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Author Topic: EtherRain sprinkler controller  (Read 73597 times)

Offline 325xi

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EtherRain sprinkler controller
« on: August 29, 2009, 10:51:56 pm »
I just put together a little wiki page on EtherRain plugin.

http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php?title=EtherRain_Sprinkler_Controller

Offline LibraSun

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 12:34:50 am »
Very well done, 325xi, and thanks for sharing.  I've noticed the EtherRain before, and wondered, "Will that box control other things besides irrigation systems?"

After all, if each of the 8 +/- pairs controls a straight 24V load - and should I assume these are rather like momentary on/off loads with polarity control, or what? - then I foresaw using the EtherRain to do "other automation tasks".

What are your thoughts?
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Offline guessed

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 10:13:19 am »
@325xi: can you add a hyperlink in your doc to where you got the EtherRain API description from, and to a ZIP of your source base?  I'm interested in seeing how others handle their device-interfacing code, and what challenges/restrictions the Vendor API's might bring.

Is there a way to manually turn on a specific Zone in the controller?  I occasionally manually water an area of my yard, and figured that others do the same (we had a  heatwave y/day). 

Something like turning each of the "zones" into a series of BinaryLight1 child switches that could be scene controlled, or manually activated (if folks wanted to go Totally scripted via Vera), but would also "activate" when the EtherRain controller itself turned them on/off.  In effect a source or sink of Scene events.

Offline LibraSun

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 10:17:00 am »
Guessed, you just gave me a terrific idea for a security-related scene in Vera!

Here's the pseudo-code:

WHEN "Wrong User Code Entered" IN "Schlage Lock" DO "Turn on Zone 8" IN "EtherRain"

Zone 8 would, of course, be a very powerful sprinkler aimed directly at the front door!  ha ha
Vera Model I running UI4 (Firmware 1.1.1338), died in 2015
Vera Plus running UI7 (Firmware 1.7.2935)

Offline guessed

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2009, 10:46:28 am »
Now that would be funny, just don't ever mistype your pin or you'll need a raincoat and wellies ;)

The case I was thinking of was for a scene that would trigger to give your plants an "extra" watering cycle if the Max Temperature exceeded 110F in the day.  The scene would trigger in the early (or late) hours of that day based upon data from the Weather feed.

Of course, the EtherRain looks like a 8-port 24V Ethernet attached device, so if it has the right API, you could do all sorts of crazy with it ;)

Offline 325xi

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2009, 01:41:44 pm »
@325xi: can you add a hyperlink in your doc to where you got the EtherRain API description from, and to a ZIP of your source base?  I'm interested in seeing how others handle their device-interfacing code, and what challenges/restrictions the Vendor API's might bring.

Is there a way to manually turn on a specific Zone in the controller?  I occasionally manually water an area of my yard, and figured that others do the same (we had a  heatwave y/day).  

Something like turning each of the "zones" into a series of BinaryLight1 child switches that could be scene controlled, or manually activated (if folks wanted to go Totally scripted via Vera), but would also "activate" when the EtherRain controller itself turned them on/off.  In effect a source or sink of Scene events.

I initially thought of making a parent device with up to eight children; the problem is that controller is designed to operate with "irrigation cycle" concept in mind, i.e. user doesn't control valves directly, but rather tell to controller what to do and for how long, and then says "go ahead". You definitly can tell the controller to activate one (or more) valve, but while current cycle is running you can't do much more then wait or cancel everything and start again on another valve(s). Thus there's no point to make separate devices that can't be operated independently. You could, of course, make separate devices that would check whether controller is busy... but it didn't much sense for me.

When I need to turn water on manually, I just go and change time for the valves, and click 'On'
« Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 01:47:01 pm by 325xi »

Offline Chimpware

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2009, 03:08:39 pm »
325,

I was just looking into more advanced control options for my sprinkler system. How do you like the EtherRain system?  Did you look at alternatives?  Have you tried LawnCheck for controlling the ER system?

I was also looking at the Cyber-Rain system, but to work properly it requires you keep a Windows machine running to transmit data to the controller using a proprietary wireless connection.  The setup and features were really compelling though.

Offline 325xi

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2009, 04:09:46 pm »
You really don't want to put two complex controllers one on top of the other. If you intend to use your system with Vera, I would recommend a controller as simple as possible, so the entire logic would be handled by Vera. Etherrain stands somewhere in between, a golden ratio to some extent. It's smart enough to to be used on its own, but it's not over-engeneered as some of the mentioned above.

So far I can't think of any feature I would have added to Etherrain used with Vera, except individual valve controls, but it's not a big deal IMHO. You can use it with any schedule, event, and action in Vera, and it covers pretty much all I can think about. Using Vera's actions you can even make external systems trigger the irrigation cycle if desired.

What I don't want is any complex controller designed to be used standalone - having its own logic while coupled with Vera... conflicts will be inevitable.

« Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 04:13:47 pm by 325xi »

Offline Chimpware

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2009, 08:08:43 am »
Appreciate your points 325.

What I found attractive about the Cyber-Rain solution was it implied it took into account weather conditions, soil type, grass/plant type, slope conditions as well as the type of sprinkler head to optimize the water used by the sprinkler system.  I Realize this all boils down basically to 2 factors, water time per zone, and an off signal when rain either is, or will occur.  I am sure with a rain sensor as well as some type of simplified algorithm for calculating watering times you could mimic the Cyber-Rain system in Vera, but their software is pretty compelling, especially in my case with a new house with no experience of required watering times.

Can you see adding additional functionality to Vera in the future to calculate watering times based on input data and weather conditions?

Offline CMRancho

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2009, 09:54:46 am »
The Cyber-Rain system does allow you to enter all the data you mention, but it doesn't actually calculate watering times from them. It is more of a way of remembering the conditions of each sprinkler zone for you.

There are controls that I find extremely helpful, though. On those areas with clay soil, and especially with slope, I can set maximum water times with soak-in times so that, even if the zone calls for 30 minutes of water, I can set a cycle of 5 minutes on with 10 minutes off (for soak) and it will deliver the full 30, but spread out over more than an hour so there's never any runoff into the street.

The factors that determine how much water is delivered are the forecast temperature, humidity, and rainfall. You initially set your watering times based on how long you think the sprinkler should run on the hottest, driest day of the year and Cyber-Rain calculates how long to water each day based on that. So initially, you have to guess what each zone will need.

I dream of the day when I can install Z-Wave soil sensors that will send back actual live moisture information, take into consideration all the plant info I've entered and give each zone exactly what it needs.
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Offline Chimpware

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2009, 10:01:01 am »
Check out the "New for 2009" description, it says basically what I said regarding data that is used for calculations:

http://www.smarthome.com/31221/Cyber-Rain-XCI-16-Zone-Automated-Sprinkler-Controller-01XCISC16/p.aspx

Particularly check out screenshots at bottom of the page.  Possibly software has been upgraded to give more features?

Offline CMRancho

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2009, 10:22:49 am »
Chimpware - as you point out, there are some changes in the latest version of the software from the one I'm using. I can't tell from the screen shots of the new version if all the data is actually used in the calculation. Hmm, I wonder if the new software is compatible with the controllers I bought in October 2008 and May 2009.
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Offline 325xi

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2009, 08:40:59 pm »
No one says that Cyber-Rain is a bad system, but if you need a controller box, running Windows PC, and Vera - IMHO that's way too intense, if not fragile.

Etherrain has optional low-cost rain sensor; and you can use weather plugin by guessed to adjust your irrigation program. They also have their own web based portal to control Etherrain, but having Vera I never really looked into it.

Offline Chimpware

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2009, 01:07:55 pm »
325, just so I understand how this is working, you did not write a plugin for the ER controller, Vera is accessing the UPnP exposed functionality of the ER controller directly?

Offline 325xi

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Re: EtherRain sprinkler controller
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2009, 08:08:18 pm »
I did - ER is relatively simple device with no UPnP support.

The purpose of a plugin or a driver, in general, is to wrap proprietary device's controls into something Vera understands and can operate.