Robotic watering system?

I came across this robotic watering head the other day. www.accurain.com Has anyone here had any first hand experience with them? The system
looks like it has some merit over conventional methods of home irrigation.
Ian
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Ian Drennan wrote:

While I wouldn't consider this a "robotic" system -- any more than a modern washing machine is a true "robot" -- it's an interesting-looking product. It waters the way a person would.
Too bad it has just that dinky LCD display for setting up. That could be a problem right there. Now, if it could just interface to a PC for GUI programming... Use a simple CAD probgram to lay out your yard, indicate where the watering head is, and drag the mouse to program the coverage.
-- Gordon
PS: Sounds like their watering heads use their own network for communication: "all Watering Heads are connected together in parallel to the Junction Box with 2 conductor 18 gauge AWG." That's a start in the right direction.
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Gordon McComb wrote:

Gordon
I agree its is not a robotic system per se but it would seem a good idea to market it as such considering it is user programmable and flexible. Also the majority, if not all of its target market would be non-robotic enthusiasts.
My understanding is that the hand-held LCD programming box also serves as the master controller with the individual watering heads as networked dumb slaves.
One wonders how susceptible a networked setup like this would be to lightening. Something we much of in my neck of the woods.
Think I must give this a try as it appeals to my armchair approach to garden maintenance.
Thanks for your comment
Ian
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Gordon McComb wrote:

The neat way to do it would be to ship it with a supply of devices that measure soil moisture and report back over an RF link. You'd stick these in the ground where water was needed, and let the sprinkler system learn where to water. Once it was trained, you could pull the devices, leaving one or two to optimize watering as weather and seasons change, and use them to train the next sprinkler.
                    John Nagle
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Why even that complex ? A simple web interface would do.
Maybe with a bit of security to prevent it getting hacked.

Add a couple of soil moisture probes + temp sensor + maxstream zigbee module
maxstream modules http://www.maxstream.net/products/xbee/xbee-oem-rf-module-zigbee.php
or go with something like the Rabbit zigbee application kit http://www.rabbitsemiconductor.com/products/zigbee_app_kit /
Can get prototyping/break out boards from sparkfun (but they aren't allowed to sell the maxstream modules) http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id76
Anyone got some good leads on cheap soil moisture probes ? and some 12V or 24V dc valves ?
For temp sensors I've got a few sht15(temp / relative humidity) ,some ds1820's and a SCP1000 barometric pressure sensor ic.
This would be a good project to convert to solar(PV) power as it wouldn't need to much power to run.
Here in Sydney Australia, we are only allowed to water the garden twice a week: sunday before 10 am or after 4pm, wedneday before 10am or after 4pm -Level 3 restrictions http://www.sydneywater.com.au/SavingWater/WaterRestrictions /
Its very easy to forget to water or may not be home to water.
A lot of NSW country towns are on level 5 water restrictions. Brisbane (captiol of Queensland) just went on to level 5 restrictions last week. http://www.qwc.qld.gov.au/Level+5+restrictions "What do the restrictions mean for residents? Residents are being asked to make significant indoor water use savings - such as 4 minute showers. Specific restrictions include: * Gardens - only water existing gardens with buckets or watering cans on allocated days between 4pm-7pm. You can use tank or grey water at anytime. * Vehicles - only use a bucket to spot clean mirrors, lights, glass and number plates * Pools - From 1 July, only top up existing swimming pools from town water as a last resort and only where a rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter is fitted and the premises complies with three of the following - a swimming pool cover, water efficient taps and showerheads, water efficient toilets, water efficient washing machine * New or renovated pools - may only be filled with water sourced from areas not under Level 5 restrictions (ie brought in by truck) * High water users - must submit a water use assessment form to audit their water use and identify saving opportunities."
Some areas even get restrictions on toilet flushing.
Now if anyone needs a cheap ethernet board edtp/nerdvilla are clearning out their remaining old boards for US$30 - 40 www.nerdvilla.com http://www.nerdvilla.com/easyasixavr.htm http://www.edtp.com/easyethw_page.htm
or there is always the new atmel avr32 networking board for US$69 http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools_card.asp?tool_idA02
avr32 studio for windows and linux (eclipse based). http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools.asp?family_idh2
http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/view_detail.asp?FileName=AVR32NGKit_3_26.html&family_idh2
Digikey now have them in stock and have shipped my order.
they also have a pack of an stk500(for avr not avr32) + avr jtag mark2 for US$150 http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Criteria?Ref064&Site=US&Cat4144956
The avr jtag mark2's and avr isp mark2's have been confirmed by atmel to work with both avr and avr32.
Alex
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A simple watering system using ethernet is described in the book Embedded Systems Design using the Rabbit 3000 Microprocessor - Interfacing, Networking, and Application Development by Kamal Hyder & Bob Perrin
Alex
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Alex Gibson wrote:

You guys don't do a lot of gardening, I suppose. You'd have to calibrate each sensor as to the soil type and the amount of water you want, seasonally adjusted of course. A lawn might be soaked (to allow the water to seep further to keep the roots well below ground level) but other areas of the yard may need quite different watering. I'd drench my citrus but the ground cover gets a light spray, being drought resistant. It's not as easy as it seems.
Obviously metering the water with a sensor is needed for any advanced watering, but the first step is directing where the water should go. A servo-operated nozzle is the first good step for that. Knowing the approximate rate of flow and timing the coverage is a very good approximation; better than watering by hand.
-- Gordon
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Calibration shouldn't be to hard. All depends how you set the system up and how simple you want to keep it and the size of the garden.
Its a bit hard to do gardening when you are in a drought and have water restrictions in place. Our area (Manly Warringah)has fairly shallow sandy soil as its fairly rugged terrain (hawksbury sandstone). Usually stick with native australian plants and trees as they need a lot less maintenance and are usually tougher/more hardy. Survive better on twice a week watering.
For my back yard, I just want to stick in a few drip/soaker hoses on the flower beds and larger pots.
Sprinklers of any sort are not allowed unless you get an exemption (not most people) or are using grey/recycled/rain water.
Want to put in a few rainwater tanks and also tanks for collecting laudry water.

Wish that a automated sprinker / servo controlled nozzle was allowed by its not.
A lot of the cheap flow rate meters aren't that accurate but should be easy to calibrate in the lab at work.
Sydney should really be on level 5 water restrictions not level 4 but as we just had a state election and plus its politicans that have to make the decision and it wouldn't be a popular decision but is needed asap.
I haven't done a gardening water system before thought a simple ethernet based one might be fun to do. More fun than bridge vibration monitoring systems(current work project). Have done environmental monitoring systems including air and water pollution monitoring.
Alex
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