Wine Cooler Incubator: I'm really nervous to make it!

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
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Memphis, TN
I bought a fairly large non-working wine cooler last summer for a couple bucks with the intention of making an incubator out of it, but I'm really reluctant to do the build for some reason! I think it's because I had terrible hatches for a long time with a cheap styrofoam incubator, and part of me would just rather suck it up and save my pennies for a Sportsman than face the possibility of messing something up and losing more eggs and more time.

What can I do to ensure I make a professional-quality incubator that works reliably? I'm willing to buy the absolute best components there are, I just need to know what to get and what to do. I'm told that 12" wide 120v heat tape might be better than lamps, but how do I know how much to use? Just line the back and top with it and count on the thermostat to shut it off and on as needed?
 

cavemanrich

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Apr 6, 2014
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You can make an incubator out of that wine cooler. Consider it a well insulated box. You probably would have good results if you used circulating fans to make interior relatively same temperature in all spots. One thing I do not have much idea on, is the egg turning portion. See how the large incubators are constructed, and try to imitate concept.
You will need humidity control, and monitoring also.
What capacity in number of eggs are you aiming for each hatch period??
Sometimes it is much easier and cheaper in the long run to just mainline a decent incubator in size of your needs. You mentioned that your success was not great so far. Loosing many eggs and time and effort is no fun.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, :highfive:
 

UThobbyfarmer

Crowing
7 Years
May 29, 2013
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Utah
I'd second the incubator warehouse components. They've been around awhile and have excellent customer service. I have not made a cabinet incubator myself but I've kicking around the idea for awhile. When I get around to it I'll get supplies from incubator warehouse.

Have you checked out this thread? It's always been one of my favorites.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...w-we-did-it-and-test-run-ready-set-go.861788/

Definitely post updates on your project. It'll be a fun one to watch. Good luck!
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
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I'll elaborate some on that system. There is a mini incukit that is 40W, designed for table top DIY incubators then there is the XL system which is 125w heater. It's quite a deal at $75 base price. Would function just like table top unit in that the heater turns off completely then back on. For an extra $75 the advanced controller will reduce power (wattage) as the unit nears temp. making for less temperature swings. Personally I don't think it's needed as the eggs retain heat quite well, it's the air temp in until that swings up and down. Calibrate the thermostat to keep mean air temp 99.5F (average of high and low). Or pay the extra for better control unit and go with it.

From there you would just have two shelfs with egg turners, whatever is cheapest, and the bottom of cooler would be where you set your different pan sizes to maintain humidity. All in all an inexpensive small cabinet incubator that can hold 80+ eggs. The only thing a person may want to add is another fan to aid in even temp throughout.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
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Memphis, TN
Alright! Ordered my Incu-Kit yesterday! Sprang for the upgraded thermostat and the turner motor. Super excited. I think I'll be able to fit up to five turners in there eventually, allowing room at the top for the fan/heat unit and space at the bottom for water, but the plan is to start with three turners... I almost bought the additional fan+heating unit but figured I'd start with one to see where. Not sure if I want to add a hatch tray on the bottom or just use my styrofoam Little Giant (the one I had terrible hatches with...) as a hatcher.

I was planning to use the turner from the aforementioned little giant, I think I'll have to make some adjustments to it to wire it into the incu-kit motor, though... I was looking at getting the others off of eBay.

I've been having better luck hatching since I got a Hovabator Genesis and going the full dry-hatch route, but I guess I might want to add some water for this. What hygrometer do you all like?
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
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Memphis, TN
Ok, here's a long status update prefaced by "UGH"

DIY Wine Cooler Incubator Saga:

Bought a non-working wine cooler last summer for a song, and put off building it out until crunch time—spring hatching season. Decided to just go with the Incukit from incubator warehouse (the upgraded thermostat one, after looking back over which incubators have worked for me in the past and which didn't... I felt this feature was worth it.)

ANYWAY. Then I ordered turners off eBay. Found a good price, $30 each for three turners and it would give me a capacity I could live with. They shipped fast and arrived a week early.

I was feeling really good about how things were coming together!

Bum bum bum.... the turners didn't fit. Did I misread the ad? Did I mis-measure my wine cooler? Oh, I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I slid my Hovabator turner in there to see if it would fit, and since both it and the ebay turners were yellow, I didn't even bother to read their dimensions OR measure the inside of the cooler.
🤦‍♀️


Commence depression, anxiety, self-doubt, etc.
So, how to solve this. There is no reasonable way to modify these turners to fit this cooler.
Options are:

  1. Self-build a turner. Ugh. Limited carpentry skills and not very good engineering/problem-solving. Don't like the roller kind, don't want to use wood at all. Can I use angle iron and those other small metal strips with holes and bolt some stuff together? I did order the egg turner motor from Incubator Warehouse too, because I don't understand wiring and electrical stuff and I wouldn't have needed it with the ebay turners... but I will for one of these self build options. Is there even enough room in the cooler to set this up and fit standard egg trays? Wish I had a Sportsman to look at.
  2. Send the eBay turners back (ugh) and get other turners that fit but are twice as expensive with considerably less capacity and be dissatisfied with what I spent and how many birds I can hatch for as long as I'm using the thing.
  3. Get rid of wine cooler and take the full size commercial fridge (non-working) I was just offered for free, utilize the eBay turners and have lots of room to expand. Will almost certainly need more fans and heating units. Bummer no glass front, guess it's not a deal-breaker. Mom is mad about the size, but realistically the footprint isn't THAT much larger than the wine cooler, but it would definitely have to go in the garage where there can be much greater temperature variation than in the corner or the den indoors.
  4. Build a cabinet to fit the turners I already bought and of a suitable size for the Incukit. This may seem like an obvious solution, but note the lack of carpentry skills listed above. I feel like it would take a while to make this happen, and y'all.... the eggs are stacking up like cray.
  5. Go super ghetto and resign myself to being home continuously through hatching season and hand turn eggs in the Wine Cooler. Boo.
    🙁

Which one would you go with?
 

UThobbyfarmer

Crowing
7 Years
May 29, 2013
1,762
5,575
451
Utah
Ok, here's a long status update prefaced by "UGH"

DIY Wine Cooler Incubator Saga:

Bought a non-working wine cooler last summer for a song, and put off building it out until crunch time—spring hatching season. Decided to just go with the Incukit from incubator warehouse (the upgraded thermostat one, after looking back over which incubators have worked for me in the past and which didn't... I felt this feature was worth it.)

ANYWAY. Then I ordered turners off eBay. Found a good price, $30 each for three turners and it would give me a capacity I could live with. They shipped fast and arrived a week early.

I was feeling really good about how things were coming together!

Bum bum bum.... the turners didn't fit. Did I misread the ad? Did I mis-measure my wine cooler? Oh, I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. I slid my Hovabator turner in there to see if it would fit, and since both it and the ebay turners were yellow, I didn't even bother to read their dimensions OR measure the inside of the cooler.
🤦‍♀️


Commence depression, anxiety, self-doubt, etc.
So, how to solve this. There is no reasonable way to modify these turners to fit this cooler.
Options are:

  1. Self-build a turner. Ugh. Limited carpentry skills and not very good engineering/problem-solving. Don't like the roller kind, don't want to use wood at all. Can I use angle iron and those other small metal strips with holes and bolt some stuff together? I did order the egg turner motor from Incubator Warehouse too, because I don't understand wiring and electrical stuff and I wouldn't have needed it with the ebay turners... but I will for one of these self build options. Is there even enough room in the cooler to set this up and fit standard egg trays? Wish I had a Sportsman to look at.
  2. Send the eBay turners back (ugh) and get other turners that fit but are twice as expensive with considerably less capacity and be dissatisfied with what I spent and how many birds I can hatch for as long as I'm using the thing.
  3. Get rid of wine cooler and take the full size commercial fridge (non-working) I was just offered for free, utilize the eBay turners and have lots of room to expand. Will almost certainly need more fans and heating units. Bummer no glass front, guess it's not a deal-breaker. Mom is mad about the size, but realistically the footprint isn't THAT much larger than the wine cooler, but it would definitely have to go in the garage where there can be much greater temperature variation than in the corner or the den indoors.
  4. Build a cabinet to fit the turners I already bought and of a suitable size for the Incukit. This may seem like an obvious solution, but note the lack of carpentry skills listed above. I feel like it would take a while to make this happen, and y'all.... the eggs are stacking up like cray.
  5. Go super ghetto and resign myself to being home continuously through hatching season and hand turn eggs in the Wine Cooler. Boo.
    🙁

Which one would you go with?
Can you share pictures of the turners in question? How close is the fit?

I think modifying the existing racks or return/rebuy are the best option of those listed. It sucks when a project doesn't come together cleanly. But you're learning at every step. There's value in that.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
671
291
Memphis, TN
Can you share pictures of the turners in question? How close is the fit?

I think modifying the existing racks or return/rebuy are the best option of those listed. It sucks when a project doesn't come together cleanly. But you're learning at every step. There's value in that.

These are the turners I bought. They are 1/2" and 1" too big, in each direction respectively. I would have to cut them down to eliminate one egg basket per row, AND one whole row to get them to fit. :(

To be honest, I'm seriously thinking about the hand turning route. Someone's home most of the time anyway, and they really only need to be turned twice a day? Three times? I could set up blocks or something to switch from one side to the other and just lift one alternating side of each shelf, right? That would be less open door time than hand turning each individual egg in a flat tray, I think.

I'm seriously always looking for the path of least immediate resistance, even when it makes more work for me in the long run. :lau I guess if I really hate it I could just add one of the expensive turners at a time to distribute the hit to the pocket book.
 

UThobbyfarmer

Crowing
7 Years
May 29, 2013
1,762
5,575
451
Utah
Shoot. That's a lot of hacking to make those fit. Could work but a lot could go wrong.

You mentioned switching hand turning. More is better. There's a lot of research on this and it all says the more you turn the the better the hatch rate will me.

Have you heard of a semi-automatic turner? They're pretty basic and roll, not tilt, the eggs. I made one myself to fit my styrofoam incubator. I was able to roll 30+ eggs and only have the incubator open 2 seconds a most. I'm trying to find a good video for you that covers what I talking about.
 
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