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  • #16
    Michael,

    While this thread is alive again is the EtherRain still one or your top suggestion for use with mcsSprinklers?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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    • #17
      EtherRain says it needs an Internet connection to an offsite server. Is that correct?

      Comment


      • #18
        The EtherRain uses Ethernet for communications and for that reason it tends to have the most reliable communication with the host controller. There is a user with whom I have interacted with quite a bit has a large network of EtherRain modules that have been working well ever since EtherRain was supported by mcsSprinklers. Initially there were network issues with fiber optics over a large field, but once that stabilized they have been working well as far as I know. I have another user that has had the units fail and needed replacement after a few seasons so that becomes expensive.

        The Rain8 series had been a software management struggle because voltage levels being 0/5 that most people connect them (PC ports or USB/Serial adapters) rather than +/-12 for the Net and typical powerline issues for the X10. Much heuristic code based upon experience to give the best user experience when communications are not reliable.

        With EtherRain you can sign up for a cloud service for scheduling. With mcsSprinklers the communication is direct between the controller and EtherRain so no internet connection needed for the EtherRain.

        The latest firmware in the EtherRain allows multiple valves to be ON at the same time. mcsSprinklers supports these, but does not allow more that one valve per module. Multiple modules are used if simultaneous scheduling is needed with mcsSprinklers. There is just not a large enough user base that need simultaneous and have only a single module with the new firmware to justify software changes in mcsSprinklers to run multiple in single module.

        I really like the architecture where a PC/Controller is not required to keep the irrigation system operational. A reliable valve controller that can run its own program combined with a sophisticated irrigation management PC/Controller that can modulate the program based upon weather or local regulations is what I consider the best solution. This will give the lowest cost water usage while still not subject to the issues of the relative lack of reliability of a general purpose computer.

        Personally I ran the original Rain8X10 for more that 10 years with good results. It was always a challenge to keep my powerline clean and last year just switched over to the Rain8Net since I had several in the junk box from when I was working with Warren on their development. I have only used EtherRain, Rain8Wireless, Rain8UPB, RPi and Odroid C1 only for testing software so I do not have any actual field experience with them.

        The Sonoff 4CH Pro is the latest in the lineup with the desired architecture to operate by itself and at the same time be slaved to mcsSprinklers. I expect to add 4 zones and will be using this for their control. The interface is Wifi. While they are tolerant of disconnect/reconnect of the WiFi connection they should have a reasonably close Access Point to minimize the dropouts.

        Comment


        • #19
          Michael,

          Thanks for the detailed response. Currently I'm using an old analog controller that was in the house when I purchased it so I'm starting from scratch on an automated controller. I did download the mscSprinklers doc and was reading through it and it says that Professional is needed for the EtherRain is that correct?

          You also mention the Sonoff 4CH Pro I did a quick look and see there is now an R2 version of that would either of the versions work?

          And for 7 zones I would need 2 of those devices has that already been added and working with mcsSprinklers or is that something you are working to get done in the future?

          Thanks,
          Jeff

          Comment


          • #20
            There is only one version of mcsSprinklers starting in 2018 and it handles all the valve interfaces identified in the manual.

            Sonoff Pro and Pro R2 are functionally equivalent. The R2 has a shallower profile.

            The factory firmware in the Sonoff needs to be updated. I have done it with serial connection. This require the unit to be opened (4 screws) and serial adapter inserted into the circuit board holes. Alternately it can be done over the air using SonOTA.exe or using python scripts. It then needs to be configured for WiFi SSID and password. If you are not a tinkerer then I can do it for you. In this case I can order the 4CH so there will be only one additional shipping cost.

            The updated firmware (mcsTasmota) contains the local irrigation control and uses MQTT to communicate with mcsSprinklers. This means that Mosquitto needs to be on the network to broker the MQTT communications. Mosquitto is a free download. I run mine in a little Linux box like the RPi or it can be run in the same computer as HS. There is no special configuration for Mosquitto unless you want to do non standard things or want to have added security.

            You can add as many Sonoff modules as desired within a practical limit of about 100 relays if your WiFi network can handle it. The Sonoff Basic is a $7 1-channel relay and it can be used too, but need to cut the trace the relay to isolate it from the powerline so you run the 24VAC for the irrigation valves. No mods are needed with the 4CH Pro. The 4CH is a little cheaper, but it would also need an isolation mod. I do not know if it can or cannot be done easily.

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            • #21
              Thanks again for the information. I hadn't heard of the Sonoff devices until tonight and now I'm looking through some of your old messages about them and see there are quite a few details on the board already about them. I will take some time to read through them and then make my decision.

              I do have 4 Ubiquiti Ap's throughout the house including one in the garage so I have good wifi coverage although I do prefer wired when ever I can.

              After reading some of the details on the board about the Sonoff and some more about the EtherRain I will make a decision and get one or the other ordered.

              Also thanks for the information about the plugin I must have missed that it was all now under one version makes my purchasing decision much easier.

              Jeff

              Comment


              • #22
                The GoControl

                So I am posting a few screenshots of how I was able to get the GoControl controller to work with MCSSprinklers.

                Essentially, I created 12 virtual devices (I have 12 zones) and then I created 24 events-- 2 for each zone.

                When the virtual device turns on, an on event sets the appropriate valve on the GoControl on for 60 minutes (the max). When the virtual device turns off, another event sets to GoControl to off.

                The downside to this approach is a zone would run for an hour max. I sort of see this as a positive thing as if something fails, I don't want a zone to continue indefinitely.

                I did this manually: I thought about making a script.

                I then setup MCS sprinklers to control the homeseer devices (I gave mine some old school X10 names J1 -> J12). I then used the Touch Zone to turn on a valve for 10 minutes and it worked great.

                I now need to get the rest of MCS Sprinklers configured. I think when I did it years ago, I could use a Weather Underground key-- now I think they want you to pay for it....
                Attached Files
                HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435 (Windows Server 8.1 on ESXi box)

                Plug-Ins Enabled:
                Z-Wave:,RaspberryIO:,AirplaySpeak:,Ecobee:,
                weatherXML:,JowiHue:,APCUPSD:,PHLocation:,Chromecast:,EasyTr igger:

                Comment


                • #23
                  Essentially, I created 12 virtual devices (I have 12 zones) and then I created 24 events-- 2 for each zone.

                  When the virtual device turns on, an on event sets the appropriate valve on the GoControl on for 60 minutes (the max). When the virtual device turns off, another event sets to GoControl to off.

                  The downside to this approach is a zone would run for an hour max. I sort of see this as a positive thing as if something fails, I don't want a zone to continue indefinitely.
                  Good approach. It the only way to control the unit via the HS Event Action? Does HST provide documentation on how to use the unit with HS3? Is there any status available from unit?

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Here is another way of controlling the GoControl Irrigation Unit. I have used this and it works fine. Gives flexibility in setting watering times. The valve is set to the closest time beyond the wait so that if HS is rebooted the valve will shut off to the setting from the drop down.
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      > Good approach. It the only way to control the unit via the HS Event Action?

                      You can drop down from the menu and select the action. See the attached picture.

                      Is seems to me that each of these setting is a status value for the valve. See second picture.

                      > Does HST provide documentation on how to use the unit with HS3?

                      Not really. You add it to HS and it creates a couple of devices.

                      > Is there any status available from unit?

                      Not that I can gather. There is some inputs on the unit for rain but I don't think those show up anywhere. I just need simple relays to turn on my twelve zones.

                      There is some status in one of the root devices for whether a schedule is being run, but it always seems to show "No Event".
                      Attached Files
                      HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435 (Windows Server 8.1 on ESXi box)

                      Plug-Ins Enabled:
                      Z-Wave:,RaspberryIO:,AirplaySpeak:,Ecobee:,
                      weatherXML:,JowiHue:,APCUPSD:,PHLocation:,Chromecast:,EasyTr igger:

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Second picture
                        Attached Files
                        HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435 (Windows Server 8.1 on ESXi box)

                        Plug-Ins Enabled:
                        Z-Wave:,RaspberryIO:,AirplaySpeak:,Ecobee:,
                        weatherXML:,JowiHue:,APCUPSD:,PHLocation:,Chromecast:,EasyTr igger:

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          I added the GoControl to one of the controller supported by mcsSprinklers in version 2.18.2.0. It is uploaded to Updater, but not certain if it will be visible with HST transitioning how 3rd party plugins are managed.

                          Manual install is from http://mcsSprinklers.com/mcsSprinkle...18_2_0_HS3.zip Unzip and extract HSPI_mcsSprinklersP.exe and mcsSprinklers_2009.dll into HS3 folder.

                          When I was testing I did not see any effect when the HS3 device for enable/disable was toggled. Able to run the relay without consideration for the enable device.

                          Each module that is added to mcsSprinklers will create 15 mcsSprinklers devices and they will be controlled just as all other mcsSprinklers devices. No status is available so it is a send command and hope the Zwave receiver in the GoControl gets it. This is similiar to the level of assurance from 1-way X10 as the original Rain8X10.

                          mcsSprinklers will sync to external changes made by HS events or GUI, but does not honor the times that are sent externally. For example if 60 minutes for a valve is selected in HS and mcsSprinklers has this valve setup to have a maximum manual run time of 40 minutes then mcsSprinklers will command the valve OFF after 40 minutes.

                          I don't recall if HS sends event notification when its programmed time is over or only when the GoControl device is altered. I suspect only when altered. This means that if mcsSprinklers has manual set for 40 minutes and HS commands it for 20 minutes then mcsSprinlers will assume it will be running for the full 40 minutes and send the OFF at 40 minutes.

                          In general if one stays within mcsSprinklers environment for valve control then there will be no issues. Note also that only one GoControl valve per module can be ON at a time. While I have logic in EtherRain to enforce the scheduling, I did not add it to GoControl.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Michael,

                            I had a chance to open up my ancient irrigation controller and it turns out it appears to have a Master Valve. If I understand correctly from some of your previous posts the Etherrain 8 will not work because it can only turn on one valve at a time is that correct? So I wouldn't be able to program valve 8 as the master and have it turn on when the other 7 were running.

                            Does the Etherrain 7P work with mcssprinklers and allow the use of the pump/master connection to do what I need or will I need to continue to look at other alternatives.

                            Thanks,
                            Jeff

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              There is a Rev C of the EtherRain firmware that I expect to get working with mcsSprinklers. This will provide ability to run simultaneous relays from one module. Prior firmware is limited to a single relay at a time. I do not know if you can get the older units upgraded with Rev C firmware.

                              The 7P will work with mcsSprinklers. McsSprinklers is agnostic to the pump valve as it is managed by the EtherRain and will be slaved to the other relays. mcsSprinklers will manage the 7 zone relays.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Michael,

                                Thanks for the response. I did get a Rev C model built this month. If that is something you plan on adding soon I might hold onto it. If not I had thought about using a secondary device to power/control the Master valve, but it sounds like it would probably be easier to just return the 8 and get the 7P if that for sure will already work.

                                Thanks,
                                Jeff

                                Comment

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