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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran twistedtails's Avatar
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    DIY Incubator Tutorial.

    We get a lot of questions on the forum about how to turn fridges into incubators. So, I figured I would share how I build mine. This is the second one I have built out of reach-in style fridges. The hardest part in my opinion is going to be finding the fridge itself. You can try hotel and restaraunt supply houses, they should be able to point you in the right direction. The rest is finding the right fan for the project. A fan with too high of a CFM(cubic feet per minute) will not let the heat tape get hot enough to heat the fridge. An over worked heat tape has potential for failure leading to fires and such. Don't go above 220 CFM and the Rheostat we will be installing will slow the fan down at half speed just enough to heat perfectly and eliminate hot spots. Also, if you are not comfortable or don't understand electrical, please find somebody competent that can help you. Here we go.

    What you will need:
    1. 4' of 11" Flexwatt
    2. 220 CFM 12v fan
    3. 12v transformer(the kind that plugs into the wall)
    4. Thermostat-perportional preferred(a back-up one also-does not have to be perportional)
    5. 6' or so of 18-16 gauge wire(for fan)
    6. 15 amp receptical
    7. 2- single gang electrical boxes
    8. 3 amp rheostat from Radio Shack
    9. Receptical cover
    10. Blank receptical cover
    11. 2-16 gauge extension cords
    12. Zipties
    13. Zipties with screw hole to mount wiring to walls nicely
    14. petentiometer knob from Radio Shack also
    15. 3/4" long screws
    16. Foil tape
    17. Electrical Tape
    18. Heat shrink
    19. 1 1/2" angle brackets
    20. Small bolts, nuts, and washers-#6 should work well(for mounting fan to brackets)
    21. Butt splice connectors
    22. All neccessary tools(drill and drill bit-3/8" bit should work fine, screwdrivers-phillips and standard, heat gun or lighter for shrink wrap, soldering gun and solder)

    That should be all of the supplies needed to finish the project up. If I forget something, it shold be included in the walkthrough of the project.

    First off we start with a reach-in style fridge. I prefer the glass door because it allows me to inspect egg tubs and thermometers inside without opening the door and facing heat loss issues.



    Also, if your fridge has the compressor still intact...DO NOT make any holes in the raised are of metal on the back wall. It contains refridgerant lines and will leak causing possible burns and a whole mess of other stuff if it hits your skin or eyes. Here is a picture of the area I'm taking about...



    Figure out where you are going to tape your heat tape on the inside of the fridge. I tape it on the side that will have the controls mounted on the outside. Then drill a 3/8" hole 6-8" above where the heat tape stops. This hole will be used to get your wires for the fan and heat tape out. Install plastic grommets in electrical boxes(they just snap in). Mount the 2 elctrical boxes on the outside just down from where the hole is. Cut the end off of one of the extension cords. Pull the extension cord and the 18 gauge wire for the fan through. Here you can see I have the wires for my fan and heat tape pulled through and the boxes mounted.



    Solder your heat tape and tape the connection up with electrical tape(dont forget to tape the heat tape at the end of the metal strips opposite of your soldering). You can skip the soldering step if you are going to be using the flexwatt connectors. Although, I still recommend you tape those up as well considering the fact that incubators can be high humidity conditions depending what type of incubation method you use. Tape your heat tape in place using foil tape. Here is a pic of the heat tape mounted in place after being soldered to the extension cable.



    Next up is wiring the fan. Let me start in explaining on the transformer and fan compatability. Always make sure the transformer has the same voltage as your fan and is rated at a higher amperage than your fan. So, if your fan is 12v then the transformer has to be 12v. If the fan is 200mA then the transformer has be greater than 200mA.

    Wire your fan inside the incubator(don't hook up the fan wire to the transformer just yet, only wire the inside of the incubator). Just match the colors(black to black and red to red). Don't worry about the yellow wire on the fan if it is there, it is a signal wire that is used in computers and serves no purpose for us. I use butt splice connectors for this process and cover those with heat shrink. Mount the fan to the angle backets with the #6 nuts and bolts and screw it to the wall just above the heat tape(blowing down towards the bottom of the incubator). Tape all of your wires in place nicely so they don't put stress on the connections. Here you can see the fan wired, mounted to the brackets, and screwed in place.



    Here is a picture of the wires all taped nicely so it keeps stress off of the connections.



    So the inside of the incubator is finished besides the mounting of the probe! That step will come after we mount the thermostat last. On to the the controls and power source for the incubator.

    Take your last extension cord and cut the end off, pull it through the grommet in the back box that we mounted, and tighten the grommet. I always solder my stranded wire before I make connection because spare wires can cause shorts. Here is a picture of the wire soldered before I wire it to the recepticle.



    Wire the cord to the recepticle. This will be the wire you plug into the wall to power the whole incubator. The black wire from the cord should always go to the brass screw(hot screw) and the white goes to the silver screw(neutral screw). If you chose a grounded cord hook it to the green screw. A ground is not too neccessary as the heat source we are using is not grounded. After you wire the recepticle screw it into the box and install the recepticle cover. Here is a picture of how I wire the recepticle.



    Next is wiring the rheostat. Pull the wires from your fan and transformers into the electrical box that we mounted in the front of the incubator and tighten the grommet. The rheostat from Radio Shack has 3 prongs. We will be talking about this piece as we are looking at it from the front, the side with the knob on it and the prongs pointed to the right. The first prong from the top is going to hook up to the fan(this is called the load prong). As you can see in the picture I wired the red wire going back to the fan to the top prong. The second prong down from the top is going to back to the transformer(this is our hot power for the fan called the line prong). The neutral wires from the fan and transformers can be connected straight to each other(they do not have to hook into the rheostat). All we are doing is dimming the amount of power going to the fan. DC only works in one direction. So, if you hook the wires up wrong the fan won't work. Just switch the wires and the fan should work fine. I hope I explained this well enough. If I have not, just ask and I can try and explain the process better. Here is a picture of the rhoestat wired before I soldered and covered it with heat shrink. You can see how I have the neutrals wired to each other using a butt splice connector. Reminder, slide heat shrink on any wires before you solder as you won't be able to get it on after you solder.



    Here is a picture after the wires were soldered and heat shrink is shrunk. As I stated before, I always like to cover any areas that have potential to ground or short out. BTW, I use a lighter to shrink my heat shrink. I don't have a heat gun and it works well the way I do it.



    Next drill a hole in blank recepticle cover with the 3/8" drill bit used earlier. Remove the washer and nut that are threaded on the shaft. Slide the rheostat through the hole and secure in place using the included washer and nut. Screw your petentiometer knob on the rhestat shaft and screw the plate with the rheostat installed into the electrical box. Here you can see the rheostat installed and labeled.



    Next mount the thermostat next to the rheostat. With the Herstat I had to use a screw and washer to mount it because the hole is really bia nd a screw would not have worked by itself. Here it is all mounted in place.



    Once you have you thermostat wired you have to get the probe inside the incubator. To do this I made a hole in the front of the incubatorwith our 3/8" bit just below my top shelf(you will see what I'm talking about in the picture). I hang my probe just below the top shelf in the very center of the incubator. I use zipties to cleanly tie the wire up to the shelf and out of the incubator. Here is a pic of the hole I made and the wire secured with zipties.



    Now you have your recepticle wired, rheostat wired, fan wired and heat tape wired! It is time to plug it all in where it needs to be plugged in. On the top plug of the recepticle I plug my thermostat in. On the bottom plug I plug my 12v transformer in. I then plug my heat tape into the thermostat. Use the zipties with the screw holes to mount your wires all nice and clean. To power it up, plug the wire coming out of the bottom of the back box to the wall. Here is a picture showing the wires mounted and plugged in.



    If you followed this thoroughly(and purchused the cool fan with LEDs) you should have an incubator that looks something like this when fired up...



    I hope this tutorial helped whoever is going to be building one of these in the future. If you have any questions on something you did not understand, please ask. Thanks for having a look and happy breeding!
    Mike

  2. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to twistedtails For This Useful Post:

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  3. #2
    BPnet Senior Member Royal Hijinx's Avatar
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    I need a tutorial on finding a glass front display fridge in San Diego....

    On a serious note, great write up!

  4. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Royal Hijinx For This Useful Post:

    hypnotixdmp (10-14-2012),moonlightgdess (07-20-2012),twistedtails (04-07-2012),Zach Cedor (05-25-2014)

  5. #3
    BPnet Veteran twistedtails's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Incubator Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by jinx667 View Post
    I need a tutorial on finding a glass front display fridge in San Diego....

    On a serious note, great write up!
    Thanks. If you really need one let me know. I have a guy up in IE that has a few of them and I can get you a smokin' deal on one.
    Mike

  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member Royal Hijinx's Avatar
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    PM incoming.

  7. #5
    Registered User sporty02's Avatar
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    awesome write up
    0.1 spider ball
    1.0 pastel ball
    1.0 sunburst bearded dragon

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    twistedtails (04-07-2012)

  9. #6
    BPnet Senior Member Robyn@SYR's Avatar
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    Nice write up. Will make The Reptile Report for sure! : )

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    twistedtails (04-09-2012)

  11. #7
    BPnet Veteran twistedtails's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Incubator Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robyn@SYR View Post
    Nice write up. Will make The Reptile Report for sure! : )
    Thanks Robyn! Figured it might be of help.
    Mike

  12. #8
    BPnet Senior Member jben's Avatar
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    :thumbup:very nice write up:thumbup:

    Sent from my HTC Evo Design using Tapatalk.

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    twistedtails (04-09-2012)

  14. #9
    BPnet Veteran moonlightgdess's Avatar
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    How about you build me one and I finance it? Lol. This is awesome!

  15. #10
    Venom Life Neal's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Incubator Tutorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by moonlightgdess View Post
    How about you build me one and I finance it? Lol. This is awesome!
    x2 on this. Now while I'm really computer savvy I just don't understand a few steps.

    One thing is it says 220 cfm 12v fan, well cfm means air flow. So if you're referring to a 220cfm air flow fan that's going to be a very loud fan, normally a Delta brand, or did you mean 220mm fan?
    -Venomous-

    1.0 - Naja siamensis (Black & White Spitting Cobra)
    0.1 - Naja nigricollis (Black-necked Spitting Cobra)

    coming at some point in the future
    Naja annulata (Ringed Water Cobra)
    Naja n. woodi (Black Spitting Cobra)




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