Current Automation Technology Gap

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,344
Tucson, AZ
#1
Well, my actual opinion on the matter is that Pentair is INCREDIBLY behind the times in terms of automation. If my $80 HP printer can have a built-in wireless IP access point AND Bluetooth access as well, then it’s just stupidity and cheapness on the part of automation companies (Pentair, Hayward & Jandy) to not offer that same technology in their panels. Then, there would be no need for any adapter hardware as Smartphones of any kind could easily connect directly to the panel’s logic and control it. Proprietary/locked technology that they currently offer is a relic of a bygone age of business thinking....clearly their executive suite needs to be “upgraded” as well....
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
Central California
#3
Re: Very weird Easy Touch Control issue

JN - I think we’ve agreed on this elsewhere. I could easily cite a dozen examples where Pentair’s tech is decrepit, or downright missing! They should be embarrassed. They could be doing soooo much better. Home automation, user interface, features... you name it. Their only possible defense, I’ll admit, is the user base itself. I’d love it if my Pentair gear did one-hundredth of what my smart phone can do, but the total number of Pentair automation consumers must be one-millionth of smart phone users (or some such crazy number). The R&D resources are just not gonna be there...
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,344
Tucson, AZ
#4
Re: Very weird Easy Touch Control issue

JN - I think we’ve agreed on this elsewhere. I could easily cite a dozen examples where Pentair’s tech is decrepit, or downright missing! They should be embarrassed. They could be doing soooo much better. Home automation, user interface, features... you name it. Their only possible defense, I’ll admit, is the user base itself. I’d love it if my Pentair gear did one-hundredth of what my smart phone can do, but the total number of Pentair automation consumers must be one-millionth of smart phone users (or some such crazy number). The R&D resources are just not gonna be there...
Agree somewhat.

Fact of the matter is, the pool market is a high-end market with access to people who spend A LOT of money on pools. And the simple automation technology that most of us would appreciate is sufficiently mature enough that it shouldn’t be too hard to find a couple of engineers capable of piecing it all together. Heck, folks on here build Raspberry Pi and Arduino controllers that can do more than what my EasyTouch panel can do.

The real issue is profit - the panels they make are sufficiently cheap enough compared to what they sell them for that I’m sure some bean counter just below the executive suite flips his toupee and spits out his coffee every time someone mentions dropping the profit margin by half a percent to upgrade the tech.

My professional life would have been much more fun had it not been for lawyers and accountants.
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
Central California
#5
Re: Very weird Easy Touch Control issue

Getting back to the problem at hand...

You may have partially lost the comm connection.

The comm wire has four connections. Red and Black are power, Yellow and Green carry the data back and forth. If you loose power (no lights), you have lost the power leg, and the panel will not work at all. If you loose both of the data, it will not talk or listen. IF YOU LOOSE ONE, either the Green OR the Yellow, you will get the symptom(s) you have, you may, or may not also notice a "NO COMM" in the upper left side of the display.

Comm wires fall victim to rats and mice chewing on them more often than a true COMM failure. I would check the comm wire from the box at the equipment all the way to the remote mounted on the wall in the house. I know, this may mean getting up into the attic, or underneath the house to chase the wire, but i would hate for you to get a new remote, Screen logic, etc, only to find out the problem persists.
Good notes.

When he mentioned batteries, that led me to think he doesn’t have the hardwired wall unit, but more likely the one with the antenna. That’s why I asked for his model number, to figure out how his comm wire connects. It might just be a foot long length at his ET, from the receiver to the ET. But you’re right, those connections should be checked first. If he’s got a remote with a comm port, I was going to suggest he bypass all wiring and transmitters/receivers and connect the remote directly to the ET with a short length of 4-conductor wire. That would tell us pretty quick if it’s the remote or not... basic troubleshooting routine: disconnect all that you can and then add it back in one at a time until you find the culprit.

But until he checks back in...
 

Pool Clown

In The Industry
Sep 5, 2008
1,810
Silicon Valley, CA
#6
Re: Very weird Easy Touch Control issue

I wrote a post a while back, may or may not had been on this forum, and it went something like this...

There will be those that pass judgement on a particular product or manufacturer, and that is OK, i would agree for the most part, when the judgement is accurate as it is in this case.

The architecture of the present automation may be a bit dated, but is that the reason for the failure? And does it necessarily warrant the above discussion? Within this thread? Keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of these units out there and you would think that, by reading some threads, here or there, that a very high percentage of the units are failing. That would be because you only hear about the failures. When the product is performing as it should, consumers, for the most part, will not seek out forums to convey their positive experiences, only the negative. There is also something to be said about the techs here that comment. I have seen on several occasions, (and no, i will not provide links, you will have to trust me as i will not violate the trust of anyone here with names) techs will bad mouth products or manufacturers. I will also agree with this. Although i generally think twice about "pileing on" when it happens. This is a public forum, and negative comments, if worded carefully, can do good. But the point i'm trying to make here is that, when a customer makes a purchase without getting advice from here, which BTW is not a requirement, he or she doesn't particularly want to hear how bad the product that he or she just spent $100, $200, or whatever amount on, is. PPL come here for advise to repair, not necessarily to replace with another manufacturer, or the afore mentioned reviews. I'm not sure they want their thread to turn into a negative commentary on how archaic or "bad" their automation is either (see previous sentence). I have noticed that the OP has not responded since his original posting.

Did we scare him away with the direction the thread had taken?


"There will be those that pass judgement on a particular product or manufacturer"
Some forums have areas dedicated specifically to particular manufacturers, or manufacturers as a whole, for this purpose. It keeps both threads, the commentary thread, and the help thread, going in their respective direction, and users can link others to it that may be needing more info without their thread getting pulled away from the "helping" direction they were asking for originally.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,344
Tucson, AZ
#7
I’m certainly guilty of posting “chit-chat” in threads that interest me (see “Brian’s Wanger” in his SoCal Pool Build thread) as it’s usually about a fun topic. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing as it shows that this forum has its fun side. There are many Internet forums where you’ll be taken to the wood shed and banned for posting non-germane comments (and plenty of completely unmoderated forums) but I don’t think TFP wants to go in either of those direction. Many people like TFP because it offers a little bit of fun for folks who like to mix it up in the comments. Plus, it’s also winter time and TFP’s posting rate is rather slow at the moment. So this time of year let’s those of us that enjoy socializing on the interwebz do so before the crazy season starts.

As for manufacturers, well, they're doing plenty fine on their own and I’m sure they’re losing no sleep over what the likes of us pajama-clad armchair technicians say & do....however, if any our esteemed experts in the industry would like to illuminate us on the finer points of the pool industries technological roadmap, that would be most enlightening and appreciated :poke:
 

santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
500
Santa Cruz, CA
#8
I seem to remember reading somewhere that both Pentair and Jandy outsourced all of their software development...and possibly even the same company/developer did their automation several years ago.

I know it is hard for my company, even as a pseudo-technology company, to do complete system re-designs and junk an entire software ecosystem - which is what really needs to happen.

If you eliminate the big software companies form the equation you generally see that newer startup companies, doing things from the ground up, tend to produce the best "new" software systems. I haven't seen many existing companies do wholesale changes to their product line very often.

Might be a good time to build the Troublefreepool add-on box. Build an android device that can take over any brands automation system and control the pumps, valves, SWCG, solar etc...but make it IFTTT, Alexa, Apple Home, smart hub, and Google home compatible...Just a little tiny box with a LCD for programming (think something like a Rainmachine or Rachio type device that does irrigation control).
 

Qwijib0

Bronze Supporter
Dec 5, 2016
78
Tucson, AZ
#9
I rather like that the poolside box is 90s industrial-grade circuitry and logic. The right answer is what santacruz pool is hinting at-- some other computer to yell rs-485 at anybody's panel which could still operate in a simple schedule if connectivity was lost. The cost for automation failure on a pool is pretty high which is probably why it moves so slowly, no pool company will take that risk. And the average person isn't going to want to run a separate pi or the like to control the poolside gear, at which point you need your own app to talk to the pi instead of the main panel since that's now your gateway.
 

Vickery

Gold Supporter
Silver Supporter
#12
I retired from the industrial automation business in 1998 (went into contracting then) but the requirements for pool automation seem remarkably simple. Even with default condition resets, pool operations shouldn't be rocket surgery. I do understand oem costs, margins and talent pool availability, but as Santacruzpools hinted, perhaps the big three are still oriented at the simple mechanics and don't want to really own the technology. Tech moves fast, but the hardware and chemistry doesn't. I think a TFP oriented automation overlay would be fantastic!
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
Central California
#13
but as Santacruzpools hinted, perhaps the big three are still oriented at the simple mechanics and don't want to really own the technology.
Nope, this is about corporate greed, plain and simple. This is a [likely unspoken] alliance between the players to keep automation proprietary. Why offer an $80 solution when they can force consumers to buy a $1200 one? That's why they hobble my Pentair PSL4 with four programmable schedules, when four hundred schedules would cost $5 more in memory space, so that I'll pony up for the "bigger, better" model instead. They don't want to use cheap, open-source solutions that could be customized by third party innovation, they want to sell you a $600 protocol adaptor to allow that. Etc.

As long as none of the big three cave, they can all enjoy the profit from this racket...
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,844
Grand Rapids, MI
#14
Ok, I agree with joyful’s assessment of the code. The 80s called and want their Cold War code back ;)

But in Pentair’s defense, many companies formerly first to market end up hamstrung by their own legacy issues. And while I am among those clamoring for better automation and integration, I also feel the ha industry is immature and early adoption is not for the faint of heart ;)

Let me give you an example. Intermatic pe653 uses old zwave tech. They rewrote the firmware for it to play nice with smart things. That lasted for a minute and a half, because then Smartthings updated its hub firmware and the Intermatic firmware no longer played nice with it. Ultimately, they abandoned any attempt for ST integration.
The reward for their effort was approximately zilch. ;)

It’s hard enough to get programmers on the same project to agree on an approach. Across companies it’s impossible without standards. And with the constant security issues that arise, sometimes I’m ok with proprietary code ;)

So while I do think the problem has to do with profitability and viability, I don’t thinks you can characterize it strictly as corporate greed. But perhaps I’m being overly generous in that.
 
May 10, 2017
1,733
Hays, Kansas
#15
Nope, this is about corporate greed, plain and simple. This is a [likely unspoken] alliance between the players to keep automation proprietary. Why offer an $80 solution when they can force consumers to buy a $1200 one? That's why they hobble my Pentair PSL4 with four programmable schedules, when four hundred schedules would cost $5 more in memory space, so that I'll pony up for the "bigger, better" model instead. They don't want to use cheap, open-source solutions that could be customized by third party innovation, they want to sell you a $600 protocol adaptor to allow that. Etc.

As long as none of the big three cave, they can all enjoy the profit from this racket...
There is relays and other components, so $10
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 13, 2017
4,375
Central California
#16
Ok, I agree with joyful’s assessment of the code. The 80s called and want their Cold War code back ;)

But in Pentair’s defense, many companies formerly first to market end up hamstrung by their own legacy issues. And while I am among those clamoring for better automation and integration, I also feel the ha industry is immature and early adoption is not for the faint of heart ;)

Let me give you an example. Intermatic pe653 uses old zwave tech. They rewrote the firmware for it to play nice with smart things. That lasted for a minute and a half, because then Smartthings updated its hub firmware and the Intermatic firmware no longer played nice with it. Ultimately, they abandoned any attempt for ST integration.
The reward for their effort was approximately zilch. ;)

It’s hard enough to get programmers on the same project to agree on an approach. Across companies it’s impossible without standards. And with the constant security issues that arise, sometimes I’m ok with proprietary code ;)

So while I do think the problem has to do with profitability and viability, I don’t thinks you can characterize it strictly as corporate greed. But perhaps I’m being overly generous in that.
Open source = pro consumer
Proprietary = pro corporation

Swampwoman, you're probably proving my point for me. I don't know anything about the protocol involved, nor the relationship between Intermatic and Zwave, but my guess is Intermatic had to, in some way, license the code from Zwave to access its devices. And it sounds like Zwave pulled the rug out from under Intermatic, and that's too bad. The decision that caused that problem was likely based in no small part on profit and economics. (Zwave could have continued to support legacy devices, but chose not to, to either save money, or make money, or both.)

I have a device that shoots infrared at anything in the room. It contains a web server. I can program the infrared "codes" into it. And I can "fire" the codes using simple URLs on my local network. So I can create virtual remote controls for TV, stereo, etc. I'm able to make use of this capability by way of my home automation software (or a bookmark in my web browser, or from any piece of software capable of generating a URL on a network), because they all "speak URL." The manufacturer of this device decided that not only would they play nice with others, but would do so in a way that will virtually never cease to exist, and won't cost anybody, least of all the end user, anything. That was a "pro consumer" decision, one in which they figured the merits of the device alone would dictate sales, and not some artificial greed-based demand.

If Zwave used an open source mechanism, like a web server, rather than some sort of proprietary language, then Intermatic's device probably wouldn't have lost track of it. Maybe it wouldn't have been able to take advantage of newer innovations released through a Zwave firmware update, but the update wouldn't have abandoned what the Intermatic could do originally (that's if Zwave's intention was to support legacy devices).

I acknowledge that this would require some due diligence on the part of all the engineers involved, which as you say can be tenuous, but the fact that they all don't even try is the root of the evil.
 

santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
500
Santa Cruz, CA
#17
I still would love to see a simple add-on box with a touch screen LCD for programming and some modern smarts like I posted earlier...Good irrigation controllers are much more advanced than any pool automation, they work and are simple to program.

I have seen some videos of the "new improved" Jandy software that is I guess coming out this summer - Brian posted those links I think. To me it looks like just a patch of what they currently have. Based on their "server update" issues just a few weeks ago I don't have much faith in their technology smarts...

edit: I guess the new stuff posted earlier this year was for Pentair...
 

randytsuch

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2008
256
Los Angeles, Ca
#18
I used to have the intermatic Zwave stuff, it worked fine, but was expensive for what you get.
And the manufacturers do have to pay a license fee to use Zwave, and it's very much a closed, proprietary system.

I replaced it last year with my diy solution. Much cheaper, and more flexible, but basically need to be an engineer or very technical to implement this.
Lots of wiring and custom stuff, and I'm not quite done yet.
I wasn't willing to pay the money for the available pool automation stuff, and I already had a custom home automation setup, so it made sense for me.

I control my variable speed pump and heater with relays. They seem to be set up for remote control via relays, so this wasn't too hard. I have another pump where I had to use a power relay to control power to it, little more work but not bad.
It takes three relays to control a haywood variable speed pump, and one or two for a heater, depending on your heater, at least that's my experience.
All controlled by a pi running Domoticz, running some special scripts to turn on the pumps when they should. The pi sends commands to arduino type devices, which in turn control the relays.

I needed one arduino setup for my spa, and another for the pool, as they have separate pump/heater/filter systems.
The arduino's require occasional resets, not sure why, but mostly they work lol.

Randy
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,844
Grand Rapids, MI
#19
Dirk, speaking url is fine and well but remember that the demand is for both online and local override remote control, so it’s a hybrid animal ;)

Randy, I very nearly went your route but grew uncomfortable with my skill level when the pump relays and the Sr debate got involved ;) But I’m not the engineer around here. The engineer around here said pay for a controller so I can go work and make money ;)

I went cheap seats and bent Intermatic to my will...sorta. Still buggy with ST and my loops but I’m gonna rewrite them next month.
 

randytsuch

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2008
256
Los Angeles, Ca
#20
Dirk, speaking url is fine and well but remember that the demand is for both online and local override remote control, so it’s a hybrid animal ;)

Randy, I very nearly went your route but grew uncomfortable with my skill level when the pump relays and the Sr debate got involved ;) But I’m not the engineer around here. The engineer around here said pay for a controller so I can go work and make money ;)

I went cheap seats and bent Intermatic to my will...sorta. Still buggy with ST and my loops but I’m gonna rewrite them next month.
I already had a DIY home automation system running on a rpi, so that helped quite a bit. Starting from nothing would have been a pretty large project.
Still wasn't a small project, but it is nice in that I can customize it now if I wanted to add more features.
I have a bookmark on my browser to start my pool pump now. I don't know if its any more convenient than walking to the box and flipping the switch, but its much cooler :cool: