first hatch with digital incubator controller

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by digistump, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. digistump

    digistump New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2011
    Hi Everybody,

    After following these forums and recently getting 5 acres out here in Washougal, Wa we decided to finally go for it and hatch some chicks. The hatch was pretty successful and I thought I'd share our results as well as the temperature controller I built for our home made incubator.

    The eggs were Light Sussex which we bought locally (found on craigslist), we got 24 eggs but our pickup was delayed by a massive snowstorm so many of the eggs were likely 7-9 days old when we got them. They started to hatch late day 21 and finished day 24, our final total was 10 hatched, 9 are in the broader and the last one is still spending his first 24 hours in the incubator. The last one had a pretty rough trip out of his egg but looks like he is going to be just fine.

    Here are the first few hatching. The incubator is a 2'x2'x2' plywood box, covered in old carpet on the outside for insulation, lined in plastic and then aluminum foil on the inside for heat and moisture retention. The floor is wire mesh with two trays under it for water which can be filled through hoses from the outside. We used egg cartons attached down the middle to a pvc pipe for turning without opening the box, but removed that at day 18.

    [​IMG]

    I was quite happy with the incubator, next time we will take the eggs out of the cartons at day 18 too, but the chicks did ok anyway.

    As a programmer by trade, almost as exciting has been designing the incubation temperature controller. The controller uses a zero-calibration temperature probe inside the incubator and allows both the target temperature and the temperature swing to be changed. The display shows the status, temp, min temp, and max temp. If the temperature falls or rises more than 3 degrees from the set temperature an alarm goes off. The circuit turn on heat by activating a relay which is attached to an electrical cord, in our case we plugged in three light sockets with 60watt bulbs. The temperature was rock solid, though the alarm came in handy after we added the carpet insulation to the outside midway through and our always on 60watt light was too much heat, so we had to change that to a 25watt. I had two 12v fans running in the box off a separate power supply, I might try to power them off of the controller too, but they are so simple to keep separate.

    [​IMG]

    For the next hatch I've already begun to redesign the circuit, both to clean it up and to add more features, I'm adding a humidity sensor with an alarm for when water needs to be added, a second temp probe for monitoring internal egg temperature (we used a baby food jar of liquid soap), and two relays so that two sets of lights can be turned on independently to make the heating more accurate and stable. I figure, with some fuzzy logic when the lights begin to heat up the speed of heating can be measured and half the lights can be turned off when it gets close so it doesn't over shoot, the possibilities and combinations get pretty endless from there.

    Here it is when the heat is on, letting you know it is heating.

    [​IMG]

    I'd love to get any input on any features an incubator controller should have, or anything I'm doing wrong! The next unit should be about 4"x3"x3" I plan to go all out and get the circuit board printed and fit them to a custom case.

    Finally, here are the chicks in their broader, 4'x4' with a 2x4 frame and cardboard walls. They've been in about 24 hours at this point, they sure are alot of fun to watch!

    [​IMG]


    Thanks to everyone of the forum for all the information! This looks like a fun new addiction to add to brewing, electronics, programming, and keeping up 5 acres and a house!


    -Erik
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  2. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

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    Jan 27, 2009
    Enumclaw
    Congratulations on your first hatch. Also a warm welcome to BYC. Are you planning on attending the show in Stevenson? If you have a chance please feel free to join the Washington State thread here on BYC. We have a lot of very experienced members on the thread. The hardest part is keeping up on all the chat on the thread.

    You can find the thread by going to Index/ Social/ Where am I? Where are you?/ Washingtonians.

    Right now a lot of the threads members are hatching eggs. I have 12 eggs to two different bators, and 6 eggs under three broody hens.
     
  3. digistump

    digistump New Egg

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    Mar 26, 2011
    Thanks for the welcome!

    I was not aware of the show in Stevenson, I'll have to look it up and and try to make it!
    I'll get a post onto the WA state thread too, thanks for the guidance.

    Good luck with your hatches, we are sure enjoying the little chicks!
     

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