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Irrigation System using Elk M1

johnnynine

Active Member
I've seen a few similar topics but haven't found the answers so I have started a new one...

I would like the Elk M1G to be the master controller of the irrigation valves and not the PC. But I would like to have supplemental on demand control using CQC. I'm not really sure if this setup is possible.

I've seen posts where people suggest using one of the Elk relay boards which I think would require all the irrigation valve wires to the Elk M1G? Is this a bad thing?

Another option is using the Rain8net module, but can the Elk M1G interface with it directly?
 

Mike

Senior Member
johnnynine said:
I would like the Elk M1G to be the master controller of the irrigation valves and not the PC. But I would like to have supplemental on demand control using CQC. I'm not really sure if this setup is possible.

I've seen posts where people suggest using one of the Elk relay boards which I think would require all the irrigation valve wires to the Elk M1G? Is this a bad thing?
I believe that it is possible. I hope so as I was heading towards something similar.

I got an output/relay expansion module and ran cat5 to the sprinkler setup. Unfortunately I have not taken it further than that yet. I was also planning on looking at CQC as well, which to override or supplement irrigation rules was something I was planning on as well.

I haven't finished mine yet, but I believe there are a bunch of people out there doing this irrigation integration using the elk (and it is not a bad thing). It is almost time to turn the sprinklers on, so I suppose I should get to making this work...
 

johnnynine

Active Member
My house is under construction and one caveat is that it is most likely that I will not have an Elk M1G for a while after I move in, so I may end up going with the Rain8net solution and hoping I can interface it with the Elk later.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
Here is a printscreen of a new MainLobby3 scene that was displayed at the recent EHX show that highlites Cinemar's Irrigation control capability. The scene was tailered around the MLRain8Net plugin that controls the WGL serial irrigation controller. The same scene could be reused for an ELK based system as well.
Check into the WGL system as there are internal timers built into the controller that limit max sprinkling time if there is a communications or PC or security panel issue to prevent overwatering.

In the MLRain8Net plugin are capabilities to schedule watering and duration of each zone's watering. When tied to the new WeatherLobby 1.5 product (to be released shortly), you can use weather data to not schedule watering if it is raining. This eliminates the often unreliable rain sensor used in conventional systems.

We also tie in the new MLW800RF plugin that supports WGL's X10 Palm Pad RF receiver. When this is added, a very cheap X10 PalmPad (usually around $12 or so) can be used to remotely cycle through all zones for sprinkler head aiming or winterizing. Irrigation contractors are now using this setup to eliminate the second person currently being used to winterize and setup a system (they use walkie talkies today between the two persons). Don't let the X10 name fool you...this is not X10 powerline technology but reliable RF communications. This hardware and plugin can be used to remote automate many tasks cheaply.
 

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Steve

Senior Member
If you hook the sprinklers directly to the Elk you are simply connecting the valves to relays to turn them on or off. You would activate those relays via outputs. Since these outputs are exposed to CQC or ML you can easily create whatever interface you want to control the sprinklers. There is sample code (rules) on the Elk site pointed to in the other threads. This is very simple and straightforward and fully controlled by the Elks outputs and rules.

Otoh, the Rain8net has its own logic and there are plugins/drivers for both CQC and ML. If you go that route I don't see any benefit to try to control the Rain8 via the M1. The Rain8 does have an RS232 interface but doesn't appear to speak straight ascii, but hex instead so I'm not sure how easy it would be to get the M1 talking to the Rain8 which in my opinion is redundant anyway.

If you will not have an M1 from the start (what will you be using for security then?) and go with the Rain8, just control it via CQC or ML since it has its own logic and will run standalone.

Edit (after reading David's reply):
We also tie in the new MLW800RF plugin that supports WGL's X10 Palm Pad RF receiver. When this is added, a very cheap X10 PalmPad (usually around $12 or so) can be used to remotely cycle through all zones for sprinkler head aiming or winterizing. Irrigation contractors are now using this setup to eliminate the second person currently being used to winterize and setup a system (they use walkie talkies today between the two persons). Don't let the X10 name fool you...this is not X10 powerline technology but reliable RF communications. This hardware and plugin can be used to remote automate many tasks cheaply.
That is a good idea but just to let you know even if you use CQC or ML just for interface control of the M1 and sprinklers, you can still do this (RF) through the M1 or what I do actually for control during repairs is just to use my cordless phone. With the phone on the M1 you simply go to the Output control and toggle outputs on and off. You also get voice tag info and confirmation (as if you getting sprayed is not enough!).
 

johnnynine

Active Member
Since these outputs are exposed to CQC or ML you can easily create whatever interface you want to control the sprinklers.
This is good to know.

Otoh, the Rain8net has its own logic and there are plugins/drivers for both CQC and ML. If you go that route I don't see any benefit to try to control the Rain8 via the M1. The Rain8 does have an RS232 interface but doesn't appear to speak straight ascii, but hex instead so I'm not sure how easy it would be to get the M1 talking to the Rain8 which in my opinion is redundant anyway.
I also noticed that in the Rain8 docs. I agree that it would be redundant to use the Rain8 with Elk. And as for using a pc as the master controller, IMHO I just can't count on a pc. Who knows how often I'll be rebooting, upgrading, etc, so I want it on a dedicated controller.

I'll see if my wife agrees that we should test the Elk system before we move it? ;)

If you will not have an M1 from the start (what will you be using for security then?) and go with the Rain8, just control it via CQC or ML since it has its own logic and will run standalone.
The builder only offered HAI, GE Interlogix, and GE Caddx, so I went with the cheapest... GE Interlogix. I'll be replacing it with the Elk (assuming that is doable). Hopefully the security monitoring company won't have a problem with that.
 

Mike

Senior Member
You probably will want to switch monitoring companies, but you should watch for a contract on that monitoring. Usually there is a multi-year commitment at $30-$35/month. If you get an elk you can get your own monitoring for around $9/month.

Depending on your timeframe it may make sense not to activate the monitoring (if that is even allowed), assuming you will get the Elk up and running within a period of time that you feel comfortable without monitoring.

Just things to consider.

On the sprinklers, just make sure there is a cat 5 (or more than one if there are a lot of zones) run to where the M1 will be from the sprinkler setup (if not nearby already).
 

Spanky

Senior Member
If you get the GE NX-8E Control and use RF transmitters, do not get the receivers built into the keypads. Use the NX-408 separate RF receiver which can be used by the M1. All other switches and motion detectors should transfer with no problem. Have CAT5 run to all keypads for future proofing.
 

johnnynine

Active Member
Mike said:
You probably will want to switch monitoring companies, but you should watch for a contract on that monitoring. Usually there is a multi-year commitment at $30-$35/month. If you get an elk you can get your own monitoring for around $9/month.

Depending on your timeframe it may make sense not to activate the monitoring (if that is even allowed), assuming you will get the Elk up and running within a period of time that you feel comfortable without monitoring.

Just things to consider.

On the sprinklers, just make sure there is a cat 5 (or more than one if there are a lot of zones) run to where the M1 will be from the sprinkler setup (if not nearby already).
Unfortunatley in order to get the windows and doors wired for security we were required to sign a 3 year monitoring agreement at $23 per month but the hardware is free (I foresee the GE Interlogix being sold soon after moving in). Of course the builder owns the security monitoring company and there is a huge penalty if you cancel early.

And per other helpful posts here I ran Cat 5 to both keypads, and four 16guage wires to the home theater cabinet for whole house audio integration.

As for the irrigation, I'm not sure where the valves will be yet so I may not get the chance to run the cat5 there. ;)
 

johnnynine

Active Member
DavidL said:
Run Cat5 wherever you think they might be. You get once easy chance at it.
At $100 a run, it adds up, so I'm willing to deal with some post constructin head aches. Or make an undercover ;) install before the walls go up.
 

Steve

Senior Member
johnnynine said:
Or make an undercover ;) install before the walls go up.
If you time it right, you can squeeze in after the final inspection 'with the walls open', just before the drywall guys go in and you should be ok. If the builder or inspector sees it they may look the other way or you may just have the line you need run without the headache. The wire to run it yourself will be less than $10 - worth a try even if it gets pulled.
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