Web controlled sprinkler automation

[Doug] needed to update his watering system to comply with his city’s new water saving ordinance. The old system wasn’t capable of being programmed to water only on even or odd calendar days. Rather than purchase a replacement he decided to build his own sprinkler controller. It needed to switch 12V solenoids, a job that’s not too hard to design for. Rather than re-invent the wheel, he modified a previous controller design. It is basically an Arduino and Ethernet shield on a his own etched board. In addition to the ATmega328 and an ENC28J60 (for ethernet connectivity) there is a bank of transistors to drive the watering solenoids. Now he has a web interface that controls the watering schedule and is fully in compliance with the new city code.

If you need another way to save when watering your grass you should take a look at the sidewalk-avoiding sprinkler.

Comments

  1. tantris says:

    arduino bait..
    -ok, i take it:
    if you have an arduino and a ethernet shield, fine. if not, it’s cheaper (and more extendable) to use a dd-wrt router ($25 incl. sh)and put any micro you like on the serial port. or -if is just one zone- put the relay on the serial port with some transistor or flip/lop glue.

  2. Peter says:

    Just a note, most irrigation solenoid valves are 24v AC and controllers alike. Even in oz unless something has changed in the last few years. This looks like quite a good project given that controllers (used to atleast) cost over a hundred dollars. Nice one.

  3. @tantris

    read the post, it’s on his own etched pcb and i guess this is more custom and can control a lot more than a dd-wrt-router… And the coolnes factor is higher when using something you build youself + more custum mods posible

  4. DanS says:

    Holy Deja vu. I’m building a device almost identical. Except my board has 8 loads and rs232 instead of ethernet.

  5. icecreamman940 says:

    Another note…

    Both ordinary and direct burial CAT5 cables attract lighting strikes to some degree. Simply burying a cable underground does not lessen its affinity for lightning. Accordingly, CAT5 surge protectors should be installed as part of outdoor Ethernet networks to guard against lightning strikes.

  6. SS says:

    @tantris

    your dd-wrt suggestion with serial port sounds great to me for other applications. Any router in particular you suggest? where can i find more info about serial ports on routers? Thx

  7. fluidic says:

    @tantris

    The last list of potential DD-WRT routers I saw didn’t get that cheap. If you know units which are and which are easily hackable as a serial web interface, you might want to include that in your post. Saying it’s “$25 incl. sh” when using free firmware that runs on an extensive list of hardware isn’t all that helpful.

  8. bill says:

    I wonder how the city enforces the by law. Is the average old geezer inspector going to believe that box-o-wires works as stated?

  9. kiernan says:

    Again with the instructables, this time I won’t even bother to click it. I assume i have to pay for the code. Please put your projects elsewhere gentlemen. I implore you!

  10. Doug Jackson says:

    Hi people, Doug here – I am the author.

    In defense of the Instructables site, I post my projects there as an enabler for people who want to learn to make projects. In my experience, the site is free, you do not have to be a ‘Pro’ member to use it. I am a pro member, because I am happy to pay money for a facility that acts as an enabler to boost peoples confidence so that they feel they can make things themselves.

    for those who have a problem with Instructables.com – the project files are on my web site http://www.vk1zdj.net/?p=25 – I am not a WordPress expert but I have it basically working.

    Some people have been speaking about solenoids being 24V AC – Yep – I agree completely, even mine are officially 24V – but I found that they were able to be driven just fine at 12V DC, and that simplified the design. I am considering extending it to be 24V compliant. I just need to locate suitable (cheap as chips and trivially available) thyristors.

  11. danielson says:

    Note to hackaday editors: People have been ‘hacking’ w/electronics for decades, long before arduino came about. Just because something includes an AVR does not make it an Arduino. Similarly, just because a board contains an AVR and peripherals (ethernet) does not make it a shield.

  12. Osgeld says:

    ignore the instrucables haters, they are too dumb to make a free login and sign in

    therefore would never attempt a project that did not come as a kit with extra large instructions written in crayon

  13. fluidic says:

    @doug

    Instructables used to be less of a pain, but they’ve tweaked the layout to be very spammish and crippled. I’ll still go there if there’s something interesting, but I really hate trying to extract data from that site now. Even when you have something good to present, they’re constantly working against that. The forced slide-show presentation mode is also rarely helpful or pleasant.

    WordPress has its own issues, but at least I can focus on reading whatever you’re trying to communicate instead of constantly being interrupted by requests to register, fake links, and other various UI spam.

  14. fartface says:

    It’s actually cheaper to by a new sprinkler controller. The duino and ethernet parts together cost 2X that of a sprinkler controller.

    That said… this one IS useful. I want a “off my damn lawn” function from the phone when I see kids cutting across the yard, I can activate the zone.

  15. buzzkill says:

    http://www.digital-loggers.com/din.html ‘nough said. Kudos for the whole “etch my own boards” and all that though. But sometimes “off the rack” gets it done too. You can still have some HAD cred since you have to pull your own PHP or CGI together for the timer functions. But they provide the command line examples so it is not to hard.

  16. ColinB says:

    I recently almost designed a sprinkler controller for my home. As I walked back and forth from the back yard to the garage (where the sprinkler controller is located) many, many times to turn on/off valves as I adjusted and replaced sprinklers felt like such a waste of time.

    What I want to build is a sprinkler controller that can be controlled wirelessly from a special remote control. Then I can click a valve on and off quickly as I am doing maintenance.

    On another note, I am frustrated by the lack of flexibility that comes by fixed zones defined when irrigation systems are installed. This sprinkler system was installed by the previous owner of the home, and it has some design problems such as rotor and spray-type sprinklers on the same zone, and a zone spread across shaded and sunny areas.

    If I ever install a new sprinkler system, I am definitely going to put an individually-controllable valve on each sprinkler and design a custom controller so I can optimize each sprinkler. Then I am not locked into the initial system design and it’s also easier to expand the system because all water lines can be connected, and control data to all sprinklers can come over a shared data line (RS-485, etc.).

  17. sqnewton says:

    @ Doug

    Great article. Unfortunately, Intructables suck big time. I hate that place. Is it possible for you to put in your website the code? I am interested on reading how you initialize the ENC chip and how you communicate with it (TX and RX info). Thanks!

  18. tristan says:

    What the water police gunna get you? Sorry had to troll this one.

    Water conservation is your city officials not spending your tax dollars wisely, I would surly attend the next election.

  19. tantris says:

    @fluidic, ss: rebates (searching through deal sites) and google products will help, ebay not so much (often more than the rebated item). right now, tew-652brp @ tigerdirect 20+5 sh. the wl-520gu is also nice because it has usb. a complete list is here: http://dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices

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