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Electrically challenged instructions for building a homemade incubator

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by HEChicken, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    DD (14) and I would like to build an incubator but are electrically challenged. Whenever I see "how to's" they blithely talk about connecting this or that electrical component to this or that other electrical thingy and frankly, I can't follow them. So I am looking for the "Idiot's Guide to Building an Incubator" and I'm hoping there is a thread or BYC page just for us. We picked up an Omaha Steaks cooler this morning. I will be picking up a PC fan later today. I have light bulbs. I have hardware cloth. I have a thermostat that I used on reptile cages years ago. Do I need a light fixture for the light bulb OR would it be possible to provide enough heat for an incubator using a reptile heating pad (or two). They get up to around 100, I believe. Help? Please?
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    I wired mine according to Miss Prissy's 'bator page (use Search?) but honestly a lot of the incubator pages people have done have VERY methodical leave-no-details-unexplained explanations. So I would suggest by browsing those -- they are accessible by clicking on the "coop designs" link at the very tip top of this page, it's between "breeds" and "byc store".

    Truly, once you are looking at someone's good instructions with photos, and there are many sets of those available, it is totally not rocket science, you can for SURE do it. Nobody is more electrically-challenged (and following-directions-challenged) than me, and I managed [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Forgot to address this above [​IMG] --

    Use lightbulbs (a cheap socket is just a couple bucks at Home Depot or wherever). A heating pad that only gets up to 100ish may not be able to keep temps steady, except in a super heavily insulated 'bator. You need the capacity to heat back up quickly after a drop such as when you open to candle or turn. The great thing about lightbulbs is that they come in a bajillion different wattages so you can swap around (when building the incubator and trying to stabilize it the first time) til you find the wattage that works best -- gives enough power to correct temp drops quickly but does not tend to cook the eggs when bator is closed.

    Actually I had great results (after a FRUSTRATING time using just one lightbulb, with too much temp swings) by using two lower-wattage ones, one of them on constantly (not wired thru thermostat) and the other one turning on and off according to the thermostat.

    Whereas the only way you could mess 'round with optimizing your reptile heating pad would be if it were significantly too powerful you can install rheostat on it... but, just one more thing to wire [​IMG]

    GOod luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    Thanks Pat. Unfortunately, I had previously looked at Ms. Prissy's instructions and hadn't understood them. I did look again just now but still can't get past about the first or second step. I think perhaps I process visual information differently than most people because I typically have difficulty with instructions that consist mostly of pictures. I need the words in order to understand the steps. Where I get hung up on Ms. Prissy's is that the WORDS say to put a hole in for a light but the picture shows no hole and the words do not specify - how big a hole, where the hole should be etc. So I try to picture this, and, having never seen an incubator and having no clue what one SHOULD look like, I am unable to understand what to do for that step and therefore, can't get any further. In any case, the next step simply says she wired the lights. And that is a step for which I would NEED the instructions!

    I appreciate the advice re the reptile heating pads - I'll stick with lights.

    At the hardware store this afternoon I found a fixture that is a "outlet to socket" adapter. One end plugs directly in the wall and the other end allows for a screw in light bulb. It occurred to me that if I could use an extension cord to plug into the wall, plug this adapter into the extension cord, and install it into the side of the cooler, I would eliminate the need to do any wiring. Has anyone else used this type of adapter and/or see any reason it would not work? Here is what it looks like. You can see where the light bulb screws in, but also see the edge of one of the prongs to plug into the outlet, on the back of it.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Kenneth Flippen

    Kenneth Flippen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the catch to the drop cord is you still need a thermostat to control the temp. but I don't have a clue how your reptile thermostat works if it has plugs then you would be alright. i have a few of those socket adapters laying around they can be useful.

    I haven't built an incubator but have worked on mine before

    when wiring 110V there is 3 wires black(hot) white(neutral) green or copper(ground) black is the one that carries the cuurent to what ever you are wiring(it will shock you) and white completes the circuit carring back to the source of electricity but it won't shock you if wired right ground is for safety in case of a short. when you install a thermostat on newer ones there should be 3 wires if it only controls heat, a black, a white, and red, plus your ground sometimes there is only a screw for ground the black wire coming from your power source connects to the black on the thermostat then you have to run a wire to your light the black wire going to the light connects to the red wire on the thermostat. connect your green wire or copper (it can be either one) to the green screw or wire(it could have either one) now we have the white wires theres 3 total one coming from the power source one on the thermostat and one going to your light connect all three of them together. you'll need some wire nuts to connect the wires

    if you thermostat also has a blue wire it is for cooling just put a wire nut on the end of it to keep it from shorting out you won't need it.

    if you use a light socket there are screws on the back copper(darker ones) and silver(lighter) there may or may not be a green for ground black goes to the darker screws white to the lighter screws make sure once you're finished the black and white wires aren't touching each other or the ground wire. a light switch or plug wires the same way just be sure your colors stay the same

    hope this helped I ain't to good at explaining

    Kenneth Flippen
     
  6. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Virginia
    Here's mine and if I can do it, you can! I was terrified to do it, but I looked at someone's else's picture, just like this one, and by doing exactly what they did, I was able to do it, too. I plugged it in and it WORKED!

    [​IMG]

    (Sorry it's so dark, the camera I was using had a broken flash)

    ETA: I used the light-bulb-holder-gadget and plug from a bottle lamp kit and the thermostat is for a water heater. I stripped the ends of the white wire to expose the copper wires and wrapped them around the little screws and screwed them down.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  7. gckiddhouse

    gckiddhouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 9, 2008
    Desert Hills, AZ
    Quote:So, have you actually used this in an incubator?? I have made one and have that same thermostat hooked up. I am getting temp swings of up to 13 degrees!! That won't do. How is this thermostat working for you? Would you be willing to share?

    HEChicken - I think that your plug will work fine if you can get it to stick out straight in the box or hang the way you want it to. The advantage to the lamp kit is that it provides a neck with a disc that holds it firmly sticking out perpendicularly to the bottom of the incubator. To install the thermostat, you will have to cut the cord (unplug it please) and then follow some directions as to how to hook it up. I isn't hard, it is just a matter of knowing what to attach where. Like I said, I had my brother do it.

    I will say in reference to the above question that I had for Southernbelle, that I am not sure that using this thermostat is a wise idea. You may want to find a different way to manage the temp inside your incubator. I am just as frustrated as i can be. I have had temp fluxes between 91* and 106* and that is what this thermostat is allowing... What to do!??? [​IMG]
     
  8. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Maine
    I made an incubator using a reptile tank thermostat, a computer fan, and a couple of light bulbs. The thermostat would turn things on at 99 and turn things off about 101. I know that even 2 degrees is a big range, but that was the range of the air temp, I doubt that the internal temperature of the eggs fluctuated nearly that much.

    My thermostat has two outlets built in (and only cost about $27). I wired the light bulbs and fan to a single cord and plugged that into the thermostat. I know that telling you that I wired them and that it was simple isn't going to help you with your wiring. But, I bet that you know somebody that could show you how to wire a fixture in a matter of minutes and it would probably be a whole lot easier than reading the directions anyone could post here.
     
  9. ArizonaDesertChicks

    ArizonaDesertChicks Eggstactic for Pretty Eggs

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    I am also electrically challenged, my husband was out of town, and I was in a hurry, so I opted to use a lamp socket dimmer instead of a thermostat. The dimmer screwed right into the worklight I was planning to use (already had it on hand) and then you put the lightbulb into the socket. I am only on day 3, but so far so good. If your incubator is well insulated and the room you keep it in is a stable temperature, then I would think you should be able to use the dimmer to get the light at the temperature you need.
     
  10. babyspice35

    babyspice35 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I did the exact same thing, it works great!!! You can get them for $9 at Walmart. It looks like a socket on one end and a screwer-inner at the other with a control knob in between. It's SO much easier than doing the whole thermocrap stuff, and I'm horrible and terrified to wire anything.
     

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