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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Talk About Your Incubator

    This thread is to talk about and show pics of your queen cell incubator.

    To kick off I'll show mine, it's home made from 2 inch thick polystyrene glued together. It works OK although the temperature swings more than I would like. This is because the temperature controller is set to a maximum variance of 1 degree, but the temperature probe is rather big and slow to react. So the air temperature has to pass the set temperature by around a degree, before the probe will get to the actual trigger temperature.

    Anyhow here's some pics with explanations.


    This is the outside of the incubator with the lid leaning on it. The temperature controller is an Aqua Logic that used to be on my fish tank. Higher up, there is a small fish tank digital thermometer, this has a very small probe which reacts faster to temperature changes, so gives a more accurate reading and it tells me the temperature swings more than the display on the aqua logic reads, which I assume is because the temperature probe of the aqua logic is quite thick so takes longer for the temperature to change, ie, there is a lag between the temperature of the probe, and the air temperature.




    This pic is the inside. The dimensions are pretty much the same as a langstroth box only deeper, so frames of cells can be hung inside on the wooden slats glued near the top. The other main parts are labelled in the pic. The heat source is a 50 W ceramic bulb that came from the pet store, it's the kind used for reptile tanks it doesn't give off any light as I thought light may bother the cells. Under the light is a tray for water, this is to provide humidity, as I'm told humidity in a normal broodnest is around 95%. There is a small computer type fan, not very powerful but the idea is to provide a small amount of air movement to keep temperature even from top to bottom of the incubator. It also blows directly onto the temperature probe, to hopefully speed the reactivity of the probe.




    The incubator works. However I am not 100% satisfied with it.

    I'm hoping others will contribute with both ideas and more pics, that will be helpful to both me, and others.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Sorry no pictures of mine but I will try to add links to the items I use.

    First is a large Styrofoam box. Not as deep as yours otherwise dimensions woudl be similar. I do not try to hang fraems of cells in mine. the cells go in holders that I built. I also cut a hole in the tip of mine and covered it with a picture frame and glass for a viewing window.

    I use a regular incandescent bulb shielded by a metal coffee can. High risk of the heat source failing this way.

    I do not do anything for humidity as I hear humidity needs to be around 50%. the temp needs to be at 95.

    I use a temperature controller I got off e-bay for $20.00. It works very well and I have never measured a temperature swing although I have tested it many times. one trick to reduce temp swing is move the probe closer to your heat source.

    Materials:
    For a box a regular old ice chest even the cheap styro ones will work.
    Lamp fisture I use these. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Westingho...1#.Uepq7qyfPvE

    For a temperature controller I use this but make sure you get the 120 volt version not the 12 volt dc. unless you want 12 V DC. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Digital-All-...item5653d71183

    Now for what I woudl like to improve.

    First I woudl like it to look nice enough to keep in the house. this can be done by using things like old broken down wine coolers. Here is an example but I am not suggesting buying one new.
    http://www.lowes.com/pd_326324-47224...r|1&facetInfo=

    I would also like mine to be more upright with the viewing window in the front. I would also like loading to be from the front rather than the top. The wine cooler solves both of those problems as well.

    Final method to a nice incubator is to just buy it with all the problems solved for you. I like this one but there are many many other options to just purchase an incubator.
    http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/incubator.php
    I believe to get anything comparable to the Exo-Terra you can expect to spend about $80 or a bit more and then build it yourself. If I get into making any number of queens at all I will be getting the reptile egg incubator.

    One final note. I do not bother with a fan in my queen cell incubator. I have not found it necessary.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Caledonia, Ontario, CA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I posted a description and some photos of a incubator I built from a used 8 bottle wine cooler in a different thread below this one(not sure how to link threads,maybe Rader Sidetrack can help with that) It will hold 40 to 50 cells the way it is set up now. I got a lot of good info from Lauri's posts, thanks Lauri! I was going to buy a exo-terra incubator, but after reading various reviews on different reptile forums, I decided just to build one. I still have to mount my Ranco ETC to the side. Right now it is just sitting on top of the cooler. You have to be careful with using light bulbs for a heat source. I started with 2 80 watt incandescent bulbs (wasn't thinking) but the amount of heat they generate is unbelievable. It actually started to bubble the plastic in the cooler even with a metal shroud with air between it. I am using 2 40 watt bulbs now and could get away with something smaller. I may try a reptile heat bulb in the future. I used a ceramic light bulb fixture with a Screw in Y adapter to get 2 bulbs. I bought the Ranco ETC from honey run apiaries for I believe $75 pre wired but you can get it cheaper if you want to wire it your self. So I have about $130 into this build, which is still less then what it would have cost me to buy one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,594

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Quote Originally Posted by Creekside View Post
    I posted a description and some photos of a incubator I built from a used 8 bottle wine cooler in a different thread below this one(not sure how to link threads ....


    Here's the referenced thread:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...154#post970154


    Linking threads is the easy part. Often the hard part is finding the right thread ...

    Once you have found the correct thread, move your cursor to the "address" box [URL] at the top of the page. As an example, the URL for this thread reads "http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?286777-Talk-About-Your-Incubator&p=974108#post974108"

    Then left click on the address to highlight the URL. Copy it with with a [Control]-C or a right click and choose "Copy". Then go to the thread you want to paste the link into, left click at the location where you want the link to appear, and type [Control]-V or right click and choose "Paste".

    Personally, I find it easier to do this by having two Beesource windows (tabs) open at the same time. One window has the post I am composing, the other is where I find the thread I want to link to.

    It takes longer to describe this process than to actually go thru the steps. What may take the time is finding the thread in the first place.

    .
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 07-20-2013 at 09:30 AM.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,716

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I'm using a commercially available reptile egg incubator called "reptibator". It's the only one I've ever used, so any comparison to other designs is, at best, theory.

    I think the biggest issue with the swing is how much heat the heat source provides when it is on. There is some inertia/hysteresis in the temperature swing, and the more heat (hotter/more mass) the source produces when it is on, the faster it gets up to temperature, but also the more likely it is to swing wide of the target temp even after the thermostat cuts it off.

    Remember, most heat sources are off or on.

    The reptibator uses a heating wire, but pulses the charge, so that it doesn't get nearly as hot, and doesn't swing the temp so high.

    There is no fan, but I plan to add one...or make a new cabinet incubator and just use the lid/heating element/thermostat from the reptibator.

    I put a container of water to add humidity.

    http://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-Reptib.../dp/B0038Z5RMU

    For a homegrown version, I think i would use a simple microcontroller so that I could modulate the pulse width to vary how hot the element is getting...so I could make up large differences quickly, but hold a tight range once established.

    You might be able to pulse a ceramic heater, but I don't think it would be good for the life of a bulb or bulb like heating element.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Thanks, useful info.

    Glad I also posted this on my local forum also, there has been a good discussion, with at least one electrical engineer.

    Turns out, the top line temperature controllers come with what is called PID software. What happens is exactly what you say Dean, the heat source heats up, then when the controller switches off, latent heat continues to come off the bulb or whatever causing a heat spike. Also, there can be a lag in time it takes for the heat sensor probe to get up to temperature compared to the air it is in.

    What PID software does is monitor this, if it notices there is a heat spike after the controller is turned off, it will calculate when it should turn off earlier so that there will not be a heat spike, and it can do the inverse on the way down.

    So that's what I'll be doing, switching out for a controller with PID.

    Something else that's come up, is you don't want a heat source that is too hot. The faster it heats the incubator each time, the further behind the temperature of the heat probe will be, than the air temperature. A heat source that heats the incubator slowly, will mean the heat probe has more time to keep up to temperature and will switch off lower in the heat cycle.

    Not knowing much about electronics, I'm glad I posted and found out this stuff. Anyhow I'll go & check out your other thread Creekside.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I got started late building my incubator this year. But I hope to make good use of it next spring. After reading everything I could find on this site and the Internet, this is what I came up with. I'm using the ranco thermostat with the circulation fan tied in.



    Last edited by SDiver40; 09-01-2013 at 12:48 PM. Reason: add picture

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,143

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I believe that the temp will be more even throughout the volume and across cycles if the fan runs constantly. It might not matter - according to Old timer his incubator is already more consistent than hive conditions. But I bet more consistent conditions will result in more predictable emergence times.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I recently had an interesting experience with my temp controller. after nearly 4 solid weeks of it operating night and day it failed to open at the set temp. this kept the heat element from turning off and the kiln rose from the target 120 degrees to 197. Gratefully this was not set up on an incubator but was operating my tobacco kiln. It is not end up causing any damage since teh tobacco was ready to enter the drying stage where it would have been heated to 160 degrees. it just dried it faster and may have been near getting roasted. had it been queen cells it woudl have been a disaster. I am not sure yet just what caused the failure but for a temperature controller it is not acceptable that it failed secure. or in the on position. For now my anser is to wire back in the mechanical water heater stat that will be set just above the target temp. it will never open unless once again this temp controller sticks closed.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,143

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Daniel Y - what kind is it?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    It is one of these from E-bay. Good plug for better quality.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/110V-LCD-Dig...item58a1713187
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

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