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Controller Suggestions

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  • Controller Suggestions

    Anyone have suggestions for an irrigation controller other than the Rain8 units? These seems to be very popular on the board but out of the 4 I have purchased in the last 2 months, 3 are dead already. I figure at that rate they will run me about $2,500 per year to keep replacing!

    I'm not WGL bashing here just looking for something that's not so sensitive to power fluctuations. Every time the power flicks out I lose a module (even with all of the surge protection and grounding).

  • #2
    woo... that's not good. I thought they were as reliable as all the other good stuff from WGL. I've not long had my pair of rain8net controllers and hope that this is more specific to your environment - sorry . The only other device I know of is the NetRain controller.

    As a question, did you use the supplied transformer from WGL or the 24 volt transformer that is part of the RainBird? - assuming you replaced the RB controller.

    You might be better off putting them on a small UPS - they're cheep and it would provide total isolation from the poweline. Likely less expensive that a new controller(s)...

    HS3PRO as a Fire Daemon service, Windows 2016 Server Std Intel Core i5 PC HTPC Slim SFF 4GB, 120GB SSD drive, WLG800, RFXCom, TI103,NetCam, UltraNetcam3, BLBackup, CurrentCost 3P Rain8Net, MCsSprinker, HSTouch, Ademco Security plugin/AD2USB, JowiHue, various Oregon Scientific temp/humidity sensors, Z-Net, Zsmoke, Aeron Labs micro switches, Amazon Echo Dots, WS+, WD+ ... on and on.


    • #3
      There have been a handfull of users over the past several years that have had repeated problems with the Rain8Net due primarily to lightning. Some have used the TManufacturing product to provide some isolation but that was not sufficient. The Rain8Net Pro has additional input circuit protection, but it is a relatively new product so not much field data yet.

      The EZFlora (Insteon) and EtherRain (IP) are two that provide an automation interface. There are also companies that have smart standalone solutions such as CyberRain. I know one uses a ZWave or Zigbee interface between the field wiring and the controller and that technology would tend to have less of an antennae to pick up lightning. In past years there has been attempts to use wired digital logic at the valve, but test have not panned out.

      There are others that have gone the DIY approach with relays or other self-constructed approaches. I suspect there did not need to be considerations for a hostile electrical environment in these cases.

      Dont know if you ever returned a unit for failure analysis, but I assume you have and llikely found that it was on the valve control side rather than the 24VAC source side. If you have having issues at the power input then you really should be having issues with many more pieces of electronics.

      mcsSprinklers started supporting EtherRain this year as a native interface. It supports EZFlora and DIY approaches through the HS Device model. Once you have a HS Device to valve relationships then you can also do your control via scripts or similiar DIY logic.


      • #4
        In response to your replies, I used the power supply provided by WGL for all units. The first unit fried due to a lightning strike I am fairly sure. The second unit went down on a day with clear blue skies when the power blinked off for about 2 seconds.

        I went back and forth with Warren over at WGL trying to figure out why they were losing communications. He even offered to have me send them back so he could "look at the units". After reading various posts on the internet I figured out pretty quickly that these things can't handle any power fluctuations. I did what anyone else would do with the remaining 2 units and put a surge protector in line on the rs232, usb hub, the outlet the power supply was on, bought and installed the surge protection units from TManufacturing that the WGL site recommends (as a side note i might add) and still had another unit go down yesterday.

        I opened 2 of the units and you can clearly see the board is burned right past the rs232 port so it is not, in my humble opinion, coming from the irrigation lines at all.

        I asked Warren about trading the units in for the Pro versions but he said they didn't have a trade in policy and suggested that WGL might just start selling the pro units only. Sure wish they had made that decision before I wasted $500+ on these things.


        • #5
          I know Warren is production-oriented rather than sales-oriented and the return policy is not very customer friendly.

          The Rain8 product started its life as X10 and the communication interface electronics was pretty well isolated due to the PCS05 handling the hard stuff. The Serial interface come from customer requests for a more reliable communication interface. It appears that this may not be a robust electrical design as witnessed by experiences such as yours and the redesign of this part of the circuit for the Pro model. I did not ask, but I think the new design also is in the Rain8Net+.

          I got into the game using the first genration Rain8X10 product and have been very happy with it. I know X10 gets a lot of bad rap, but for an application such as this it is a good solution and the product has been proven over many years. Lightning is very uncommon at my location, but power interrupts are very frequent.


          • #6
            Ouch.. This is the first I've read about this issue here. I suspect you are using Rain8 and not Rain8Net???

            BTW, I had mentioned NetRain earlier - my apologies, I meant EtherRain. NetRain is a totally different product set.

            Lots of rain going on here
            HS3PRO as a Fire Daemon service, Windows 2016 Server Std Intel Core i5 PC HTPC Slim SFF 4GB, 120GB SSD drive, WLG800, RFXCom, TI103,NetCam, UltraNetcam3, BLBackup, CurrentCost 3P Rain8Net, MCsSprinker, HSTouch, Ademco Security plugin/AD2USB, JowiHue, various Oregon Scientific temp/humidity sensors, Z-Net, Zsmoke, Aeron Labs micro switches, Amazon Echo Dots, WS+, WD+ ... on and on.


            • #7
              Actually I purchased the Rain8Net+ units.

              We have some lightning in my area but nothing that I would be overly concerned with. We do have some power fluctuations though and that has caused this difficulty.

              Warren was extremely helpful with trouble-shooting the units. That all changed when it was evident the issue was power fluctuations though. I must say I was very surprised and disappointed that he wouldn't offer to exchange for an upgrade and even more surprised when he made the comment that WGL perhaps should only sale the Pro units. That just indicates to me that he is fully aware of this issue. Maybe WGL can use my money to help promote the Pro units going forward!

              I'll try to post a picture of the burned board tonight just so you guys can see what I'm talking about. They are burned in the exact same place on both units.

              I'll check into your suggestions. Thanks for the replies.


              • #8
                I have 3 rain8net units that have been in service for over two years. We also have major problems with power. It is not uncommon to have several brief losses of power (a few seconds) then a total loss of power for several hours. (One of those sequences disabled a dishwasher, of all things! Another, forced me to replace my Leviton whole-house surge protector.) For whatever reason, the Rain8Net controllers have been unaffected.

                Last year I moved the serial connection from the computer to a Quatech serial server. I'm not sure it that provides any additional protection from surges on the RS232 line, but it might. I also replaced the WGL power supply with one that has more power, primarily to allow multiple zones to be operated simultaneously.

                Before those changes, the setup was probably very similar to yours. The whole-house surge protector may be worth exploring. I also wonder if there may be lot-to-lot component differences that are affecting the robustness of the final product?
                Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
                HS3 Pro Edition

                HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF, Rain8Net+ | RFXCOM | QSE100D | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | X10: XTB-232, -IIR | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3


                • #9
                  I agree. There's no way that this could have been prevented on my end, that I can comprehend anyway. I have the PC on an APC, the serial hub on a Monster protector, in-line serial surge protector, Rain8net power supply on surge protector and all irrigation lines routed through the surge protector ordered from TManufacturing. There has to be something going on with the boards themselves.

                  I know the first unit went out due to lightning strike because it took out my serial to usb cable. That's when I ordered the new HUB and put everything on surge protection, subsequently losing 2 more units.


                  • #10
                    THIS thread on CocoonTech shows some people are happy with the EtherRain unit as was suggested above.
                    **** Do You "Cocoon"? ****


                    • #11
                      The EtherRain looks like it might be a good solution. Is it controllable via HS?

                      This is a picture of the board. If you look just past the rs232 you can see the scorch mark. 2 of the boards have the exact same markings.
                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tblackmon9599 View Post
                        The EtherRain looks like it might be a good solution. Is it controllable via HS?
                        Appears so...
                        **** Do You "Cocoon"? ****


                        • #13
                          I am hopefull that the EtherRain will have an excellent record in the field as I do like IP-based devices. This is the primary device I am using for mcsSprinkers on the ARM processor. I just do not have sufficient field data to have an opinion now about how well it will work in the varied environments over the world over the long term. I know there are 1000's of Rain8Net in the field and had there been wirespreed reliabilty issues there would not have this level of market penetration.

                          From a control perspective it should be viewed similiar to the originial Rain8X10 where a time program is setup for the 8 valves and a command is given to start this program running. It will automatically sequence each valve on and off in the valve-order sequence. The control model for the Rain8Net is 8 independent valves so it map easily into the HS device model with a device for each valve and control of one has no relationship to the other. The runaway protection for the EtherRain is that each valve cannot run for more than the time that is downloaded with the start command. For the Rain8Net the runaway protection is a one-time setup.

                          The different architecture of the EtherRain vs. Rain8Net presents some control limitations for the EtherRain. mcsSprinklers presents to the user a HS device model of 8 independent valves for the EtherRain. It enforces constraints imposed by the architecture in its scheduling logic. For example, it will not allow two valves of the same module to be scheduled for running at the same time, but it will allow two valves in different modules to be run at the same time.

                          The capability that Jim has provided with the scripts and asp pages provide a user the abilty to interface the EtherRain via use of the HS web server. This is a good solution for those that are not looking for a higher degree of integration with HS and other automation capabilities at their location.


                          • #14
                            One thing I like with my Relay-8 X-10 based sprinkler controller (a lot like the original Rain-8) is I can use a palm pad remote to activate a zone. This comes in VERY handy when fixing/troubleshooting the system!

                            I imagine via HomeSeer you could have the same palm pad control a particular valve via this scripting interface?
                            **** Do You "Cocoon"? ****


                            • #15
                              Reading a little further on the EtherRain units it looks like they will do what I want. I 'm just looking for a simple on/off controller at this point. I may need something more robust later but for now I'm just tired of running from controller to controller turning on/off zones manually when the need arises.

                              I will say that I used the trial version of mcsSprinklers when I first received the Rain8Net units and was very impressed with the control options available and I may eventually use that to control. To be honest I had so many issues trying to get the Rain8 units working I never really had a chance to fully appreciate the plug-in.

                              I do imagine I should be able to control the irrigation system with events deployed to my iPhone/iPad, etc. Don't really see a reason why not with what I have read so far. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.