For some time now I’ve been idly contemplating the possibility of making my own incubator and hatcher for (primarily) chicken eggs as I’ve never been completely happy with the performance of my commercially-produced ones.
What I’m thinking of for the incubator is a cabinet-style unit for the incubator with four trays for a dozen eggs each, the trays being rocked back and forth slowly so the eggs don’t need turning. The cabinet should be insulated and perhaps have a “double glazed” door on the front. Heating would be done using nichrome wire, and humidity controlled by allowing water to drip onto a sponge or into some sort of open container.
To keep the temperature even throughout the cabinet a fan would circulate the air from the top to the bottom. Vents would be required to allow circulation of air to the outside in the event that the air inside is too warm or humid.
I have it in my head that the heating could be controlled by an Arduino using 1-wire temperature sensors placed around the cabinet. It could also manage the humidity, again using 1-wire sensors and perhaps drive a peristaltic pump to add water from an external reservoir to increase humidity if necessary. I’m not sure if the vents could be controlled by the Arduino as well, but it may well be possible. There could be an LCD display giving temperature/RH information as well as showing a countdown to when the eggs need moving to the hatcher, an alarm for temperature/RH being out of bounds and any other problems I think of and a menu system for selecting pre-programmed profiles for eggs from different birds.
The cabinet shell may need to be made from wood, but I’d aim to 3D-print as much of the rest as possible including egg trays, dividers, fan ducting, parts for the pump and so on. Perhaps the cabinet could be plastic. I’ll have to see what dimensions of plastic sheet are available.
I’ve not really thought too much about the hatcher yet, but one thing I’d like to incorporate into that is a “hatch cam”, so perhaps one of the newer Raspberry Pi models with wifi might work better for controlling that. I don’t imagine it will be too dissimilar to the incubator though, but with a clear lid this time.
Time for some rough sketches I think…