit messy, but it only took me 15 minutes. I was anxious to try my bator out.
    I plugged in a 40 watt bulb, worried the 25 wouldn't cut it.
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    Don't do that. Seriously, don't do it! Within 5 minutes my temperature was at 105°F. Way too hot. I took it off (carefully) and replaced it with my 25 watt bulb.
    It took about 10 minutes to get to 99°F, and it stayed there. I was satisfied, but the light socket was awfully hot.
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    So I undid all the duck tap, put the light socket even further through the styrofoam wall, and redid it back up.
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    Success! The temperature slowwwwly climbed its way back up to 99°F, and the fan noisily did its job, while the humidity.... well, we all know how humidity is- easy.
    Time to hatch some eggs!
    All in all this bator was less than $40, took 20 minutes to assemble, and is reliable and easy, even for a beginner like me.

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