Linux sprinkler controller project

Merrill Oveson moveson at
Sun May 10 23:21:14 MDT 2009

Great Idea!

-- How do I control a sprinkler valve?

This is easy.  It's an electical signal, when turned on opens or shuts the
I don't know what the default it.  You'll want to get one and see what the
power supply is.
That is 110 AC from your home gets converted to ? DC for the sprinkler
system box.

I've worked for Action Target, they do essentially the same thing only with
compressed air to turn targets.
That is they compress air, then use simple electrical signals to open and
close values.
I believe they convert 110 AC to 12 DC - which power supplies you can buy
off the shelf.

You can get people to build you simple circuit boards that will do what you
need and will plug directly into the motherboard -  e.g. wolf electronics -
maybe Action Target would be willing to do the work.

-- What kind of hardware platform should I use to do that?

I'd look for the smallest motherboard you can get off the shelf.  Then put
everything in a sealed plastic box, drill a few holes for power, etc.  Also
I'd do wireless card - and make it simply - who cares if someone hacks into
your sprinkler system? - just so long as the rest of you computers are safe.
If push came to shove, just get a regular motherboard and make your box the
same size as length and width as the motherboard but only 2 inches flat.
What do you do about a hard disk - use a flash drive?
Cooling may be a problem because garages are dirty and you'll be sucking
lots of dirty air into the box - something even wet air.

I'd develop using apache, php and mysql - if you want a database - I'm not
sure you'd want one tho.

This is a great idea.  I think the exact same way you do.  I hate trying to
figure out my sprinkler system, and the manual is somewhere is my garage
covered in dirt.  I'd be more that willing to be the test rat.
And who knows maybe this will turn out like TiVo - with everyone using your
system because of its power and flexibility.

One question, would your sprinkler box have a static ip? - like a
192.168.x.x, if so which ip would you give it and how could you be sure it
wouldn't have the same ip of a computer on the home network?
On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 10:06 PM, Dave Smith <dave at> wrote:

> Okay Plug, let's get those creative juices flowing. I am sick of crappy
> non-intuitive user interfaces on home sprinkler control boxes, so I want to
> build my own. I want to create a box about the size of a home router that
> runs Linux, has Ethernet (or WiFi for a bonus), and controls up to 12
> sprinkler valves. It will run a web server on which I would want to write a
> web app for sprinkler control. Ideally it would cost less than $100 in
> parts, and be something I could solder together in a day. Here's the rough
> look of the system:
> Sprinker Valves <--- My New Box <--- TCP/IP <--- My home PC
> I've been googling for such a box, and I have found nothing complete enough
> to buy off the shelf, so I'm ready to start hacking my own together.
> Any ideas where I should start? I reckon I'll need these questions answered
> first:
>        - How do I control a sprinkler valve?
>        - What kind of hardware platform should I use to do that?
> If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears.
> --Dave
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