Chic Chick 'Bator *UPDATED*

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by MissPrissy, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    24,442
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    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Past experience with an old hovabator over 15 years ago left me not wanting to try and hatch eggs myself. The thermostat was wonky and unreliable. Even replacing it with a new wafer it was a pain to get the temp set and maintained. With things changing and solid state thermostats available I thought I would give the idea another go. I cringed every time I looked at the price of incubators with all the bells and whistles. Over $200 in some cases for all the extras.

    I could not and cannot see that expense for a styrofoam box!

    With the posting about home made incubators I started collecting pieces and parts and figured this girl could make one, too.

    This is my effort at putting together a reliable incubator. So far it is working fine. I have it running now so I can work out the adjustment on the thermostat for consistant temperature.

    Supplies:
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    1 styrofoam ice chest or a chest that is used to ship frozen foods. I had both but chose the ice chest because it is larger.

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    1 hot water heater thermostat ($8, temp ranges from 90 - 150 F)
    25w light bulb
    1lamp kit (bottle version)
    4 old wine corks
    1surge protector
    1water wiggler

    Not pictured
    hardware cloth, water dish, old pc fan, adaptor/transformer

    I cut and bent the hardware cloth to make a rack that fit into the ice chest. I placed an old dish in the bottom to provide more surface area for the water to help with humidity and also to rest the hardware cloth rack on. Be careful because the cloth will scratch you as you work with it. I worked with it removing pieces here and there until I got a good custom fit. I also cut out the area where the light bulb would be installed to keep the light low in the box because heat rises.

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    I am not an electrician and have very little expeience with wiring. I followed a diagram and wired my light and the thermostat. I did wire them wrong the first time but when the breaker tripped I knew then the right way to wire them. LOL

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    The thermostat is the least expensive, single pole version I could find. In a previous post Aran had gotten his from Home Depot but I could not find anything inexpensive (under $10) in my local store so I picked one up from Lowes. The temperature range on this model is 90 - 150 F. The screw at the top is numbered #1 and the lower is #2.

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    I used a bottle lamp kit because it has an opening on the side so that the kit can be wired straight from the bottom or from the side. This was perfect for this project because it allowed me to run the wires, connect them, then seal the base closed. I am terrified of exposed wires and prefer to have everything contained neatly and hidden away.

    On the kit the ribbed wire was to be connected to the silver screw.

    So I cut off a piece of the cord about 4 inches long to have wire to work with to connect the thermostat.

    With the ribbed wire connected to the silver screw I then used a piece of the wire I cut to wire from the brass screw to the thermostat #2 screw, then used the non ribbed wire of the cord to wire it to the #1 thermostat screw. The wire is run through the base screw and then over through the side opening to that everything is sealed shut when the lamp assembly is closed.

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    I then carefully wittled out around the inside hole I made to insert the lamp assembly so that everything was snug and tight. The walls of the ice chest I used are rather thick -just a bit thicker than the screw/bolt that came with the light kit. I was very careful to cut away around my bolt opening to that the light assembly would screw together snug and tight so the bulb did not wiggle around and pose a fire threat by melting the styrofoam. Also I cut away a little bit to accomdate the wiring running over to the thermostat.

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    Assembly on the outside.

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    And from the inside.

    I put electrical tape over the little screws on the thermostat that the wires are attatched to because I worried if a child reached in and accidentally touched the screws they might get shocked.

    Make sure you thread your wires through your tiny holes before assebling them. I used an ice pick to make tiny openings to thread the wires through.

    Next I used an old adaptor (some called it a transformer), 120v input 12v DC output (thanks, redneck!), from which I snipped off the end and wire it to an old pc fan.
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    I wired the black to the black and the red to the other mixed color wire. I secured the wiring with electrical tape and wire nuts. I used a stick coated wire to secure the fan in place.
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    Using a pumpkin carving tool, I cut out 4 air vent holes and used old wine corks to plug them up with.
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    I cut out a large rectangle in the lid and placed over it an old window glass pane.
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    I used duct tape to secure the glass and cover the edges of the glass.

    I used pink duct tape because it is a Chick 'Bator! [​IMG]

    Special thanks to Aran and Redneck for answering my questions. [​IMG] [​IMG]


    *This post maybe be updated as I think about questions I had while making my incubator.

    My 9 year old helper
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    Remember to add at least 4 holes the size of an ice pick about 1 - 2 inches up from the very bottom of the bator for fresh air exchange.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2007
    1 person likes this.
  2. aran

    aran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 28, 2007
    rochester ny
    wow that came out fantastic! Redneck deserves all the credit actually mate, since I just copied all his ideas! You have the exact same thermostat as mine. I must say mine doesnt look as visually pleasing as yours since I dont have everything neatly wall mounted but the net effect is the same.

    I think Im going to get an accurite thermometer though because I have 3 currently and all of them say something quite different.


    Im getting my eggs in the next few days...I cant wait to see how it works. Thanks again redneck for the design!
     
  3. Judymae

    Judymae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2007
    Merit, Tx
    I'm sooo impressed! What a great job!
     
  4. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    AWESOME
     
  5. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    You did a fantastic job and your pictures and descriptions are so clear. I am going to print this post and save it for later reference. Good show!!
     
  6. SunChick

    SunChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 23, 2007
    Bel Air, Maryland
    Wherever did you find PINK Ductape? OMG I must get some! How cool is that!!!! [​IMG]
     
  7. JillsChicks

    JillsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2007
    Western NY
    Angie - Did you tally up your expenses? I'm curious to know how much you "shelled" out for this terrific homemade incubator set-up. We are all very impressed! I'm borrowing an incubator right now, but your plan could work well for us at a later time. Hats off to you!

    Ann and Jill
     
  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Walmart has lots of colors of duct tape. The pink color is named flamingo. When I saw the pink it was a MUST have item. LOL

    Thanks for the compliments, everyone!
     
  9. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    24,442
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    371
    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Jill, many of the items I already had.

    The items I did purchase were -

    - light bulbs - $1.84
    - thermostat - $8.00
    - lamp kit - $6.00 (I could have used an old lamp but decided to buy a new kit)
    - surge protector - $4.00 (I did not have to buy this but I couldn't find the spare one I had - I found it today - go figure LOL)
    - water wiggler - $0.88 (I bought 2, the kids want to play with it)
    - thermometer/hydrometer with the probe $12.00 ( I probably would not have bought this either but the probe and the water wiggler intriged me.)
    - small wire nuts - $0.09

    I spent - $32.81 (but only really needed about $18 worth of supplies - )

    The large ice chest can be purchased at walmart for under $6
    The pane of glass can be cut for you at the hardware store for about $2
    The adaptor/transformer can be found online for about $3
    The pc fan can be found online for about $3
    The hardware cloth is about $2 at a hardware store that cuts wire by the foot
    Pink duct tape - $2.47

    I already had the things in the second list. It was just a matter of gathering them together. If you purchased them it would be an additonal $18.47.

    We are in an area of Virginia where prices are rather high. In smaller towns far away from Metro DC I am sure the prices can be less.

    The most basic incubator runs around $45 plus shipping and that is not the model with the good thermostat and heating element or fan. I think those are over $140. Throw in the auto egg turner for an additional $45 and the prices add up.

    Overall it was a great project to work on. Finding all the items and putting it together was fun and educational for my 9 year old who loves our baby chicks and will scream in delight at the sight of hatching eggs.
     
  10. JillsChicks

    JillsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2007
    Western NY
    What a wonderful savings and a fun project, Miss Prissy! Now the next leap for such a great engineer would be to see if you could come up with an egg turning device! I can't stand watching my temps and humidity bounce around every time I open the incubator. And what about a little hole for adding water without having to open the whole thing? Oh, yeah - next I'm going to be asking for a sound system to play classical music for the chicks as they grow! Such an endeavor would make a great science fair experiment, as in, "Does playing classical music vs. rock music increase egg hatch rates?!"

    Ann and Jill
     

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