Irrigation control challenge?

fleetz

Active Member
I knew that would get your interest B)

Building a new house 3000kms from home and will live there 6 months of the year. I will have an ELK M1 system in the new home. We will have a local landscape company maintence person looking after the house when we are not there and would like to give him ownership of control when we are not there to them.

I have decided to locate the controller inside the garage and would like to allow the contractor to tweek the valve settings as required. He is comfortable with the internet and has access so I was thinking of some conditional access via the net.

I would like to make any adjustment as easy as possible and am not sure the M1 will provide that level of simplicity. I was thinking that possibly a Rain8Net on a wireless network would be the way to go and not use the M1 for control.

Has anyone used the wireless 801.11b Rain8 system that T Manufacturing are offereing? Would this along with the Rain8 software allow for a system that supports what I am after?

If I went the Rain8 Wifi path is there a way of integrating the M1 system into the control?

Cheers,

Fleetz
 

jlegault

Active Member
This is pretty easy with the Elk, assuming you have a computer in the house that this guy can use. The ElkRM client software lets you adjust the "custom" parameters stored in the elk, which can be used as timers for each irrigation zone. I don't think the java program that comes with the Ethernet module lets you adjust custom parameters, so you need the ElkRM client software.


Look on page 25 for an example.
ElkRM Manual

Here is an example how I have my elk control our sprinkler system using an existing sprinkler controller and an expansion relay board.

M1 Sprinkler
 

fleetz

Active Member
Thanks jlegault,

I have looked at the flexibility using the custom setting and I am not sure it lets me do exactly what I am after. I need my contractor to able to change the programmed day, time of day and duration the valves operate. Ideally be able to modify and existing day, time of day and duration screen.

He needs to be able to modify all programmed parameters through the custom settings..... duration and time of day can be adjusted but not day.

The contractor will not have access to the house he will need to make the neccessay changes from his location. I believe the screen that he interfaces to needs to be self explantory where he can easily make the changes. I am not sure that is achievable with ELKRM.

Here in Australia we have severe water restrictions and the government are modifying the days, time and duration that you can water. There are fines imposed if you operate sprinklers out side these times.

This is why I was wondering if the Rain8 Wifi running the irrigation software would be more appropriate for the task. I do not have a computer running in the house (nor do I want one) and would require the Rain8 or whatever system to once programmed store the updates in the event of power failure.

I might be shooting for the stars on this one.

Cheers,

Fleetz
 

jlegault

Active Member
You could use an "1" or "0" for 7 custom variables, one for each day of the week. You could also have a time for each day of the week if it is to come on that day. Granted this involves a lot of rules. As long as you have obvious variable names, it should be pretty self explanatory for the yard guy in ElkRM. If you want to get really user friendly, you can interface the elk to a graphical UI created with Mainlobby by Cinemar.

The M1 is not really setup up to do much out of the box except be an alarm, however it is very powerful if you get into it, and can do pretty much anything (except run a large zwave lighting network). I don't think there is anything else out there as robust and flexible as the elk in a scenario like the one you describe.
 

Michael McSharry

Active Member
If you do not want to run a PC at the house and want internet access then the Rain8Net/Wifi is not the solution for you. The Rain8Net has a EPROM that can be programmed, but it is rather limited and not something one would do on a semi-regular basis. If you do have a computer running, then the Rain8Net/Wifi and mcsSprinklers for the control software provide a very flexible solution. It can be setup for ET-based irrigation with the weather info comming from the Internet so there really should not be any need for the contactor to adjust schedules since the computer will only irrigate when needed.
 

fleetz

Active Member
Do any of the Rain8 models not rely on a PC running? I think the cleanest solution is a standalone one where you can program day, tim of day, duration by solenoid. Pnce it is programmed the latest settings are stored in a non volitile memory thereby not requiring the PC to be on.

Is there a standalone Rain8 that can do this? Can their software program up the same as I suggested above?

cheers
Fleetz
 

Rupp

Senior Member
fleetz said:
Do any of the Rain8 models not rely on a PC running? I think the cleanest solution is a standalone one where you can program day, tim of day, duration by solenoid. Pnce it is programmed the latest settings are stored in a non volitile memory thereby not requiring the PC to be on.

Is there a standalone Rain8 that can do this? Can their software program up the same as I suggested above?

cheers
Fleetz
Fleetz,
It sounds to me like all you need is what 99% of the world uses and that's a RainBird controller. They are about $49-$59 dollars depending on the number of zones needed and can be bought at Home Depot or Lowe's. It's a stand alone controller that has built in battery backup.
 

Mike

Senior Member
jlegault said:
This is pretty easy with the Elk, assuming you have a computer in the house that this guy can use. The ElkRM client software lets you adjust the "custom" parameters stored in the elk, which can be used as timers for each irrigation zone. I don't think the java program that comes with the Ethernet module lets you adjust custom parameters, so you need the ElkRM client software.


Look on page 25 for an example.
ElkRM Manual

Here is an example how I have my elk control our sprinkler system using an existing sprinkler controller and an expansion relay board.

M1 Sprinkler
EDIT: My apologies for a slight detour

I was looking at what you did and had a question (I think it is a simple one but I just wanted to make sure). I have been planning to do exactly what you did (in that I want to make the existing panel be operational but also control it via the elk).

I originally ran cat5e from the elk to the sprinkler controller (about 50') and have not connected it. I currently only have four zones.

It seems that all I need to do is
1. Take one wire and connect between the common on the controller and one relay in the elk
2. Take one wire per zone and connect to the existing zone control and one relay in the elk.
3. Take one wire to the 24v hot on the controller and connect to the first relay in the elk, then chain between the remaining relays as you did and can be seen in the picture.

My question is (that I overlooked before) given the 24v connection, is cat5 inappropriate for that connection?
 

Mike

Senior Member
Fleetz > Can you elaborate why and what kind of tweaks might be needed (and the frequency that this occurs)? That might help with a possible solution (knowing the scenario you are trying to cover and how often it comes up).
 
You have such an unusual problem that I think more information is needed to see what can be done.

How much variance is there in your watering duration paramaters ( minimum and maximup watering time and increments)? Are you only talking about one watering cycle per day or multiple? How many sprinkler zones do you have?

There is a brute force method I use for automating existing outdoor lighting for businesses for seasonal variation on lighting. We put the fixture on a photocell so that it will become active at dusk, but put a time controll to porived the power to the photocell for start and stop times. You can consider it a control nestid within a control.

If your parameters are not radically different from iminimum to maximum, then with slight variation, this method might work. Have an Elk output relay send power to the sprinlkler controller for on and off times and the controller only has duration programmed internally. Your Elk rules would only require you to controll the time that power is sent to the controller. For a little more control, you can feed one relay through another in series and have two different Elk "nested" relay cotrols.
The only problem with nesting is that your rules rapidoly get more convoluted with each relay you place in series.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Mike said:
My question is (that I overlooked before) given the 24v connection, is cat5 inappropriate for that connection?
That's basically what I have. I have a roughly 75' run of Cat5 from the closet to the valve box. There a re 4 valves each connected to am Elk relay and the former timers 24V wal wart powering it. I looked up the specs at the time and it was close but Cat5 (24ga) was sufficient.
 

fleetz

Active Member
Mike said:
Fleetz > Can you elaborate why and what kind of tweaks might be needed (and the frequency that this occurs)? That might help with a possible solution (knowing the scenario you are trying to cover and how often it comes up).
Thanks Guys appreciate your interest in my issue.

Let me explain the issue moe fully.

We have here in Australia a major drought effecting a good percentage of the country. The government had taken control of when and how much water can be used. They are able and have changed these parameters on an as needs basis.

Where we currently live we have just gone to water restrictions that only allow watering one day a week for three hours 5am to 8am on a Saturday morning (Saturdays is determined by your house number odds Saturday Sundays Even). Our State government is constantly reviewing water levels and changes the days and times that you are able to water.

Where we currently are building have not as restrictive times, however there are current discussions there where water levels are likely to be a change soon. So you can see there are changeable days and time of days that need to be adhered to. There are significant fines for people watering outside of these times. Indeed we have "water police" here in Australia empowered to issue on the spot fines!

Therefore need the flexiblity to:

1. At short notice to modify the sprinkler systems day, time of day and duration setting.

2. Be able to do this by remote control as we will only be at this house 6 months of the year. Ultimately I must have control and the ability to change these settings remotely. I will be the one coping the fine.

3. As a back up to the above have the local landscaper gardener we have there looking after our property should have the ability to change the settings. I have spoken to him about a what if senario where I were to have a Net based system that enable him to Tweek the settings should they be required (I have taken my eye off the ball for example). He is very comfortable is Net savvy. Indeed he has a Wifi PDA and we could easily give him access to the our wireless network and he could tweek it on the spot!

I hope now you are getting a more complete picture as to why I need the flexibility of "tweeking" the systems and also the methods by which they need to be down. Sorry I didn't make it as clear earlier for you all.

I believe that I need an open mind as to how this is achieved. Whilst I have an M1 and it would be nice in integrate the M1 it is not essential. As long as I have the flexibility to meet the above that will be a result.

I was hoping that there was a version of Rain8 that allowed this to be meet. Unfortunately the Rain8 Wifi system relies on a PC running and I think you all agree relying on this when you are not there 6 months is not smart. Is there a Rain8 unit (or another brand) that allows you to set the parameters and those parameters stored in non-volatile memory and runs under it's own steam? An IP based system seems the ideal solution at the moment. However I am open to ideas. I have an M1, ethernet adaptor, Wirless LAN network designed in. At the moment I have a Cat5e cable going to the irrigation controller location. I can put anything in as required as the building starts contruction in a few weeks time. Hence looking for the solution now.

I can not use X10 as I have a C-Bus interface controlling lighting on the M1. Again the M1 doesn't neccessarily be part of the solution. I do have a ELK touchscreen so any net based solution will enable a level of integration at a local level and would be happy with that.

Ideally the system control settings should be simple interface. The type where you tick the date, then set time of day and then press send where those setting are then stored at the controller site and not dependant on anything other that power to the house and the controller for the sprinkler system to work.

I hope that this helps you guys to understand the why and what ideally I am after. Appreciate you input to date.

Regards,

Fleetz
 

Mike

Senior Member
I think jlegault had it right: Use the Elk and tweak the rules using ElkRM. Unless you want to allow the person applying the tweaks full access to your alarm system programming this may not work in that case.

However, you could log in and update it from wherever you are after checking a web site or the like for the current requirements (not sure how this is communicated).

The web front-end for the elk won't help here (I don't think) as you cannot change any settings just turn things on and off (if you could enter variables that might have opened a few opportunities).

If you have other software (CQC, homeseer, etc) you might be able to put a screen to allow just this portion to be modified (by changing counters perhaps?). I'm not positive that this would work as I have not done anything like it but it might be possible.

The other item that was brought up: If you do it like jlegault did it, you could switch to controller mode and just use the basic controller for the person watching your house and let the Elk control it when you are there.
 
The Rain 8II is also available in UPB format. With that, your gardener would only need to plug into an external electrical outlet on the house to access it and reprogram it through the house wiring with "Upstart", the UPB configuration sofware.

Although the Elk supports UPB link functions, it cannot reprogram the devices. Any PC can run UPstart and operate/reconfigure the system via a PIM (powerline interface module) from the RS 232 port, but I have never looked into trying to tranfer a configuration file over the net to another system.

Configuring the eniter thing via Elk output relays also make for a very solid platform, but the ladder programming changes are a little more complex than UPB programming for your gardener. Also if the gardener screws up you may end up with a "hung" security system with you 3000 klicks away.

Tough choice, anybody else got any ideas?
 
Top