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    Rain8Net and USB/Serial converter communication problem

    My Rain8Net is connected to mcsSprinklers through a Digi Edgeport USB/Serial converter. Periodically I have communications problems and get below error messages from mcsSprinkler:

    8/10/2022 5:39:21 AM | Zone R5 has been declared failed after multiple attempts due to timeout in expected response
    8/10/2022 5:30:22 AM | Zone R3 has been declared failed after multiple attempts due to timeout in expected response
    8/10/2022 5:29:22 AM | Zone R6 has been declared failed after multiple attempts due to timeout in expected response
    8/10/2022 5:00:22 AM | Zone R6 has been declared failed after multiple attempts due to timeout in expected response

    The communication test from mcsSprinklers would also show timed out and unable to control any valves. When this happens, during a water cycle, mcsSprinilers will also keeps turning valve that controls the pump (the master valve) off after turned on for a minute.

    If I power cycle both Rain8Net and Edgeport converter, the problem would go away for a period of time (a few days to a few weeks). Any suggestions?

    In the past I seem to remember despite Rain8Net error messages mcsSprinklers still worked fine. I just noticed this season that valves are actually turned on/off unexpectedly with these error messages. Is there any changes in the logic mcsSprinklers handles communication/status with Rain8Net when that communication is problematic?

    #2
    The Rain8 has always been problematic. The original X10 version suffered from the typical powerline noise. The Wireless was only 1-way so no status feedback. Before Warren retired, he introduced the PRO line that addressed the communication issues by using the MAX32 to handle variations in TTL voltage levels. Most users use TTL (such as Edgeport) rather than the standard RS232 +/-12V. Getting the TTL all the way to 0V is usually the problem.

    Field experience showed that the communication problems occurred more often with the status response than the command. That is why mcsSprinklers default is to assume the command was executed when status could not be confirmed. Since most of Warren's users did not use the status feedback implemented in mcsSprinklers the problem in the Rain8Net never got much attention.

    In my case I retired the Rain8 family from my production system as the units failed. I now use a combination of hardware with a MQTT network interface. I modified Tasmota to add irrigation protections for on-too-long and off-to-long. This was installed in a set of Sonoff 4CH PRO. I have one Rain8Net still in service and will soon be replacing it. In this case I elected to not worry about the timing protections as my experience at my site has been that failures that keep the valve ON have been due to mechanical failures with pebbles blocking the valve head. I will be using a Dingtian 8 channel IP/Relay that comes native with MQTT. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000...55389040%22%7D It also has a nice case with DIN rail mounting just like the Sonoff 4CH PRO.

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      #3
      I was having a similar problem on a completely different piece of equipment on a USB/Serial adapter. The problem was with windows powering down the USB port when it thought there was no activity and not turning it on again until the equipment was restarted.

      If you look in Device Manager > USB Controllers > device_name > Properties > Power Management. "device_name" in my case is USB ROOT HUB, but yours may be different. Uncheck the box for "Allow computer to turn off this device to save power". That resolved it for me and might be your problem also.

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        #4
        I was not aware of the Windows power management. Good input.

        The Rain8Net does have issue with communications. I have run it using multiple IP/Serial adapters, including Lantronix and multiple OS with different flavors of Windows from W2000 to W7 and Linux Arch, Debian and Ubuntu. Not to mention the USB as well as direct COM. I developed a Rain8Net simulator that acts as either client or server for six units and provides controls to adjust the communication timing delays. The bottom line is that the failure point was the Rain8Net. I had worked with Warren and setup an environment where I can program the Rain8 firmware. I think this was for the Rain8UPB development. I do not recall doing any development work with him on the Rain8Net other than issue feedback.

        The Rain8 product was an excellent product for its time that fit a niche for the HA community. It even made it to the big box stores in Australia. Technology has moved on and better options are available today. EtherRain is a solid product that is wired ethernet and has timing protections. Otherwise, I am not aware of irrigation valve controllers that do not require some level of DIY.

        For those that want smart irrigation control and do not need tweaking ability then any of the wave of crowdfunded products fill this niche. Do your homework in this case as not all have survived. The old-school irrigation companies are also offering consumer smart irrigation products. For most this is the best route. I do not see much value in integration of irrigation with HA today when the available controllers now have internal computers that provide the same capability that could be achieved with HA integration.

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          #5
          For what it's worth, I still use a pair of rain8nets connected to a IP2SL interface in my pool shed connected via EOP without issue. I've had it in production for 12 years. They and my setup just work. Though, I have to agree with Michael, there are many intelligent controllers out there now. But what I like with my setup is that I can turn zones on/off with my cell phone should I need or as I test in the spring while walking around my yard
          HS3PRO 3.0.0.500 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.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post
            I do not see much value in integration of irrigation with HA today when the available controllers now have internal computers that provide the same capability that could be achieved with HA integration.
            I have a few connections between HA and my irrigation. For example, 1) irrigation data is included in my daily report and 2) don't run any lawn sprinklers while Party Mode is on - ask me why I added that one...

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