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Sprinkler and low volume watering.

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    Sprinkler and low volume watering.

    "You have finally put that computer to good use" My wife said when I hooked up a low volume watering system for watering her flower gardens and veggi garden. I use the parallel port script to control the auto valve and presto. No more killing all plants in a single long weekend when we forget to water.

    The Problem is what script to use. Right now I am using the StarSprinkler script that works great, however it is pretty basic. I would like a way to stop the script from running if it is rainning, or has rained latly or even if I think it should go a day or two befor watering because it has not been that hot.

    What is everyone else using? I know I am not the only one doing this.

    Can you give more details on how you used the parallel port to "manage" the valve? Which valve did you use (Link)? Which script are you using (Link)?

    Do you have a weather station? Are you using Weather XML? If so you can simply have a variable that is rain today prevent the script from running. Can you elaborate on the setup.


      You could set up a device called "Rain Delay". If that device is on, don't run the script. There would be several ways you could turn the device on:

      1. Manually through HS
      2. If it's an X-10 device you could use some kind of X-10 transmitter (mini-controller, KeypadLinc, etc)
      3. Another script like a weather script for example.
      4. An inexpensive rain sensor connected to an Ocelot or PowerFlash or the like.


        You can get really fancy if you want to, and if you have all the right monitoring stuff. Eventually though, that ET approach failed me because the local weather stations stopped reporting all the data I needed, and I didn't want to buy a real weather station of my own.

        However, the really great part of that approach was the predictive rain aspect. I made a weighting factor F=A*A1+B*B1+C*C1 where A1,B1,C1 are the rain chances for tomorrow, the next day , and the 3rd day out respectively. Those numbers HS would get from a weather report. A,B,C are factors representing the weighting... something like 0.6, 0.4 and 0.2 respectively. If F was greater than some number, my system wouldn't water (unless of course my ET number got really high).

        As Rupp says, it's all about the monitoring and getting data into HS. Once you do that it's great fun to tweak scripts and conditions to optimize watering. If your hardware inclined, look into soil moisture monitoring instead of estimating it based on the weather.

        Also, you mentioned the parallel port. I assume you are aware of the problem of the port being uncontrolled at computer power up. I wouldn't want you to water excessively on a power failure.


          Somewhat OT, but I got a Rain-8 to avoid installing separate xfrmrs and appliance modules.
          I just want to switch valves feeding long hoses on and off via a palmpad on demand.
          A quick look at the StarSprinkler UI suggests that might work. Comments? One valve at a time is fine.
          I may be sprinkling or using a hose without a head to top off a water feature, for example.
          The goal is to avoid VERY long walks back to the water source to manually turn valves.
          Wireless X-10 range is not an issue.


            mcsControlSystems has a pretty elaborate controller for sprinklers which can be done based upon measured moisture, calculated moisture based upon drainage and evaporation, or one of three timed control methods.

            I also say a script posted by I think Gene Rhodes that was pretty consise. Last year there was also one introduced that was rich on the graphics. I suspect simple searches will find all of these.


              Ok here it is. The Parallel port plug in link is Here.

              The StarSprinkler script is here

              The Weather program I am using is here

              The valve is at Home Depot for lawn sprinklers.

              The problem with the parallel port plugin is one that I just remembered the other day. I think my work around is simple. I have created a relay board that uses the parallel port plug in to control relays. The relays control different things, speakers, power for sprinklers and things like that. My fix is to plug the power that runs the board into an appliance modual and then create a simple script to turn off the appliance modual and then one that turns it on in the startup script.

              I thought that I would check if anyone did all the hard work befor I start a script of my own.

              Does anyone have a link to a device to measure soil moisture? That would be cool.



                Davis is the commercial one that I have seen. Whie the probe is not that expensive you also need their other equipment to which it interfaces. A google search in the past located some home-brew devices. In essence what is being done is a measurement of conductivity between electrodes. When damp they conduct well and when dry very poorly.

                I picked up a moisture meter from the local hardware store for a few bucks with the intention of using the contacts and replacing the meter with electronics. It is another project that did not make it off the ground.


                  Michael, can you post a link to the MCS Control Systems web site? I couldn't find it through Google. Thanks.


                    MCS Control System is part of Michaels offerings here on the BB:



                      <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jay:
                      Somewhat OT, but I got a Rain-8 to avoid installing separate xfrmrs and appliance modules... A quick look at the StarSprinkler UI suggests that might work. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
                      Yup, with a little mod it does what I need.