WO2001011944A1 - Reticulation controller - Google Patents

Reticulation controller Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001011944A1
WO2001011944A1 PCT/AU2000/000979 AU0000979W WO0111944A1 WO 2001011944 A1 WO2001011944 A1 WO 2001011944A1 AU 0000979 W AU0000979 W AU 0000979W WO 0111944 A1 WO0111944 A1 WO 0111944A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
control
selected
reticulation controller
reticulation
station
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/AU2000/000979
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Walter John Edwards
Michael Barrington Wood
Henry Mankowski
Original Assignee
Bookleaf Pty Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05DSYSTEMS FOR CONTROLLING OR REGULATING NON-ELECTRIC VARIABLES
    • G05D19/00Control of mechanical oscillations, e.g. of amplitude, of frequency, of phase
    • G05D19/02Control of mechanical oscillations, e.g. of amplitude, of frequency, of phase characterised by the use of electric means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G25/00Watering gardens, fields, sports grounds, or the like
    • A01G25/16Control of watering

Abstract

A reticulation controller for controlling watering of gardens and lawns is disclosed, which is easy to program. The reticulation controller has a microprocessor (23) interfaced to triacs (25-29) to control valves to control flow of water to various watering stations (1-4) and optionally a pump (P). A programming means is interfaced with the microprocessor (23). The programming means is formed by a first potentiometer (11) to allow a desired watering station to be selected, a second potentiometer (13) to allow a desired watering duration to be selected, a third potentiometer (15) to allow a desired watering frequency to be selected, and a switch (19) to allow the user to cause settings selected by the potentiometers (11, 13, 15) to be input to the microprocessor (23). The microprocessor (23) is cognisant of elapsed time and stored settings and controls the triacs (25-29) to effect watering based on elapsed time from the user pressing the switch (19).

Description

RETICULATION CONTROLLER

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a reticulation controller for controlling watering of gardens and lawns and the like.

BACKGROUND ART

Reticulation controllers for controlling watering of lawns and gardens are commonly used by people living in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Such controllers are interfaced with solenoid operated valves in order to dispense water to different areas or zones. Typically, the solenoids are actuated by 24 volts (AC), supplied by control means which usually include triacs or less commonly relays. Each zone is often referred to in the industry as a station.

The timing of watering is referenced to a real time clock, which the user sets according to the actual time of day, in addition to setting the start time for watering. In a situation where different stations have different start times, programming of the reticulation controller can become quite complex.

This invention seeks to provide a reticulation controller which is capable of having different start times for different stations, which is easier to program than a reticulation controller which is referenced to a real time clock settable by a user.

Throughout the specification, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise" or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or group of integers but not the exclusion of any other integer or group of integers.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the invention there is provided a reticulation controller having a processing means interfaced to control means to control valves to control flow of water to the watering stations, said reticulation controller having programming means interfaced with said processing means, wherein the programming means comprises a station select control to allow a user to select a desired watering station, a duration select control to allow the user to select a desired watering duration for the station selected by said station select control, an interval select control to allow the user to select watering frequency for the station selected by said station select control, and an enter key to allow the user to cause settings selected by all of said controls to be input to said processing means, said processing means being cognisant of elapsed time, and having memory means to store inputted selected settings, where said processing means controls said control means in accordance with said selected settings based on elapsed time from the user pressing said enter key.

Preferably said interval select control allows watering frequency to be selected from two or more of twice per day, once per day, once every two days, once every three days, and once every four days.

Preferably said processing means includes queuing means to queue selected stations to run sequentially, in order to avoid selected stations running simultaneously. This feature avoids a situation where selected stations would otherwise overlap by virtue of having been programmed at the same time.

Preferably any or all of said controls each comprise a rotary actuated control. For simplicity each said rotary actuated control may comprise a rotary actuated potentiometer.

As an alternative, preferably any or all of said controls each comprise a linear actuated control. For simplicity each said linear actuated control may comprise a slider potentiometer.

As a further alternative, the controls may each comprise a switch, either rotary or slide, connected to a network of resistors, which provide the same functionality as a potentiometer, but without variability of resistance around the selected switch positions. Preferably said reticulation controller includes an "off" function, selectable by said user, to suspend watering while retaining programmed information. The "off" function may be conveniently incorporated into said duration select control, for example, most conveniently selected at the most extreme minimum position, which in a rotary actuated control is usually the extreme anticlockwise position.

Preferably said reticulation controller includes over-riding manual control in order to run all stations through one sequence.

Preferably said reticulation controller includes over-riding manual control in order to run a single station selected by said station select control.

Preferably either or both of said over-riding manual control is incorporated into said interval select control.

Preferably said reticulation controller includes a start delay function, whereby, when selected, pressing said enter key delays the start time for the station selected by said station select control by a predetermined increment. Successive pressing of said enter key with said start delay function selected, will further increment the delay in the start time. This facility allows the user to program the reticulation controller to start in the early hours of the morning, without having to stay up until that time to initially program the reticulation controller.

Preferably the default elapsed time from pressing said enter key when programming for a selected watering frequency is twenty four hours.

Preferably said start delay function over-rides the default elapsed time, and the initial predetermined interval is one hour from pressing said enter key, with said further increments being periods of one hour.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described with reference to the following drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a view of the control panel of a reticulation controller of the embodiment;

Figure 2 is a circuit diagram of the reticulation controller of the embodiment; and Figure 3 is a logic flow chart for the software utilised in the microprocessor in the reticulation controller of the embodiment.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Referring to Figure 1 , the front panel of a four station reticulation controller according to the embodiment is shown. As can be seen the control panel includes a first control knob 11 for selecting the station number, a second control knob 13 for selecting the duration of watering for the selected station, and also including an off function, and a third control knob 15 for selecting the watering frequency for the selected station. Referring to the control knob 11 , it is possible to select between stations 1 , 2, 3, and 4, as indicated by the corresponding calibration markings on the front panel 17 of the reticulation controller. Control knob 13 can select watering times of 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60 minutes, for the stations selected by control knob 11.

Control knob 15 can select watering twice a day at position "T", once a day at position "1 ", twice a day, at position "2" and three times a day at position "3". With the control knobs 1 1 , 13, and 15 shown in the positions in Figure 1 , station 2 is selected, for a watering time of 10 minutes, to be watered every second day. A momentary push-to-close switch 19 functions as an enter key, which will cause the selected settings selected by the control knobs 1 1 , 13, and 15, to be programmed into the reticulation controller. A light emitting diode 21 will briefly illuminate, to provide feedback to the user that the settings have been successfully programmed into the reticulation controller.

The circuit diagram for the reticulation controller is shown in Figure 2, and comprises a microprocessor 23 programmed with a program to perform the functions described in this embodiment. The microprocessor 23 interfaces to control means in the form of triacs 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29, which in use are connected to solenoids (not shown) for stations 1 , 2, 3, 4, and the master solenoid (indicated by the letter P) respectively. Triac 29 may alternatively connect to a control relay (not shown) for actuating a pump or pumpstart mechanism.

As can be seen in Figure 2, control knobs 11 , 13, and 15, actuate respective potentiometers, which provide an analog voltage input to analog inputs of the microprocessor 23. The microprocessor is programmed to provide a fuzzy logic conversion so that approximate resistance ranges either side of the calibrated setting are recognised by the microprocessor as being the calibrated setting. As a result, the user does not need to set the potentiometer to the exact calibrated position in order to achieve the desired setting.

The reticulation controller also includes a quartz crystal 31 which forms a oscillator circuit, allowing the microprocessor to keep time.

The reticulation controller also includes a power supply circuit indicator generally at 33, which includes a backup battery (not shown).

It should be noted that for clarity, components such as current limiting resistors and smoothing capacitors and the like, which would be readily understood by a person skilled in the art have been omitted from the circuit diagram shown in Figure 2.

Operation of the reticulation controller is as follows. When the reticulation controller is running, whether from its 24 AC power supply, or from the battery backup, the oscillator circuit incorporating the crystal 31 is running, allowing the microprocessor to keep time. Once the microprocessor circuit has counted through to a period corresponding to 24 hours, its timer is reset to zero whereupon the count starts anew. The microprocessor circuit is never cognisant of the actual time with reference to Greenwich Mean Time or any other time zone, but rather is cognisant of a time which relates more to when the reticulation controller was first switched on. To program the reticulation controller, the user selects control knob 11 to the desired station number, control knob 13 to the desired watering time, and control knob 15 to the desired interval between watering. The user then presses the enter button 19, and the settings are stored in memory in the microprocessor. The first watering will occur 24 hours after the enter button 19 was pressed, and thereafter at periods depending upon the selected position of control knob 15 when the enter button 19 was pressed either 12 hours for twice a day, 24 hours for once a day, 48 hours for once every 2 days, or 72 hours for once every 3 days.

After the program has been entered, if the user requires a different start time, the control knob 15 is set to the SD position (start delay function), and for every press of the enter button 19, the start time for the selected station will be 1 hour extra, after the setting was programmed into the reticulation controller. For example, if the selection shown in Figure 1 is programmed into the reticulation controller at

7PM on night zero, then station 2 will commence watering at 7PM the next night, and will water for a period of 10 minutes. Subsequently, station 2 will commence watering at 7PM every second night thereafter, for a period of 10 minutes. If after programming station 2 in the manner shown in Figure 1 at 7PM, a 4AM start time was required, the user would select the control knob 15 to position "SD" and press the enter button 19 nine times. As a result, station 2 will commence watering at 4AM the next morning, and subsequently will commence watering every second day thereafter at 4AM.

The reticulation controller includes a queuing feature whereby if station 3 was similarly programmed as station 2, but programmed immediately thereafter, the reticulation controller will delay starting station 3 until station 2 watering is completed. Thus, stations 2 and 3 will water sequentially.

Control knob 13 includes an "off" function which the user can select if it is desired to cancel watering temporarily, such as during wet weather or the like.

Control knob 15 includes three other functions, labelled as 50%, R, and S respectively. If the user turns control knob 15 to the 50% function, the level of watering will be reduced by one-half. Such a feature can be employed when it is desired to reduce watering, for example, on either side of a wet season, when the evapotransperation rates do not warrant full watering, but where no watering at all would result in loss of plants and lawn.

Position "R" of control knob 15, if selected, and the enter button 19 is pressed, will result in the reticulation controller watering each station sequentially for the programmed time, commencing immediately.

If position "S" of control knob 15 is selected and the enter button 19 is pressed, then the station selected by control knob 11 will be watered for its programmed time.

It should be appreciated that the scope of the invention is not limited to the particular embodiment disclosed herein. Changes such as the number of stations and the watering time calibrations may be made. Similarly the control knob 15 may prescribe a true variable time control, rather than a step-wise control. In addition, while the embodiment of the reticulation controller described is not referenced to actual time, this does not preclude an alternative embodiment of the reticulation controller from including a clock, for reference by the user. Further, while this particular embodiment operates 24VAC electrically actuated solenoid valves, an alternative embodiment may actuate valves of a different AC voltage, or direct current (eg 12VDC) actuated solenoid valves.

Claims

THE CLAIMS DEFINING THE INVENTION ARE AS FOLLOWS
1. A reticulation controller having a processing means interfaced to control means to control valves to control flow of water to the watering stations, said reticulation controller having programming means interfaced with said processing means, wherein the programming means comprises a station select control to allow a user to select a desired watering station, a duration select control to allow the user to select a desired watering duration for the station selected by said station select control, an interval select control to allow the user to select watering frequency for the station selected by said station select control, and an enter key to allow the user to cause settings selected by all of said controls to be input to said processing means, said processing means being cognisant of elapsed time, and having memory means to store inputted selected settings, where said processing means controls said control means in accordance with said selected settings based on elapsed time from the user pressing said enter key.
2. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 1 wherein said interval select control allows watering frequency to be selected from two or more of twice per day, once per day, once every two days, once every three days, and once every four days.
3. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein said processing means includes queuing means to queue selected stations to run sequentially, in order to avoid selected stations running simultaneously.
4. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein any or all of said controls each comprise a rotary actuated control.
5. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 4 wherein each said rotary actuated control is a potentiometer.
6. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 4 wherein each said rotary actuated control is a rotary switch associated with a network of resistors.
7. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein any or all of said controls each comprise a linear actuated control.
8. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 7 wherein each said linear actuated control is a slider potentiometer.
9. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 7 wherein each said linear actuated control is a slide switch associated with a network of resistors.
10. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of the preceding claims including an "off" function, selectable by said user, to suspend watering while retaining programmed information.
1 1. A reticulation controller as claimed in claims 10 wherein the off function is incorporated into said duration select control.
12. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein said reticulation controller includes a first over-riding manual control in order to run all stations through one sequence.
13. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein said reticulation controller includes a second over-riding manual control in order to run a single station selected by said station select control.
14. A reticulation controller as claimed in claim 12 or 13 wherein either or both of said first and second over-riding manual control is incorporated into said interval select control.
15. A reticulation controller as claimed in any one of the preceding claims wherein said reticulation controller includes a start delay function, whereby, when selected, pressing said enter key delays the start time for the station selected by said station select control by a predetermined increment.
16. A reticulation controller substantially as herein described with reference to the drawings.
PCT/AU2000/000979 1999-08-16 2000-08-16 Reticulation controller WO2001011944A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AUPQ2253 1999-08-16
AUPQ225399 1999-08-16

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Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4852051A (en) * 1986-07-18 1989-07-25 The Toro Company Flexible irrigation controller
US5381331A (en) * 1990-07-18 1995-01-10 The Toro Company Irrigation controller
EP1006421A2 (en) * 1998-12-03 2000-06-07 Claber S.P.A. Programmable electronic self-learning timer for the control of a solenoid valve, particularly for watering systems

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4852051A (en) * 1986-07-18 1989-07-25 The Toro Company Flexible irrigation controller
US5381331A (en) * 1990-07-18 1995-01-10 The Toro Company Irrigation controller
EP1006421A2 (en) * 1998-12-03 2000-06-07 Claber S.P.A. Programmable electronic self-learning timer for the control of a solenoid valve, particularly for watering systems

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