Make do and mend

Dismantling the control unit

When our Brinsea Octagon DX20 incubator broke down last year—thanks to small fingers—I contacted Brinsea to see if it could be repaired. I didn’t hold out much hope, but I always like to see if something can be repaired or, failing that salvaged, instead of going in the bin. But a very helpful lady said I could either order the relevant part over the phone or send it back for repair. I didn’t have the cash for parts at the time, but having saved up the £45.98 I was delighted to learn last week that parts can now be bought online.

The control unit need to come out

The control panel’s temperature adjustment had failed as a pair of wires on a probe had been snapped, causing the heating elements to run all the time. I want to hatch eggs, not boil them, so it was imperative to get the incubator fixed in time for the main hatching season. First, I had to disconnect all the wires, extract the probe, unbolt the adjustment screw, and withdraw an LED from its  housing.

Keeping track of which wire went where

Before removing the wires, however, I used the back of the envelope the new control unit came in to make a note of which wires went where. It would not have been a good idea to connect the wires in the wrong places and destroy the new unit as well.

“Making stuff” always attracts an audience

While watching is fine, wandering little hands are discouraged—especially after the problem had been caused by them in the first place. Neither of them can help it, though, they can stand and watch for about three minutes before the screwdriver, the grips, the pliers, the old control unit or something else starts screaming “pick me up now!”. In a voice only audible to small people, of course…

Putting it all back together

Reassembling the incubator was quite fiddly. The probe on the new unit had to pass through a hole in the lid, go down through the fan support (without being tangled in the fan), pass through a rubber grommet (without damaging the wires) and then be squeezed into place. The unit then had to be seated correctly with the LED in place, the temperature adjustment screw passing through its hole and all the wires properly routed and fastened. When I was reasonably satisfied I had it all in the right place, I did a 10-minute test and it seems to be working properly. I’ll do a full 48-hour test starting tomorrow. It’s much more satisfying to repair something than to throw it out.

4 Responses to “Make do and mend”

  1. kitmarlowesot2 Reply 8 March, 2008 at 22:28

    My mother and I tend to be a bit bad on that aspect of life. Though it usually ends up in the garage, then the trash can. My grandfather still has his first tv in our garage from the 50′s. I don’t suppose you like a broken, three year old ten dollar coffee maker, with a broken pot and filter thingy ?
    Grandfather is still keeping his, even though I got him a new one that will automatically make coffee with a timer, and we can hang up. One he had been wanting for a while.

  2. mummys little angel Reply 9 March, 2008 at 10:22

    ah yes small boys and fiddle finger syndrome…I know it well!

  3. My father-in-law had a rule when his 4 boys were small: The 5 and 10 Rule.
    A little boy may stand 5 feet away and ask 10 questions (if things are going well) or 10 feet away and ask 5 questions (if things are not going well!) He told anyone who came to work at their farm this rule, so all boys knew not to get between the worker and his tools, or make pests of themselves. Seemed to work in rural Pennsylvania in the 1940′s.

  4. That’s an excellent rule. I think I’ll have to try it with the boys.

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