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Dermestid Beetle Freezer Enclosure Build Tutorial

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Modifiedloser, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. I converted a chest freezer for my beetles that heats and cools, and it's vented out the window. Here's the information:

    Parts List:
    1.) Freezer
    2.) Inkbird All-Purpose Digital Thermostat Fahrenheit (Controls heater and compressor.)
    3.) Image Digital Air Humidity Controller HM-40 Type
    4.) Maurice Franklin Louver RLW-100 1" White Mini Louvers (They are also screened.)
    5.) AC Infinity Axial 1225 Muffin Cooling Fan 120mm Low Speed
    6.) Reptile Basics Radiant Heat Panel 40 Watt
    7.) 2 Gang Wall Plate for Outlets (I chose one with new visible screws)
    8.) Parts Vacuum (Goodwill, doesn't have to work, you just need the hose)
    9.) Aluminum Tape
    10.) 2 3/8" Rubber Grommets
    11.) Wire Nuts
    12.) Spray Foam Insulation
    13.) 4'x4' 1/2" MDF Sheet
    14.) Screws
    15.) Spray Paint for Window Vent
    16.) Tools: Drill, 3/8" Drill bit, 1/8" Drill bit, #2 Phillips Head Bit, Sawz-All, 1" Hole Saw, 2" Hole Saw

    I started with a new freezer. You certainly don't have to, but I have a friend that works at Best Buy and this 10.2 cubic foot Insignia only cost me $137, so why not?


    I ordered all of my parts off of Amazon. If you search for what I listed you should find them.


    The 2 gang wall plates for outlets ALMOST fit the thermostat. Almost. I took a file and in a few minutes they fit great.


    I removed the stock thermostat.


    Since they got funky with the shape of the stock one I took a saw to the hole and removed a bit of metal.


    After that I installed the back plate for the wall plate (this hidden screw one has a back plate so the face has no visible screws) by drilling four holes and screwing it in. Easy peasy, but I forgot to take pics.

    I also wired it all up, but instead of going into that here, just Google "wiring stc-1000 chest freezer" and a plethora of things will come up because home brew beer guys make "keezers" this way and talk about it a lot online. It's fairly easy.

    *It drives me nuts that the thermostat isn't as bright as the humidity controller. Nothing I can do it about it.

    Next I installed the heat panel. Self tapping screws, go slow to not crack the plastic in the lid.


    Then I got busy with a drill. I drilled a hole directly under the heat panel on the inside, and then one in the back edge of the lid centered behind the heat panel. Next I took a wire hanger and ran it through the insulation and both holes, hooked it, attached the heater cord to the hook, and then pulled it through the holes. Next I installed rubber grommets in each hole to protect the wire and give it a finished look.


    Next I took a 1" hole saw and drilled through the lid. I'm a bit anal about things looking clean and factory so I started on the inside and centered the bit in one of the dimples of the lid and drilled SLOWLY through the plastic and then only popped the center drill bit out of the top. Then I closed the lid, slid the drill bit through the hole and cut out the top portion. Next I vacuumed the mess up and simply popped in the louvered covers. They worked great.


    Next I did the same basic thing on the freezer hump. The hump was chosen because chest freezer walls are filled with cooling components and the hump isn't. I then installed a louver cover on only this side.


    After that I took a larger hole saw and cut through this little back plate.


    I found a vacuum at Goodwill that had a nice 2 screw mount built into the hose. Perfect for my use here. I should have thought of something better while at Home Depot, but I didn't, so I crudely used weather stripping around it to seal it against the surface.


    I then ran it through the hole I made. In this pic you can see through the hole and see the backside of the louver cover.


    I then used self tapping screws and screwed it over the hole.


    Next, just a few inches behind the thermostat and once again through the freezer hump, I drilled a hole for the sensors and ran them through.


    After that I took small window screen pieces,angled them different directions, then cut them into a square.


    Then I neatly tucked the sensors and laid the screen over them and then used aluminum tape to secure it all.


    Then I shot some insulation foam into that hole.


    Then I carefully used aluminum tape over every seam, the entire front of the hump, and then two different levels horizontally to prevent climbers.


    And it's done.


    And after running all night it worked great.


    I went to Wal-Mart and found a tub that fit really well in the bottom and on the hump They will still occasionally get out of the tub, but they just die in the void. This main reason for this was to make future maintenance on the freezer easier, and cleaning as well. It looks like it's covering the vent and sensors, but due to the angle of the tub walls there is actually about 3/4" gap between them.

    For the hump I have a small tub that will normally be empty but sometimes for more delicate animals I can scoop a limited number of beetles into this one and control the situation a bit more.


    I used the rack that came with the freezer to set or hang finished skulls to allow the beetles to exit and drop down.


    I didn't take pics of the window vent I built but it's easy to describe. I cut a piece of MDF to the width of the window and 8" tall. I cut a hole in the center and drilled holes to mount the fan. I used window screen in front of the fan and the cage front it came with. I then built a box over the fan and drilled a hole in the side and used insulation foam in a can to secure a piece of vacuum attachment I cut off the vacuum. Then I painted it black and sealed it fully. After that I ran weather stripping around the wood. I then closed the window on it, put the freezer in place, hooked the hose up and bam, negative pressure in the freezer. It has a slow unnoticeable draw and works great. So far zero smell leaches into my work space.

    Thanks for looking!
  2. joesnextoy

    joesnextoy New Member

    Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Great build but a couple of questions roughly how much did this project cost?? So I know what to budget for.

    Again great build but a thought, you put the heater on the lid and heat rises and you put the sensor on the same side, what if the heater was put on the left side opposite the thermal sensor would the heat be more uniform or am I just overkilling the idea

    Ps thanks for posting this the last couple of days I've been trying to figure out how to make it work in my basement with no smell

  3. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Thanks! I probably have $300 in it, which is a bit ridiculous. I just really like doing things like this and making it look as if it were factory designed for this purpose. It could be done much cheaper even with the digital thermostat, which is only $16, if you did a heat lamp and a used freezer as those were the two expensive items.

    The heat panel is a radiant heat panel. It evenly radiates heat and does it very well. Using a laser temp gun it has never been more than 1°F different on the oppisite side of the sensor on the floor. It's a small enough area that it just doesn't matter much.

    I wanted to put the heater in the center but the lid shape didn't allow it.
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! I need to build one sooooo bad. My beetles are plagued with invaders (spiders and ham beetles). Building one like yours is on the top of my to-do list!
  5. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    I use 2' baseboard heaters in all my freezers. They cost about $28.
  6. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Terrific job! Great pics, awesome tutorial. This should help a lot of people
  7. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    I looked at those but in the end chose a heat panel because they are designed for live animals in close quarters. They can only get so hot and if they break they default in off mode. Olus I'm familiar with them due to breeding and keeping reptiles for years.
  8. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Thanks, everyone!
  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    This is really a very good post. Congrats. :)

    Maybe edit your title and get the words tutorial and enclosure in there too for future searchers.
  10. Re: Dermestid Beetle Freezer Build

    Thanks! Changes made.

    I want to rebuild the window vent box to change a few things so I'll take pics this time and add to the tutorial.
    Timmy J likes this.
  11. boone90

    boone90 Dan Hastings

  12. midnightblue69

    midnightblue69 New Member

    You do know they make a variety of medications for OCD these days right? HA HA

    A little shiney and over thought for my taste but a nice build! Be careful with those inkbird chiwaneese controllers, they general last anywhere between 36 hours and a year, I like something with a low temp alarm on my colonies also.
  13. Yes, I'm familiar with the thermostat I own and use. If you had bothered to look up the exact model I'm using (as there are a plethora of different models based on this design) you would know that it has an alarm for heat and cold.

    They actually have very good longevity and are commonly used by home brewers for their fermentation tanks and keezers.

    But I do want to apologize that the Dermestarium I built for myself and my own enjoyment doesn't fit your standards. Very sorry that I over thought it and didn't let it rust first.
    Lance.G likes this.
  14. bucksco80

    bucksco80 Member

    I bought an inkbird thermostat beginning of this season and after two weeks of using it and came out to find it stuck wide open and it was reading 147 degrees and all my beetles were melted. I'm now using a 2 foot baseboard heater.
  15. midnightblue69

    midnightblue69 New Member

    Hey dude really no need for apologies, really, everybody is into different things. I enjoy hunting and blacksmithing, some people enjoy paying $137 for something you can get for free off of craigslist, all good brother!

    As for that temp controller all I can tell you is my experience. I had one and the temp probe circuit failed 2 days after I installed, it read about 80 degrees too high regardless of the probe. They replaced the unit for me and it worked fine for 4 months then DOA, wouldn't power up. I did a little research and what I saw was an absolute ton of people who had problems with them. To use one on a home brew set up means that it is used only intermittently and if it fails you are out a batch of beer you had an hour vested in, if it fails on my beetle enclosure potentially years of work is lost and I'm out considerable revenue. If you search cheap temperature controller, that very unit is marketed under at least a half dozen names, I'd be willing to bet that you could buy them for $3 if you purchased them in bulk through HD Gate or the like. I purchased a different cheap chiwaneese controller and it outlasted the inkbird but I decided I have too much at stake in my colonies and I purchased good controllers and heaters. - To summarize, the freezer is nothing more than an insulated box you're going to rip the compressor off of anyway. A simple ad on craigslist seeking a free broken deep freezer results in dozens of replies from people who will beg you to come take their's away, often working and in almost new condition. That $137 can then be used on a quality Johnson or other American controller. As for the temp alarm, what good is one built in the controller if the controller fries? What I meant is that I have a supplemental thermometer with alarm in my colonies, it's a wireless unit with probes in the enclosures and the head unit stays in the main part of my shop where I can read the temps and would first hear the alarm.
    Be well
  16. You probably wired it wrong and caused the failure yourself.

    I didn't want a nonworking freezer, I wanted one that cooled as well. Once again you clearly didn't read the original post, If you had you would see that mine heats and cools and I left the compressor in place. I wanted a brand new one so it looked good in my snake room. I'm also aware of craigslist, as is every single person that has internet access, but thanks for stating easily conceived and obvious ideas.

    I guess I just make more money than you as $137 is not a big deal to me and you seem to be obsessing over it and my choices in life. It's flattering, but also odd and unsettling.

    So take your pointless backhanded comments and move on. The next time you do this I suggest actually reading the post so you don't look so stupid.
  17. lokireptiles

    lokireptiles Member

    Great tutorial!

    Everything looks really well thought and planned out well. Love how everything looks. Definitely not your average hacked project!

    One thing I would have considered is an internal small fan that runs to move air around both for temperature and for gasses from the bugs. I know you have a vent and fan so maybe its overkill.

    I would be interested in seeing how the heating and cooling work together at that critical time when the cooling first turns on.
  18. Thanks!

    I had considered a fan but so far just the vent system is moving enough air.

    As far as the heating amd cooling working together, I set a -/+ 3° variation before either will kick on. Its set to 80° so it has to hit 83° for the compressor to kick on or 77° for the heater to kick on. That way they don't mess with each other.
  19. aristhma

    aristhma New Member

    Hey, thanks for sharing this. It's so helpful! I was wondering if you could post pictures of the finished product all around and some more internal pictures as well. Thanks again! This is a really beautiful tutorial!
    Timmy J likes this.
  20. Deadfish

    Deadfish New Member

    Hey first off I want to say thanks for this amazing tutorial!! It has been very helpful in my endevour!
    I do however have a cautionary tale to share, there ARE cooling hoses in the hump that if you hit your freezer will no longer cool. Best course of action would be to peel up that area and check where you are drilling first and seal it back up with the aluminum tape. OP got very lucky to have not hit one and must have missed it only by a very small amount, I bought the same freezer and drilled close to the same spot but was not so lucky and hit a hose! An expensive mistake, but I'm working out a modification that should still suit my purposes! Anyway thanks for the tutorial and hope others find this tip useful