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Sprinkler System Controller on Engadget!


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#1 Valkyrie-MT

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 08:17 PM

http://www.engadget....er-system-show/ -Valkyrie-MT

#2 Chris Walker

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 08:48 PM

Valkyrie-MT: thanks for the link! mlinnen: very cool project! Chris

#3 Mike L

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 11:26 PM

Valkyrie-MT: thanks for the link!

mlinnen: very cool project!

Chris


Thanks, it has been a fun project to build.

Mike

#4 Chris Walker

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 12:06 AM

Thanks, it has been a fun project to build.

That begs the question...what's next?!? :)

Chris

#5 Mike L

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 01:15 AM

That begs the question...what's next?!? :)

Chris


I need to enhance the sprinkler with a few more sensors (like ground moisture and rainfall), then I think I would like to push the scheduling code to a service in the cloud instead of on the netduino. So the neduino is more of a data collection device thru sensors and it only knows what it is scheduled to do for the given day. Decisions about watering or not will be decided in the cloud service and it would take into consideration the forecast, recent rainfall, soil moisture and historically when it watered last.

Then more devices connected thru the service bus to my phone of coarse :) Next up maybe a garage door opener.

#6 Dan T

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 03:04 AM

Mike, Nice project and video, too. The PC is in the video is ONLY for debug, right?

Then more devices connected thru the service bus to my phone of coarse :) Next up maybe a garage door opener.

Was the azure service bus easy to learn? All .net? Inexpensive?

#7 Mike L

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 03:34 AM

Mike, Nice project and video, too. The PC is in the video is ONLY for debug, right?


Was the azure service bus easy to learn? All .net? Inexpensive?


The PC was just to simulate the weather forecast changes, however a windows service does need to reside on a machine behind my home firewall. This windows service is what makes the outbound connection to the azure service bus so that I do not have to punch holes in my fire wall to connect to devices in my home from outside my firewall. I could have kept everything inside my firewall but I wanted to be able to access devices when I am away from my home (I always have my phone).

The Azure Service bus was very simple to connect to. I probably should do a blog post with a simple example of turning on an LED using the service bus, it would be less complex and easier to follow than my sprinkler project. As far as cost goes I am still trying to figure that part out. As far as I can tell it will cost me $4 to $8 a month for the service bus usage. Right now I am using a trial period for access to the Service Bus as well as using a web role to host an HTTP endpoint for the phone.

#8 ColinR

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 06:40 AM

Hey, thats cool! very similar to my use of the Netduino!
I know I sound like a stuck record (sorry) - Mike, do you experience solid socket connectivity over time?

We've developed www.homebug.co.za using the Netduino Plus, and socket reliability is our last issue.

#9 Cuno

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 07:08 AM

The PC was just to simulate the weather forecast changes, however a windows service does need to reside on a machine behind my home firewall. This windows service is what makes the outbound connection to the azure service bus so that I do not have to punch holes in my fire wall to connect to devices in my home from outside my firewall.

The Azure Service bus was very simple to connect to. I probably should do a blog post with a simple example of turning on an LED using the service bus, it would be less complex and easier to follow than my sprinkler project. As far as cost goes I am still trying to figure that part out. As far as I can tell it will cost me $4 to $8 a month for the service bus usage. Right now I am using a trial period for access to the Service Bus as well as using a web role to host an HTTP endpoint for the phone.

Hi Mike

Neat project! I find it particularly compelling when I see my sad-looking plants that I have neglected in the past few days (up to 33 degrees Celsius here in Switzerland right now)...

Regarding secure access to devices in spite of firewalls: if you would like to avoid a dedicated gateway PC, you may want to take a look at Yaler as an alternative to the Azure Service Bus. Yaler can be used directly from a Netduino Plus. No need for additional hardware. I have used Yaler for the server examples in my book Getting Started with the Internet of Things. (Our company was forced to develop such a service because this "secure access to devices behind firewalls/NATs" problem popped up in several customer projects.)

I am looking forward to the next steps of your project :-)

Best regards

Cuno

#10 Mike L

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 11:26 PM

Hey, thats cool! very similar to my use of the Netduino!
I know I sound like a stuck record (sorry) - Mike, do you experience solid socket connectivity over time?


I ran the sprinkler for over 10 days straight and it was receiving weather forecast data as well as time stamp data every 30 seconds during those 10 days. I had a couple timeouts when the weather service was posting to the netduino only a couple times during this test. The communication recovered from the timeout and continued working. What does a "solid socket connectivity" issue look like?

Nice poject you got going there btw.

#11 Mike L

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 11:34 PM

Hi Mike

Regarding secure access to devices in spite of firewalls: if you would like to avoid a dedicated gateway PC, you may want to take a look at Yaler as an alternative to the Azure Service Bus. Yaler can be used directly from a Netduino Plus. No need for additional hardware. I have used Yaler for the server examples in my book Getting Started with the Internet of Things. (Our company was forced to develop such a service because this "secure access to devices behind firewalls/NATs" problem popped up in several customer projects.)


I have briefly looked at yaler and I intend to look into it further. It looks pretty cool. However I am kinda leaning towards wanting the PC as the go between message router rather than going directly to the netduino. I want to be able to cache, transform and restrict data flowing to my netduino devices. The middleman PC gives me that capability.

#12 ColinR

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 05:08 AM

I ran the sprinkler for over 10 days straight and it was receiving weather forecast data as well as time stamp data every 30 seconds during those 10 days.


That's good news, and a good solid test period, thanks. What firmware did you use?

What does a "solid socket connectivity" issue look like?

After around 4 hours of operation (local webserver, and log submission once a minute) the sockets simple becomes non-responsive. The controller is running according to the led - but the web server and log submissions stop working.

Nice poject you got going there btw.

Thank you! We've had good fun working on it.

#13 Cuno

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 06:42 AM

I want to be able to cache, transform and restrict data flowing to my netduino devices. The middleman PC gives me that capability.

Would it make sense to do these things in the cloud, e.g., as a .NET program that runs on Azure?

Best regards

Cuno

#14 Mike L

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 03:46 PM

That's good news, and a good solid test period, thanks. What firmware did you use?


I am using 4.2

#15 Mike L

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 04:10 PM

Would it make sense to do these things in the cloud, e.g., as a .NET program that runs on Azure?


Yes it could, providing the services in the cloud don't start hammering the message bus that results in the netduino processing too many requests. I'm not convinced yet that all services written to run in the cloud that have access to devices in my home will not overload the device with requests. That's the primary reason for the middle man PC. That certainly might change as I discover more how I am going to expand on this approach. I might just be over cautious at this point about the middle man PC needing to be a requirement.

Mike

#16 Valkyrie-MT

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 05:08 PM

...do you experience solid socket connectivity over time?


I have a device that is running a simple web server that serves up web pages and REST service responses and it has been running continuously since July 4, 2011. It is running the 4.1.1 Beta firmware.

But, on another Netduino I have running the same code, I tried your "hold down F5 (for refresh) in IE" and that crashed it for me! So, I will be investigating this now myself.

-Valkyrie-MT

#17 ColinR

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 05:35 PM

I have a device that is running a simple web server that serves up web pages and REST service responses and it has been running continuously since July 4, 2011. It is running the 4.1.1 Beta firmware.

We have a fairly complicated network, consisting of 15 Ubiquiti wireless devices, 2x ADSL routers, Mikrotik devices, VOIP, 20+ PCs, the list goes on - it's the only thing left that I can think is causing the issues.

But, on another Netduino I have running the same code, I tried your "hold down F5 (for refresh) in IE" and that crashed it for me! So, I will be investigating this now myself.

It's been one of my standard tests since the beginning - BUT even running the simplest of web server only, or REST response only (or combined) makes it falls over after a few hours without hammering it. :(

#18 Dixon

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 10:35 AM

Really nice project! I'm guessing how much hours did you expend on it, I'm sure that a lot of them! It's a pity to need a man on the middle PC, but it's true that Internet is a rude environment for a N+. One idea would be to use a N+ as front end, acting as a gateway; external phone would access to it through the firewall and this N+ forwards the query to the servicing N+ (the actual one). Gateway N+ can also be the one contacting the weather forecast servers. At the same time service N+ would ping&query the gateway N+ every short time and will power cycle it if it do not response (gateway N+ is powered through a relee controlled by service N+) It seems complex, but not requiring a PC worth the pain..

#19 firestream99

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Posted 27 August 2011 - 08:32 PM

Hi Mike,

It was very timely for me to find this project of yours. I'm about 80% finished my own 16 zone irrigation system. Your code is very well written and has given me some great ideas. Anyways you mentioned you where need to look into moisture sensors. I've done a lot of research in this area and came across a product from Acclima. Accilma Digital TDT Sensor with SDI

This particular sensor doesn't need an expensive controller. It's made with an SDI-12 protocol which is used by many companies in this space. Have a look at SDI-12 here: SDI-12 Spec

I don't have time to build a module in .Net to pull apart this protocol so I purchased a product that converts the SDI-12 protocol to serial. Vegetronix SDI-12 to RS232 Translator


This little unit is a pricy $99 so if enough people are interested in th SDI-12 protocol it would be worth collaborating.

Brent...

#20 Mike L

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 10:28 PM

It was very timely for me to find this project of yours. I'm about 80% finished my own 16 zone irrigation system.


Wow 16 zones thats a big yard :)
Thanks for the tip on the moisture sensor I am going to check it out.




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