Help - Homemade Incubator - Temps too low??? (UPDATE - READY TO GO??)

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by CritterFarmer, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    32
    Feb 28, 2009
    Ontario
    Well I decided what the heck, why not try to build an incubator? Miss Prissy's design seemed simple enough and the directions were easy to follow... so low and behold I have a homemade incubator!

    However, I can't seem to get the temp high enough. Temps are hovering around 99.1F, however the humidity is about 72% so I've opened up ONE vent hole to try and drop that a bit... but I'm sure the temp will drop more as well now.

    I pretty much built it "to spec". The only "major" variation is I have a fan hooked up to a 5v adaptor instead of 12v. Only difference is its not quite as forceful, but in such a small area I wouldn't think it would make a big difference?

    I don't know if my cooler is a littler larger? It's about 10" x 20" at the bottom. I've got a 25 watt bulb in there right now and the thermostat at it's lowest setting, however its never got hot enough to trip the thermostat off, so that's not the issue. Should I, or could I, up the wattage on the bulb to get more heat?

    BTW... the incubator is sitting in the living room. No direct sunlight or drafts. Room stays about 72 F. I even keep a piece of styrofoam over the glass window to keep more heat in.

    What else can I do?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  2. lesliet

    lesliet Chillin' With My Peeps

    385
    0
    149
    Apr 27, 2007
    Webster, FL
    I had to put a 40 watt bulb in mine, I couldn't get the heat up with the 25 watt.
     
  3. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    32
    Feb 28, 2009
    Ontario
    Good to know... I wasn't sure if a 40 would be too hot in there.

    I bought another 25 watt bulb... this one is clear and quite a bit longer, so maybe I can get some more heat out of it... otherwise I picked up a 40 watt as well.
     
  4. Chickenfortress

    Chickenfortress Chillin' With My Peeps

    224
    4
    131
    May 8, 2008
    I'm having the same trouble. The thermo seems incapable of holding a temp. For the fist week it held great, now I think it has broken in into instability. It doesn't help that I have 4 thermometers all reading different. I use a medical to test now. One is 6 over another 4 under and another 5.4 under. I have an infrared scanner, and it appears to be accurate to within a tenth. I think the biggest problem with the instability is that the thermostat is a piece of junk. Mechanical thermostats are subject to too many variables and trip inconsistently. I don't think I want to pay $80 for a digital, so I'll make my own. A thermistor and an lm339 op amp are cheap. I have all the other parts, so its just assembly and testing now. On the plus side, I have 2 broodies to take up the slack.
     
  5. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    32
    Feb 28, 2009
    Ontario
    Yeah I know what you mean... I can't get my temps to stabalize. With the "new" 25 watt I picked up it won't warm it up enough, even with ALL vent holes plugged. But, if I put a 40 in there then it spikes to 105, then the thermostat kicks it off, then it dives to 90 and kicks back on so it would constantly jump up and down. Even if I did increase the size of the vent holes I don't have any confidence in the thermostat to regulate the temps with any sort of consistency...[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I tried 3 different themometers. The first one (digital) was wayyyyy off as it turned out. A second digital maxes out at 99.9. However, up to that point it was dead-on with a mercury thermo, so I've been using that one since.

    I'm about ready to pull-the-plug on the whole homemade incubator deal.. and I was sooooo excited!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. bock

    bock Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,281
    10
    191
    Oct 10, 2008
    Northern CA
    Maybe you could buy an incubator for about $30 at a local feed store.Don't give up and throw them away you still have a chance![​IMG]
     
  7. SunnyChic

    SunnyChic Keep The Sunny Side Up

    914
    3
    143
    Mar 7, 2009
    I just made made a homemade bator (thanks BYCers!) about 4 days ago (don't have any eggs yet), and I was having problems stabilizing everything - I know how frustrated you feel! [​IMG]
    It's taken me 3 days, but I've got it stabilized now, so don't give up! You'll need to do alot of tweaking, so make sure you change one thing at a time. Leave your bator alone for awhile so you can observe the changes (this was where I got my special lesson in patience! [​IMG] ).
    [​IMG]

    Here's some things that helped me:
    NOTE: Just work on regulating one thing at a time

    To lower humidity:
    * Use a smaller container (one with less surface area), then you can add a sponge to it when you have to raise your humidity at the end for hatching. I took all my water out - let the humidity go WAY down (21%), and then added 1 ounce of water to my bowl every hour or so until I got the humidity where I wanted it. Now I can add 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce water when I need to, and the humidity doesn't jump way up. Every time I add water, the temperature always lowers somewhat and then eventually evens out again. That's why I only add a small portion at a time.
    * It works for me to keep my vent holes open. I think the humidity in the room you have your bator in is important, too. My room is between 45%-50%.

    To regulate temperature:
    *Add some jars of very warm water with tight fitting lids to simulate the volume your eggs have in the incubator. Someone on the board suggested that, and it has made a HUGE difference in my temp spikes.
    *Change bulb wattage. I ended up using a 40 watt bulb for my average size cooler.
    The biggest thing is to just be very observant, and give any changes you make time to show a difference before changing something else. Try not to go too crazy waiting for everything to even out! [​IMG]
    *When you change the thermostat, leave it alone for several hours, then go back and observe when it turns the light on & off (y'know, just sit there and wait & watch).

    Hope this helps a little - don't give up! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  8. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    32
    Feb 28, 2009
    Ontario
    First off, Thanks for the pep-talk Sunny, it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one... for awhile I thought it was hopeless!!! Some great tips too [​IMG]

    Alright.... So here's where I'm at:

    I changed to a 40 watt bulb, put a good accurate thermometer in there. I couldn't find a water wiggler (heck I tried!) so I improvised with a soft sided cooler pack (one of those gel filled ones) and wrapped it around the lower portion of the thermometer. I cut the vent holes open a tad more (4 in total, all left open).

    For the past 12 hours the humidity in the 'bator has been steady at 48%. The light cycles on and off, as it should. The temperature in the gel pack rises to 101, then the light shuts off, and the temp will drop to 99 before the light comes back on again. Average it out and it's about 100. I DO have to give credit back to Miss Prissy's design... I know I was a little frustrated earlier, but in the end, it looks as though everything is just fine when I finally convince myself to STOP TOUCHING THINGS!!!! [​IMG]

    I've got 7 eggs in storage right now that I kept from my hens yesterday (holding at 54F) and should hopfully get another 10 good ones today, the timing would be perfect for me to set today so I'll be available for the hatch date. These ones won't be anything special, they'll just be a mix of commercial layers (red sex links and plymouth barred rocks) but I thought I'd give the whole incubation thing a try with them before I try it with the heritage breeds I'm getting. I figure that way if I mess something up (inevitable?) it won't hurt so bad!

    I haven't messed with the 'bator at all in 12 hours.... so assuming my setting stay the same (48% and 99-101F), will I be OK to set eggs later today?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  9. CritterFarmer

    CritterFarmer Out Of The Brooder

    41
    0
    32
    Feb 28, 2009
    Ontario
    Quote:btw... 'bators at any of the local feed stores around here are few and far between. I haven't seen one on the shelf for the past 6 months I'd say, and the cheapest I'd seen was about $100. I don't know what brand it was.... pretty non-descript box. I wasn't willing to shell out $100 beans for some "no-name" looking item.
     
  10. SunnyChic

    SunnyChic Keep The Sunny Side Up

    914
    3
    143
    Mar 7, 2009
    [​IMG] Great job; I knew you could do it! I wish I could answer your question about starting your eggs, but I haven't hatched any, so I don't have any experience yet (I just keep my incubator running day and night [​IMG]). I will be getting eggs soon.

    I hope someone with experience will come along and help. Good luck!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by