The Stealthbator

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Finnie, May 2, 2016.

  1. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my DIY incubator disguised as a mini fridge.

    Since I didn't put a viewing window in it, no one would know it wasn't a regular mini fridge unless they opened it. Or if they look at the back of it, where the compressor is missing and my wiring shows. The only other thing that gives it away really, is the STC100 controller mounted on the side of it. Well, and also the sound of the fans running. I guess not so stealthy after all!

    I'm still testing the heat and humidity in it, and I'm sure it will need some tweaking before I set eggs and give it a test run. But here is what I have so far:

    (My husband wants me testing it in the garage until he's sure my rudimentary wiring skills aren't going to burn the house down.)
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    Here is the wiring in the back where I have the STC1000 on the right, and the fans are connected to an old cell phone adapter on the left. Both things are plugged into an extension cord. In the future I would like to wire an electrical outlet on the left side so they can plug into that. The white wire in the very center goes inside through a hole to the light socket. The black wire on the left goes in and connects to both fans. The black wire on the right is the sensor lead for the STC1000. I have it going through one of my vent holes.
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    The top fan blows down to the bottom fan, and the bottom fan blows across the lightbulbs. I'm hoping that will provide a circular air flow pattern.
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    There are four vent holes drilled in the top and two down at the bottom near the lightbulbs. Does anyone know if that should be adequate? I can easily drill more. If I need to plug any of them up, I discovered that electrical wire connectors fit into the holes nicely.
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    I have thermometers and hygrometers placed all around to check for hot and cold spots. So far it's too hot just above the lightbulbs- about 104F, but the next higher shelf is right around 100. I might see if I can rig up some kind of heat reflector to shield that lower shelf. Or else just not use it. There is room to put more shelves higher up.


    This is my only water reservoir right now. So far, the humidity has stayed right around 60% with just that. I wonder if that means I don't have enough ventilation. In my other incubators, it takes a lot more water to get up to 60%.
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    Some of my heat sinks. I could fill all the door racks with them! Not sure how well that would work to have the heat sinks in the door. They are bound to lose more heat when they swing out, than if I had them in the main body of the bator.
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    That just gave me an idea. I could place heat sinks on that lower shelf and maybe they would serve as a heat deflector for the light bulbs. Maybe if I put a foil tray on that shelf to hold them.

    I don't mind not having a viewing window. I have remote sensors for the temp and RH that I can monitor from the unit on my kitchen counter. And I don't intend to hatch in here, just incubate, and then move eggs to my Incuview each week for hatching.

    I guess I will be turning manually, too, until I can figure something out that will fit in there. I looked up auto turners, and they seem to be 15 inches square. The interior of the Stealthbator is 15 inches wide, but only 11 inches deep. So unless I can find auto turners that are smaller, or build one somehow, then it's gonna have to be manual. I did see where one person said you can tilt the whole mini fridge back and forth to turn all the eggs at once.

    Which also begs the question of what I am going to put on the shelves to actually hold the eggs so they don't roll around.

    So you can see that I still have a little work to do. I welcome any suggestions!

    Thanks for looking. [​IMG]
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    It will probably hatch some, I feel there can be a lot of improvement on air flow, venting, heat source, design to make it a great incubator. Once you get it like you want, how much space will you gain by removing the shelves in the door? They serve no purpose. I am thinking once they are removed---standard egg turners will set on the shelves??? You can incubate in it now and see how it does----Hope it will do Good, but if you are not happy with the results I am willing to help---if you are up to a re-design?
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  3. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh thank you! That is very helpful. I can already see what you mean about the door shelves. It was easier (so far) just to leave them alone. But you have a good point, that the reason I couldn't put in standard turners was because they would stick out past the shelves and obstruct the door closing. So do you think it wouldn't matter if they weren't fully supported by the shelves? They would only extend a few inches beyond them. I think with the plastic shelves cut off from the door, there would be enough room.

    Of course, I was hoping to do this fairly cheaply, and turners aren't cheap, but it may be worth the upgrade eventually as I go along.

    I did try tilting the whole mini fridge to see if that was a viable way of turning the eggs. It was not. I'm glad I was testing it in the garage, and not on the living room carpet. Water must be colleting somewhere, because when I placed a block of wood under one side to tilt it, it started dripping water onto the garage floor. It drips when tilted in either direction. I wonder where that water is coming from, and if it will be a problem eventually. Since it's not winter any more, I think I will just run the Stealthbator in the garage, and not in the house.

    So for now, it's back to hand turning the eggs. Today I read up a lot on what some people use, and for my test run, I'm going to just place the eggs in cartons and tilt the cartons back and forth three times a day.

    I've been trying to hurry up and get this functional, because the turkey eggs I've been collecting are not getting any younger. In fact, some of them are way too old to set, but I'm going to do it anyway, because my one turkey hen died, and those are the last eggs I will have from her.

    My idea to put a foil pan with water bottles on the hot shelf seems to be working pretty well. But it's a shame to waste that whole shelf. After I try it the way it is, I think I will probably welcome a complete redesign. [​IMG]

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    I was also lucky enough to find a wire rack at Goodwill that was just slightly too big for the top shelf. I cut it down with a hack saw and dremel tool. Then I covered the cut edges with electrical tape, and now I have a top shelf. (But I still have to take a picture of it.)
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  4. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is the picture of the top shelf I found at Goodwill:
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    And here is how I have the eggs stacked in their cartons:
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    @PD-Riverman , do you think these parts would be useful later on? They were the freezer compartment that I removed. I was about to throw them out, and then I got to thinking maybe I should hold onto them.
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    That top piece is soft bendy metal. I flattened it out.
     
  5. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I do not see a usage for the removed parts, My concern now that you have it stacked full is the egg cartons---most people tear the bottom of the holes out for better air movement around the eggs---I am not sure how much that would effect the eggs might work like you got it?? If you did tear the bottoms out then the 30 count cartons would probably be to flexible. Wish you had a couple of these for better air circulation.
    http://incubatorwarehouse.com/chicken-cabinet-incubator-egg-tray.html

    Or just had 1/4" hardware cloth laying on the racks and hand roll the eggs a few times a day---then air would circulate good between the eggs.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
  6. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I did tear the bottoms out. They're 12 count cartons, not 30. I tried a styrofoam one but it was way too flexible. I've been considering ordering some of these, and then cutting them down to fit the shelves: http://cutlersupply.com/zen_new51/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=13_91&products_id=591

    Looks pretty similar to your IW link. By the time they get here, I may also be able to toss whichever eggs are non starters and free up some air circulation space.

    I will throw away those spare parts then.
     
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  7. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, it's not going too well with the Stealthbator. :(

    Here is how it looks now with the egg trays I bought:
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    They are not tilted at much of an angle, so three times a day when I turn them, I rock them as much as I dare (carefully) and then rotate the trays so the other ends are up.

    I have staggered hatches in there due every Wednesday for the next four weeks. Last week was the first hatch. But those eggs were only in the Stealthbator for one week, and then I realized they could go straight to the Incuview instead of waiting for lockdown.

    I did leave four of those in the Stealthbator for the entire incubation. All four hatched! But of the 18 eggs that were one week in the SB and two weeks in the Incuview, only 10 hatched. Too many variables to know where to place the blame for the 8 dead. (I suspect it's the mothers, because one mother always has about 100% hatch rate, and most of the deaths came from one other mother.)
     
  8. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Splitting my post because it's tricky using my phone. I keep hitting random keys.

    On to this weeks hatch- it was abysmal!!

    Many of the eggs I set were clear, so I'm not counting those. Of the 18 with growth, 5 were early embryo deaths, 2 were midway deaths, 7 died closer to lockdown, 2 drowned while zipping, which tells me high humidity caused air cells to be too small, and the only two that lived were ones that I stuck under broody hens at the last minute.
    (And they were a bit sticky too, so somehow being under the hens must have saved those from the zip-drowning.)

    2 out of 18 is a disheartening 11% hatch rate!

    Saving again...
     
  9. Finnie

    Finnie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have noticed that the Stealthbator has too high of humidity. It stays above 50%, even when the sponge is dry and I don't add water. (Haven't added water in days!)

    I think that means lack of ventilation. So I drilled a couple more vent holes, and RH is now staying around 49%. (Rainy humid weather here is also not helping.) I am concerned not only about humidity, but also lack of oxygen. I wish there were O2 meters.

    Temperatures seem to be nice and steady, although for a while the bottom level was too hot (104F). Air circulation is better with the yellow trays now, and the middle level is now the hot spot (102F). But the top and bottom have evened out at 99.7 and 100, respectively.

    I'll be shutting it down after the current batches are done, and then I will have more stats, and be ready for some redesigning.

    It's pretty sad to see so many eggs and chicks die. Especially when the zippers drown. :( I hope my ventilation improvements help. I will be adding more if I feel it's needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  10. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I do not feel rocking the eggs is a good thing and it looks like you have enough room to add extra under the egg cartons to get more angle except for the bottom rack, which could be dropped down on the right side and stabilized so you have more angle. You could take a few minutes and angle all the racks and then pull the egg rack out and turn it and slide it back in. So you are only using this as a incubator---not hatching in it. Are you doing Duck eggs?
     

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