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View Full Version : How to make a smart controller stupid


irrig8r
08-31-2011, 05:18 PM
Condo complex where I used to have a L/S maint. contract about '88 thru '95.
Somebody came along recently and "upgraded" the controllers. They called me out this week to see if I could sort out various irrigation issues. Wet spots, dry spots, leaks, etc.


Exhibit A (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/zDRz80CthVTynkcfnlxgFtEUKtUsG_WKkwEvtfCczMU?feat=directlink). This ESP-SMT ( indoor model) replaced an old ESP 8. Nice, creative use of a weatherproof outlet cover.

Exhibit B (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/il1_j4rFeJJ6dvHtar935tEUKtUsG_WKkwEvtfCczMU?feat=directlink). Sensor installed on the north side of the building under the dripline of a redwood tree.

Exhibit C (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/sPTHgiL2Ya4NvVxDv4zBz9EUKtUsG_WKkwEvtfCczMU?feat=directlink). This one replaced an old, reliable Irritrol Dial AB. In a stair well next to the door to the parking garage.

Exhibit D (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/F_Fndv4Dyc59pnDO_dsvzdEUKtUsG_WKkwEvtfCczMU?feat=directlink). And the sensor? Installed on the north side of a balcony wall and shaded by the building itself on the west. Nice.


I thought it could be that the sensors were effecting the scheduling, but when I went to check, I found that neither clock was set up with zone info. All were set to specific run times, 8 min. for shrubs, 20 min for lawns 5 days/ week. Sun or shade, no difference.

Mike Leary
08-31-2011, 05:45 PM
WHAT! No 10-10-10? What a crock. :hammerhead:

Stuttering Stan
08-31-2011, 06:43 PM
Great pics. Thanks for sharing. A great opportunity for an upsell for quality contractors.

Mike Leary
08-31-2011, 07:16 PM
Great pics. Thanks for sharing. A great opportunity for an upsell for quality contractors.

Oh no, I just looked at the pics that Les mentioned. :gunsfirin

irrig8r
08-31-2011, 10:29 PM
Oh no, I just looked at the pics that Les mentioned. :gunsfirin

Oh yeah.

HOA's L/S committee chair called emailed me through my website not knowing I used to maintain the place and am already familiar with the many weaknesses in the system. Currently several areas w/ breaks. Others w/ heads mysteriously capped. Others with plants grown up and blocking heads, and a mix of rotors, impacts and sprays on some zones that weren't like that when I left it.

Current contractor must have upsold them on these controllers and probably promised them water savings. :dizzy:.

I told them $20K probably wouldn't cover the needed repairs and upgrades. She countered with doing it in phases, up to $10 K/ year over 4 years, so they can budget for it.

Might be do-able.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-31-2011, 11:34 PM
Easy controller for pigtails.
Posted via Mobile Device

WalkGood
09-01-2011, 12:49 PM
Exhibit A (https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/zDRz80CthVTynkcfnlxgFtEUKtUsG_WKkwEvtfCczMU?feat=directlink). This ESP-SMT ( indoor model) replaced an old ESP 8. Nice, creative use of a weatherproof outlet cover.



Links do not work. Get a "Page not found" message from picasa.

Instead of a link, just show the image here via the IMG tag.

Mike Leary
09-01-2011, 01:01 PM
Links do not work. Get a "Page not found" message from picasa.

Instead of a link, just show the image here via the IMG tag.

That's odd, I saw them yesterday. :dizzy:

jlouki01
09-01-2011, 01:14 PM
The ESP SMT has done nothing but caused me so many complaint calls this year. Zone X didn't run today my flowers are dry, It only watered this for X minutes my lawn is brown.

DanaMac
09-01-2011, 01:28 PM
K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple Stupid.

irrig8r
09-01-2011, 01:35 PM
Links do not work. Get a "Page not found" message from picasa.

Instead of a link, just show the image here via the IMG tag.

Tried that yesterday with no success.

Links working form both computers I tried. (Oops, now that I've signed out of Google it doesn't. Could be that I added captions, and changed the folder name.... sorry, will try again.)

Wet_Boots
09-01-2011, 01:57 PM
Try running your camera shots through an image editor - if they start out way too large, then websites will gag on them - learn about "jpg compression" that an image editing program can apply.

Mike Leary
09-01-2011, 02:40 PM
if they start out way too large, then websites will gag on them

So will we!:dizzy:

Lite4
09-01-2011, 09:03 PM
The ESP SMT has done nothing but caused me so many complaint calls this year. Zone X didn't run today my flowers are dry, It only watered this for X minutes my lawn is brown.
[Reply] [!!]


Ha too funny. I know, I bought into RB smart controller gimmick too. I have since had to overide the sensor and make most all of them dumb, obediant controllers. Waste of money. I would need 10-12 moisture sensors on a small property to actually do it right and account for all the micro climates on a property.
Posted via Mobile Device

Mike Leary
09-01-2011, 09:23 PM
s[QUOTE I bought into RB smart controller gimmick too. I have since had to overide the sensor and make most all of them dumb, obediant controllers. Waste of money. I would need 10-12 moisture sensors on a small property to actually do it right and account for all the micro climates on a property.[/QUOTE]

I'm starting to wonder if all those cheezeball clocks and their "weather stations" are worth a tinkers damn. What the hell is wrong with a tech and a Lincoln moisture probe stopping by and checking the whole system operation?

bcg
09-01-2011, 10:32 PM
I've got several in service, they've performed well during our drought this year. It's been said a lot but, you have to take the time to get them configured correctly before they're going to give good results. If you just put them in and don't come back to tweak the initial program, they won't do well.

SoCalLandscapeMgmt
09-02-2011, 12:23 AM
The ESP SMT has done nothing but caused me so many complaint calls this year. Zone X didn't run today my flowers are dry, It only watered this for X minutes my lawn is brown.
[Reply] [!!]


Ha too funny. I know, I bought into RB smart controller gimmick too. I have since had to overide the sensor and make most all of them dumb, obediant controllers. Waste of money. I would need 10-12 moisture sensors on a small property to actually do it right and account for all the micro climates on a property.
Posted via Mobile Device

It's all about the correct initial setup and then the FOLLOW UP to make the necessary adjustments. I've installed dozens and had very little problems at all!

Kiril
09-02-2011, 02:00 PM
An irrigation controller, smart or not, is only as smart as the person managing it. If the controller is not performing as it should (negating hardware failures) then the blame falls squarely onto the person who is responsible for managing the controller. People need to stop the damn blame game, man up, and learn how to manage irrigation controllers properly.

SoCalLandscapeMgmt
09-02-2011, 02:03 PM
An irrigation controller, smart or not, is only as smart as the person managing it. If the controller is not performing as it should (negating hardware failures) then the blame falls squarely onto the person who is responsible for managing the controller. People need to stop the damn blame game, man up, and learn how to manage irrigation controllers properly.

Hell has surely frozen over because for once I am in 100% agreement with Kiril.

irrig8r
09-02-2011, 02:34 PM
See the pictures I took here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/g.catanese/CondoIrrigationIssues?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNT2lcel75b56AE&feat=directlink

Wet_Boots
09-02-2011, 03:58 PM
See the pictures I took here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/g.catanese/CondoIrrigationIssues?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNT2lcel75b56AE&feat=directlinkat 6 to 13 MB each, those photos want an image-editing program ~ GIMP is a free open-source program, and can be found by clicking on this elegantly-crafted link (http://gimp.org/)

txirrigation
09-02-2011, 09:27 PM
An irrigation controller, smart or not, is only as smart as the person managing it. If the controller is not performing as it should (negating hardware failures) then the blame falls squarely onto the person who is responsible for managing the controller. People need to stop the damn blame game, man up, and learn how to manage irrigation controllers properly.

Well put.

That being said, when the H/O messes with it and calls me to come and change it back it is a PITA. I let them know they get one free "redo," after that the service fee will be applied.

irrig8r
09-02-2011, 09:39 PM
at 6 to 13 MB each, those photos want an image-editing program ~ GIMP is a free open-source program, and can be found by clicking on this elegantly-crafted link (http://gimp.org/)

Picasa is also free. And so is the hosting. So why bother resizing?

Besides, any photo you post on Lawnsite becomes theirs to use however they want:

Content on the Site.
By posting, publishing, uploading or displaying content, digital media, information, Web links, comments, images, text, files, photographs, videos, works of authorship, messages, communications or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) of any kind on the Site, you grant MRM, its affiliates, and agents an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, edit, move, distribute, transmit, display, perform, adapt, and publish any such Content for any purpose on or through the Site via any media channels now known or later developed, without notice.

Wet_Boots
09-02-2011, 10:15 PM
Picasa is also free. And so is the hosting. So why bother resizing?......You might want to set up your own website someday, and you have to handle the camera images on your own computer, in order to make them suitable for a webpage. GIMP is as powerful a program as Photoshop is, without the price tag.

Photos remain the property of the photographer, even when posted on a forum like this. The license you are granting Lawnsite lives only on their website.

mitchgo
09-03-2011, 03:11 AM
An irrigation controller, smart or not, is only as smart as the person managing it. If the controller is not performing as it should (negating hardware failures) then the blame falls squarely onto the person who is responsible for managing the controller. People need to stop the damn blame game, man up, and learn how to manage irrigation controllers properly.

This is the reason why I don't fully support having a smart controller it some situations.. ( Like most standard resi systems)

I mean if I still have to manage it.. take care of it.. watch it.. tend to it.. rub it.. jerk it... cuddle it.....when it all breaks down to how well I manage it....
yah know??? I mean, I'm just sayin!

Kiril
09-03-2011, 07:48 AM
This is the reason why I don't fully support having a smart controller it some situations.. ( Like most standard resi systems)

I mean if I still have to manage it.. take care of it.. watch it.. tend to it.. rub it.. jerk it... cuddle it.....when it all breaks down to how well I manage it....
yah know??? I mean, I'm just sayin!

Not following you, Smart or not, the controller has the potential to be improperly managed on any site. Does that mean on most residential sites you don't install a controller?

mitchgo
09-03-2011, 10:54 AM
It means that to me IMO that smart controllers aren't as hyped up as some people make them. As I've stated before, I bet I can program up a regular controller and either match the same as a smart or do better with the same amount of time involving myself into properly managing the yard

S.O.Contracting
09-03-2011, 11:10 AM
It means that to me IMO that smart controllers aren't as hyped up as some people make them. As I've stated before, I bet I can program up a regular controller and either match the same as a smart or do better with the same amount of time involving myself into properly managing the yard

Really so your gonna make changes to the watering schedule on a daily basis? The smart controller can definitely do better. The problem is that most contractors/homeowners aren't taking the time and/or don't have the knowledge to get it set up properly.

mitchgo
09-03-2011, 03:13 PM
well according to others you have to properly manage it always anyways right?

Mike Leary
09-03-2011, 03:34 PM
well according to others you have to properly manage it always anyways right?

Yes, in fact, I'm in the middle of re-programming one of my megas (90 zone double clok) that has not been done since '08. It's a nightmare, since some of the turf are on a cistern and others from potable and the clients refuse daytime runs, but it needs to be done and they understand the paperwork cost. :drinkup:

jvanvliet
09-05-2011, 05:33 PM
Any controller is going to require some adjustments throughout the year. This particular "smart" controller appears to have the sensors poorly placed. Poor location of the sensors will affect the processors ability to properly analyze conditions and make appropriate adjustments.

I maintain only one site with Hunter Solar Sync controllers an associate of mine installed. We have found the system is thirsty and we have had to tweak it it into providing a little more water than it would otherwise provide.

Can't say I know how to program them, I've tried and I just don't quite get it, it's probably a common problem in the industry. I'll wait until they get up the curve a little more and it becomes a point & click function. Until then, I'll sub out the installations and the programing to my friend and associate.

Right now, with all the rain we've been having, all my accounts have their systems turned off. "Rain Clicks", "Mini Clicks", etc. are notoriously unreliable. The Solar Sync is operative and as far as I can tell hasn't watered since the wet season started.

Glad I got the link to "GIMP" photo editor. I knew following this thread would be beneficial.

Mike Leary
09-05-2011, 05:46 PM
As others have mentioned, showing up is 99% of the gig. All the bells and whistles are worthless without adult supervision, as is any system. Were I to do another install (perish the thought, but I'm a sucker for megas), I'd not spec ANY "smart" clocks unless I had Central System or had a monthly contract to service the site. All that crap seems so cheap and prone to failure. :hammerhead:

jvanvliet
09-05-2011, 06:21 PM
I agree, these things are complicated, temperamental and probably overrated... for now.

You'd definitely want a monthly contract following an installation, the call backs to tweak the thing will bankrupt you.