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  • Which Irrigation Controller

    I bought a Rachio V3 controller last night out of impulse, but now I’m having second thoughts on intigration due to its cloud architecture. Also, I’ve read where Rachio seems to break the api occasionally which is par for course with the cloud stuff. I’m thinking about sending it back. The ultra accurate weather data is apparently a subscription service anyways, and that was mostly why I chose it over the Rain Machine. I understand the Rain Machine is Cloud and local api or something, so integration should be better. I can use HS’s weather status for advanced programming. So even the Rain Machine is overqualified with its in house weather. If I had reliable intigration, I could build an HSTouch screen for it and not need one with a pretty screen. Thoughts?

  • #2
    If you have a smaller number of valves then the Sonoff 4CH pro for $30,s per 4 valves paired with mcsSprinklers is a good solution. Many other types of hardware is also supported.

    Most of my clientele are nursery owners or those that are sensitive to water cost, but I did make a port for HS for the HA enthusiasts.

    The Etherrain is another popular interface used by commercial customers. It is also IP, but unlike the Sonoff which is WiFi, the Etherrain is wired.

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    • #3
      I like my OpenSprinkler. It's small and easy to install. Also has a nice Plugin.
      https://opensprinkler.com/
      Don

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      • #4
        Michael, I'm sold on your plugin. I don't see Etherrain in the valve control hardware setup page. I see a lot of Rain8 units X10, Net, UPB, WIFI, and Wireless, but I've looked on Rain8's webpage and I didn't see anything but x10, UPB and RS232. So is this a situation where an Etherrain unit works, you just have to select 'Rain8 Net'?

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        • #5
          It is a standard option on the Rain8 / Interfaces / Devices page with the title changing over time. Are you using the interview or are you operating in Expert mode. The manual is another reference that may help.

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          • #6
            There have been many new entries in the irrigation marketplace in the past few years. Several with funding from Kickstarter or others. I suspect many will die out in the next few years as irrigation is not as obvious as a software or hardware developer will learn.

            In many parts of the world lightning is a threat. This can be explicitly aided by MOV or other protection. Its effectiveness is dependent upon how close the lightning strike may be. If it cost $50 to protect a device and $30 for a new device then it is often the choice to not protect it and just replace it since protection degrates with hits. When the hardware is $150 then protection makes more sense. Tmanufacturing provided a very cost-effective protection device for the Rain8 family. I suspect they are no longer in business.

            What I have learned over the years is that active management of the interface hardware is needed. There are all sorts of gremlins and what the irrigation control software does when a gremlin raises its head will play a big role in how good the control will be. By supporting customers with different hardware interfaces over the years has provided a valuable wealth of information of the hardware tendencies and what the control software should do. These are heuristics and not hard and fast rules. This makes it a challenge to support as the logic need not only consider the obvious, but also the lessons learned for other users.

            The new products being offered combine control with internet access and the relay for the valve. They have their own UI to provide scheduling. I generally do not support these devices because the UI the product provides is sufficient to achieve the irrigation objective, assuming the product is robust.

            Most irrigation valve controllers (e.g. Rain8, Etherrain) provide a mechanism to protect from a valve remaining open beyond some timeout period. What they do not do is assure that irrigation occurs at some minimum interval during the summer. What I did with the Sonoff 4CH Pro is provide protection for both valve remaining open too long and for an irrigation cycle occurring at some minimal interval. It is all programmable, so whatever the user needs are the configuration can be accommodated.

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            • #7
              Alright, so EtherRain shows up when I choose professional mode. I don't see Sonoff in basic or professional, ane I'm still confused about all the Rain8 devices as there's a WIFI version listed, but I could not find a WIFI version on their website.

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              • #8
                Warren did not produce a WiFi version, but TManufacturing sold a Rain8 net paired with a RS232-Wifi adapter. MQTT (Ethernet WiFi) is the interface for the Sonoff. The manual should have a setup description for the Sonoff.

                I would only consider the Rain8Net (RS232) or Rain8UPB (Powerline) if I was going to purchase that family of products. The Etherrain is at a similar price point and your will find it to be a more robust controller.

                Using Sonoff is the more DIY as the device needs to be flashed with the firmware I developed to provide protection and backup control.

                There are other options as well such as running on RPi using GPIO for relays or Zwave if you can find a GoControl that was recently closed out by HST. I was asked to interface Insteon, but my bad experience as an early developer with Insteon made me never want to revisit it again. If you have your own output devices then the interface could be established via HS devices, but that suffers from being only a 1-way interface because mcsSprinklers is not able to manage status responses.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post
                  There are other options as well such as running on RPi using GPIO for relays
                  I did something similar using a Wemos D1 mini. HS3 uses http commands telling the wemos which pin to turn a relay on and for how many minutes before the wemos turns it off. This way the relay will turn off without needing to receive an off command from HS3. I also programmed the wemos to send http json updates to HS3 virtual devices with status info.

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                  • #10
                    Did they discontinue the go control? I thought people were having problems with them. Zwave is my primary protocol, so that should be my first choice. Any insight on problems with the go control unit? Surely I could find one on eBay.

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                    • #11
                      I have bought the Rachio3 recently, and very happy with it. I do not pay anything for the weather (did not even see an option) but its great. Still a few issues with the HS3 PI which I am trying to sort out, the dev is looking into it. But app and web control are very good (although as with everything nothing is perfect)

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                      • #12
                        Did they discontinue the go control? I thought people were having problems with them. Zwave is my primary protocol, so that should be my first choice. Any insight on problems with the go control unit? Surely I could find one on eBay.
                        No issue with the GoControl irrigation. The problem is that it adopted the Irrigation API for Zwave, but nobody other than HS supported this API so it was discontinued. HS sold out its remaining stock earlier this year.

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                        • #13
                          Does EtherRain have any built in safety features that the gocontrol unit doesn’t have? Sometimes my zwave network goes down, but HS3 is still running. I suspect I have a bad node out there. I usually notice first thing in the morning and restart everything, so I doubt it will be an issue. Maybe use EtherRain on this project for diversity, and it appears you have better integration with the plugin with EtherRain as I read where the EtherRain confirms commands whereas a zwave node doesn’t confirm commands back to your plugin? Any thoughts on this?

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                          • #14
                            Etherrain and Rain8 family of products have similar protection with a timeout to prevent electrical stuck ON. With Rain8 it is programmed into its EPROM on a valve by valve basis. The Etherrain and GoControl accept a ON duration when the valve is commanded. mcsSprinklers sets this to a minute or two after the desired run time. mcsSprinklers will turn it off after the desired run time and if it has lost communication with the EtherRain/GoControl then the external unit will turn off after its programmed period.

                            With the Sonoff 4CH Pro I did both a maximum ON time and a minimum OFF time. Either or both can be selected. There is also a mode integrated with mcsSprinklers where mcsSprinklers will refresh its predicted ON time periodically so the the minimum effectively becomes the next predicted ON time after mcsSprinklers fails to update the prediction. The Sonoff then run periodically at the same minimum interval it last received.

                            RPi relays and HS virtual devices have no backup/protection.

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                            • #15
                              I ordered an EtherRain. Thanks for the input.

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