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Basics -- Adding an old sprinkler system to HS

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  • Basics -- Adding an old sprinkler system to HS

    The house we just moved into has an old three-zone in ground sprinkler system. It has a controller box in the basement that looks like it came from the 80s or early 90s. The name is "James Hardie Irrigation." Turns out based on some web searching that company at some point was bought by Irritrol Link

    Just wondering how I can most easily upgrade this system to attach to HS.

    I've seen the Rain8 option here, but it looks like that mates to my HomeTroller via RS232 -- and my HomeTroller is on a different floor and relatively far from where the rain controller is. Is this the option most people use?

    My network is all Z-wave at this point, and I wonder if I could connect each of the zone wire pairings to a Z-wave relay or something instead.

    Just curious to know what others are doing here.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    There are many ways to connect the valves, but the easiest is with a unit that was designed for irrigation control as it has safety features that can prevent water running for too long.

    The Rain8 family is X10, UPB, Serial and several use WiFi/Serial to deal with remote connectivity. EtherRain is a IP-based solution for which a WiFi access point can be added if you do not have wired LAN. Even if you use Zwave for your lighting you can use other technology for other purposes.

    EZFlora is an Insteon approach, but has not gather as much support from a control perspective in the HS world. There are some that use relays from their security planel to this as well.

    mcsSprinklers can handle all these interfaces as well as Z-ware relays mapped through HS devices should you elect to go with this DIY approach.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post
      There are many ways to connect the valves, but the easiest is with a unit that was designed for irrigation control as it has safety features that can prevent water running for too long.

      The Rain8 family is X10, UPB, Serial and several use WiFi/Serial to deal with remote connectivity. EtherRain is a IP-based solution for which a WiFi access point can be added if you do not have wired LAN. Even if you use Zwave for your lighting you can use other technology for other purposes.

      EZFlora is an Insteon approach, but has not gather as much support from a control perspective in the HS world. There are some that use relays from their security planel to this as well.

      mcsSprinklers can handle all these interfaces as well as Z-ware relays mapped through HS devices should you elect to go with this DIY approach.
      Thanks.
      All the Rain8 controllers in the store here seem to be serial. Where could I get the X10 and UPB versions?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Otis View Post
        Thanks.
        All the Rain8 controllers in the store here seem to be serial. Where could I get the X10 and UPB versions?
        A quick Google search turns up this thread:
        http://www.wgldesigns.com/rain8.html
        -Rupp
        sigpic

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Rupp View Post
          A quick Google search turns up this thread:
          http://www.wgldesigns.com/rain8.html
          Yup, I found that as well. Not quite the most legitimate looking web store I've seen, but I suppose it's fine. I wonder why the HS store only stocks the serial version, and not these others which seem a bit more flexible in terms of not having to have a PC right next to the irrigation stuff?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Otis View Post
            Yup, I found that as well. Not quite the most legitimate looking web store I've seen, but I suppose it's fine. I wonder why the HS store only stocks the serial version, and not these others which seem a bit more flexible in terms of not having to have a PC right next to the irrigation stuff?
            That's a good question and worth posting a support request on if you want to do this. Use the blue support link above and put in a Licensing help request and I'll reassign it to Mark.

            BTW, the WGL site has been this way for years. Typical site setup by hardware types
            -Rupp
            sigpic

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            • #7
              I suspect there are two reasons. One is that the serial version is the one that is requested the most. HST needs to only cherry-pick the best sellers. The second is that I suspect if HS sells hardware there is an expectation that they also provide software to control it. The HST UPB plugin will not control the Rain8UPB and the X10 plugin does provide control, but not a convenient method to manage the status responses. mcsSprinklers will control this hardware. If you are considering UPB then I advise that you obtain the PRO version. The STD version of the Rain8UPB has firmware problems that show up if there are other UPB devices being controlled. The more popular configuration for wiring-restricted applications is the Rain8Net with a WiFi/Serial adapter. The HST store sells both of these and you will likley find that the cost of this configuration is less than that of a UPB one.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post
                I suspect there are two reasons. One is that the serial version is the one that is requested the most. HST needs to only cherry-pick the best sellers. The second is that I suspect if HS sells hardware there is an expectation that they also provide software to control it. The HST UPB plugin will not control the Rain8UPB and the X10 plugin does provide control, but not a convenient method to manage the status responses. mcsSprinklers will control this hardware. If you are considering UPB then I advise that you obtain the PRO version. The STD version of the Rain8UPB has firmware problems that show up if there are other UPB devices being controlled. The more popular configuration for wiring-restricted applications is the Rain8Net with a WiFi/Serial adapter. The HST store sells both of these and you will likley find that the cost of this configuration is less than that of a UPB one.
                Interesting. So your recommendation would be the Rain8 serial version along with a serial adapter that puts it on the wifi network? Didn't realize this was an option. I assume this is the adapter you're talking about?

                http://store.homeseer.com/store/Glob...-P868C179.aspx

                I'm assuming it's fine for me to use the basic, non-pro Rain8 controller for my very simple 3 zone system, and I won't have the bug issues you mentioned above if I go this route?

                http://store.homeseer.com/store/WGL-...-P974C176.aspx

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                • #9
                  The Global Cache unit is the one that several have starting using this year. The basic Rain8Net is a good unit without firmware issues. I think all of them now have the counter/switch input which you may find useful for something in the future.

                  When using a IP/Serial device you need some way to tell the PC software that this is what is connected. One approach is to install a COM emulation driver for the hardware so it looks like a regular COM-Serial port to the software. If you use the cutting edge systems (e.g. x64 W7) then you may have some difficulty finding drivers at a cost you want to pay. If you are are on XP x32 then you should have better luck. I have no personal experience with the GC unit or its drivers.

                  The other approach is if you use software that communicate via IP rather than COM. In this case you are not dependent upon the operating system to translate between IP and COM-serial. The PRO version of mcsSprinklers will do this, but if all you are looking for is a timed controller replacement with HS/LAN/Internet then the BAS version of mcsSprinklers will do the scheduling, but you still need a IP to COM-serial emulation driver. The same is true if you use any of the HST or 3rd party Rain8Net plugins except mcsSprinklers PRO.

                  There has been quite a bit of message board traffic in the mcsSprinklers forum about direct IP connection of the Global Cache unit. I do not know if the WiFi quality is an issue with specific users, if the GC Wifi is not very robust, or if there are issues communicating with this unit directly via IP. There was quite a bit done with mcsSprinklers PRO to make it robust and recover from dropped connections.

                  In prior years the unit that most were using was Device Master / Airmaster. It was a bear to setup, but it did work well. It is no longer being made. The GC seems like a reasonable replacement with similiar price-point and its sales does support our preferred HA supplier.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks Mcsharry. So you think it will work?

                    Are most people with irrigation putting their controllers right next to where the irrigation comes in, and using a serial cable? That seems impractical -- I wonder what are most doing?

                    Maybe the X10 or UPB versions are an easier bet for me?

                    Thanks.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you have a reliable X-10 system in your home, there are WGL products that will control your sprinklers using that communication method. I have used the WGL Relay-8 module for many years with HomeSeer sending the commands via X-10 to it. I like the fact that the WGL hardware has internal "run away" timers in case the OFF command is not sent/received.
                      --------------------------------------------------
                      **** Do You "Cocoon"? ****

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                      • #12
                        HS Rain8Net Functionality

                        I am converting my legacy sprinkler control to something that hopefully will be controlled with HomeSeer. I started with my own design controller and re-wrote my software to emulate the Rain8net protocol. In that effort, I've discovered a couple of things that are different than expected with the HS plugin.

                        Basically what I have is an RS-485 distributed control system that ties to HomeSeer via a USB to RS-485 adapter. My hardware is designed to be distributed around the house and I support multiple boards, in this case simple four 8-relay output boards for a total of 32 zones.

                        I've set up the plug-in to support 4 Rain8net addresses and generally everything works perfectly.

                        But...this is what I've discovered.
                        After sitting for a while, the plug-in appears to go to sleep and is very slow to respond. Even though I see continuous status polling activity on my data line monitor, I activate a relay and sometimes it takes a while for the control code to be sent to change a relay.

                        I built a failsafe in my firmware that automatically deactivates a zone after 60 minutes (length software command programmable) if HomeSeer forgets to turn it off (for whatever reason). The status query response changes from "0x40 0x30 0x80" (my address is 0x30) to "0x40 0x30 0x00" indicating a change in the status. However HomeSeer never sees the change in status. If HomeSeer ignores the status, why does it even check?

                        What makes this baffling is that when I activate a zone from the status page, the displayed state is always shown reflecting the response to the status poll, not the command that was sent to the controller. When I do a page refresh after an hour, HomeSeer discovers the status is wrong and resends the zone "on" command.

                        I intend to move towards another plug-in that has more out-of-box functionality, but I'm wondering if they all use the same code base and "status" functionality or if that part might be a little more robust in other implementations. (i.e. MCS or Maestro). Anybody have any experience in this space? I'm a little gun shy about putting my water bill (we have the highest in the nation!) in the hands of a non-redundant solution.

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