Pentair IntelliCenter Review and Information

Neoex

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Jun 18, 2019
37
Tulsa
@MyAZPool thanks for keeping my integration of Glacier Pool Chiller in the back of your mind, I appreciate it. I was told 5 weeks ago the Alexa would be back up in the Skills, but nothing, have you heard anything around Alexa coming back for IntelliCenter
 
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setsailsoon

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Oct 25, 2015
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Stuart/FL
ron,

I did a test of my schedule capability again last night. No change. I can input temp changes for my solar or heater and they stay in effect until the schedule runs again. Then it goes back to the previous set point.

I've also gotten a response to my question from about a week ago... got the standard "We've had server problems, working highest priority..." blah, blah, blah... so I have basic functionality with a few Intellicenter niceties. But nothing close to what they offered and in the area of remote capability far inferior to much cheaper systems from 10 years ago.

Am I still happy with the decision to go Intellicenter? Well maybe because of the promise of what it could do, but I feel we(I) really need to provide candid and more complete advice to people that ask on here what the current real capability is and how long we've been waiting for some of the simple basics. Wouldn't change my decision but I think there are a lot of people that may go with a less expensive, fully functional system from either Pentair, Hayward, or Jandy. Then upgrade next time around when they finally get Intellicenter working right.

Chris
 

Soupy

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2011
156
Maryland
But what you will also see is a list of items or better described as "functions", that are NOT AUX or FEATURE Circuits. I can think of many uses and scenarios for these additional "non-circuit" functions, that if included in macros could be extremely useful. Take a look at the image below and I'm sure you can imagine why these highlighted functions could be very beneficial when combined with other circuit functions within a macro. In fact, when you look at "Pool Heater" and "Spa Heater", this is just the scenario that I was attempting to help another user with, just a couple of days ago.
I noticed these too. They appear only in the web client, inconsistently at that, and they don't do anything as far as I can tell. I tried all the heater related ones to see if it would toggle the heater on.

The more I use the Intellicenter, the more half-baked it seems. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the stupid thing is hardly more capable than a basic timer, with a network interface that sometimes means you don't have to walk to the pad to make changes.

Oh well. I needed a new load center and the salt system, so it's not a complete waste...
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
@MyAZPool thanks for keeping my integration of Glacier Pool Chiller in the back of your mind, I appreciate it. I was told 5 weeks ago the Alexa would be back up in the Skills, but nothing, have you heard anything around Alexa coming back for IntelliCenter
Neoex
Thanks.
No, I get the same scripted party line as everyone else. Have you seen the other threads here regarding the Alexa skill?
r.
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
ron,

I did a test of my schedule capability again last night. No change. I can input temp changes for my solar or heater and they stay in effect until the schedule runs again. Then it goes back to the previous set point.

I've also gotten a response to my question from about a week ago... got the standard "We've had server problems, working highest priority..." blah, blah, blah... so I have basic functionality with a few Intellicenter niceties. But nothing close to what they offered and in the area of remote capability far inferior to much cheaper systems from 10 years ago.

Am I still happy with the decision to go Intellicenter? Well maybe because of the promise of what it could do, but I feel we(I) really need to provide candid and more complete advice to people that ask on here what the current real capability is and how long we've been waiting for some of the simple basics. Wouldn't change my decision but I think there are a lot of people that may go with a less expensive, fully functional system from either Pentair, Hayward, or Jandy. Then upgrade next time around when they finally get Intellicenter working right.

Chris
I noticed these too. They appear only in the web client, inconsistently at that, and they don't do anything as far as I can tell. I tried all the heater related ones to see if it would toggle the heater on.

The more I use the Intellicenter, the more half-baked it seems. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the stupid thing is hardly more capable than a basic timer, with a network interface that sometimes means you don't have to walk to the pad to make changes.

Oh well. I needed a new load center and the salt system, so it's not a complete waste...
Hi Chris and Soupy...
Yep, I hear you guys and to some extent, I agree... As far as my decision to go IntelliCenter versus another system? I wouldn't change a thing. Have you seen what is involved with setting up macros with IntelliTouch? And the other systems do not allow for macros. For me, I needed that capability.

For a simple equipment setup, an EasyTouch (NOT a LITE version), is just fine IMO. But for anything more than a pump, filter, simple heater and a few simple schedules, I still believe the IntelliCenter is the only way to fly (at least for me anyway). Everyone has different priorities and requirements.

Except for the user interface issues and a few things that could be improved through the firmware (RS-485 connectivity for IntelliValve for one), I really have no other "major" complaints.

And for the time being, I have fixed the user interface issue by opting for the Pool Controller Dash Panel offered over on GitHub. See the following thread for more detail...
Yep, I needed a new Load Center as well. lol...
Take care.
r.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
Can anyone who is running Firmware Version 1.040, please do me a favor.
Can you go out to your panel and navigate to System and tell me if you see a "Logging" option underneath the "Firmware Update" option.
I am running a test beta, and I can't remember if that was there in v1.040.
Thanks very much...
r.
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
170
NE Oklahoma
No "Logging" option. Just 'check for update' 'update from USB' and 'Update from Panel'. The last option was grayed out, I'm assuming since there is no updated firmware file to pull from.

--Jeff
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
Hi All,
Just a quick update (but it's not much).
As I mentioned in another thread, I was able to get a tidbit of information from Pentair recently as I continue to respectfully "tug at their coatails". Anyway, I wanted to at least share what little I have.

1. They claim to be prioritizing critical issues and admit that the "back-end" server issues that we all experienced were fairly complex and has taken up quite a bit of resources. That issue along with the ongoing Alexa Skill issues are setting them back as far as addressing some of the other major issues that are on our "hit" list.

2. Additional improvements and fixes are ongoing regarding the servers and Alexa Skill. They claim to be adding some additional engineering resources to help them cope (I guess it's slow going).

3. Firmware version 1.047 is slated for release in the next few weeks. It supposedly fixes some issues that are on the radar but NOT others. I have seen the release notes and yea, there appears to be some good fixes there. But NOT the scheduling edit issue (I don't think that is a firmware issue actually but that is just my guess).

4. Major improvements are planned for implementation by the end of calendar year 2020. No further specifics on that.

Sorry, I don't have more good news. They have tabled the IntelliValve RS-485 implementation until some of these other issues are apparently in the "rear-view". Our only near-future hope for this feature may be the ongoing efforts over at GitHub once past the "I am Groot" messaging that the IntelliValve is throwing out.

Stay safe and more to follow if I get anything.
r.
 
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guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
352
California
Interestingly enough a presentation for the IntelliCenter made by Pentair in July 2018 had the following statement:

IntelliCenter & Home Automation Systems:

• Built-in support
• No adapters required
• Freely available Control4 and Crestron drivers
• API available to home automation integrators allows easy integration!
• More drivers to follow

IntelliCenter is the BEST pool/spa control system for customers that demand integration with their home automation system!
Another document states that an API is available for home automation companies and home automation integrators.
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
Interestingly enough a presentation for the IntelliCenter made by Pentair in July 2018 had the following statemen
Another document states that an API is available for home automation companies and home automation integrators.
That's a really good point. Yes, I've had that presentation from David McCallum (who no longer works there) for a long time but sort of lost sight of the details of that presentation in all of the other clutter. Thanks for bringing it up as I am now planning on using it to further support the position of releasing the API's.

I have already broached the topic of releasing the API's and code once (telephonically, in a conference call) and actually they were receptive to the idea and said "they are working on it" (but that's their "canned" answer lol, to everything)...

I'm just waiting on garnering some additional information from another source and then I'm going to bring this topic up again in an email. I want to make a strong case to release the API's. We need them. Especially the IntelliValve code.

@guinness... Your timing on this is perfect. Thanks much!!
r.

In addition, yes I remember, there is my Apple Watch along with Google Home. My Watch iOS app still doesn't work grrrrrr. :mad: :mad:
 
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mcqwerty

Active member
Aug 27, 2018
33
TN
Hi @MyAZPool and everyone else on this thread. I opened this issue on the NodeJSPoolController project on GitHub.

Long story short, one of the main contributors to that project @rstrouse has been doing fantastic work and is closer than anyone, (especially Pentair :LOL:), to getting control of the IntelliValves. However, as mentioned by @MyAZPool, he has not got further than a heatbeat-type message broadcast by the vale dubbed "I am groot".
Why do I get everyone excited and then dash their hopes? Well,
1) I believe this github project is our best hope of getting the advanced control that many of us want of our IntelliCenters (believe me, I have tried a lot of other avenues and this has the most promise!)
2) @rstrouse believes that the IChlor may hod the key to reverse engineering the IntelliValve RS484 messages. So if you have one, or if you know someone who has one, or if you can get your hands on one for a day, please let us know!!

Thanks :)
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
1,434
Arizona
Hi @MyAZPool and everyone else on this thread. I opened this issue on the NodeJSPoolController project on GitHub.

Long story short, one of the main contributors to that project @rstrouse has been doing fantastic work and is closer than anyone, (especially Pentair :LOL:), to getting control of the IntelliValves. However, as mentioned by @MyAZPool, he has not got further than a heatbeat-type message broadcast by the vale dubbed "I am groot".
Why do I get everyone excited and then dash their hopes? Well,
1) I believe this github project is our best hope of getting the advanced control that many of us want of our IntelliCenters (believe me, I have tried a lot of other avenues and this has the most promise!)
2) @rstrouse believes that the IChlor may hod the key to reverse engineering the IntelliValve RS484 messages. So if you have one, or if you know someone who has one, or if you can get your hands on one for a day, please let us know!!

Thanks :)
Hi @mcqwerty
Hey good to see you back. I know you have been busy with the construction and all.
Yes, I have been following your efforts on GitHub and agree that @rstrouse is beyond phenomenal with his efforts there. He has been a tremendous resource for me regarding the PoolController DashPanel.

I just asked him today, that if I could get my hands on an iChlor, hook it up and do a capture if that would help out.
I think I can lay my hands on one temporarily...

I couldn't agree more that those efforts are our best hope at IntelliValve 485 success.
I am trying to lay some ground work with getting the project manager to see if he will just release the API's/Coding or whatever to us, so that you and rstrouse can "crack this nut".
I also asked on GitHub exactly what we would need.

Hey thanks much and hope all is going well.
Stay safe and take care...
r.
 

guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
352
California
I read the issue on GitHib regarding Intellivalve and the broadcast message it sends which never changes - has anyone tried putting the valve into service mode and changing the actuator position manually to see if the message changes?
 

mcqwerty

Active member
Aug 27, 2018
33
TN
I read the issue on GitHib regarding Intellivalve and the broadcast message it sends which never changes - has anyone tried putting the valve into service mode and changing the actuator position manually to see if the message changes?
Yes, tried that and MANY other things!
I am pretty sure @rstrouse is correct that the broadcast massage is just a beacon to the controller and then the controller must 'handshake' with the valve or at least address it directly in order for it to change it's message.
It seems like the IntelliValve does not notify of any changes unless it knows someone is listening. So first we must let it know that we are listening and we would LOVE to talk! :)

@MyAZPool
I know you have been busy with the construction and all
The battle continues but I need control of these valves so am keeping a close eye on this


My guess is that if we could see the messages from an IChlor, it is possible that we could compare with the multiple IntelliValve samples we have and see if the unique identifier can be determined. This would reduce the number of possible messages that would need to be tried (possibly) since we may know the exact ID of the valve.

As for what to ask Pentair. I would say, hey give us the docs on the IntelliValve RS485 protocol. Whatever they have, however rough would be enough I'm sure. If it is enough for them to possibly, eventually, one day, maybe, add the required firmware to the IntelliCenter then I know @rstrouse could figure it out in an evening :)
However, seems unlikely they would do this since technically you wouldn't need an IntelliCenter to control them then. But, as soon as they do release the update, it will be reverse engineered and they would be in the same situation...
 
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guinness

Well-known member
May 3, 2019
352
California
Yes, tried that and MANY other things!
I am pretty sure @rstrouse is correct that the broadcast massage is just a beacon to the controller and then the controller must 'handshake' with the valve or at least address it directly in order for it to change it's message.
It seems like the IntelliValve does not notify of any changes unless it knows someone is listening. So first we must let it know that we are listening and we would LOVE to talk! :)
I had a feeling that was already tried, but I didn't see it mentioned so I thought I'd ask. It's possible that it won't broadcast actuator position as we don't know anything about the device capabilities apart from it's adjustable in 3.75-degree increments within the maximum 180-degree swing.

However MyAZPool did manage to glean that the proposed IntelliCenter programming will allow the IntelliValve to operate at five different user defined positions. Does that mean the controller will simply set programmed endpoint on valve (via unique address) and wait for ACK prior to valve being electrically operated?

As for what to ask Pentair. I would say, hey give us the docs on the IntelliValve RS485 protocol. Whatever they have, however rough would be enough I'm sure. If it is enough for them to possibly, eventually, one day, maybe, add the required firmware to the IntelliCenter then I know @rstrouse could figure it out in an evening :)
However, seems unlikely they would do this since technically you wouldn't need an IntelliCenter to control them then. But, as soon as they do release the update, it will be reverse engineered and they would be in the same situation...
To my knowledge Pentair has never publicly released any RS485 protocol information so I doubt it's going to start now (but I hope to be proven wrong). What they may do though though is document the JSON API which would at some stage include IntelliValve commands. However that would require them having that functionality in the firmware which is unknown at this point (that's separate to having the functionality show in a UI on panel/app/website).
 

rstrouse

New member
Jun 17, 2020
1
California
Hey all, I am going to chime in here on a couple of topics.

Virtual Circuits:
I noticed a couple of posts back the notion of the unidentified lists of circuits on the webapp. These are virtual circuits that fall outside of the common aux circuits, features, and groups. Command level states like Pump Speed +/-, All Lights On/Off, and Heat Boost/Enable that lurk around in the menus like this are really there as selections for remotes. Unfortunately, they aren't filtered out in some of the webapp. The others like Pool Heater, Spa Heater, Freeze, and Solar are only set based upon conditions of the other equipment in the pool. They are calculated states and the OCP (Outdoor Control Panel) sets these whenever specific conditions are met. In the end these are used to trigger things like valves, pump speeds and even covers. I can only speculate but the most likely reason they show up in inappropriate places is because the the ids for these are all mixed together and haven't been filtered appropriately in the web app. That means there should be a separate list for groups, pumps, remotes, and valves.

IntelliValve:
I am going full on techie here so bear with me. The IntelliValve protocol continues to be elusive. While there is much talk about the stubborn "I am Groot" message, here is an example of one.
[255, 0, 255][165, 1, 16, 12, 82, 8][0, 128, 216, 128, 57, 64, 25, 166][4, 44]
The brackets from the left to the right are as follows [255, 0, 255] is an RS485 preamble and is nothing of note. This simply notifies the communications that a message is about to follow. The bytes in the next set of brackets [165, 1, 16, 12, 82, 8] are the header for the message. 165 is a controller code, 1 is a channel code, 16 is the destination address of which 16 is broadcast and 12 is a source address. 82 indicates an action or command and 8 is the length of the next set of bytes which happen to be the data payload. This header is constant for all "I am Groot" messages sent and the last two bytes [4, 44] is simply a checksum so that those reading the data can know that the message is complete.

The most important part of this message is the payload. Here is what we know about the payload. As of today, it always starts with 0, 128. This could be simply a placeholder but it could make sense that this is the minimum and maximum setpoints capable for the valve in question (although 0, 180 would seem to make more sense but 128 is also -0). We know it is not the current status nor does it represent the current endpoints of the valve. No matter what you do on the valve, the message is always the same...I am Groot. That being said it could also change once we have addressed the valve. The following 6 bytes are unique to each valve we have witnessed in the wild. Interestingly anyone familiar with network adapter addresses could draw the conclusion that 6 bytes = MAC address. While these aren't NICs this very well could be the hardware address of the valve. We have noticed that valves manufactured around the same time seem to have similar 4 byte values from the start of the suspected address. Heck 0, 128 could be the OUI for all we know (for those of you familiar with MACs). The ones below are manufactured in 2019 and the one above in 2016.
[255, 0, 255][165, 1, 16, 12, 82, 8][0, 128, 128, 31, 18, 75, 154, 185][3, 235]
[255, 0, 255][165, 1, 16, 12, 82, 8][0, 128, 128, 31, 18, 76, 39, 119][3, 55]
[255, 0, 255][165, 1, 16, 12, 82, 8][0, 128, 128 31, 18, 79, 209, 34][3, 143]

This is why we believe it to be an address for the valve. Ok, so if this is an address we now need to determine what might trigger the valve to pick up what we are laying down. I suspect that the destination address will not be 12 when we send it back. The reason is that the kids on the RS485 bus seem to be addressed as follows.
12 = Hail (I am Groot) iChlor also sends a notification on 12 and we have heard of this address being anecdotally reported for unidentified equipment.
15 = OCP (Outdoor Control Panel)
16 = Broadcast (To whom it may concern)
32-35 Aux Control Panels (32 = Spa Command, 33 = Slaves, 34 = ScreenLogic, 35 = iLink)
96-111 = Pumps
113-128 = Heaters/Heatpumps
144-159 = Chem Controllers
The way this works can be illustrated by how you talk to a pump on the RS485 bus. First you send it a request from one of the addresses to the address of the pump. For instance 16 to 96 and the pump will respond from 96 to 16. This will talk to pump #1. Pump #2 will be 97... etc. Perhaps somewhere in the values 0-255 with the aforementioned excluded the address of the valve can be set. Addresses prior to 12 are probably not it (primarily because you need 26 spaces). So this leaves something in the range of 36-95 or 160-255. If each valve eventually gets its own RS485 address then there needs to be 26 potential addresses for the range. This is assuming that the valve is addressed to the system.

The primary reason for doing this is so that the valve can be identified by a single byte rather than carrying around 6 bytes for the internal functions of the valve. Any equipment monitoring the status from the valve or commands to the valve don't have to process every byte on the bus. It can simply stop reading on the 3rd byte in and wait for the next preamble. There are a lot of messages on this bus and if the valve had to pick each one of them up to determine if the 6 bytes exist then yikes. This will also likely map the valve ids as they are for non-IntelliValve CV24s in the controller. If this follows the Pentair protocol habits the action will be 82, 210, or 81 but even that byte is suspect.

I am pretty sure the valve does not store more than one set of setpoints. That would be illogical and groot does not contain anything regarding the current state of the valve although 0, 128 could have some meaning once it is controlled. As I said above this could also be an OUI if the tech gets licensed to someone else. Who knows Jandy has that goofy Smart JVA and Hayward has that manly looking automated ball valve (I guess if it's on a ball valve).

So who's up for solving a puzzle that is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma?