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mcsSprinklers FAQ


I have a site that is wired with two irrigation timers that are placed at different locations. How do I setup mcsSprinklers to replace these with a single web-based control?


The distances involved and existing wiring will sway the decision as to the equipment that will best serve the purpose. If common-source powerline wiring is available at both locations then use of the Rain8UPB or Rain8X10-2 will be the most straight-forward. If distances are within WiFi range then the Rain8Net/WiFi is a good solution. Longer distances can be accommodated by Rain8Net and a radio modem.

The setup within mcsSprinklers for the Rain8UPB, Rain8X10-2 or radio modem uses a single COM port or IP port to which a UPB PIM, X10 CM11A, or RF Modem is connected. The setup for multiple Rain8Net/WiFi uses the Multiple Master setting to identify each Rain8Net/WiFi connection. In all cases the Rain8 modules are configured so each has a unique module address


My soil is clay-like so absorption of water from the sprinkler heads is slow. What do I need to do to prevent run-off yet still provide the necessary volume of water?


The Area setup page provides round-robin scheduling control to address this need. For round-robin control the total watering time for each zone is achieved in multiple bursts or cycles. For example, assume three zones exists in an area and each zone duration is 30 minutes with the round-robin control setup for 3 cycles. Each zone will be watered for 10 minutes followed by a delay of 20 minutes to allow absorption. This will repeat 3 times to achieve the total 30 minutes for each zone.


I'm irrigating based upon the Calculated ET control strategy, but the the lawn becomes too dry between each irrigation cycle. How can I prevent this?


There are several parameters that are involved in determining the irrigation interval. The most significant is the ET calculation which depends primarily upon the solar radiation. For most users this radiation is estimated based upon the UV index obtained from the internet. If the daily ET reading, as shown on the General Status page at the end of a sunny day consistently shows a low reading vs. historical or other ET sources then the Solar Factor on the Other setup page can be increased. Nominally it is 1.0. A value of 1.1 will increase the the ET by approximately 10%. If the adjustment is more than 1.5 then there is reason to believe the internet data reporting for the selected zip code is not reliable. This can be observed by looking at the calendar for the UV sensor and observe the hourly report being seen by mcsSprinklers.

If the ET reading appears reasonable, then the ET minimum threshold on the Area setup should be increased. If it started at 0% and is changed to 50% then the irrigation cycle will occur twice as often.

If the problem of insufficient water is not site-wide, but only exists for a specific zone then the choice is to change the crop factor to reflect a higher moisture loss-rate or to increase the duration of the water cycle for this zone. If the duration is increased, then care needs to be exercised to only increase it to the point where the soil can hold the moisture. Any amount beyond this will be lost and not help the lawn from becoming overly dry.


I'm obtaining my weather condition data from my closest AWS reporting site, however my rainfall is always showing as 0. What should I do?


Not all weather stations contain rainfall sensors. A reasonably close station that does produce rainfall reports should be selected on the Other page as the 4th station in the Rainfall-only line of the setup. The other choice is to install a weather-station at your location and use the rainfall reading from it. The selection of the rainfall source is also made on the Other setup page with use of the radio button selections.


Why are there are sometimes no changes in the weather reported for several hours?


mcsSprinklers shows the most recently received weather report from the site(s) selected. For current conditions up to three sites can be selected to deal with situations where a preferred site goes offline. For forecast data, and the UV reading only one site (MSNBC or is used. The MSNBC reporting is spotty for many zip codes. Selection of will yield more consistent results, albeit the extra step or obtaining a license to use it is necessary.


What weather stations does mcsSprinklers support?


The data from most weather stations is obtained by mcsSprinklers by reading the most current data from a disk file that is generated by the software that provides the physical interface to the weather station. Weather-Display software supports the greatest number of weather stations. For the Davis Vantage Pro2, Ambient also provides a file output provision. mcsSprinklers also supports a direct IP/LAN/Web interface to the WeatherHawk station.


Should I use the ACK or the Poll setting for the Rain8-X10-2?


The Rain8-X10-2 can be configured to return a command accepted confirmation (ACK on Cmd). When configured this way mcsSprinklers will expect to receive the confirmation within a few seconds and if not received it will send the command again. This mode of operation provides the most efficient operation on the rather limited X10 powerline bandwidth.

When the Rain8-X10-2 is configured to ACK on Poll only then mcsSprinklers will send the command. Wait a few seconds and then send a second message to request the current status. If status doe not match the expectation then the cycle will be repeated.

The ACK on Cmd configuration is preferred because of its efficiency, but if other software is being used, (e.g. Homeseer) to manage the X10 interface, then the ACK on Poll configuration will be required.

In both cases it is important that the EPROM or the Rain8X10-2 is programmed the same as the setting selected within mcsSprinklers.