Modified Little Giant Incubator, NEW 2nd Modification! (Photos!)

Discussion in 'Quail' started by RichardandTresa, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2014
    I found an older “little giant” incubator on Craigslist for $45 including two complete egg turners and a stock fan installed. Couldn’t pass it up in spite of much of what I’ve heard regarding reliability.

    The wafer thermostat does fluctuate a lot, however, I came up with an idea that seems to have worked!

    First off, this is an older one with the Styrofoam water trays molded in. I took a router and removed it leaving the interior bottom flat to accept the molded plastic water reservoir sold at GFQ. I also bought the quail egg trays and the little thermometer… (I had no idea why people complained about it’s accuracy until I realized that quality control at the manufacturer could not possibly place it accurately enough on the printed card. I’m a prototype developer and deal with overseas manufactures not holding tight tolerances… just the nature of the business. So I purchased a digital thermometer/hygrometer with separate sensors and memory for max high and low.)

    The concept of drastic temp changes waiting for the wafer thermostat to “catch up” led me to an idea of installing mass heat collectors. These consist of large glass marbles. I placed them along the outer perimeter (This works so well, I’m going to look for more to complete the ring.) What happens is that the marbles get up to the temperature wanted. When the thermostat decides to lower the temperature, the marbles retain the average heat and doesn’t allow the air inside the incubator to lower more than a half a degree. Same thing happens when the thermostat decides to raise the temp.

    After testing it out for 24 hours with both red plugs in place, I couldn’t get the humidity below 58% (filling only the #4 reservoir). I pulled out one of the plugs and it lowered to about 50% Here’s a list of temps taken over a 48hr period (first number is humidity, second is temp (Fahrenheit).

    51-100.0
    51-100.2
    50-99.9
    51-100.2
    50-100.4
    49-99.7
    49-100.0
    49-100.6
    48-100.6
    48-100.4
    48-100.2
    48.100.0
    48.99.9
    48-100.5
    47-100.3

    From what I’ve read, I think I’m ready to go?

    Before I do, I’m going to try filling the other reservoirs (one at a time), until I find the “sweet spot” to obtain 70% humidity.

    I’ve read lock down humidity ranges from 70% to 75% and have also read never above 70%.

    Any advice on optimum humidity for lock-down? Also, am I on target for 50% humidity for the first 14 days?

    I’m also going to add vinyl tubing that feeds water into each reservoir with a 90 degree fitting so that a short piece of tubing sticks out the side. I’ll use a larger syringe to add water without having to open up the incubator.

    Another question: It will take a few minutes to remove the egg turner for lock-down. Will the brief chilling of the eggs have any effect? I plan to replace the marbles onto the open cell mat I will place the eggs on so that the heat comes back quickly, but not by raising the temperature over the desired mark.

    Thanks!

    Richard


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    And yes, as a newbie, I printed out all the pertinent info, dates, what to do/change etc and applied it to the lid! ;)
     
  2. cruisermedic

    cruisermedic Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Excellent idea with the glass marbles. I canned using my cheap Styrofoam due to temp fluctuations just as you described. Maybe it was my electronicS OCD and the need for very specific readings that ruined it for me. I felt I was in constant adjustment. Up and down up and down.

    No the short time won't bother them. The hen doesn't sit on them for a solid 20 days or whatever. When I put my coturnix eggs in I stored them in my cool basement for a week until I had enough eggs. Then they went in the incubator. I had them in there for a few days. During that time my temps were like u described. I also had a power outage for several hours in a 65° basement. A few more days and I rushed a move to a different bator....a GQF 1502 sportsman. Its much nicer. They were fine. I have kids that always wanted to check them. Opening the door several times a day even during lockdown. Still no problems. Although I don't doubt my hatch rate could have been better. But with the above I feel 60% was still acceptable.

    I wouldn't sweat it. I'd say you're good.
     
  3. cruisermedic

    cruisermedic Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 11, 2014
    Switching bators, really helped me accept the temp and not play with the settings. I just put them in. It was really a "set it and forget it" situation. I have the automatic watering system on mine. It works. My humidity stayed right about 65% through the whole process. I have read some don't add water at all until the end. I figure they can handle high humidity. I mean birds hatch in the jungle right? Its really most important at the hatch.

    With the egg turner you really don't have to worry about that part. And I just put mine in on a Friday and made a mental note to put them in the hatching area in two fridays. A calendar is helpful if you are either OCD or forgetful, lol.
     
  4. bush

    bush Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 23, 2014
    That's a great idea. I have the same incubator and had the same problem I could never keep a steady temp. I have used it twice and had hatch rates of 25 and 30 percent which I always blamed on the temps and the mail order eggs. I will give that try next time. Thank you for that info.
     
  5. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2014
    Happy to hear you're going to try it. Please let us know how it works for you (PS: large ball bearings could work too! Even round river rocks... any thing that is SOLID (Heavy mass that would retain heat).

    Mine is still holding steady right at the "sweet spot"...

    I created a second modification intended to be able to add water without lifting the lid. I used 1/4" Vinyl tubing and 90 degree angles used for drip irrigation to run tubing from the water tray fill spots, up and out of the incubator. (I later added silicone where the tubes meet the Styrofoam.) The tubes reach out about an inch or two so that a syringe can be plugged in and water pumped into the water trays. (The only syringe I had had a nipple that was too big, so I added the black drip fitting... but if you go out and buy a syringe, they make them with thinner nozzle ends.) This is allowing me to fill the water tray without having to lift the lid! :)

    I also created another device: I've read that storing eggs for incubation should be done at 50 degrees and turning the eggs if possible. I used an old computer shipping box and placed a large Tupperware tray on the bottom with a frozen, 1-gallon water bottle in it on it's side. A piece of cardboard with "legs" that create a shelf above the water bottle now holds my egg turner. When I close it up (no need to seal with tape), I am now getting a constant 50 degrees with about 67% humidity.

    We start collecting eggs from our breeder cages today for incubation beginning the end of this week. Should have about 40 eggs! =D

    This will be our first real run at hatching our own in house bred Jumbo Coturnix!

    Really exciting as I have never done this before! (I just read a lot and wanted everything to be as close to "perfect" as possible! I figure if I site my target as close as possible to what I've learned here, if I'm "off", it should still be within range of getting it right.

    We have two breeder cages (Mid September, we'll add two more as well as 6 more grow out cages: two in the battery frame and 4 along the length of our breezeway.) Feeders and sand boxes were home made (I'm a prototype developer and motion picture special effects artist with a shop and studio to make this stuff in between client projects.)

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    It's going to be an interesting journey! Can't thank the people on this website enough!

    Best,
    Richard
     

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