Homemade Bator 2.0 - Classroom Model- **11-26 - Delivered incuabtor!!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by arlee453, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Well, having been 'volunteered' to do a hatching project/unit with my son's 2nd grade class, I figured another incubator was needed, since my first cooler model (the Rubber-chicken-a-bator) is busy brooding my silky eggs from Jen.

    (read all about that one here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=19675)

    , out to find more stuff to make a new bator.

    Here's the parts list:

    Gott 34 Qt cooler - same size and shape as my Rubber maid cooler I used for the first one - $6 at the Salvation Army Store
    single pole water heater thermostat: $9
    Light kit $6 ($1 at walmart than Lowes!)
    12V DC adapter (free - scrounged from set of old PC speakers)
    PC Fan (free - stopped by a computer repair shop to pick up a used one cheap, and they gave it to me!)
    60 wt light bulb
    cheapo metal baking pan ($1 at dollar store)
    Water snake (with cute ducks... $1 at dollar store)
    Indoor/outdoor thermo $11 at walmart (again, $1 cheapter than Lowes!)
    Humidity guage - $6 at pet store.
    Hardware cloth - left overs around the house
    Glass for viewing window - $2 picture frame at Dollar General

    Total so far....

    Now, if it was for my own use, that'd be the total... BUT this is for the school classroom.

    I thought about turners for a while - and decided that an auto turner would be best for several reasons - firstly, I didn't want to have to pick up and take the incubator home every night to turn the eggs - not only for inconvience, but for the variation in temps.

    Secondly, I thought it probably best if the kids didn't handle the eggs to turn them for several reasons - viruses, breakage potential, lid open too long, etc. So, I broke down and got the $42 little giant egg turner from Tractor Supply.

    So, my total cost is more like $80 - comparable to just buying the LG and turner in the first place, but building our own is so much more fun!

    Here's what I did...

    Used a drill and drywall saw to cut a viewing hole in the top. I made this one slightly smaller than 8.5x11" since it is for the school.

    Drilled 3/8" holes in the bottom, below the wire grid level for ventilation - 3 on either long side of the cooler.

    Drilled 3/4" holes in the front for humidity control.

    Drilled hole for the light kit through the back wall. Mounted light and wired thermostat.

    Got fancy this time - used screws to attach the thermostat to the side wall of the cooler, near the bulb. Also mounted PC fan with screws and drilled small hole to pass the wire through near the fan. I mounted the light higher in the cooler than my first one. Will also put on a light guard when I remove the turner and set the eggs for hatching.

    Made a custom fit shelf out of the hardware cloth tall enough to fit over the pan for the water in the bottom.

    Cut down the egg turner so it will fit. I carefully hacksawed off the last tray on either side of the turner, as close as I could get to the center without disrupting the mechanism of the next tray over.

    You can see the turner in the pics. The two eggs in there were for testing to see if the turner would work OK with the eggs in it without tumbling them out or hitting on the side of the cooler. I found that in reality I can't use BOTH of the outside racks - the fit is just too tight. BUT I can use 3 of the 4 trays so I can get 22 eggs in the turner, which is a gracious plenty for me.

    So far, so good - I don't know if it is the higher bulb, or the way I have the thermostat and fan screwed into the side wall rather than just resting on the grid but the adjustment took only a couple of tweaks to get it in the right range.

    Now for the pics:

    A view of the finished 'GOTT EGGS' model from the top:

    A view of the back wall with the components attached:

    A view of the whole inside setup with the turner:

    I'm waiting to hear back from the teacher to find out when she wants to do the unit. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes...
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2007
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Arlee, the only thing I'm thinking is that the lightbulb will fry the eggs that close to them without a shield of some sort. That was my problem before we used aluminum flashing bent in front of the bulb in our wooden bator.
  3. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Good point, Cynthia...

    Hmmm... do you think using the cups around the outside (farthest away from the light/not directly under it) would work?

    I can put 22 eggs in the turner, but am not planning on setting more than 12 tops for the class room, so could easily avoid putting any directly under the light bulb.

    There is also a good 4-5" between the top of the eggs and the bottom of the bulb. The camera angle looking straight down makes it look much closer.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  4. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    You could do that, at the very least. We had to do the heat shield to keep that direct hot heat off the eggs because the temp could be 105 right at the light and 96 away from it in ours. With the heat shield and the fan flowing across the bulb, it seemed to work well. Four or five inches isn't much when you're talking direct heat from a 60 watt bulb-just put your hand at that distance and hold it there and you'll see. Remember that 100 degrees isn't much hotter than your body temp and if your hand feels like it's burning right over the light, then imagine what it would do to your eggs without some barrier to disperse heat around and not directly on the eggs.
  5. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Great job, arlee. I , too, was going to ask about the frying of the eggs with the bulb and the aluminum. I am thinking one of those little sheilds that goes on a stove light might work.

    edited to add -

    With the type of cooler you could lower the hardware cloth and remove the little cake pan and just put some water in the bottom of the incubator, a very tiny bit of wate because of the larger surface area the humidity will go up quick.

    That would add a few inches more to the egg space height between the bulb.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  6. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    OK, I put the thermometer in the cups right under the light, approx top of egg level, and the highest temps got to 104.

    So, I made a reflector out of tinfoil and a small cardboard box and duct taped it under the light.

    That seems to help already, BUT now I have the problem that my thermostat is blocked somewhat from the light bulb heat, so am going to have to play around again with the adjustment...

    And so it goes! [​IMG]
  7. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Just an update...

    The bulb guard/reflector seems to work fine to keep intense heat from right under the bulb.

    My newest problem is extremes in temps. Temps were varying from 98.5 to 101.9 - the right 'average' but too much of a swing.

    So, I've dropped from a 60 wt bulb to a 40 wt bulb. Since it will produce less intense heat, I'm hoping it will give the thermostat time to adjust more slowly and cut on and off in a more narrow range...

    I'm also considering moving the fan. Right now I have it next to (on the same back wall) as the bulb. I'm thinking maybe moving it around to the side wall so it blows across the bulb may be better? Thoughts?

    We'll see what happens!
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
  8. skeeter9

    skeeter9 Songster

    Very nice, Arlee. I hope it works well for you. I'm sure your class will enjoy the experience and learn lots from it.

    About how often does your light have to cycle on and off to maintain temp?
  9. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    In my other bator which uses 60wt bulb and is running really nicely (got my silky babies in there now) it comes on and off several times in an hour. At one point I was tracking it and it cycled through about 3 times in an hour or every 20 min.

    This new bator is built from the same size and type cooler, just a different brand name. I'm still trying to regulate temps, but I think the lower wattage bulb is helping - the temps are low now, but a much more narrow swing in extremes.

    Now, I just have to bump the thermostat back up a bit and see where we are in a couple more hours.
  10. Cracker

    Cracker Songster

    Jul 11, 2007
    North-West Florida
    In the one I built, I settled on a 25 watt bulb. Everything higher cycled too often.

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