homemade hatcher/brooder construction advice needed

TheBigRedOne

In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 8, 2010
12
0
22
My son wishes to hatch a setting of eggs that will be, at some point, gathered from the chickens that are running loose in the yard here on the hill and so I find myself in need of an incubator. I am out of work as is everyone else on the farm here so my budget is limited to $6.00. I have the following list of possible building materials to house it in or build it out of. I have an old 5 cubic foot freezer with the motor and compressor removed that I could lay on its side and use as a shell. I have the exterior casing from an old window mounted airconditioning unit. I also have twelve aluminum printing press plates from the local paper (about 2 foot by 3 foot) and a bunch of scrap lumber in the barn.

Which of those three options sounds easiest to turn into an incubator considering that I only have the following materials on hand to dedicate to this project: several old ceramic ceiling fixtures, several choices of bulbs to place in them, a large piece (4 foot by 8 foot) of 1/4th inch mesh hardware cloth, a choice of several sizes of picture frames to use as the access door/viewing window, users choice of dishes/bowls to hold the water, several assorted hinges and knobs, to many choices of nails, bolts n nuts, and screws to ever use all of, several old appliance cords to supply the power, and a wall thermometer from the kitchen. oh and i almost forgot $6.00.

I did this twenty years ago as a kid myself with a cardboard box, a desklamp, and a waterbowl for a cat that had no further need of it, and we had a fifty percent hatch rate. But I knew nothing about the subject then. I know some of the basics now about turning the eggs and humidity being neccessary and such. I also know that if this turns out well then my son will want do do it as often as possible until we run out of yard space, so I am trying to build a re-useable incubator this time since I know he will be doing this more than once. Especially when he realizes he owns his very own flock of breakfast factories/yard ornaments.

Any advice on airflow through the incubator, humidity levels, temperature ranges that need to be maintained and time of incubation will be appreciated and put to good use. Also, I have a pretty good selection of tools so the construction plans need not be overly simple but simple enough so that the average highschooler can grasp them. Mostly I am here for advice on ventilation and humidity control, as I am leaning heavily towards the old freezer as the housing for it.
 

Daidohead

Songster
10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
352
0
119
Red Bluff, Ca
welcome-byc.gif
, Hello, I would go with the freezer also, It will have the best insulation. As air rises when it gets warm a few vent holes down low and a few up high will do for ventilation. humidity is controled by adjusting the surface area of water in the incubator, the bigger the surface the more humidity. If you have an old ele water heater around you can use the thermostat from that to control the temperature. Hope this helps.
 

babsbag

Songster
10 Years
Jan 12, 2010
729
9
169
Anderson, CA
I would go with the freezer and I agree with the hot water heater thermostat if you can get one. They are about $10 or less at Lowe's. Single pole is the one you would want. Maybe you have one hanging out at your place already. Also a fan from a computer. Go to a junk store or a computer repair place and see if they will give you one. Then find a power adapter, like one from an old cell phone and use that to power your PC fan.

I just made mine last week and I am still waiting to get the temps stable as I keep changing things and adding things. There is some great information in these forums on the various ways people built them. Just do a search on PC fan and one on hot water heater thermostat and you should get some good ideas.

The trick with the thermostat is to mount it with the back side about 3/4 " away from your heat source, which is probably a light. I did this and didn't drill the holes like some people do and I having good luck with it.

Eggies go in tomorrow, I hope.
 

Dread Pirate Roberts

Songster
11 Years
Jan 20, 2009
1,168
15
161
NorCal
I would take a look at the owner's manuals for the Hova-Bator Sportsman, Brinsea Ova Easy, et al. and see if you can find anything applicable to your design.
 

TheBigRedOne

In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 8, 2010
12
0
22
Ok I am going with the five cubic foot freezer my next question is this.

Can I use a small Lasko ceramic space heater as my heating element and air circulation fan rolled into one?? I ask because it has a crude thermostat built into it, which has ten or twelve various settings.

Do you think that this small ceramic space heater may be way to much heat or what?? Just a thought on a shortcut to building the heart of the incubator.

If the consensus is that this will work then all I need from there is to figure out how to mount it inside the freezer and how to install a small light for viewing purposes.

I may have to find a way for it to bring in air from outside through the heater and into the interior of the freezer to get the temps low enough.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.
 

Daidohead

Songster
10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
352
0
119
Red Bluff, Ca
I have tried the heaters in the past but they were way too much for the small space to be heated. The heaters rarely go below 750w, you need 75w at best. I have an ice chest incubator that runs very well with a 25w bulb.
 

KDbeads

Songster
10 Years
Aug 20, 2009
1,879
11
161
East Central VA
I picked up a water heater thermostat at a thrift store for $2
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Computer fan for free from an old PC we had, power cord for the fan for $.50 at the same thrift store. Light socket assembly for $1, thrift store again. Had the cooler already. Here's the set up, notice the BACK of the thermostat is facing the bulb and the fan is facing the bulb with enough room behind it to actually pull air:
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After a couple of days I dialed in on the right settings and have maintained 100 degrees for over 2 weeks now. Eggs are developing nicely.
 
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hangin'witthepeeps

Songster
10 Years
Apr 1, 2009
341
2
131
Colbert, GA
I have a new hot water heater thermostat and a small PC fan that I could send to you, FREE of charge if you are in the USA. I believe I have an adapter for the PC fan that you cut and splice the wires for. I also have a large styrofoam box, but shipping would cost me an arm and leg for that one. If you live close to me, you could pick them up. I'm near Athens, GA.

ETA: I have a bottle lamp kit also (free for pick up). I have all of these things because I was going to make another incubator, but husband says no more hatching this year and I decided to let my silkies hatch for me that way I'm not responsible. Blame the silkies.
 
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TheBigRedOne

In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 8, 2010
12
0
22
i have the fan already set to run on regular household current as i have a spare heater that i can repurposeby simply removing the heating element and building a box mounting for the fan and controls out of one of those printing press plates and a couple of rivets.

my main problem is that i have never wired a thermostat into anything an am a bit nervous about the first time for that. i am able to read a circuit diagram and trace the current flow through a wiring system reasonably well, so i believe i will be able to tackle it.

as for the heating part of the equation, is a light of some kind the best choice, and if so do i need one light wired into the thermostat as the heat and a much smaller, lower wattage bulb, wired in straight to use for viewing purposes.

i have seen one instance where a hair dryer was used for the heating element with apparently good results, i hear others talk of a heating coil, and i see many lights

I am leaning towards a light currently; but do i put it down at chick level, or do i put it halfway up on the "back" wall so it will not come into contact with the chicks?
 

Daidohead

Songster
10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
352
0
119
Red Bluff, Ca
A thermostat is just a heat operated switch. You would wire it up just like a switch. You do need to be careful that the thermostat can handle 110v, most houshold thermostats are not designed for household current. Water heater thermostats are designed for 110v.

Light bulbs are used because they are cheap, readily available and are fairly safe. I have read of people useing everything from solar power to electric frying pans, guess it all depends on what ya have to work with. I like bulbs because they are easy to wire, have few parts to fail, and can be replaced anytime you need to. You can try different wattages to find what works good for your particular needs. I found with my incubator that a 75w bulb heated very fast but cycled on and off way too much to suit me. I dropped it down to a 25w and it works great, on for 6 min, off for 10min.

If you are useing a fan it's not so important where ya put the heat source because the air is always moveing. I would aim the airflow at the heat source so you limit any extra heat build-up in that area. I have mine on the bottom at one end and use the other end for the eggs.
 
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