Picture of A watering controller that can be home networked
Old Controller.JPG
New controller.JPG

A couple of weeks ago, I published a great little controller module that provided 6 relays able to be controlled from a computer via a network.  After I published it, I got to thinking that the same basic design, with a couple of changes could be pressed into service as a garden watering system controller.  So, I got to work, modified the design, and here you have it...  A sprinkler controller that runs by itself, that can be programmed and monitored from your computer via your home network.

This specific version of my sprinkler controller obeys some simple rules that have had to be implemented where I live.  I live in Australia, or more specifically in an inland region called the A.C.T, where our government have implemented an ODDS and EVENS watering regime.  Under the system if you live in an odd numbered house, you may water on an odd day of the month.  Likewise, if you live in an even numbered house, you may water on an even day of the month.  Everybody may water on the 31st.

This system, along with the mandatory replacement of sprinklers for dripper systems has sucesfully reduced the load on the cities limited inland water supply so that more drastic measures were not required.

Unfortunately, this system was unable to be implemented on my commercial water controller, it wanted to water on a Monday, or a Wednesday, so I was breaking the law, and subjecting myself to a potential fine every other week...  So I had to build my own controller.

This instructable shows how I built it - there certainly is enough detail shown so that you can make it yourself if you are enthusiastic, and willing to give it a go. 

Update:  the full source tree for the Kicad project is located here
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will1738823 months ago

This project is awsome. thanks for putting it out there. I re designed your idea and made it networked with security. No flaws sofar. I set it up to my phone and i can control the sprinklers before i get home or just to show off...

diy_bloke1 year ago

Your project is great, was and still is, but by now, selfbuilding it is just not wise anymore. the chip will cost me 4 euro, the magjack 5 (al locally sourced) but for an entire ready made board from china I now pay abt 4 euro.

Dont get me wrong, it is a great thing you did and at the time the best solution, but u have been overtaken by cheap foreign labour :-)

Hello, congratulations for the project, very good!!
Can you help me?
I want to do this project with atmega8, would pass me the HEX file? is it possible?

thank you
drj113 (author)  andregiovanni2 years ago

Unfortunately, the project is designed for the Arduino platform, so I do not have any hex files.
gentry drj1131 year ago

Also, you really do need all 32K of memory on the Atmega 328. An Atmega8 wouldn't even have room for the ethernet library. Atmega328s are cheaper than Atmega8s (at Newark, Mouser, and Digi-Key in the US), and they're pin compatible, so just use an Atmega328.

dcms42 years ago
I was interested to see if this project could be done without connecting it to the net. I'd much rather just have the sketch control the system. Additionally i was trying to isolate the sprinkler control portion to make a shield instead of an all in one board. Would anyone care to be awesome and isolate the part of the schematic that would be used to make such a shield.
jrogers423 years ago
Newbie question:

Why does the part list say ATMega168 but the instruction mentions ATMega328 several times? Are these interchangeable?

drj113 (author)  jrogers423 years ago
The 328 is an upgraded 168 chip - more memory - cheaper :-)

ozdenmir3 years ago
Great instructable very well documented. I build the controller but I need help with the program. Is it possible to modify the pde to make the controller able to water every day? and how? Thanks.
zhenry13 years ago
Awesome! I've been planning a project like this for a while. I've got an old (20 years, maybe?) rainbird controller with 12 zones that looks to be expandable to 16. The zone switching and programming logic are on different boards, so I'm thinking I could connect the switch board to a computer or device like you have to run my own programmin. The whole zone switch board is connected to the scheduling logic with what looks to be a regular 24 pin ATX connector, with each zone going to a different pin. I'm needing some help figuring out how to connect the 24 pin ATX to a usb or serial interface so I can program the sprinklers with a computer, and eventually with a setup like you have.
zhenry1 zhenry13 years ago
Here are some pics
diy_bloke3 years ago
Just out of general interest for the watering code in ACT. Is there just a code for using sprinklers or a hose on odd or even days or is it even forbidden to go around with a can to give thirstuy plants some relief.

As I am sure everybody is still allowed to take a bath everyday, would it be allowed ot water your garden with bathwater, even if it is not 'your day'?

I know it ha slittle to do with this project, I was just interested
drj113 (author)  diy_bloke3 years ago
Thats a briliant question.

The focus of the law was to reduce water consumption from a tap. You could bath every day, and use a watering can every day - it just affected fixed sprinklers.

It worked beautifully, changing peoples habits - we are now off water restrictions, but the usage is still low :-)

great. by just using some common sense i reduced my water consumption with 75%. Not that it makes much difference in my bill as the actual price of water is nothing comapred to the levy's rights and taxes i have to pay on it :-).

with regard to the use of bath water, i was just wondering if you'd be fined if police would see yr sprinklers working on an 'off day' even if you'd be doing it with bath water :-)

sprinklers are a very wasteful way of watering plants anyway

Anyway, that is purely academic now, as yr off water restrictions.
diy_bloke3 years ago
Great idea. I see you did not include the dipswitch that you have in your other arduino ethernet designs.
drj113 (author)  diy_bloke3 years ago
I decided that it wasn't needed for configuring this board, and that if I needed to, I could use the EEProm in the AtMega chip instead for config data.

Thanks Doug, but darn, I found all the parts I need locally, so I have no excuse not to build it anymore :-)
If I wanted to replicate the PCB, is there are kind of scaling I need to apply or just print the Copper layer without scaling?
pgenns244 years ago
This is a very good Instructable.
I am new at all this and i have been searching for the ENC26J60 library with all the members you are using, and i just can not find one. May be i am just missing a part of the project. Could you please help me to find de Library?
Thanks in Advance!
falk3n4 years ago
hi brother the problem is that in my country that connector Sparkfun not get so I drew a rj45 jack pc the problem is not if you have the same distribution that Sparkfun connector that is why for me is to record I was using a rj45 but the arrangement of transformers and that did not enter the address is there any way to connect directly to a connector enc28j60 RJ45 transformer arrangement? thanks in advance
terys24 years ago
The same here led blinks and when i put default ip i can`t get in the web browser. The lan is light btw. If anyone can help.Thnx in advance
drj113 (author)  terys24 years ago

Thats not great - did you use the Sparkfun jack? Does the link light light up when you insert the cable? Does it go out when you remove it?

falk3n4 years ago
brother do you know that installing the sprinkler system and I'm great the problem is that when I try to access the default ip and nothing comes out and measures to see if I had any problems in the lines of the board and nothing in fact to turn the LEDs twinkle rj45 port and the yellow LED blinks then I do not understand clearly what is happening only in so I'm not equal to your system is that it got the magjack Sparkfun rj45 rj45 if not normal, you consider that I appreciate your response is that a hug
drj113 (author)  falk3n4 years ago
What RJ45 jack did you use? If you didn't use the one from Sparkfun, then what wiring did you use. The sparkfun jack has magnetic transformers in it, which was why I chose it - without the transformers, then there is a high likelihood that the project will not work.
termm4 years ago
Awesome project.
I love web controlled thingies.
terys24 years ago
Hi with what program i compile the .pde file .Thnx in advance
drj113 (author)  terys24 years ago
The .pde file is an Arduino sketch. It is designed to be loaded with the Arduino IDE.
falk3n4 years ago
I hope you are good friends very well I think it's great your project but you could be q up the libraries that the program gives me error e downloaded these libraries appear and persist errors by
drj113 (author)  falk3n4 years ago
No problems - Which libraries do you need?
CODIY4 years ago
Wonderful Instructable Doug! I am in the planning stages for a similar controller for my garden irrigation, though I plan to use zigbee to interface with the computer.

I was wondering on the odd/even day of the week determination whether you had considered using the modulo function. By dividing by 2, the modulo would always be either 1 or zero, so to determine whether to water or not, you would just have to determine if the modulo of the date results in a 1 or zero.
Wire543214 years ago
having alot of problems with the come "Time time;"

and do i need to download anything if so where?
Wire543214 years ago
Please Can you make one with 6-Zones. And possible with a port for bluetooth or can i use programming port?

A++ for pump mode
agis684 years ago
Excellent Job, well made and projected....5/5
inventgeek4 years ago
I have a strange problem with my setup. The web examples don’t work but the link lights come on. and the leds flash appropriately for the loading of the enc chip and if i load the ping sketch it will respond but destination as unavailable. the leds blink with traffic but it seems like part of this are not working right. anyone run into this type of issue?
drj113 (author)  inventgeek4 years ago

The standard reason that people have problems wit hthis project is that they don't use a magjack - or that they have a transposition error between the TX and RX lines on the Ethernet side, or that the computer is on a diferent network number range to the project.

If the LEDs flash on boot, then the communications between the micro and the Ethernet controller are correct. just check the use of a Magjack, and make sure you are either (1) plugged into a hub, or (2) using a crossover ethernet cable from your computer.

Also, double check your network settings - it is important that you are on the same network as the project, as it has no routing capability. Also double check the address you set up in the code.

Take care,

how much if i asked you to make me one ?
gentry4 years ago
Awesome. This is exactly the project I wanted to do for our home irrigation system, since the commercial watering controllers have horrible UIs.

You mention that you protect your boards with a solder-through spray lacquer -- do you have a brand name or a supplier?

drj113 (author)  gentry4 years ago
It is an Australian Brand called Servisol.

It can be purchased from Jaycar.

djairjr4 years ago
Amazing instructables!
It is possible do the same with wireless conection?
drj113 (author)  djairjr4 years ago

That is an awesome idea - I am sure that it could be done, using some of those inexpensive rf data link modules.  I am not aware of a way that I could get 802.11 actual wireless networking into the design.

With an rf data link module, I suspect that the architecture would change completely - we wouldn't have to implement a web server in the box, because we could simply implement a simple remote control protocol.

I don't think I would go to the extent of having wireless solenoid controllers.  The current drain when they are operating would destroy batteries very quickly :-)
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