OpenSprinkler › Forums › Hardware Questions › Connectivity Options
- This topic has 31 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Ray.
July 31, 2015 at 11:06 am #39606
I have a little league complex with 2 separate controllers irrigating 6 fields. Water source is a well with a pump that kicks on when zones fire up. The controllers are in two separate locations of the complex. We don’t have any internet access on the property.
I want the ability to control the irrigation remotely and I’m wondering how to connect the controllers to the internet. Is anyone hooking up a cell phone board/shield (something like a SparqEE or Particle Electron) to their OpenSprinkler solution to make their irrigation system accessible online?
ThanksJuly 31, 2015 at 4:54 pm #39610
I will be. My Spark.IO Electron will be in my hands this August. Still, trying to understand the connectivity issues, since the device is designed to send 20,000 messages per month, not sure about the receive. The Electron operate with cell service, but it is not a in/out device. As I understand it.
Please let us know what you find.July 31, 2015 at 6:49 pm #39611
I don’t have any OS hardware yet. My question was more of a pre-sales inquiry about the ability to extend the standard Arduino OS to use a cell/sim connection rather than WiFi or maybe the only way is through the Raspberry Pi hardware.
The Particle.io stuff looks really niceJuly 31, 2015 at 7:14 pm #39612
The controller has an Ethernet port and can interface with any networked device such as a cellular hotspot that has a wired connection or using it with a wifi adapter such as the TP Link that we sell.
The only consideration is public IP and ability to port forward or access a service remotely using it.August 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm #39620
Thanks. I pulled the trigger on an OS AC, zone expander and TP Link WiFi adapter to play with on my home irrigation system (Hunter I-Core clock).
I can’t seem to find any cell hotspot devices with a wired connection like you mentioned. Maybe I’m just not understanding your recommendation, though.
I could be thinking about it all wrong but right now it SEEMS like a solution to my problem at my little league fields with no Wifi is an Arduino Uno with an ethernet shield (connecting to the OpenSprinkler) + SparqEE Shield + SparqEE CELL might work. Would appreciate any feedback on this potential solution.
This is my first journey into small electronics hardware (e.g. arduino boards and shields etc). The last time I tried soldering was in 1995 attempting to fix cheap memory modules with cold joints from third rate manufacturers.August 23, 2015 at 3:50 pm #39954
I’m still thinking about using a cell/gsm/gprs connection for my OpenSprinkler (OS). I found an old Rayshobby.net topic talking about GSM shields. Apparently Ray says the serial communication is different than how OS sends commands via ethernet thus requiring software changes to make it work. I’m not exactly sure what that means technically (SOUNDS like application specific networking stack programming). I’m guessing that may be the reason it seems NO ONE IS DOING THIS?
Just thinking about having a GSM link as my connection to and from my OS….that would need to be an ‘always on’ connection ready to receive connections remotely. It seems Weathermatic already has a solution for this. They use cell network air cards for ‘always on’ connections enabling remote communication with their SmartLine controllers. In fact, I’m going to install one at my little league complex this week. An entire 16 zone bundle costs ~$800 with weather station, controller and air card and 1yr cell service. After that it’s $200/yr (non metered flow) and $300/yr (metered flow).
Obviously Weathermatic is putting together a whole commercial solution offering but it sure would be nice to have a cheaper, more DIY option to those that want it.August 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm #40005
Sorry if I am missing something however won’t something like this be a lot easier? http://www.amazon.com/Huawei-E5151-Hotspot-Ethernet-T-Mobile/dp/B00B4AYPLUAugust 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm #40010
Thanks so much for the info.
I see in the questions/answers on Amazon that apparently this only works with T-Mobile in the USA and only 2G. That might not be a big problem though since we aren’t moving much data to/from an OpenSprinkler.
This device might work but here’s my thoughts/questions:
Power: This unit runs on a rechargeable battery. Doesn’t look like this unit comes with a power adapter. If I can leave it plugged in using it’s micro USB cable to a compatible micro USB wall charger, then the power issue is taken care of (I think).
Ethernet: If I’m using the cell network for the public internet connection, would I be able to simply plug it into the ethernet port on the OpenSprinkler (OS) and would the OS use the 3G device as it’s router/internet connection?
Public IP: Which cell carriers hand out public IP addresses for these 3G cell devices? I’ve heard some do and some don’t? I’m actually chatting with AT&T rep online right now and it doesn’t look like they offer static/public IPs.
Port Fwd: Presuming I get a public accessible IP, does this device offer port forwarding to an internal IP and port (the OpenSprinkler)?August 27, 2015 at 3:39 pm #40014
For Ethernet, yes the port acts as a LAN (access using the 3G connection) or WAN (used to provide Internet to the device). So this would work fine.
For the public IP, this is the tricky part and conjunction with the port forwarding. There are many devices like the one I linked and just used that for illustration purposes. However I would double check the product manual/website to confirm it has the ability to port forward, etc. Verizon is the only carrier I know that sells public IP’s which are a one time fee of $500, I believe. I really don’t know anything about T-Mobile though.August 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm #40038
Thanks. Several hot spot devices offer advanced network configs including port forwarding but it does seem the only issue here is public/routable IP addressing (sort of the whole point of this exercise. ha).
It appears business accounts can pay to get a static routable address but not consumers.
Having a better understanding of these issues of connectivity, I’m interested in knowing exactly how Weathermatic’s aircard solution works so I asked them. Here’s their response:
1. We secured contracts with all Carriers and have tech support down to the tower level here at Weathermatic.
2. We have the imei # of each card embedded in our solution with API and activation.
3. We then have a VPN from out (sic) solution into the cell carriers portals.
4. Note: This is a M2M solution for low data type end points.January 17, 2016 at 5:46 am #41316
I actually was the first one asking for a solution using cellular and was shut down by Ray telling me that it would be very difficult to get it to work with something like a gprs shield.
Weathermatic, Banyan Water, Hydropoint to list a few are using this technology I wish I knew how. Please let me know if any of you get OS working with cellular, I don’t know if this is any different https://store.particle.io/collections/frontpage to get it to work with OSJanuary 17, 2016 at 5:50 am #41317
The solution Samer suggest does not work for me since the 3g modem doesn’t have an external antenna, all our timers are installed inside a stainless steel enclosure, once we close the door the modems have no service.January 17, 2016 at 4:02 pm #41319
I’m using the Weathermatic controller with aircard at one controller that serves 2 of our local little league fields but as I mentioned previously in this thread the cost is a bit high. Aside from cost, the software isn’t nearly as solid and useful as Open Sprinkler. For example, Weathermatic reports watering/station activity/status changes ONCE EVERY 24 HRS. That’s really not very useful. I have alerts setup to notify me of certain controller events but none of them will actually alert me the instant the situation occurs in the field. How useful is that? Based on my controller’s log, Weathermatic’s reporting process doesn’t actually occur until ~3:40AM every day. Given this fact, it seems entirely possible that I could have a leak in my system starting at 4:00AM but I won’t be notified of it via email until the next day! Again, how useful is that? At this price point, I would expect a MUCH better reporting solution for people that rely on receiving timely events remotely from their irrigation system.
Another example: If a zone is currently running on my Weathermatic controller, I can’t remotely login and see that. There’s no indication that anything is running using their web dashboard or mobile app. Weird.
Anyway, I thought I would add further info to the discussion using my experience with the Weathermatic controller/air card tech. I don’t know anything about Banyan Water or Hydropoint. I’ll have to research those. I still would really like to see a DIY solution using Open Sprinkler and consumer level hardware and cell phone access in areas that need it. I think it would be a super cool project to create a messaging system to enable cell phone access to/from OS controllers. If we can conquer the connectivity issue, messaging capabilities are endless at that point.January 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm #41350
@adrian78666: maybe I misunderstood your suggestion about GPRS shields, but all such shields I’ve checked require GPIO connections to the main controller. This is unlikely to work with OpenSprinkler, unless if you are willing to have a major overhaul of the firmware. The hotspot device that Samer linked to is much easier to work with as it has a Ethernet port and it’s much more believable to me that you can just plug it in with OpenSprinkler and it would work right away.January 20, 2016 at 2:00 am #41356
Ray I will take a picture of the stuff hydropoint uses since that is the best irrigation system I have used with solid communications. I have used weathermatic as well but I really try to stay away if we are going to use flow with the system because their communication really suck. Whenever you are ready to check the dashboards for hydropoint or weathermatic let me know we can both login to my account and I can walk you though the whole thing, communications and flow are what you could benefit the most.January 20, 2016 at 9:08 am #41361
I’m looking at Hydropoint’s website. Do they offer cell network connectivity for remote access (similar to Weather)? I’m not seeing anything obvious re: that part of their solution on their website. I’ve reached out to their support staff for more info but it seems like you definitely understand their product offering.
Sounds like you had similar complaints about Weather’s communication/reporting as well. Shouldn’t have to wait HOURS to get notifications/info.January 20, 2016 at 10:50 am #41362
All their timers use cell communication, their product is very good but as you mentioned their support is not that great. Support, flexibility and price makes OS in my opinion better than a $3000 timer. I have attached a picture of their lower line timer’s modem.January 21, 2016 at 1:32 am #41369
Here are 2 pictures.
Attachments:January 22, 2016 at 2:04 am #41378
https://youtu.be/0VJBh3X1j_4 here’s a video of the weathertrak’s dashboard bad quality first time I upload to youtubeJanuary 24, 2016 at 10:18 pm #41388
https://www.adafruit.com/product/2687 will something like this work with OS?January 25, 2016 at 12:19 am #41399
@adrian78666: it’s good you mentioned FONA from Adafruit. I was just thinking about a serial to GPRS adapter and it looks like this is what FONA is. Basically you can use the serial interface to communicate and send command to the shield. This is much easier to work with compared to shields based on SPI, which requires a major overhaul of the firmware. I have never used FONA, but I think this is probably among the easiest way to add cellular connectivity to OpenSprinkler.January 25, 2016 at 1:18 am #41400
So is there programming required to make this FONA communicate with the OpenSprinkler? Maybe elaborate a bit on the overall solution with this Adafruit hardware?
Thank youFebruary 3, 2016 at 1:11 am #41445
Yes it will definitely require some modifications to the firmware. Basically you communicate with FONA using serial communication: you send commands and data to it, and receive data from it, all through serial communication. I haven’t looked at the specific protocol, but it’s probably some sort of AT commands, which are pretty common. Honestly since I’ve never used FONA I don’t know much about the details, but a good starting point is to look at the FONA tutorial:
which contains many examples.February 3, 2016 at 12:45 pm #41457
Awesome Ray. Thanks for posting that. I’m a n00b at this hardware and electrical engineering stuff. I just know how to write software (used to know…been a couple years) and the OpenSprinkler (OS) product is an intro to this world for me.
Dumb question: What firmware will need to be modified? OS? Arduino?
Anyone elaborate on what that process might look like?
Thanks so much. Interesting stuff…looking forward to trying to solve this problemFebruary 17, 2016 at 12:01 am #41532
The firmware is unified: it’s the same piece of code that compiles on both OS (Arduino-based) and OSPi (or any Linux-based system).
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
OpenSprinkler › Forums › Hardware Questions › Connectivity Options