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BB's incubator


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#1 Hippie3

Hippie3

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Posted 20 August 2006 - 08:17 AM

You can grow mushrooms at any temperature where a human would be comfortable.
Incubating jars in a cardboard box on top of the fridge will work, if cost is a concern.
<O:p
The reason to build an incubator is to maintain a dark 82F environment for your jars and bulk substrate trays. Mycelia grows fastest in an 84F environment, but the incubator should be kept at 82F because jars will be 1-2 degrees warmer on the inside (mycelia growth is exothermic). Jars/trays will grow at cooler temperatures, but they will grow slower.
<O:p
All the steps of this process should be thought of as a race against time or, more specifically, a race against contaminants. Once a jar is fully colonized, it is far more difficult for contaminants to get a foot hold. Anything that slows the mycelia is a bad thing. Anything that can be done to optimize conditions for the mycelia is a good thing. Optimal mycelia growth occurs in the dark at 82F. Building an incubator is optional but *highly* recommended.
<O:p
Parts list:

  • Large cooler, plastic is best
  • Aquarium heater, Won Brothers Pro Heat (must be submersible & saltwater safe)
  • Big plastic jug with tight fitting lid (aquarium heater must fit inside)
  • 12v power supply
  • 1 or 2 small 12v computer fans (processor fans work fine)
  • Strong glue (Goop works great)
A plastic cooler is better than metal because of the wires and electricity involved. The more flexible lid/lip of a plastic cooler will help keep your wires from getting pinched and/or cut when you open and close the lid.
<O:p
The first step is to modify the drink jug’s lid so you can run the wires through it and still close it tightly (with the aquarium heater inside). The jug must have a water tight seal with the heater inside.
<O:p
Using a good quality jug (Rubbermaid’s are great) will make sealing easier. You can also use any large plastic bottle (including a 2 liter soda or large water bottle), but regular bottles tend to be harder to seal properly. Sealing regular bottles tends to involve lots of silicone and duct tape.
<O:p
If the jug doesn’t seal well, the hot water will evaporate and the inside of the incubator will drip with humidity (very bad, you want the incubator dry inside). Evaporation will also mean having to open the jug back up to refill it with water regularly. An aquarium heater that runs even partially dry will burn out very quickly, possibly starting a fire. The jug must have a solidly water tight seal.
<O:p
The jug, with the aquarium heater sealed inside, is now called a heat bomb.
After all the glue on the heat bomb’s lid is dry, add 5 or 6 tablespoons of salt and fill it up with tap water. Check carefully for leaks and seal any you find. The heating element must stay completely submerged at all times or it will burn out. The salt will keep contaminants from growing in the warm water inside the bomb. Salt is a good choice as a disinfectant because it won’t evaporate.
<O:p
http://mycotopia.net...45&d=1155950031
Heatbomb (made from a Rubbermaid drink pitcher) lid closeup.
You can use any aquarium heater, but the Won Brothers Pro Heat is highly recommended. The Pro Heat has an easy to adjust/read dial and a remote thermal probe. The Pro Heat II line also has a digital temperature display (very nice, but expensive).
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http://mycotopia.net...46&d=1155950031
Won Brothers Pro Heat controller and remote temperature probe. This is *not* the right temperature setting. I turned it up to get the LED to come on for the picture.
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Do NOT put the remote temperature probe inside the bomb. Put the probe on the wall of the incubator as far from the bomb and fan as possible. Put the bomb itself in the center of the cooler, not on the end.
<O:p
http://mycotopia.net...47&d=1155950031
One side of the cooler. The probe is about 12 inches away from the bomb.
<O:p
Glue the little computer fans up high on the incubator walls, aiming down on an angle at the bottom of the cooler. Do NOT direct either fan to blow directly on the temperature probe. Wire up the fans to the 12v power supply and tape/glue the wires to the side of the cooler. The fans should run continuously or the incubator will form “hot spots.”
<O:p
http://mycotopia.net...48&d=1155950031
Fan placement.
<O:p
http://mycotopia.net...49&d=1155950031
Fan placement.
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Now close it up and let it run for a few hours. Once you are certain it won’t explode or catch fire, close it up and don’t open it again for 24 hours. If there is a lot of condensation when you open the incubator, you have leaks in the bomb. Seal them. You want your incubator dry inside.
<O:p
After running for 48 hours, the temperature inside the incubator should have stabilized. Use a thermometer to test the accuracy of the heater’s control dial. You want the incubator at 81F-82F. Warmer will invite trouble. If you can’t hit 82F, go cooler.
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Now you have a big plastic cooler that can maintain a specific (and adjustable) temperature. This cooler is now called an incubator.
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http://mycotopia.net...50&d=1155950031
Incubator filled with projects.
<O:p
Please note all the space between the different projects. You want to maintain some space in the incubator for air flow. The moving air distributes the heat. Without the moving air, projects close to the heat bomb will be much warmer than those a few inches away.
<O:p
If you have so many jars/trays that the incubator becomes “stuffed”…build another incubator! Don’t overfill your incubator or you will get “hot spots” and your results will suffer.
<O:p
NOTE: Be aware that, depending on the size of your incubator, your heat bomb will run anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees warmer than the 82F ambient temperature. That is to say, to maintain 82F in the incubator, the heat bomb may run at 86F to over 95F.






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