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Intelligent Sprinkler System. Group #16 - Tom Kubicki Paul Martis Joe Bonilla. Introduction. Idea: Design a control system to prevent unnecessary over watering Fact: A golf course’s average daily use of water is 300,000 gallons per day at an average

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Intelligent sprinkler system l.jpg

Intelligent Sprinkler System

Group #16 - Tom Kubicki

Paul Martis

Joe Bonilla

Introduction l.jpg

  • Idea: Design a control system to prevent unnecessary over watering

  • Fact: A golf course’s average

    daily use of water is 300,000

    gallons per day at an average

    cost of $4.00 per 1000 gallons

  • Daily total cost = $1,200

Introduction3 l.jpg

  • If system allows conservation of water for one hour a day, savings = $300 per day

  • Fact: Most courses water

    4 to 5 hours a day

  • The cost of our proposed

    system could be paid for

    after just one day’s use

Objective l.jpg

  • To design a system to control the operation of a sprinkler system to optimize use of water and maintain healthy grass

  • System must be small and easily managed and maintained

  • Design must withstand various environmental conditions

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Review of Original Design

  • Major components:

    • Moisture sensing transducer

    • Moisture sensing circuit

    • Motorola 68HC11 Microcontroller w/RTC

    • Linx modules for RF link

  • Moisture circuit tells microcontroller whether or not the ground needs watering

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Review of Original Design

  • Microcontroller also keeps track of time with the RTC

  • Using the combination, we can have it behave like a timer, turning the sprinkler system on or off at various times

  • System only turns on if timer is set for that time and moisture circuit reports watering is needed

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Details of functional blocks

  • Moisture transducer: we needed

    a device to quantify ground

    moisture into an electrical signal

  • Solution: Model 6513 Soil

    Moisture Transducer

  • Gypsum block which changes electrical resistance proportionally as moisture changes

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Details of functional blocks

  • Moisture Circuit: we needed to translate the resistance into a logical value that the microcontroller can understand

  • Solution: use a voltage divider along with a voltage threshold detector to decide when desired ground moisture is achieved

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Details of functional blocks

  • Microcontroller: we needed a device to decide when the sprinklers should be on

  • Solution: use a HC12 with an RTC to create a timer circuit and take in signal from moisture circuit

  • Timer can be set for various times a day and on specific days of the week

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Details of functional blocks

  • RF Link: we wanted to have the moisture sensing device remote from the microcontroller

  • Solution: use Linx LC series TX and RX modules

  • Provides short-range link suitable for remote field installations to prevent excessive cabling lengths

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TX/RX chip details

  • TX Chip:

  • RX Chip:

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Successes and Challenges

  • Challenges

    • Moisture Transducer

      calibration and operation

    • RF Link

    • Microcontroller

    • Voltage threshold detector

  • Moisture transducer required an AC voltage in order to function correctly

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Successes and Challenges

  • Resistance could not be measured directly with a multimeter

  • Solution required the use of a waveform generator chip to provide a 1KHz sine wave to transducer

  • Output was passed through a peak detector to the voltage threshold detector to determine need for watering

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Successes and Challenges

  • Problems with transmitting

    data to receiver

  • Intermittent success with


  • Long range communication

    not probable

  • Solution: Changed faulty chips and replaced with working ones

  • Range increased and system was more reliable

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Successes and Challenges

  • Problems with microcontroller: choosing a model that would accommodate a system with a user display

  • Problem with keeping track of real time

  • Decided on Intel 386EX with RTC chip

  • Created a graphical menu system for setting up times for watering

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Successes and Challenges

  • When we ordered voltage threshold

    detector, we did not realize size

  • Part was a surface-mount part

    much too small to solder on

    pins for protoboard use

  • Solution involved design of custom board to surface-mount the chip

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Successes and Challenges

  • Main success, besides the

    system working as we planned,

    was that the final size is small

  • Also, power consumption would

    allow for long-term use on just

    alkaline batteries

  • System can be easily modified to

    allow for future features

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Future Recommendations

  • Multiple sensors – property

    can be set up with watering

    zones each with its own sensor

  • Unique ID for each sensor unit –

    allow for power save by only transmitting moisture status when central controller polls its ID

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Future Recommendations

  • Adapt a rain sensor into the system

  • Mount all components onto small PCB’s and use surface-mount parts to conserve space and use more efficient chips

  • Cost-effective and efficient system could be marketable

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  • We would like to thank

    • Prof. Swenson

    • Wojciech Magda

    • Unidata Australia

    • National Semiconductor

    • Anyone else who contributed to our success

      Thank you all!