Rain8 and MCSSprinkler Software

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by regularguy, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. regularguy

    regularguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 152

    Some time ago I posted asking for opinions on sprinkler controllers that could be manipulated from a remote location over the Internet, there were many suggestions and I decided that I would purchase the Rain8 product. One of the folks that offered advice on the original post asked if I would reply later with my opinion of the product, this is that post.

    The Rain8 controllers are small devices that utilize a X-10 signal from a PC, a special cable is purchased that connects to the comm port on the PC and then to the Rain8 controller, sprinkler control valves are then wired directly to the Rain8 device. Attached is a picture of how I installed my system, please excuse the fact that this is a basement installation, I needed to have the PC in the basement verses the garage and I now have the ability to cycle valves with a laptop outside or with my Palm cell phone, I know how you guys hate basement controllers.

    In addition to the Rain8 controllers you also must purchase software to install on the computer that you will be using to send the X-10 signal to the Rain8 controller. I chose MCSSprinklers although I believe that there are several others as well. I purchased the more expensive Pro version as I was mostly interested in the ability to control the system remotely as I travel a great deal. The MCSSprinkler software is very feature rich and I believe can do everything that you could possibly want to do with a sprinkler controller, I won't waste your time listing all of the features as the list is very long, but with a feature rich program complexity also becomes an issue. I am probably not the most computer/network savvy person in the world, but I do use a computer on a daily basis, I found this software to be fairly challenging and not something that you could load in an evening and be up and running the next day, I believe that there are still options that I have yet to figure out and may never be able to utilize them. I was forced to contact customer service twice concerning issues and both times they responded by the next day, I thought that was pretty good. One of the features that the software offers is the ability to calculate evapotranspiration based on local environmental reports taken automatically from the Internet, it seems like a nice feature but I have yet to fully utilize it.

    In a nut shell this option offers lots of possibilities but with those possibilities comes a fair amount to complexity, I was able to purchase the entire package for less than $350 and used a old Pentium 3 PC that I had at home and was planning to throw out.

    Wiring 001.jpg
  2. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,148

    Good for you, that's something else! We should all have something like that
    on our personal systems, oops, most of us "pros" still drag hoses!:laugh:
  3. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,386

    Square footage aside, how much electricity is being consumed by this setup?
  4. regularguy

    regularguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 152

    I guess that a set up like this would consume a bit more electricity than a traditional clock simply because now I have a dedicated PC running basically all of the time. For me it was worth it, for most others I doubt that they would want to deal with the set up issues.
  5. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    I'm impressed with the neatness of the wiring you have run along the wall. Thanks for sharing the picture and info.

    Messages: 18,668

  7. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Ditto as well. I am curious why you didn't consider dumping that stuff into a distributed wiring enclosure?

    Cost seems very reasonable considering the cost of ET systems. As for using a dedicated computer, you could use something even less powerful than a P3 (say like a PPro), dump the chassis and mount the mobo directly into a distributed wiring enclosure along with all the rest of the control modules and network it with your main PC.
  8. regularguy

    regularguy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 152

    Thank you everyone for the kind words.

    Kiril, I wish that I had thought about using the distributed wiring enclosure that you spoke about, that would have made for a much neater installation. Maybe I will have a nice winter time project now.

    As for the computer chassis I don't think that I have the skills for a project like that although it sounds alot like the Ware Brothers controller that I tried to buy before they went out of business. I guess that you never know maybe that could be a winter project as well.

    Thanks again all.

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