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View Poll Results: Would you pay $495 for a Pool Automation System

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  • Yes, I am interested and will pay it if the kit looks good

    16 47.06%
  • No, It's just too much, I need to pay less

    3 8.82%
  • I do think the price is fair, but I'm not interested

    9 26.47%
  • I'm far more interested in making the system myself

    6 17.65%
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Thread: Automation Controls

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Automation Controls

    Hi everyone! A year or two ago I posted here about designing and developing a home and pool automation system. Well it's come a long way and I'm planning to go to market in the spring. The system starting price will start at $499 and for that you will get:

    * An expandable linux based web server that controls the operation. All configuration and controls are done via this web interface. You can do as much or as little as you want with this. The device is very small, about the size of a brick, and draws very little power.
    * A wireless framework that connects to the pool node (up to about 150 feet between nodes or so)
    * A pool node that allows the following IO:
    - 4 relays to control either contactors or jandy valves
    - 2-4 pressure/vacuum sensors (2 standard)
    - 2-4 temperature sensors (2 standard)

    This bit of kit will give you easy out of box ability to:
    * Schedule pump start and stop.
    * Calculate based on your pump head curve and calculated head loss, estimate your GPM flow, thus you can control pump runtime based on actual gallons pumped. As your filter clogs, the pump will run longer.
    * Schedule hours varying based on time of year
    * Pump protection. The system detects pump prime loss and shuts down the pump.
    * Freeze protection
    * Light automatic turn on/turn off. Never forget to turn your light off at bedtime again.
    * Solar control
    * Spa/pool mode switching
    * Logging and graphing... whatever you want to log, gallons pumped, pressure over time, temperature, solar heat gain estimation
    * Ability to monitor and control everything via the internet... anywhere.

    And finally things that make this setup unique:
    * Beautiful web 2.0 based configuration and status utility
    * Nearly 100% automatic configuration. No keying in IP addresses, no messing with wireless setting. The server automatically detects new nodes on the network. Only basic configuration of what you have hooked up to the node is needed.
    * No wires between the pool and the home server.
    * Ability to add touch screen control (developing for Android tablets, iPod/iPhone, as well as Nokia Maemo devices)
    * Future cost effective expansion to include Insteon control, Whole house audio control, security, and hvac control. Also will have the ability to integrate with other home automation systems.

    I did hope to arrive at a lower price, but factoring in time for kit assembly, software development, etc, it's really as low as I can go with it. It's still priced at around 50% or less of competing systems that do much less so I'm hoping people will respond to it.

    There is no photos, videos or other documentation yet but there will be. I've finally firmed up the core plans and hardware, now I have to order final production runs, take photos, finish the more fancy portions of the software, etc.

    I'm trying to get a gauge on how many people at least in this forum are ready to buy a system like this, like the idea of this system, or think it's just excessive and unnecessary and wouldn't spend the money. Please vote if you fit in any of these categories!

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Price is fair, but it's too much "stuff" for me to deal with. My Easytouch works just fine for me.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Price is fair, but it's too much "stuff" for me to deal with. My Easytouch works just fine for me.
    Sure it depends what you're going for, but did I not convey enough that you can use as little or as much of the advanced features as you want and that there will be a focus on making sure everything is easy to configure? I was wondering if you could elaborate. Does everything sound difficult to work with, or does it just have features you aren't interested in?

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Just a lot of bells and whistles I really dont need or care to mess with, honestly. I have my pool to have fun with and really dont want to mess with all that. I've found the more computer whiz bang stuff you have, the more you have to fool with it to keep it going.



    Quote Originally Posted by piku

    * Schedule pump start and stop.
    My Pentair system does this

    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Calculate based on your pump head curve and calculated head loss, estimate your GPM flow, thus you can control pump runtime based on actual gallons pumped. As your filter clogs, the pump will run longer.
    Not sure the utility here. i run my pump 10-12 hours a day. My easytouch turns it on and off. When the pressure guage goes up ~ 8 psi, I backwash.
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Schedule hours varying based on time of year
    If you close the pool in the winter, this isnt that big of a deal. Easytouch program will do the same thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    Pump protection. The system detects pump prime loss and shuts down the pump.
    This is actually useful
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Freeze protection
    Easytouch does this. Besides, i close my pool in october
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Light automatic turn on/turn off. Never forget to turn your light off at bedtime again.
    Again, my easytouch
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Solar control
    * Spa/pool mode switching
    No solar, no spa
    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    * Logging and graphing... whatever you want to log, gallons pumped, pressure over time, temperature, solar heat gain estimation
    * Ability to monitor and control everything via the internet... anywhere.
    Not interested in doing that.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Automation Controls

    The difference is price point. The OP's holds some promise.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    The difference is price point. The OP's holds some promise.

    Scott
    True enough, but the Pentair systems extra price also includes the x-former for the SWCG. And, for around $1200, you can get the easytouch and the IC-40. So yea it's double the price, but you get the SWCG, power supply, and the automation. Plus, if it goes down, I have Pentair warrenty and after that, their service. While the OP's system sounds pretty nifty, you need some sort of after market support. Thats worth a few dollars as well.
    I dunno, for me I just prefer a brand name item with company support.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  7. Back To Top    #7
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    Re: Automation Controls

    I like the idea, and would have been interested in purchase, had I not embarked on a simple controller already. Comparing to a pentair, jandy, or other system is not fair, as they are so old, technology-wise. The open source part of your solution is going to appeal to anyone who has ever tried to change a (pentair, jandy, etc..) "canned" program into something more useful for their particular application.
    I would love more details - "How does the web interface work with different browsers? Can I use M$ Internet Exploiter only, or will I be able to use a secure browser like Opera or Firefox?"
    I'd like to see the face on the Pentair support when that question is asked!
    Will you be making the pieces of the kit available separately, for those that want to hang your web front-end onto my existing back-end? What pieces would I need, I'm sure to have some already.
    Best Wishes, and Good Luck!!
    22 x 40 IG vinyl lined, 23,570 gal.
    1 hp. Pac-Fab Challenger pump 300# sand filter
    Intex 8110 SWG, Hayward CL220 offline feeder
    Hayward 250K Btu gas heater
    Aquabots

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Quote Originally Posted by New2Me
    Comparing to a pentair, jandy, or other system is not fair, as they are so old, technology-wise. The open source part of your solution is going to appeal to anyone who has ever tried to change a (pentair, jandy, etc..) "canned" program into something more useful for their particular application.
    I wasnt trying to compare the OP's system to pentair per se. Just giving a reason why I wasnt interested in his potential product; which is what he asked me.
    I'm sure the open source controller is an interest to folks. For me, an average homeowner who is not an engineer or computer guru, I'm prefectly happy with canned, so called old technology. It does everything I need it to do very simply with company support. I'm not really interested in a load of home automation. For me, it's more of a pain in the behind to keep running and one more thing to break down and have to keep operational. I dont enjoy keeping that type of thing going.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Please bear in mind that the OP is an engineer and that as such, is going to tinker. Also bear in mind that marketing is not his thing, or at least that what it looks like to me. No offense intended piku. That he has done it for substantially less than the big boys is very significant.

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    Please bear in mind that the OP is an engineer and that as such, is going to tinker. Also bear in mind that marketing is not his thing, or at least that what it looks like to me. No offense intended piku. That he has done it for substantially less than the big boys is very significant.
    Scott
    It's not that marketing isn't my thing (even though it isn't). It's that for all intents and purpose the project is still in vaporware status. I mean I spent the entire day trying to track down just one stupid bug so I can't say for sure that everything will come together as I expect. Therefore, I'm not making any promises just yet. What I do know is that the system is possible, the hardware works and can stand up to the weather and the fundamentals are there. This has taken a couple of years of trial and error to figure out (in spare time at least).

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    I wasnt trying to compare the OP's system to pentair per se. Just giving a reason why I wasnt interested in his potential product; which is what he asked me.
    I'm sure the open source controller is an interest to folks. For me, an average homeowner who is not an engineer or computer guru, I'm prefectly happy with canned, so called old technology. It does everything I need it to do very simply with company support. I'm not really interested in a load of home automation. For me, it's more of a pain in the behind to keep running and one more thing to break down and have to keep operational. I dont enjoy keeping that type of thing going.
    While my startup will be small, and I will provide email and phone technical support, obviously I can't support every situation the way that trained authorized installers of the big boys will be able to. There of course are trade-offs, and in the instance where things like that are critical to you, then yes those choices make sense. That said, the nature of my product allows for remote troubleshooting, maintenance, configurations and upgrades. It would allow you to be a good bit MORE hands off than your Pentair system. Also for anyone else reading this, remember that my system can function as a simple timer and will function reliably but can also be complex and comprehensive... I suspect the latter is something the majority of automation enthusiasts are interested in, but I will repeat to drive home... simplicity and reliability will be priority.

    Quote Originally Posted by New2Me
    I like the idea, and would have been interested in purchase, had I not embarked on a simple controller already. Comparing to a pentair, jandy, or other system is not fair, as they are so old, technology-wise. The open source part of your solution is going to appeal to anyone who has ever tried to change a (pentair, jandy, etc..) "canned" program into something more useful for their particular application.
    I would love more details - "How does the web interface work with different browsers? Can I use M$ Internet Exploiter only, or will I be able to use a secure browser like Opera or Firefox?"
    I'd like to see the face on the Pentair support when that question is asked!
    Will you be making the pieces of the kit available separately, for those that want to hang your web front-end onto my existing back-end? What pieces would I need, I'm sure to have some already.
    Best Wishes, and Good Luck!!
    The details I will divulge at the current time, because they aren't likely to change are as follows:
    * The web frontend will be very nice, standards compliant based heavily on jquery. It will run in all browsers.
    * The server is a tiny arm based embedded linux computer. This will have a USB wireless dongle plugged into it.
    * The nodes will consist of an arduino with a shield attached. The shield will handle all I/O as well as wireless communication back to the server.
    * Tying my web interface to your project is something that is possible but would have to be figured out. It will be as modular as possible. To be honest though, the most value from my system will be derived from buying the entire system.
    * To save money I'll probably eliminate the arduino and integrate the AVR into the node directly, but leaving it the way it is preserves hackability.

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Automation Controls

    I have a Compool cp3800. Recently the indoor controller started buzzing. I took it off the wall and unplugged it for a while and plugged it back in. It worked fine for a couple of days and started it again. When it is buzzing, the screen goes blank. Any ideas what is wrong?
    I have a 29,000 gal in ground pool. The filter is a cartrige type.

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Sounds like a nearly fried component. In the future, please start a new thread.

    Thanks;

    Scott
    Owner of - PoolGuyNJ LLC
    Expert Pool and Spa Repairs, Renovations, and Augmentation. Helping people decide what is the right gear for meeting their needs. Expectations Set, Expectations Met, No Surprises.

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: Automation Controls

    At that "retail" price, it sounds pretty good. More flexible than SunTouch (and anything has to be easier to program than a SunTouch...), less expensive than Easytouch or Aqualink (and a heck of a lot cheaper than Intellitouch - and you provide Internet access, which only Intellitouch does).

    But - the support and distribution will cost you a lot (I did product management and marketing for 20+ years). If you want to be successful and play "for real" in the market, there's a lot of overhead - especially in sales, marketing, support, documentation and repair/return - that you need to consider in your cost basis.

    - Jeff
    ~45Kg Pool with attached Spa, NSP-72 DE, Minmax 400 Heater, Tahoe Blue Pebbletech, Jandy SWG via Aqualink RS-8, The Pool Cleaner (black)
    Pumps: X3 Hybrid Pump (switches to SPA), 2HP Spa (additional, when SPA is on), and a 1HP For Waterfall
    8, 4x12 Solar Panels on the roof of the pool-house (~12' up)
    CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: "I'M SORRY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF HOW AWESOME I AM" (Thanks to TFP!)

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: Automation Controls

    Wow, sounds cool - sounds pretty complex though. I take it the PC would be on all the time? I knocked up a controller to do my pool. Using a single chip (FPGA). There might be a few idea's for yours or vise versa.

    www.applelogic.org/PPPhome.html

    steve
    Mark Stinson
    Woodland, CA
    IG 12,545g Gunite/Plaster with attached spa, Hayward Northstar 3HP pump, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus 420
    Alas, I have no heater for my spa (yet)! :-(

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Steve, I did see your site and I was inspired by how you did your wiring, connectors and water proofing. I do have different ideas when it comes to interface and interaction though.

    Jeff, I am trying to consider all of that stuff and I came up with best estimates for their cost and rolled that all in to the price. I'm new to this so I'm not sure if it's right but you have to start somewhere.

    For everyone else watching the web configuration and control interface development is coming along nicely. I've nearly completed what I call "frameworkizing" the system. That means that a lot of things were hardcoded to my particular setup, but I am now making it so nearly everything is configurable. This adds considerable complexity (to the development process, not the end user) but is worth it in the end. I've also got the dashboard framework completed. I think it will impress people who use other home automation control interfaces. I am working on the website, taking product photos, and other things too. The website will really introduce everyone to the whole idea more effectively than forum posts.

  16. Back To Top    #16

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Hi all,

    Everything is coming together nicely. I've had prototypes of the final revision of the board manufactured and did the final base testing to make sure the wireless and relay setup works. The board now handles 4 devices and is capable of controlling jandy valves whereas it wasn't before. There were a couple other mistakes like underspec'd relays as well as traces that were not capable of handling the current going through the relays to power a big contactor. Now all is well and this should be a pretty robust device. Now that I have more than one I am spending time building the addressability into the wireless protocol as well as grouping, etc. The general idea is that you can add on more "nodes" to a single system like the "pool" to control more devices. It can be as simple or as complex as you want without any fuss or wasted expense.

    Now I have to worry about FCC certification and some legal bits to formally start the corporation but I might be able to start quietly beta testing some people soon. I built a product photo setup so I will have photos and the website done very soon!

    Also unfortunately the price may have to be higher than my $499 target. There are some costs I didn't anticipate But it won't be much.

  17. Back To Top    #17

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Quote Originally Posted by piku
    Hi all,

    Everything is coming together nicely. I've had prototypes of the final revision of the board manufactured and did the final base testing to make sure the wireless and relay setup works. The board now handles 4 devices and is capable of controlling jandy valves whereas it wasn't before. There were a couple other mistakes like underspec'd relays as well as traces that were not capable of handling the current going through the relays to power a big contactor. Now all is well and this should be a pretty robust device. Now that I have more than one I am spending time building the addressability into the wireless protocol as well as grouping, etc. The general idea is that you can add on more "nodes" to a single system like the "pool" to control more devices. It can be as simple or as complex as you want without any fuss or wasted expense.

    Now I have to worry about FCC certification and some legal bits to formally start the corporation but I might be able to start quietly beta testing some people soon. I built a product photo setup so I will have photos and the website done very soon!

    Also unfortunately the price may have to be higher than my $499 target. There are some costs I didn't anticipate But it won't be much.
    PM Sent.

    Doug

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Automation Controls

    Hi all,

    Well my spring release promise has been blown. Unfortunately I have a day job, a bad auto racing habit, and some needy family members and friends and those things conflict with getting this system off the ground. The biggest issue however has been a confounding hardware/software bug that has plagued me for months and months. I'm happy to report that I've solved the issue and now the hardware is *complete*. I can go back to working on the web interface full time and I do have to decide some final details with regards to housing, connectors, wire harnesses, etc. I won't delve too deeply into the issue but to put it simply, water proof is a requirement that throws a wrench into everything.

    Every other manufacturer has solved this problem in a variety of ways which - while they work - I don't consider correct. Most use a standard electrical plastic wire pinch gland on the bottom of the unit. This is fine but it will allow moisture and insects into the device and will cause it to fail eventually.

    A few of you have applied to be beta testers and I haven't forgotten any of you. The first run will go to you guys under the assumption that you will be ok with the web interface not being completely finished and that frequent updates will self-apply to the unit.

    Product photos/website coming in a few weeks!

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Automation Controls

    So what you are saying, is that you are like every other pool equip manufacturer in terms of product release time lines?

    Its ok we are used to it.
    =)
    20X40 30,000 gallon gunite pool

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: Automation Controls

    "Every other manufacturer has solved this problem in a variety of ways which - while they work - I don't consider correct. Most use a standard electrical plastic wire pinch gland on the bottom of the unit. This is fine but it will allow moisture and insects into the device and will cause it to fail eventually."

    This really isn't a huge point of failure in control systems.
    20X40 30,000 gallon gunite pool

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