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Make A Poultry Incubator
Homemade Incubator #1 for Poultry Eggs by Rick
Good for Chicken, Duck, Turkey Eggs
Holds 6 Dozen Eggs, Low Cost
If you are creative and handy, you can make your own incubator!
Also check out: Kirk's Homemade Incubator.
Other Homemade Incubators.

Rick Anstine Shows You How to Make an Incubater

First, I looked at all the other DIY (Do It Yourself) incubators on BYC ( Then I looked at my cooler collection. I decided to turn my decades-old Coleman Model 5640 cooler, that I know heats, into the incubator, spending as little as possible. You can also find good deals on Craigslist for similar coolers/heaters.

Preparing the Cooler and Fan

Remove the door seal and make a latch shim to crack the door open. After testing, it ended up 3/32 thick. You need a shim so the incubator has a little ventilation. The eggs need some fresh air.

Turn cooler upside down and reverse the polarity of the heat sink fan for operation in heat mode.

Make a Cradle to Turn Incubator

The easiest way to turn the eggs is turning the whole cooler, so you need to make cradle legs and rack. The angle is 45 degrees for each of the 2 directions it will lean while eggs incubate.

This prevents the chick/duckling from sticking to the shell. You turn 2-3 times a day.

Shelf for Egg Cartons

I added four 1 long, dowels to keep the egg cartons from sliding inside the incubator. The square hole in the shelf in the cooler was just a fan experiment (see last photo).
Attaching Incubator Fan

Fasten to the top shelf a computer-power supply fan blowing toward the door. Turning it upside down messes up the original shelf slots. See last photo of inside the cooler.

Temperature and Humidity

Make a holder outside the incubator for a Temperature (about $14.57 on Ebay) and Humidity Controller (about $29.99).

Wire it all up. Black from heat sink to positive, white from OEM (original equipment manufacturer) fan to positive. Wire computer fan to positive and negative runs all the time. Black OEM fan and red from heat sink (5 amp) through temperature controller with 14 gauge wire.
Test Your Incubator Sensors

Calibrate and test it. You need accurate dry and wet bulb thermometers, humidity chart, and what local weather says. Local weather said 64%; my Sling Psychrometer said 65%.

A Sling Psychrometer has two thermometers. It measures air temperature and "wet-bulb" temperature. They are used to calculate the dewpoint temp, and therefore relative humidity.
Finding Relative Humidity

A homemade Sling Psychrometer works instantly just like one of these $40 Bacharach Sling Psychrometers. You just wrap a regular thermometer bulb with gauze, make it wet & spin it. The dryer the air, the colder it gets.

Wet Bulb and Dry Bulb Thermometers

You can buy a Wet Bulb / Dry Bulb Hygrometer to test your relative humidity.

I had to adjust the humidity controller calibration to +6 to get the right reading. And I had to raise the temperature controller calibration +2 degrees.

Test Your Humidity Levels

Tape the sensors in place inside the cooler. Close the door and run a test.

My humidity dropped from 65% to 29.8% at 99.5 degrees. I can't believe it dropped that much. Humidity is weird stuff. I added two soaked sponges. 48.8% is all the sponges could do so I have to add more water.

Adding Humidifier

I looked around for a humidity supply and chose the Hankscraft humidifier that has been sitting on a night stand in my childhood bedroom since I was born in 1958.

I got a 3/16 nylon barb splice ($1) and cut the barbs off one end. It fit perfectly in the original hole. Its just two metal plates apart in a Bakelite tube and starts to steam in 30 seconds. I took it apart and cleaned the plates. Works perfectly. Isnt 1950s tech great!

Maintaining Humidity

I think the incubator gets up to 99.5 degrees in 4 to 5 minutes. Once the humidity drops below 50%, and the humidity controller turns on the humidifier, it only takes a couple minutes to bring it back up to 55%.

Your Own DIY Incubator

Drill a hole in the center of top handhold of cooler for tube to fit through. Reposition the tube when you turn the eggs to keep it drip-free so condensate cant collect.

The fan is the black box at the top. Sensors are on the middle shelf.

Put your eggs in the dozen egg cartons. This incubator holds 6 dozen (72) eggs. I only spent about a total of $70 to build it.

Thank you Rick from Pennsylvania for your creative ideas. If anyone else has incubation ideas and photos, let me know. -Nancy

Check out: Kirk's Homemade Incubator.

"A Guide to Better Hatching" Book
"Sexing All Fowl" Book




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Topton, North Carolina 28781
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