21 Days of Anxiety Leads to Building My Own Incubator

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Eggsakly, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. Eggsakly

    Eggsakly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am 5 hours away from the end of the 21st day of my first hatch, or non-hatch as the case may be, and there is not a single pip. This may change. My temps may have been low. They may have been too low. I attempted to use an old Hovabator still-air incubator, and I can now see how people who are knowledgeable and skilled can work with the still-air styrobators, but I'm afraid the learning curve for a complete novice like myself, especially with this particular incubator, was more intense than I would have liked.

    For one thing, when measuring the temperature at the top of the eggs, the fluctuation was about 3 degrees Fahrenheit. So, is the 101 at the "top of the egg" the maximum temperature reading, or the average? In other words, should the 3-degree fluctuation range between 98 and 101 (maximum), or should it range between 99.5 and 102.5 (for a 101 average)? Should bantam eggs have a different/lower temperature? It seems that they would. I only found one source of information that addressed these questions, and the answers were different than what I found everywhere else.

    In the mean time, as I wait for my eggs to do or die, I have begun gathering items for a homemade incubator. I have ordered a digital thermostat ($17 including shipping) that is due to arrive on Monday, and acquired a CPU fan ($10), and 2 porcelain light sockets (<$3 each). Now I must decide on my form for the incubator. Styrofoam and plastic coolers are cheap and readily available. I have an old plastic cooler I could use on hand, but I admit I really really like the Jenki Bator design here on BYC. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-jenki-bator-wbjdmds-chicken-incubator Awesome, I think! It looks like a refurbished old-fashioned bread box.

    A single large sheet of Styrofoam insulation at Home Depot/Lowes costs about $16. A 1/4" sheet of plywood that is 2'x4' costs about $8. Either one or both could be used to construct a form similar to the Jenki. Perfect pieces of plexiglass for a large viewing window are also available for $3 - $8 at many hardware stores, depending on thickness.

    Thinking about building a new incubator helps me to keep from obsessing too much over the eggs that haven't started hatching yet . . .

    Any comments on DIY incubators?
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I built my incubator and hatcher with No plans, built from used plywood(not nailed) and a lot of stuff I had laying around----had to order a few things------over 7000 chicks later---its been fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  3. Eggsakly

    Eggsakly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's encouraging. Thank you for saying so. I have to revise my costs down, I believe. I found a better porcelain socket for <$1.50, and my case fan was only $3. It appears that making an incubator is much, much cheaper than purchasing one. Fortunately, I have all the tools I need, and likely all the wood.

    Does your homemade incubator have an automatic egg turner?
     
  4. Bryam

    Bryam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Eggsay homemade incubators are highly unpredictable. Get a brinsea, then your worries will be behind you!
     
  5. Eggsakly

    Eggsakly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm certain that the Brinseas are much more consistently reliable, but I shall have to hope that my homemade incubator will also be reliable. An RCom would be nice, too.
     
  6. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, the 2 you see in my pic under my name are my home-made. I made the turner racks from scrap aluminum pieces one of my renters gave me, but I have a 4ft metal brake. I used a rotisserie motor of a grill to turn the racks BUT when I got to 200 eggs in it that motor would not turn them But I could have made a 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 gear reduction deal and it would have worked. I just ordered the real turner motor. The hatcher on the right I only had spent $60 in it but again I had the metal for the trays, plywood etc. I will post a pic of a cabinet incubator---that might give you a idea--- I bought it used at auction for $40---yep with those 4 turners in it---It works good. I think it had a hatcher tray built for the bottom to hatch in. I only incubate in it and move the eggs to my hatcher. Note, I bought this for the 4 turners, but tested it and it incubated good so I use it as a back up--when the other are loaded. The second pic is it on the right---not bad for $40. The red one on the left in the second pic I bought for $60 at the Auction. Its a older Dickie. I changed the thermostat to a high tech electronic which had a turner motor option on it because the turner motor timer was bad in it-----this is a great working incubator too. The 3rd pic is the inside of it loaded with eggs. The 4th pic is a bigger pic of my home-made. I bought a used GQF at a deal at the Auction so Do You Have Any Chicken Auctions in your area----I could have not built this GQF for what I payed for it used. Here is a pic of it (4th pic).

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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  7. draag80

    draag80 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hatching and successful hatching are two different things. Successful hatch is more than 90% hatch rate. The two most crucial components are the thermostat and thermometer. U can order chinese made incubators which are really cheap and effective. I have tried them recently and achieved almost 100% hatch rate. U can view the thread in hatch section
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  8. Eggsakly

    Eggsakly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great photos! Thank you. Very helpful. And amazing. That is a lot of eggs.

    There is not a great deal where I am that is used or secondhand. I'm in a semi-rural area of Alaska that is on the road system, but with limited immediate consumer options. I often check the local craigslist for used incubators, however. There has been nothing for months, which played into my decision to just do it myself.

    Unfortunately, with 7 hours remaining in the 22nd day, there is still no sign of hatching life in my eggs. I found that my incubator simply would not hold a stable temperature for long. I could establish a stable temperature for a while, but within a few hours the temp would either climb or drop by more than a degree, and with a variable of 3 continually changing degrees the best it can do to begin with, I fear it proved too much for the developing embryos.

    i did buy a lovely small piece of 1/4" birch plywood yesterday for a few bucks. Not sure if I'll use it, but it's the kind of thing I've been looking for.
     
  9. Eggsakly

    Eggsakly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good going on the successful hatching! How many eggs can your incubator hold? I've looked at those, and a couple of models are receiving some very good reviews. They are quite affordable on ebay.
     
  10. DwayneNLiz

    DwayneNLiz ...lost... Premium Member

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    i am not in agreement with you, i use a home-made coolerbator and my temps dont fluctuate .5*f

    the hardest thing with the styros and still air styros specifically is that there are hot/cold spots
    then of course temp swings, to control temp swings you need to add heat sinks (rocks or water bottles-unopened)
    and calibration is a huge one as well
    here are some notes to look at

    Thermo/hygro suggestions post #40275
    HEAT SINKS/ Stones/Pebbles ADD THEM TO STYRO! post #43903
    ziplock water wiggler for estimating internal egg temps with a probe thermometer post #115296
    Calibration is a MUST: HOW TO CALIBRATE post #262



    and NEVER trust the included thermo/hygro

    Good Luck!!!
     

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