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jawns
08-09-2008, 09:03 AM
I am a site superintendent for a builder in a maintenance-provided subdivision. Part of my job is responding to homeowner complaints about irrigation. We have a Toro 2-wire/decoder system with a TDC controller and 111 zones that is malfunctioning. So far it has stumped our installer and his supplier. They are both very busy and can devote little time to troubleshooting the system. Meanwhile, I'm on site every day and the homeowners are driving me crazy and it makes my company look bad. I've had a hard time finding information about troubleshooting this type of system. Is anyone familiar with this type of system or know any sources on info besides the Toro site? Thanks

Kiril
08-09-2008, 09:05 AM
If Boots doesn't have an answer, no one does. :rolleyes:

DanaMac
08-09-2008, 09:05 AM
I don't have an answer, but wanted to say Welcome :)

londonrain
08-09-2008, 09:10 AM
Please describe what is malfunctioning on the system.

Wet_Boots
08-09-2008, 09:12 AM
Get on the phone and talk to the manufacturer.

DanaMac
08-09-2008, 09:16 AM
Get on the phone and talk to the manufacturer.

Damn, I could have come up with that one...

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-09-2008, 09:21 AM
go to the local priest or chaplin.

Waterit
08-09-2008, 09:25 AM
Check the blinker fluid.

jawns
08-09-2008, 09:56 AM
Some zones don't water and some zones don't shut off. There is no consistency to the problems except they usually occur on the same wire path. They've swapped solenoids, decoders, and installed an above ground replacement for the communication wire(partial). The controller's firmware was updated 1 month ago. We have called the manufacturer, but we're only getting 2 hours of site time per week and, did I mention, the homeowners are driving me insane. (I don't blame them--if I spent $1million for a house and $300/month for maintenance, I'd be calling someone every day and jawing).
I'm just looking for info so that maybe I can steer the guys toward the source of the problem. Our system began life as a beta version and has had problems from the beginning, but most have eventually been diagnosed and solved. The current issue has everyone frustrated and scratching their heads and wanting to go home. Meanwhile, I start every day up to my elbow in frog water in flooded valve boxes, turning and tapping solenoids, telling the homeowner that the techs are coming on Thursday.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-09-2008, 10:07 AM
Some zones don't water and some zones don't shut off. There is no consistency to the problems except they usually occur on the same wire path. They've swapped solenoids, decoders, and installed an above ground replacement for the communication wire(partial). The controller's firmware was updated 1 month ago. We have called the manufacturer, but we're only getting 2 hours of site time per week and, did I mention, the homeowners are driving me insane. (I don't blame them--if I spent $1million for a house and $300/month for maintenance, I'd be calling someone every day and jawing).
I'm just looking for info so that maybe I can steer the guys toward the source of the problem. Our system began life as a beta version and has had problems from the beginning, but most have eventually been diagnosed and solved. The current issue has everyone frustrated and scratching their heads and wanting to go home. Meanwhile, I start every day up to my elbow in frog water in flooded valve boxes, turning and tapping solenoids, telling the homeowner that the techs are coming on Thursday.

I feel for you. Two wire is new stuff and the expertise is still being developed. London Rain is the one I'd refer you to if you called me. The word TORO in your first post gives me the willies. TORO hasn't been too hot lately with product development. The premier two wire company I've been told is TUCOR. Try getting a TUCOR rep involved and see if they can't help you out and win some positive press.

DanaMac
08-09-2008, 10:09 AM
How old is the system? When did it last run normal - or as close to normal as possible? Any other major things that may have caused a problem? Lightning. Vandalism. Construction. Utilities/fiber optics installed/bored.

Are the valves not shutting off due to the controller? Or stuck solenoids? Debris in water supply maybe? There are a lot of variables that we cannot see from the interwebs. :) I know you are more asking for a place to get info on this, which most of us can't help you with, but i'm just trying to find possible reasons/solutions for the problem.

When they don't turn on, are you getting power to the valve? Or are they having mechanical problems with the valves? What kind of valve? I know.... too many questions, huh? ;)

jawns
08-09-2008, 10:13 AM
Thanks for the interest. Got to go check if any zones are stuck. Will provide more details later. My frogs miss me.

Waterit
08-09-2008, 10:42 AM
I feel for you. Two wire is new stuff and the expertise is still being developed. London Rain is the one I'd refer you to if you called me. The word TORO in your first post gives me the willies. TORO hasn't been too hot lately with product development. The premier two wire company I've been told is TUCOR. Try getting a TUCOR rep involved and see if they can't help you out and win some positive press.

1. Toro STILL a four-letter word.
2. Baseline supposedly better than Tucor.
3. Call anyone and everyone that you think can help if you've run out of ideas.
4. Take anything Boots tells you with a grain of salt.
5. Watch for Leary to call you a piker.
6. Bicmudpuppy will probably come closest to possible solution (man that guy knows his stuff).
7. Dana will probably grumble and moan but will have something creative and positive to offer.
8. Kiril will go theoretical on you.
9. I have no 2-wire experience, I'll just thread-jack.
10. CSR, well, he'll be CSR!

Kiril
08-09-2008, 10:52 AM
8. Kiril will go theoretical on you.

Perhaps...... :waving: Powerline control systems are way cool. I'm in the process of a decking out my house with UPB.

londonrain
08-09-2008, 11:26 AM
My experience with 2wire systems is that when the decoders go bad they either come on with every zone or they are completely dead, this is assuming the controller is operating correctly. I would start with the zones that will not shut off, either flow control the valve closed or disconnect one wire going to the solenoid. Once you get all the zones shut that want to come on regardless which zone is programed, then you can figure out which decoders are dead. You might now find zones that you think are not working are now working because you now have full flow to the zone valve. Also remember that the field wiring is always putting out 24v to all the decoders and you can check to see if the wire is providing 24v before the decoder. Do all of the above and report back!!!

DanaMac
08-09-2008, 11:54 AM
7. Dana will probably grumble and moan but will have something creative and positive to offer.


You're good. Pretty much right on!

CAPT Stream Rotar
08-09-2008, 12:09 PM
1. Toro STILL a four-letter word.
2. Baseline supposedly better than Tucor.
3. Call anyone and everyone that you think can help if you've run out of ideas.
4. Take anything Boots tells you with a grain of salt.
5. Watch for Leary to call you a piker.
6. Bicmudpuppy will probably come closest to possible solution (man that guy knows his stuff).
7. Dana will probably grumble and moan but will have something creative and positive to offer.
8. Kiril will go theoretical on you.
9. I have no 2-wire experience, I'll just thread-jack.
10. CSR, well, he'll be CSR!


Spot on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jawns
08-09-2008, 01:18 PM
Nothing stuck on, but there were several alarms showing on the controller.
They have checked voltage, etc. at the valves and it's ok.
I suppose I need advice from someone who's familiar with the Toro system.
The problem seems to be intermittent communication between the controller and the decoders.
Nobody can figure out what's causing it. The current theory is interference from crossing a power line too closely. Is that a plausible explanation? They used the specified wire but it's not shielded.
The controller has diagnostics, but when you run them, different stations show a fault on different diagnostic runs.
The controller puts out 38 volts BTW. Anything between 12 and 38 volts is acceptable.
Thanks again

Wet_Boots
08-09-2008, 01:30 PM
Is there proper grounding in the system wiring?

londonrain
08-09-2008, 01:55 PM
Nothing stuck on, but there were several alarms showing on the controller.
They have checked voltage, etc. at the valves and it's ok.
I suppose I need advice from someone who's familiar with the Toro system.
The problem seems to be intermittent communication between the controller and the decoders.
Nobody can figure out what's causing it. The current theory is interference from crossing a power line too closely. Is that a plausible explanation? They used the specified wire but it's not shielded.
The controller has diagnostics, but when you run them, different stations show a fault on different diagnostic runs.
The controller puts out 38 volts BTW. Anything between 12 and 38 volts is acceptable.
Thanks again
Sounds more like a wiring problem than a interference problem.
Since the TDC uses DC latching solenoids then the wiring must be correct for the solenoids to work correctly...IE: same color wires connected throughout the entire systems with correct wire splices plus the 2 wire cannot be looped back to the controller.......

Mike Leary
08-09-2008, 01:57 PM
How long did the system work before it started going :dizzy::dizzy::dizzy: ?

Wet_Boots
08-09-2008, 02:04 PM
How long did the system work before it started going :dizzy::dizzy::dizzy: ?How long did you work before you started going :dizzy::dizzy::dizzy: ?

Mike Leary
08-09-2008, 02:11 PM
It could be bad grounds or splices. Two-wire is sensitive. Are all the splices in "grease
packs"? They should be grounded to a 10 ohm or less earth ground. When I took the
Maxi-com class, we spent more time on grounding than anything else. Each length should
be checked for continuity and resistance to ground.

jawns
08-09-2008, 04:54 PM
The system is about 3 yrs old. I don't think it has ever been problem-free.
Until recently I've been so busy with house building that I couldn't pay much attention to the irrigation besides calling the sub to work on it. Sales have slowed down and now it has become my responsibility.
There have many problems from the outset, not all of which were the installer's and supplier's fault. We waited too late to give them the go-ahead on the project and it became a critical rush job and then the wells were producing sand which fouled the solenoids and valves.
I don't know if all the early hardware-related issues masked the particular problem we're having now or if it started after the system was up and running. There has been so much done to the system that nobody can confidently say what happened and when.
And of course, because it is on a new construction site, contractors take turns digging up each other's stuff.
As far as I know, the only ground is at the controller. I've read the installation guidelines and seen Toro's recommendations and asked our installer about the lack of grounds. He believes that the cable grounding's only purpose is lightning protection and from my reading of the instructions, I agree.
There are two wire paths out of the controller, neither of which is grounded, and almost all the problems and alarms are on one wire path. All the splices are in grease packs and they can't get any readings on the com cable which would indicate a problem area. I don't think, however, that they've measured resistance to ground from the cable.
I can see errors like uncapped, unused decoder wires, but they exist on both wire paths and there is not really a problem on the one path.

Mike Leary
08-09-2008, 05:44 PM
We feel your pain. You get ten points for stepping up and being truthful about what
most of us know about commercial ( or large residential) projects. You've got to find
the baddest volt-ohm operator & start at the controller and move on down the
daisy chain.:cry:

londonrain
08-09-2008, 06:07 PM
Sounding more like a serious wiring problem more than a hardware problem...... Since the 2wire is sending a signal ALL connections MUST be solid..... I have worked on many large community wide systems with 100+ zones and have found wires that had been cut during construction and electrical taped back together, this is the vibe I am getting on your system....... Find a contractor who understands how a 2wire system works and understands how to trouble shoot a 2wire, has a 521 locator and a ground fault locator....only thing you can do at this point is check and repair wires... or call in a JDLGreentech, I know my local Greentech helps with 2 wires systems.

Mike Leary
08-09-2008, 06:56 PM
Sounding more like a serious wiring problem more than a hardware problem. Find a contractor who understands how a 2wire system works and understands how to trouble shoot a 2wire, has a 521 locator and a ground fault locator.

Why I never went two-wire, Tucor told me out front troubleshooting systems would be a bear-cat. We are starting to see the results of not following specs and not having the designer/engineer overseeing the install. Sounds like one of those "we all poked the pooch" jobs and now the piper must be paid.

bicmudpuppy
08-10-2008, 12:45 AM
The system is about 3 yrs old. I don't think it has ever been problem-free.
Until recently I've been so busy with house building that I couldn't pay much attention to the irrigation besides calling the sub to work on it. Sales have slowed down and now it has become my responsibility.
There have many problems from the outset, not all of which were the installer's and supplier's fault. We waited too late to give them the go-ahead on the project and it became a critical rush job and then the wells were producing sand which fouled the solenoids and valves.
I don't know if all the early hardware-related issues masked the particular problem we're having now or if it started after the system was up and running. There has been so much done to the system that nobody can confidently say what happened and when.
And of course, because it is on a new construction site, contractors take turns digging up each other's stuff.

A true nightmare on most large sites no matter what flavor or style of product is installed. Unless you can identify well enough to back charge the right contractor, your SOL.


As far as I know, the only ground is at the controller. I've read the installation guidelines and seen Toro's recommendations and asked our installer about the lack of grounds. He believes that the cable grounding's only purpose is lightning protection and from my reading of the instructions, I agree.
There are two wire paths out of the controller, neither of which is grounded, and almost all the problems and alarms are on one wire path. All the splices are in grease packs and they can't get any readings on the com cable which would indicate a problem area. I don't think, however, that they've measured resistance to ground from the cable.
I can see errors like uncapped, unused decoder wires, but they exist on both wire paths and there is not really a problem on the one path.

Grounding/shielding is spec'd for LOTS of reasons. Lightning protection is only one of them. Try running a LAN in your office w/o shielded wire. It doesn't take a lightning strike to screw that up. This is on the same level of technology. IF there is no other cause of interference, you can get by w/ only grounding at the important points, but you can't put a decoder in the ground and not have an earth ground nearby for it. (this is my understanding. there are people here MUCH more qualified to speak about 2-wire) Bottom line is that if you let a sub slide and did not hold him to spec, you get what you deserve. Just like if the sub did NOT get a change order or special permission to not install TO SPEC, that sub can be held responsible. Responsibility will end up being a witch hunt, but, when it is all said and done, my guess is that you will end up putting the system back as close to spec as possible, or it will never work correctly. Also, if a significant number of contractors have cut and spliced (especially incorrectly) the communication wires, you may be looking at a complete re-install of the comm wires.

bicmudpuppy
08-10-2008, 12:49 AM
On a side note, did they run ONLY 2 wires? I've never spec'd or bid one of these that we didn't require a spare common AND a spare hot. Also, are both wires in the 2-wire the same color? Did they use 12 of 14UF? or did they use the spec'd shielded pair (I think you answered that one)? What are the odds that when the average utility contractor cut the wire that they spliced the RIGHT wires together?

mikecaldwell1204
08-10-2008, 04:12 AM
We just got done with a similar problem down here on a Tucor system. To check to see if you have a wire problem or bad decoders is quite simple. First you unhook the two wire path at the controller and read the milliamps. If the milliamps are in range at the controller then the controller is not bad. If you determine that the controller is fine and you hook the wires back up and get a jacked up reading on the milliamps, you just have to follow the two wire path with an A.W Sperry Model DSA-2415 clamp meter. JDL sells them for about 400 bucks. Just follow the wire path clamping it at certain intervals say 500 for simplicity. Take a reading and if it is still the same as the clock keep going on down the line. When you get to a point that the milliamps drop, you know you have past your problem area. Unfortunatly for two wire systems the slightest knick, bad splice in the wire will cause it to perform erratically and it is best just to replace the wire from a known good point to were you took your bad reading. Usually this does the trick on Hunter Ids, Acc and Tucor systems, however Toro may be different. As for the grounding Hunter and Tucor recommend every 500 feet. However they will operate without proper grounding while the Rainbird Mdc will not.

HokieAg07
08-10-2008, 09:51 AM
What development is this happening at? I have a little experience with 2 wire troubleshooting but never have dealt with the Toro systems. I am extremely busy right now at work but if need be maybe I can assist.

HokieAg07
08-10-2008, 09:54 AM
As for the grounding Hunter and Tucor recommend every 500 feet. However they will operate without proper grounding while the Rainbird Mdc will not.


I just came across an MDC job that has not a hint of grounding and it works just fine. I am working on a quote right now to install the proper grounding.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-10-2008, 10:26 AM
We just got done with a similar problem down here on a Tucor system. To check to see if you have a wire problem or bad decoders is quite simple. First you unhook the two wire path at the controller and read the milliamps. If the milliamps are in range at the controller then the controller is not bad. If you determine that the controller is fine and you hook the wires back up and get a jacked up reading on the milliamps, you just have to follow the two wire path with an A.W Sperry Model DSA-2415 clamp meter. JDL sells them for about 400 bucks. Just follow the wire path clamping it at certain intervals say 500 for simplicity. Take a reading and if it is still the same as the clock keep going on down the line. When you get to a point that the milliamps drop, you know you have past your problem area. Unfortunatly for two wire systems the slightest knick, bad splice in the wire will cause it to perform erratically and it is best just to replace the wire from a known good point to were you took your bad reading. Usually this does the trick on Hunter Ids, Acc and Tucor systems, however Toro may be different. As for the grounding Hunter and Tucor recommend every 500 feet. However they will operate without proper grounding while the Rainbird Mdc will not.

Great post Mike thanks a lot. We need this post in a permanent troubleshooting thread on this forum.

hoskm01
08-10-2008, 10:34 AM
Nice post, Mike Caldwell. We will all start running across these systems soon, as they become more popular and are installed in more large applications.

mikecaldwell1204
08-11-2008, 12:25 PM
Hey your welcome guys. There pretty new here to in Florida but with all these massive developments down here its the cheapest way to install the systems. Let me know if I can help you anymore.

ksoup
10-09-2008, 01:40 PM
Try to replace dc solenoids. it has been a known problem with them and the rep should have informed u and change them.
they do not perform as expected due to water that gets trapped on the plunger.
Of course that supposes that you have checked the wiring:):):)

johnnyaqua
10-10-2008, 06:52 AM
My company maintains 20 projects that are two wire. On all two wire systems the good wiring connections are essential to keep the system operating consistently. There is no forgiveness like there is in conventional wiring. Check all splices!
Toro had a problem with their decoders letting in moisture and causing problems. You may have a bad batch of decoders.
Also check your programming carefully! However,my guess is that with inconsistent performance you have bad splices. Good Luck.
I am good friends with the Toro rep in this area I may be able to steer you to the rep in your area if all else fails.

jawns
10-10-2008, 06:27 PM
Thanks for the interest.
The irrigation supply company was able to get some help from Toro
and about a week ago a bunch of guys came out and replaced all the
old 4 station decoders with (1) 1 station and (1) 2 station decoder. (We have 3 zones per lot). They also replaced some of the original prototype decoders. The new decoders are "ISP"--I think that's internal surge protection. So far, so good--I've got my fingers crossed still, but the system has performed flawlessly ever since. The Toro rep said there were compatibility issues with the old decoders and the controller and that they had to go through the same process on several sites. To say the least, everyone is relieved. It is as if they waved a magic wand!!!

DanaMac
10-10-2008, 06:37 PM
Thanks for the interest.
The irrigation supply company was able to get some help from Toro
and about a week ago a bunch of guys came out and replaced all the
old 4 station decoders with (1) 1 station and (1) 2 station decoder. (We have 3 zones per lot). They also replaced some of the original prototype decoders. The new decoders are "ISP"--I think that's internal surge protection. So far, so good--I've got my fingers crossed still, but the system has performed flawlessly ever since. The Toro rep said there were compatibility issues with the old decoders and the controller and that they had to go through the same process on several sites. To say the least, everyone is relieved. It is as if they waved a magic wand!!!

Good to see Toro stepped up to the plate. I now think of them as slightly higher than pond scum.

Mike Leary
10-10-2008, 06:42 PM
I now think of them as slightly higher than pond scum.

Ho, ho, I thought the same thing, too & felt strange suggesting Hoss do Rain Master now that Toro owns them.

DanaMac
10-10-2008, 06:44 PM
Ho, ho, I thought the same thing, too & felt strange suggesting Hoss do Rain Master now that Toro owns them.

I did say SLIGHTLY higher.

Mike Leary
10-10-2008, 06:55 PM
I did say SLIGHTLY higher.

10 more posts, Dana.

DanaMac
10-10-2008, 07:04 PM
10 more posts, Dana.

I knew you'd be all over it

Mike Leary
10-10-2008, 07:09 PM
Like a cheap suit.

CAPT Stream Rotar
10-10-2008, 07:47 PM
Like a cheap suit.

Papi Chulo Leary