I have finally come close to finishing my new coolerbator project copied from Damon Salceies plans with what I hope to be a few improvements. I started with a 162 Qt. Igloo marine cooler
Next, like Damon, I built a frame out of PVC to wrap the heat cable. Instead of 3/4 PVC, I used all 1 1/2 couplings necked down to 3/4. This leaves an air space and no contact between the heat frame and the cooler bottom in hopes to increase heat radiation, air circulation, and lessen the possibility of a heat cable failure from being sandwiched between two pieces of PVC. Damons plans called for 2 - 12 volt CPU fans, I used a total of 4 fans (2 in the lower heating area, and 2 below the egg box shelf. The fans are 40mm x 10mm ball bearing 5000 RPM 5CFM.
Next I added the lower 2 fans using high temperature hot glue to adhere them to the floor of the cooler and the side to the heat frame. Power supply was spliced into a 12 volt transformer.
Per Damons plans, I added a 12" wire shelf for the water pans to sit on. Water pans are SS "1/2 tray" pans 10x12x4
On top of the pans is a 1 1/2" PVC frame / spacer for the egg shelf to sit on. PVC frame filled with water to add thermal mass (same with heating frame).
On top of this spacer rests the egg shelf made from 1/2" grid plastic (originally used for fluorescent light diffuser) with the remaining two CPU fans wire tied and hot glued to the grid.
With the remaining 2 fans added and splice into the 12 volt transformer, Shelf is put in place, Egg boxes added. Egg boxes are 12x10x4 inch polycarbonate boxes, drain shelf, and lid.
Herpstat probe threaded through the drain hole along with the rest of the cords. Placement will be in the main chamber between 2 egg boxes. To minimize heat and humidity loss when inspecting eggs, 1/4" lexan covers added
Within 15 seconds of putting the covers on, they were covered with light condensation showing their future value.
With a total of over 5 gallons of water combined between the 3 water pans and all PVC filled with water, there should be sufficient thermal mass to overcome heat loss due to periodical inspections speeding up recovery time.
Cost breakdown as follows :
162 QT marine cooler 79.99 (on sale from 279.99 on clearance as it was an older model no longer manufactured)
Easyheat HB06 heat cable 41.30 shipped (electrical supply house)
PVC pipe and fittings 38.26 (expensive due to the large number of fittings and reduction bushings)
Wire shelf 10.98 (Walmart)
4 CPU fans 17.89 shipped (from EBAY)
SS water pans 38.50 (resteraunt supply house)
Polycarbonate egg boxes 44.55 (resteraunt supply house)
1/2" grid 12.79 (hardware store)
1/4" Lexan 28.75 (glass supply)
Drawer pulls 2.00 (surplus store)
Total parts 314.96 Plus Herpstat
I would like to thank Damon Salceies for posting his projects and coolerbator plans on his web page greatly helping me along the way. As you see I copied his plans, only making minor changes where I saw fit to adapt to a slightly larger cooler and to increase rebound and start-up times. Testing will decide whether or not I add an air pump as he did to boost humidity.
Now if I can only get some eggs to put in there....lol There finally has been some changes in my 2 females. One has gone off feed (2 weeks), and the other was a reluctant feeder last night. Also, the reluctant feeder has taken on a slightly "blue hue" (or gone opaque). She shed less than a month ago which I find odd and has never lost appetite.
Does anyone know where I can get some long leaf sphagnum moss like I see in everyones nest box photos?
Any input would be appreciated from anyone with experience with coolerbators (or incubators in general).