testing the new homemade bator...


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 25, 2009
Monday, Ohio
so... I figured I would just post about this, after all if people don't post we wont have anything to read!

I've recently "finished" my own personal homemade cabinet style incubator. I must say, I expected more issues with it's function at this stage. *knock on the wooden bator* It is constructed out of poplar boards ~ 3/4" in thickeness. The whole affair is a 2' cube. I have a tray on the bottom which will be suitable for hatching, 1/4" hardware cloth. One single manual turn egg tray in the center, oak frame and 1/4" hardware cloth. Up top there are two 60 watt bulbs and water pan/s above a shelf. Two computer fans mounted in the rear corners in the back pull air from the egg housing area up in front of the shelf, across the heat and humidity source and then forces it back down into the egg area. My water heater thermostat is mounted hanging from the top shelf in the center to catch the air on it's return path to the heat source after it has cooled during circulation.
It seems to take quite a while to heat up, and of course I haven't done much with it yet in terms of seeing how the temps and humidity are affected when simulating egg turning events by opening the door. The only big issue I've had was that the silicone I used to glue on the plexiglass on the front did not stick to the plexiglass after a couple days of humidity in there. I noticed condensation in between the panes and then... they had to come off. Waited for two days for the new different caulking to dry and it has been running since last night. It seems to hold temp pretty well, though i have not done a simulated egg temp. I have two different digital thermometers in there, only one reading tenths of a degree, and two hygrometers. I have not tried to adjust humidity yet, but as I understand it simple reduction of surface area will result in lower humidity and vice versa. The thermostat has not been fiddled with at all (just guessed where 100 may be and turnedthe screw) recent readings are as follows:

time temp1 temp2 hum1 hum2
1713 100' 100.4' 68% 73%
1920 99' 98.5' 71% 74%
1956 99' 99.2' 71% 74%
2154 99' 99.2' 71% 74%

I feel like a mad chicken scientist
but I'm sure all you homemade incubator people are doing the same things. hopefully i can plan a hatch for my girls on easter. we'll see.

well I guess that's enough blabbing, comments/ questions welcome

and here are a couple photos for your viewing enjoyment (I will take a picture of all the ugly backside later)

Here you can see the same troublesome condensation REoccuring.... pesky glue better hold or I'm gonna get out the duct tape!
btw... the 106' temp in the photo is the "outdoor" temp probe that is setting up by the lights and water.

This is like the sixth time I've edited this, but I just wanted to add that I have never seen the lights off, but surely they are some... what would be the chance of me building the perfect incubator for my house temp that needs no thermostat... HA
not to mention I use a wood burner so my house temp is anyhting but constant

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maybe if I just keep posting, someone will reply and I will feel slightly less like an incubator loser

I've run into warping panels where they are not secured towards their edges at the corners, I guess I should have used polyurethane on top of my penetrating sealant.
Latches had to be modified due to their being off about 3/8 of an inch due to the warping. Opened it up to tinker, slightly turned up thermostat, had to refill water pan. There is an unacceptable lingering temperature deficit in there now. It's a good thing I bought an auto-egg turner at TSC today. Not only will this prevent my having to open the bator and drop temperature, but it will prevent my having to modify my "egg tray" shelf. I had installed it such that slight pressure was exerted on the sides of the bator that would hold the shelf at an angle, for the manual turning. It has also swelled with the humidity and there is no way I could turn that thing with the eggs on it. Good old TSC. I probably should have found one on the internet that was made here in the US instead of China...

There is also now a small crack at the bottom of the door due to my 1/4" shims not being enough for the bottom latch. This should take care of the ventilation issue encountered by changing the plan from manual turn to automatic. Woohoo... maybe in the next couple weeks I can get this thing up and running correctly and throw some eggs in.
I will post some pictures here after a bit.
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Hey I think your incubator is Great!!! You are very creative. I can't add much as i am quite a newbie - I'm still trying to decide where to order chicks from.

But I was thinking about hatching my own, because that just seems so amazing and I could learn even more. Then when I seen the COST involved - wow!!! pretty expensive to buy an incubator.

So I give you big KUDO's on building your own. I hope you keep this post updated on how it goes all the way to hatching day , so we all can see how your homemade bator works.
your doing better than me....i got up at 3:00am to chk my temp in the incubator i just made and it was 120.....thought i had it stable......now i don't know if i killed my eggs????i'll know soon enough.......wonder if anyone has had this happened and if they survived?...
I built an incubator almost identicle to yours but I had so much problem with getting an even temperature in all areas. Even though it was forced air one corner would be 99.5 on the nose while the opposite corner would be 102. I tried so many different configurations but never could get it to even out. So I trashed it and started from scratch. I'm in the testing phase on the new one, so far just 1 degree variation and I think I can compensate for that. Hope yours works good for you.
I haven't really gotton around to measuring temps throughout the bator, still working on the one spot riht in the middle. I think I need higher wattage bulbs, there are 2 60 watt bulbs in there now, don't know if I'll go up to 75 or 100. It is just not heating up quickly at all for me, like one degree an hour or somehting. I also thought about laying a sheet of foily foam board insulation over the top as i can feel heat escaping through the wood. Hopefully I can do without the insulation though, it looks bad enough what with being all super warped, only one latch fastened and what not.
for the easter mutt EE hatch!
HA! my light in my bator is off... actually the first time I have witnesed it. 120 watts of incandecent bulbs was not enough heat. I upped it to 200 watts. Thermostat shut off at 102/ 100.8. It is cooling off right now, I wonder what a normal cycle time is on some of these homemade cabinet style incubators... I'll just time this one and post it here.
Light's been off for 10 minutes.. My digital thermometers are fluctuating wildly... guess that what you get from wal mart and radio shack.... It would be great to use standard laboratory grade temperature controller parts....one day I will have the ultimate bator, but for now... if this light would just turn back on we'd be in good shape........

*Data begins when thermostat turned back on*
Time T1 T2
2208 99 96.7
2210 97 96.7
2211 97 96.7
2212 97 96.7
2213 97 96.7
2214 97 96.7
2215 97 96.7
2216 99 97.2
2217 99 97.2
2218 99 97.2
2219 99 97.2
2220 99 97.7
2221 99 97.7
2222 99 97.7
2223 99 97.7
2224 99 97.7
2225 99 98.5
must check child...
2233 100 99.9
2234 100 99.9
2235 100 99.9
2236 100 99.9
2237 100 99.9
2238 100 100.4
2239 100 100.4
2240 100 100.4
2241 100 100.4
2242 100 100.4
2243 100 101.2
2244 100 101.2
2245 100 100.1
*Thermo switched off*

man, that looks good to me, maybe a tad cool, but i bet those eggs will like it. I would rather grow things slightly slower than faster anyway

I think I'm too tired to look at the PC anymore, and I need a light shield for my eyes, cover up the top part of the window or something. More testing and watching tomorrow... will play with lower humidity, I'm running 70/75 pretty constant. great for lock down right?
So..... two of my thermomter are registering around 96.7 low and 100.8 high. The other one is running 99 low and 102 high. I have very slightly turned up the water heater thermostat twice with no change in temps. I was hoping that being suspended in the flow of air back toward the heat lamps it would register quicly with maybe a two degree fluctuation. I think I have read on here that two degrees is ok but four is too many. Is this correct? I suppose my next moves will be to try a simulated egg type temperature, maybe turn up the thermo a little (don't want to over do it), and if that doesn't work it may be.... da.. dadadaaaaa.... time to modify the thermostat via the tinycasingholes method.
Also, thankfully the condensation evened itself out and is no longer present. And... since i didn't fasten my panels for the box right at the corners on the front, they warped out like 3/8 of an inch on both sides. I had to let it dry for a day and then run some more screws in it. It is treated with danish oil not polyurethane. i suppose something lik ethat would not be as bad if I had used polyurethane. The new glue for the plexi is holding great too. It was clear tub surround caulking.
I can't wait to get eggs in...
would you hatch with these temps?

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