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.

19 thoughts on “Web Controlled Sprinkler Automation

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  4. @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

  5. @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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. @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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.).

  12. @ 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!

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