Tagged: System Design
April 24, 2019 at 1:40 pm #59925
I’m a member of my community’s HOA and I’m trying to convince the board to choose an OpenSprinkler system rather than going with a more expensive and less capable system that our landscape company is proposing.
Our main objectives:
1) Reduce water usage by detecting breaks in the system (flow sensors)
2) Reduce water usage by adjusting watering schedule based on weather
3) Reduce water usage by closing main inlet valves when not watering
4) Receive notification when the system detects a water leak
Our current system:
4 main water inlet pipes (POC – Point of connection) and 297 zones
POC A has 94 zones (currently has two independent controllers)
POC B has 121 zones (currently has three independent controllers)
POC C has 45 zones (currently has one independent controller)
POC D has 37 zones (currently has one independent controller)
We don’t currently have flow sensors installed and this is one of the main things we want to implement. As I understand, it would be relatively easy to implement a flow sensor on POC C and D as one flow sensor would feed into one controller. What I’m unsure how best to solve is implementing flow sensors on POC A and B.
1) Is OpenSprinkler a good candidate for replacing our current system?
2) Is there a way to use flow sensors with POC A and B even though the max number of zones per controller is 72?
3) If required (extra wires may not be available), can we integrate a flow sensor via wifi? Either directly with OpenSprinkler or by using additional networking hardware?
4) Can OpenSprinkler adjust watering schedules based on forecasted weather? i.e. Rain is scheduled for this afternoon so this morning’s watering is reduced or skipped.
We had a board meeting last night and my OpenSprinkler proposal received a healthy amount of skepticism. I’m looking forward to hearing what others with more experience have to say.April 25, 2019 at 5:16 pm #59948
I read through the OS manual and it appears one option for POC A and POC B would be to use a single main controller for each and then setup a second controller to act as a remote controller for each additional zone over 72. For instance:
POC A – 72 zones to Controller A1 – 22 remote zones to Controller A2
POC B – 72 zones to Controller B1 – 49 remote zones to Controller B2
Allowing a single flow meter to be used for each POC. That said, the distance between where our controllers are and where the flow meters will be, could require a different setup.
It appears OS can use both non powered two wire flow meters as well as three wire powered flow meters. We have fairly long distances (up to 1700 feet) between where the flow meter & master POC valve will be located and where our current controllers are located. Has anyone had luck with extended flow meter wire lengths?
If flow meter wire length is limited (which seems likely), perhaps a solution would be to locate the master “brain” controller (the one with the flow meter attached) near the flow meter and master POC valve. So instead of having the brain controllers located where all of the wires are, the brain controller would be located near the flow meter and master valve, and the remote controllers would be the controllers physically wired to each zone. For instance:
POC A – Controller A1 (POC A Master Valve and POC A Flow Meter)
POC A – Controller A2 (72 remote zones)
POC A – Controller A3 (22 remote zones)
POC B – Controller B1 (POC B Master Valve, POC B Flow Meter & 71 zones) *POC B is likely close enough for the flow meter to be wired directly*
POC B – Controller B2 (50 remote zones)
POC C – Controller C1 (POC C Master Valve and POC C Flow Meter)
POC C – Controller C2 (45 remote zones)
POC D – Controller D1 (POC D Master Valve and POC D Flow Meter)
POC D – Controller D2 (37 remote zones)
I’ve attached a map which will hopefully make the layout easier to understand. We will be installing a community wide mesh wifi network so wifi connection shouldn’t be an issue.
Unfortunately this design adds more controllers and cost but without something like a wifi flow meter I’m not sure how else to do it.
Is this likely to work or are there any other ideas?
Attachments:April 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm #60014
I spoke with Ray last week and it appears the OS 3.0 is limited to 72 zones regardless of those zones being remote or hardwired to the controller. That said he mentioned someone else modifying the firmware for OSPi and running something like 180 zones, via remote zones/controllers. So the new plan for POC A & B is to use use a OSPi for the master controller and OS 3.0 controllers for the in-cabinet zone control. For instance:
OS Pi as master controller A1 (POC A Master Valve and POC A Flow Meter)
OS 3.0 as remote controller A2 (72 zones)
OS 3.0 as remote controller A3 (22 zones)
OS Pi as master controller B1 (POC B Master Valve and POC B Flow Meter)
OS 3.0 as remote controller B2 (72 remote zones)
OS 3.0 as remote controller B3 (50 remote zones)
OS 3.0 as master controller C1 (POC C Master Valve and POC C Flow Meter)
OS 3.0 as remote controller C2 (45 remote zones)
OS 3.0 as master controller D1 (POC D Master Valve and POC D Flow Meter)
OS 3.0 as remote controller D2 (37 remote zones)
Ray said he’ll likely modify the firmware so that OSPi controllers are able to utilize more than 72 total zones, as the Pi controllers aren’t as limited in ram, CPU, and onboard program storage. It sounds like controlling more than 72 zones might technically be possible with the 3.0 controllers but the need to do so is so rare that it doesn’t make sense to go through the very time consuming work of fully validating the ability. Basically the 3.0 controller has a limit to the number of zones it can control before it runs out of ram, CPU cycles, and/or storage, we just don’t know where that limit is. For our needs the OSPi controller should be just fine as a master controller.
I also asked Ray about the issue people are having with the new weather source data causing run times to be adjusted based on the current temperature instead of the normal Zimmerman method and he said he is aware of the issue. We didn’t go into detail but it sounds like one of the reasons for the mis-adjustment is due to inconsistent data formatting of the received weather information. From experience I know that engineers are extremely reluctant to promise a timeframe for a fix when they don’t know how much time and effort will be required. That said, I would think that this issue is near the top of the priority pile and is likely to be fixed in the coming weeks, not months.
The remaining question is if we can setup OS to monitor flow meter data and create an alarm/event/notification if the flow rate goes outside a predetermined range. For instance, if the normal flow rate for zone 2 is between 8 and 12 gallons per minute, and zone 2 is instead receiving 40 gpm, it would be ideal if we could then skip that zone and send a notification (email, text, etc.) so that we can send someone to figure out what’s going on and make the repair. I’d be interested to know if anyone has implemented any kind of leak detection with their OS.April 30, 2019 at 6:30 pm #60025
Hi PBS, sounds like you’re putting a lot of thought and planning into this! While I’ve not used flow meters with my OS, I just wanted to reply to let you know that at least someone is reading. The other thing I can add is that while I’ve not used flow meters, I did write a separate script that controls a zone on my OS based on the input of a soil moisture sensor and what you’re asking about is possible from a technical POV.
MikeMay 8, 2019 at 1:17 pm #60211
I am a property manager and manage a large 69 ACRE HOA that is 39 Acres of landscape. Very large lawns and park ways with over 500 single family properties that was built in the early 70’s. It is an open community that has 19 controllers ranging from 30-50 zones for irrigation and common area lights. When I started moving to open sprinkler hardware I had quite a few conversations via email with Ray. This was in the early stage of Hardware version 2.1. With the system it was my intent to create a wifi mesh with ubiquiti equipment not only for the open sprinkler controllers, but a surveillance system capable of monitor large areas spread out over 69 ACRES in a densely populated area. I originally started to design control software to actually handle the programming of the controllers and monitors, but then Samer joined with Ray and created a much better interface. With camera, wifi mesh and some training of my crew they are able to monitor the system onsite and offsite. I am also the network admin for another large HOA(900 condos/house/town home mix) that uses the very costly CalSense system. Which they deployed in limited areas and pay a monthly fee on top of this.
The controllers that we replaced were Rain Bird, Rain Dial brands. In the past we tried master valves, I have considered flow controller as well, but these items increase maintenance costs in my opinion and do not offer great amount of return benefit.
So I have 30 Ubiquity Radios that create my mesh. 21 Open Sprinkler controllers that control on average 30-50 zones. Each controller also control area lights. Over 300 area lights using the dusk to dawn capabilities of opensprinker. We currently have over 40 5MP Serveilance Cameras through the complex and pools that record live on 3 NVR’s
Maybe you should sell the big picture to them. One of the other things that we have had to do is do watering by the minute. My property is not flat and is full of sloped lawns, and street gutters with neighbors that like to report water run off to the city. While we have done water audits with the local water authority and they agree that we are applying all of the technologies to save water and doing our part, I have 39 ACREs of lawn that has slope and only top side drainage. So we water in 1 minute increments and repeat it 2, 3 , 4 times through the night to get the amount of water in to the soils while minimizing the run off.
The Bottom Line:
Weather Base Weakness: Unfortunately I really was hoping that this would be open sprinklers strong point but it just is not.
My controllers are spread out, so the older controllers would take a half a day to go and reprogram them. Now, my Landscape Supervisor can change them all in a matter of minutes from his phone, tablet, pc.June 28, 2019 at 4:55 pm #61419
Thank you Mike and D4C for your insight. I just looked through my spam folder and found there were replies to my previous posts.
D4C your setup sounds like a lot like what I ultimately have envisioned. Just larger. Our HOA is around 36 acres. I think your comments will be very helpful in convincing the rest of the board that Open Sprinkler is a workable solution. I like your watering increment solution. We have rivers of water going down the drain currently.
It’s interesting that you’re not a fan of master valves. I would have thought being able to turn off the main inlet and essentially depressurize the system while not watering (at least 12 hours a day) would save a significant amount of water being lost via small pipe or valve leaks. Is this something you would advise against given your experience?
I was also hoping the OS weather based adjustment was going to be effective although it’s good to know it isn’t there yet before implementing the system.
As it happens I’m also in the process of installing security cameras on our front gate as well as a mesh wifi network. If this goes well, we’ll likely add more cameras to cover the rest community. I hadn’t thought of controlling our street lights but that sounds like a good use of the hardware.
Update for where we are now:
I’ve been getting pushback from our current landscaping company, who is saying that they won’t install the OS system because they don’t think it is a “commercial solution”. I’ve asked for a more specific reason although it sounds like our main point of contact lives in the same community as one of the owners of Hunter and won’t consider doing anything else, even if it would be a more capable and less costly option. I don’t think it would be a problem to find another company to do the install but the rest of the board would prefer if our landscaping company did it so they are familiar with how everything works.
That being the case I started requesting proposals from other landscaping companies for the HOA landscaping contract. I plan to also request an installation quote for an OS system to coincide with taking on our landscaping work.
I’ve rethought the design of the system in order to make it easier to manage and require fewer parts. We have 4 POCs (point of connection, aka inlet pipe from city with seperate meter). Two potable and two reclaimed. Seeing as POC A currently has two independant controllers and POC B has three, there are multiple zones open at the same time on one POC. Seeing as this doesn’t appear to reduce water pressure below a usable level, I’m planning on combining zones so that POC A&B have fewer than 72 effective zones. Basically if there are two small turf zones, the plan is to combine them into one zone (parallel wires inside cabinet). Seems like if we’re able to find a good pair for each zone we currently have on POC A&B we’ll only need to control around 50 zones for POC A and around 60 zones for POC B.August 27, 2019 at 10:48 am #62369
I am curious as to what your HOA decided. I am not surprised that he would be against it since he has an interest in the other company. When I first started using open sprinkler I showed some reps from Hydroscape/Siteone, Rainbird and couple of large landscape firms which I will not name and they were all just amazed at how advanced this little micro controller was and just not limited to irrigation. For us. here it has just made a lot of sense. We are now at 22 installed with almost 50 cameras.
As for the master valve scenario we tried that long ago. We mainly water during the night. I have found there to be more maintenance when you release the pressure than the opposite. Especially on 1.5″ to 2″ lines. Not to mention seepage when you turn them on and off. I have 2″ Irrigation mains with backflows. From here I have about 40-50 2″ valves behind that. My property is sloped and also has a lot of hills which also syphon water when not pressurized. I do use check valves on many of them but the syphoning takes its toll on the diaphragms.
Lastly, since I have staff on during the day, when the system remains charged, leaks are easier to detect.March 25, 2020 at 4:28 pm #64810
Sorry for the very late response. I’m currently installing the last few OSPi controllers for our HOA irrigation system overhaul.
@dun4cheap Thank you for mentioning your master valve experience. I think I’m going to avoid un-pressurising the system when not watering. In theory it seems like you would save water but it sounds like it isn’t worth it.
It required a new landscaping company and a lot of convincing but I was able to get everyone involved to at least give it a try. I ended up going with a direct replacement of each existing controller (7 old controllers from 2003) with an OSPi controller. I could have combined some of the controllers but the upgrade is going to easier by keeping them seperate. I can set some of the zones up in slave mode if I want to make scheduling easier but all seven will be independant for the time being. I purchased 20 extenders which will be more than enough to cover the community’s ~320 stations.
To start we won’t be integrating flow meter data, although I think this would make diagnosing why we have sky high water usage much easier. It would also be useful for getting an alert if the system sees abnormal flow rates. We’ll see how important this becomes.
Just need to finish the install before the rain stops and the summer heat arrives.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.