Need feedback on cabinet bator conversion - Sticky chicks; too much air flow?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Wynette, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm so frustrated I could just cry. I've been (okay, by "I" I actually mean mostly my brother, with me as his gopher and cheerleader) working on converting an old lab (human) incubator into a hatch egg bator for almost two years, on and off. This is before we started on it.

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    What we've done:

    1) installed a new thermostat.
    2) added a new heating element (disconnected the dual heating elements that were embedded into the walls).
    3) added a water pan with a tube through the side of the bator so I can turn a knob & add water.
    4) installed a false wall on the BACK/inside, about 1.5" from the wall, and installed TWO fans (computer fans) at the top, blowing toward the BACK. We cut the bottom 1" off of the bottom of this false wall, and the air circulation is now excellent.
    5) installed a new seal for the clear glass front.

    Between each step, we have tested & made notes on what changed in temp/humidity. I have a temperature monitor that records the highs and lows each day, so I know without a doubt (unless that unit is faulty) if there were spikes or dips.

    The very last thing we did was added a new heating element; when we did so, we removed the racks and the turner to allow more room to work, and we didn't need them anyway just yet.

    My husband installed a new vent at the top that came from a commercial testing oven (for auto parts). You can see the small vent on top in the picture above - it was about the size of a dime or smaller. The new vent is adjustable and allows for a much larger opening if need be.

    We tested the unit, and VOILA! It held for 7 straight days at 99 (the monitor does not register increments, so it could have varied from 99.0 - 99.9, but I'm fine with this range). NO dips, NO spikes - we were ecstatic!

    Then, we had a small fire (long story, suffice to say some of the insulation dropped onto the heating element when we installed the new vent, adn the element had been mounted onto a piece of wood temporarily so we would know if it worked where we'd placed it, which was right in front of the air flow coming through the bottom of the false wall, on the floor), and had to purchase a new heating element.

    We thought for sure we had this all wrapped up.

    Installed the new heating element, put the shelf with the turner back in & hooked it up, added a pan and water in the bottom, and turned it on. Now, I can't get it past 95! I have turned the knob at the bottom (which, before now, would move 3 degrees PER HASH MARK) TWO FULL NUMBERS (equating to 8 hash marks) and it's still not going above 95 now.

    The things we did AFTER doing the "dry run" which could be contributing to the problem:

    1. The vent in the top was added. I don't believe this is the cause.
    2. We added the new heating element. Is it possible the heating element is faulty? I can't think so, it's a simple design, purchased from GQF, and the exact same heating element we had before when we were at 99 consistently.
    3. We put the turner back in (which added another shelf). Could it be that this rack and egg turner have reduced the air flow by 4 degrees? Hard to believe, since the shelves are perforated - see pic - but, I guess it could be?
    4. We put the humidity pan back in with water. The pan is on the bottom, and "could" be interrupting the air flow through the false back, though I am using a pie pan, which takes up roughly 1/3 of the bottom and is not DIRECTLY in front of the false back.

    Does anyone have any ideas or feedback? I am FO frustrated, and we were practically doing cartwheels when we were sticking at 99 before doing the above. I could just cry!
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  2. quintinp

    quintinp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I give my sympathy, I know how it feels to fiddle with the homemade incubators. I have no experience with the GQF heaters, but I can tell you that if your thermostat is way too close to the heating element, then the thermostat will be effected by the heat tremendously, but the rest of the incubator won't.

    What I am saying, is that if the thermostat is too close to the heating element, or is being directly blown on with very hot air, the temperature next to the thermostat will be fine, but the temperature throughout the incubator won't be very high. The thermostat is getting really hot, before the rest of the incubator does, and even when the thermostat is turned all the way up, it will still not bring the temperature of the incubator up, because the heating element is heating the thermostat up very rapidly.


    This is my experience with Fridge incubator, or cabinet incubator. In cooler incubators, the results are different, because their is less volume than a fridge or cabinet incubator.

    I hope this helps, if it doesn't, I recommend either replacing the thermostat, or the heating element.

    By the way, would you tell me what kind of thermostat you are using?
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    I was JUST getting ready to post in here - thanks so much for the feedback, as I was ripping my hair out over this! Here is the odd thing. My brother had told me that he wired it backwards for the knob to increase/decrease the temp. To increase, I would need to turn COUNTER clockwise. This is what I did, and it stayed at 95. After turning it down 3 numbers, each of which "should" account for 8 degrees.

    My husband finally weighed in and said, "Did you try turning it clockwise?" I rolled my eyes and turned it clockwise...and it went up & up & up. I've now been able to adjust it to exactly where I want it, and it's holding temp within .2 degrees! WOOT!

    My thermostat was made by a man who was going to sell them on eBay - it's awesome, does a FANTASTIC job, and I e-mailed him to thank him but have not heard back - I've been working on this bator on & off for almost 2 years now, and he may have (since then) changed his e-mail so unfortunately, I have no way of reaching him. If you'd like to PM, I can give you his name & the e-mail I have for him. Here's a pic of the thermostat (well shoot, I can't find the pic. SORRY!). But again, it works really well.

    The bator is a bit larger than a basic Sportsmen, and we switched out everything, including the thermostat, heating element, fans...pretty much everything. I'll be putting my first batch of eggs in tonight or tomorrow.

    otr is a
     
  4. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I need more feedback, folks!

    I have completed my first test hatch in my "new" bator. Results were exactly 50%.

    HOWEVER - most of the chicks were sticky. Humidity and temp were spot on throughout the hatch. The only thing that I can think of is that maybe I have TOO MUCH airflow in the unit, and that this caused the eggs to dry down too much. Is this possible?

    We began with one CPU fan, then decided the temperature was fluctuating too much, and wondered if we didn't have enough air flow, so we added another CPU fan.

    However, if I recall correctly (we did SO much to this bator, I have trouble remembering in what order we did things), we replaced the heat element AFTER the addition of the second fan, so perhaps it was a faulty heating element that caused the fluctuating temps, and maybe I should disconnect one?

    ANY feedback is very much appreciated!
     
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    No feedback? I could sure use some help, folks!
     
  6. quintinp

    quintinp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, what was the humidity during the hatch,? And what was the humidity during Lock Down?
     
  7. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Humidity was right where it should be - right at 44/45 during incubation, and at hatch, I increased it to 65 (couldn't get it any highter, even with multiple sponges); however, that is what my hatch humidity generally is in my tabletop (Brinsea) bator, with both channels overflowing with water and sponge(s). I've actually never been able to get the humidity up past about 68 in my area.
     
  8. quintinp

    quintinp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, your humidity was good. I do mine lower, 20-30%, but 45% is not bad. I guess it could be the fans. I have never had that problem though. I wonder if the hygrometer that you and your brother used in this incubator was accurate. Besides that I am stumped. I have never experienced sticky chicks from too much airflow.
     
  9. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I'm not certain that it was due to too much airflow, that's just the only thing that I can come up with. I had 3 hygrometers in there - two digital and one analog, and they were all within 5 marks of each other. Darnit anyway - it's so frustrating.
     
  10. Ankron

    Ankron Out Of The Brooder

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    I have the same thing I think. The fan is blowing so hard you can see the feathers moving on the chicks. I had three dead in the egg after pip
     

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