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My homeade bator!

Glenwood, IA

Ok...I finally got some pictures. I was so worried about the temperature dropping/raising while we were at work today, but I came home to find it at a steady 100.4. The manual egg turners are just baskets I formed out of the same wire as what is in the bottom of the box. I used a 15w fishtank light, and I dont open the lid...so the temp stays pretty darn accurate. I am very proud of this. ;)

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Glenwood, IA

I feel like such a professional! I used to work for omaha steaks (which is where this foam box came from). I could have used that as a selling point! "And...Mrs. Smith...when you are through eating your steaks you can turn the shipping container into a homemade incubator!" Who WOULDN'T buy steaks knowing that?

This pic shows my clever 'adjustable' air vent in case it gets too warm in there. :)

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Glenwood, IA

See my digital thermometer? I also added a cup of water...but not sure that is right. Some folks said sponges...but I also heard just water. Any thoughts?

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Glenwood, IA

Here you can kinda see my little baskets for the eggs. I tied some string loosly around them to help keep them from falling out. Although I can only do about 6 eggs at a time...I was thinking I COULD add another layer of baskets and do a dozen at a time...but my little farm doesnt need that many new chickens each year!

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Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

That is SOOOO clever!

Glenwood, IA

Although I was really upset that I got up once last night and the temp was down to 97.0.... Will that kill them? I quickly closed the air vent and it warmed back up to 100.1

I think it was only down for about an hour since the time before when it was 99.9 THis morning it was back to the usual 100.4

Williamsburg, MI(Zone 4b)

Think about chickens. I don't think their butts stay exactly the same temp either. (of course, I have lousy luck with the incubator, so I got some silkies.)

Glenwood, IA

Too funny. I was thinking the same thing...I wouldnt think that a one hour drop from 99-97 would be THAT bad...but then again I am also no expert. I put them in two days ago...so I will check them in 2 or 3 more days and see how they are doing.

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Hi mcamden,

I followed you here from the "New to Chickens" thread.

Some answers to your questions:

Q. "How hard was it to install the thermostat?"

A. It was very easy. I am by no means an electrician. I just went on-line and looked up basic electrical wiring and took it from there.

Q. "Do you think I could just buy a digital house thermostat and install that inline with the power cord to the lightbulb?"

A. Again I'm no electrician. I do believe the typical house thermostat is low voltage and can't handle 110v. (If someone here knows for sure please chime in. If I find out it can be used and if I do it again I will switch to the digital.)

Here's some pics. It's been a couple of years since I used it so the styrofoam has fallen off. The large front door is for acessing and turning the eggs. The little hinged door on the bottom rear is for sliding the water pan in and out. I had to change the water every now and again or it got yucky! I only hatched 2 dozen but it is large enough to do 4.

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

More pics. I wish I could figure out how to post more than 1 pic at a time.

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Again

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Yeppers

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Last one.

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Glenwood, IA

Thank you so much for all the pictures! I dont know if you can do more then one pic at a time...at least I never have. I did look at the house thermostats and found the same thing...because they are low wattage...plus I couldnt find any that went over 90 degrees. I looked at a water heater thermostat...but it didnt have a diagram, and I couldnt figure out how the wiring would work. I will try to look online...but if you find a diagram, or have an easy way to explain....please let me know!

Thanks again for the info and the pics!

Glenwood, IA

Any chance you could get a picture of your thermostat that kinda shows how the wires are hooked up? That looks exactly like what I was looking at at Menards last night. Wonder if I can find someone who is getting rid of a water heater.

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Ok,

My finger is pointing at the wire that gets plugged into the wall. You can hook these up to be supplied by 110v or 220v. This really is the only tricky part. Mine did come with a diagram. For 110v, attach inputs on #1 and #3. Your outputs will be on #2 and #4. In my case I am using 2 bulbs so I hooked up two wires to each output. You will only be using one bulb so one wire to each output.

I'm not sure these things are all the same so be sure to get one with a diagram.

JB

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Oh another thing,

Hot water heaters keep water at a hot temperature. To get the right temp I had to turn it almost all the way down.

JB

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Be carefull what you buy, some don't go down to 110v. Here's one that does both 110 and 220 at a good price.

http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1276833&cp=2568452.2631246.1260882&view=all&parentPage=family

Glenwood, IA

THe one you used is EXACTLY what we found. I just called the other half to let him know we are going back to the store tonight to get one! I will make sure it is 110. I was confused about the other wires...but makes sense since you have two bulbs! That is so awesome.

Last question...isn't there supposed to be a wire that goes into the water on the water heater to let the thermostat know when it is hot? By doing this did you have to add a wire? Or does the thermostat just use the air temp to turn on and off?

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Madam,

You are very smart lady. Yes, some water heaters use a thermo-coupler to send water temperature information back to the thermostat.

In this case the thermostat just picks up the ambient temperature that it's living in and there is no need for a thermo-coupler.

JB

P.S. Here's a pictue of my last home-made pizza. Sorry, I couldn't resist...grin.

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Northern Michigan, MI(Zone 5a)

Great pics!!! Good idea on the turner, never would have thought of that. Thank you for posting !!!

I know what you mean about those styrafoam box. I used 2 last year to make bators/hatchers. I also used an aquarium and put foam on the outside of the glass. They worked. I felt the aquarium held the temps better than the other.....I used the aquarium to hatch my runner ducks..lol.

Julie =0)

Glenwood, IA

Ohhh...you are making me hungry! I LOVE homeade pizza. Clever with the green onion...never thought of doing it that way. I normally go with broccoli, chicken, and tons of cheese!

I am also excited that I can just use the thermostat without dealing with building another addition to my incubator! This sure has been a fun learning experience. The guy at Menards last night asked me if I was working on a school project...I couldnt stop laughing!

I told him what I was doing this for and he couldn't quite understand it. I said if I could get some school kids to do the work for me I would be all for it! maybe I should advertise! 'Melissa'a Learning Adventure' ...' send them my way and I will let them take home some eggs and hatch them themselves!'

Hahaha...All of the benifit without all of the work!

Glenwood, IA

And...I still want some of that pizza! new years resolutions! Pizza is on my 'naughty' list. :)

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Broccoli and chicken sounds good. I make a chicken and garlic pizza that's out of this world. Those are bell peppers you see. I hid the onions under the copious amounts of cheese along with the sausage, mushrooms, and pepperoni. LOL

It shouldn't be on your naughty list. Everything I listed here is good for you. Umm, ok maybe not the sausage. Err, the copious cheese thing may not be so good. And the pepperoni,,,,,,,,,,Oh, never mind.

JB

You certainly don't want to see pics of my pork eggrolls.

Glenwood, IA

Hey....so I hooked up the thermostat. It turned on, and warmed up to 96 degrees (I had it set to the minimum 90) then shut off. But it didnt come back on until the temp dropped to around 80. Is that what yours did as well? I am just wondering if 16 degrees is going to be too large of a discrepancy. What say you?

I did turn it up to were it came back on when the temp dropped to 90 but then it also heated up to 107 before turning off.

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Good, Good, Good,

Remember what I said in the other thread. Get your paper and pencil out and start a log. When the light comes on record time/temp. When the light goes out do the same. Calculate a mean temperature to be your target temp. I found it is good for the eggs to have this fluctuation. It also helps with your humidity. Instead of adding a cup of water to the bottom, I would just put a small pan or soup bowl of water in with the eggs if possible. It is easy to change when it gets yucky. Remember the eggs have mass and fluctuations in temp will not affect their actual temp.

I'm so proud of you both. Try to keep the incubator in the living room or wherever you watch tv. It's easier to keep the log this way.

JB

Glenwood, IA

So...are you watching us through the window or what? Hahaha...we brought the incubator into the living room (where we are watching Smallville). I have recorded several sets of temps...

on off
86.7 100.3
89.2 110.1
90.0 106.7

I am guessing I am nearly as close as I am going to get now! I never thought to put actual water in the bottom...sounds icky! I just have a small tupperware with a brand new washcloth sitting in it. Maybe I dont even need the washcloth...but the one cup of water goes in a day with the cloth...when before it wouldnt evaporate for weeks! What do you think is the best medium temp?

Oh Kemosabe!

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

I can't see you but gosh I feel like a grand dad. 101 is a good target temp. Continue with your current humidity with the cloth thingy. Remember to be ready in 21 days from your start for the chicks to hatch. You will need a heat lamp and a large cardboard box. At first I just put a towel in the bottom of the box for the chix. After a while you will need straw or shavings. Aim the light in one corner and the chix will come and go as they please. They have an internal thermometer that tells them if they're hot or cold. If they start panting it's too hot. lol.

Go here for all your info. These guys are great.

http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/BRKIncubation.html

JB

Glenwood, IA

We got day old chicks last spring and raised them with a heat lamp...etc etc. I think we still have everything we need for this eggs. :) so...I went REALLY crazy now and installed a little motor. It came out of a little heater. The fan blade was too big...so I made a small one out of cardboard and hooked it up the thermostat as well...so as long as the heat is flowing...the air is a blowin'!

Check it out!

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Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Oh wow,

Melissa, I really don't think you need all that. But I may be wrong. When you look a the pics I sent, you can see I don't have an airtight container. So I wasn't concerned. As far as a fan hooked to the thermostat.....Girl you're starting to scare me now. Remember this is a still air incubator. But anyway as long as the temp and humidity stay good you will have good results.

JB

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Also remember,

A good hatch has an 80% success rate even for the commercial ops. So if you get 4 out of 6 to hatch you did real good.

JB

Glenwood, IA

Yeah...mine is pretty darn sealed, and i read that the more even the air around the eggs...the better. Heck...I will see what happens, and if no good then I will just try again! I am just all eggggcited about the thermostat! I got it about perfectly centered. 92-109.5...so 9 degrees in either direction for the most part.

I would certainly be excited to get 4 of these to hatch...but either way i will probably do another batch as soon as this first round is done.

Thanks for all your help! I will keep things posted as we go along.

Glenwood, IA

So on day 4 (today) i candled all the eggs in my incubator. Each one of them has developed an intricate system of veils. Darn...should have taken a picture! But I am not sure it would come out very well. My chickens lay eggs that have armor for shells...so it was hard to see into them even with my 1,000,000 candlelight spotlight!

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Hey Mel,

I'm still here. Good job.

JB

Glenwood, IA

Hey JB...should i be concerned? I candled the eggs tonight (they are 6 days). I could see 3 or 4 of the 7 wiggling around, but the embyros look smaller then the pictures I found online for 6 days. As long as they are getting bigger and moving...is all ok?

DId I tell you I LOVE that you came up with the hot water thermostat?!?!?!?! Because it is fabulous!

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

Yes, all is well. 15 days and counting.......Peep....Peep.


JB

Glenwood, IA

When I was candling the eggs last night I was very excited to see that 5 of the first 6 i put in have a HUGE amount of activity going on. I was able to finally see into the eggs clearly, and the enbryos were about the size of a dime and moving like crazy! Seriously...looked like they were all on cafeeine highs! Hahaha...but one the last egg looks very odd. I am going to guess it has gone bad...but not sure. I thought the same thing the night before...but last night it looked all sloshy, and dark. I also did not see an embryo.

Hey JB...should I toss it?

Elizabeth City, NC(Zone 8a)

I'd leave it in for another week or so just in case. Certainly won't hurt anything.

JB

Glenwood, IA

Sounds good. I have heard of bad eggs 'exploding' in the incubators...so I may but something between him and the other eggs just in case. :) I cant believe how excited I am about these eggs. I am passing on this knowledge to all my friends, family, and even co-workers!

Lennox, SD

You're making me excited, and I don't even have an incubator yet, lol! I'm not near talented enough to make something, like, at all! Someday, I'm going to break down and buy the $130 incubator at Campbell's Supply.

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