Seeing lawn spinklers constantly running in the rain, John thought about how silly and wasteful they are. So he developed a device that monitors the moisture content of the soil and automatically triggers a sprinkler system when required. The sensor is a pair of electrodes (based on bicycle spokes), while the controller for the device is based on a fluid detector powered by the nominal 24V ac most sprinkler systems use.
Water minder parts list
Allied Part #
Relay, 24V dc
Switch, SPDT Toggle
Trim Pot, 50k
LED, Red, T1, ¾
Zener Diode, 24V dc
Cap, Elec, 220 mF/50V
Resistor, 270V, 1W
Additional parts required: Fluid detector, miscellaneous resistors and capacitors, and bicycle spokes
The LM1830 has a built-in oscillator, a comparator and output drive circuitry. When the sensed pin has a higher resistance (drier) than the reference, the output turns on. In this case the output cannot supply sufficient drive current for the signal LED and relay, so a transistor buffer is added. The dryness setpoint is set by the trimpot and a bypass switch is included for testing, etc. The relay specified can handle 10 amps – plenty for a water solenoid.
The sensor is a pair of electrodes that contact the soil at the desired level. They should be stainless steel to resist corrosion. Where’s the best (cheapest) place to get these – bicycle spokes! I potted 2 of them in a 35mm film canister and put heatshrink on all but the lowest 1” of the spokes.
Camera ready artwork for the pcb and chassis cover are available from:
Sunspot Svcs, 115 Greenbrier Dr Simpsonville, SC 29680 $2, check or money order plus S.A.S.E.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.