WannaPool DIY Pool Automation Build Thread

WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
After years of running out to the side of the house in my underwear to turn off my spa heater/pump (sorry for the visual), I have decided it is time to automate.
Thanks to this forum and several of the great threads, here we go!
(Disclaimer: While it is a *BUILD* thread, some may view it as a *RIP-OFF* thread :) )...

Pool: 13,000 gallons, with spillover spa. Standard Marcite, with Acrylic deck (I believe CoolDeck). Main pool has color-changing light on the end (NOT LED). There is a light switch in the house the turns it on/off, and allows color selection.
The SPA light is standard, with a plastic red lens cover. If I redo the pool, I will replace with some form of color changing light. (Both lights turn on with single switch)
pool_sm.jpg

Pool Pad:
PoolPad_sm.jpg
Current Equipment:
1) .75HP single speed pool pump
2) 1.5 HP single speed spa pump
3) Hayward heater (H400FDP) - We only use for the spa. This has constant power going to it (sits in STANDBY mode).
4) I have 8x12' solar panels on roof. Pretty much a hassle, but nice when they are not leaking.
5) Supply plumbed to pull from pool main drain or spa main drain (orange handles); Or plugged port in side of pool (haven't used in 18 years), or skimmer basket (selected from black Jandy 3-way valve).
6) Return plumbed to return to pool AND spa (normal operation), or just pool, or just spa (Grey 3-way valve)
7) Salt system - Owned by pool company that does chemicals every 2 weeks.

Controls:
CurrentControls_sm.jpg
I have 30 Amp service running to the pool control area (double breaker in garage panel).
1) Intermatic Timer for Pool pump (runs every day of the year)
2) Intermatic Timer for Spa pump - I only use this timer to set the OFF time for about a half hour after I manually turn the heater off.
3) There is a transformer in the panel for the light, which I believe steps down to 12VAC.
4) Solar actuator controller - Monitors pool water temp from sensor drilled into pipe on supply side, and another sensor on the roof for air temperature.
5) Salt system controller. Never touch it.
 
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WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
Normal usage:
1) Pool pump on, spa pump off, heater off. Pool pump returns to SPA and POOL, causing spillover.
To use the spa (heated), we must manually adjust the pool return valve to pool only, manually turn on spa pump at timer, and manually turn on heater (set mode to SPA).
When done, we need to reset the return valve, set the heater mode to STANDBY, wait 30 minutes, then turn off the SPA pump at the timer. - PITA.
2) If the pool pump is NOT on (at night), the only difference is no need to adjust the return valve (there is no spillover, spa pump just recycles spa water).

Main goals of project:
1) Turn heater on/off without having to run to pad
2) Setting heater temperature remotely would be nice, but not a requirement.
3) Monitoring spa temperature would be nice (currently we dip our foot in it to "Is it hot enough yet")
4) Turn spa pump on or off without running to timer
5) Adjust return valve depending on situation
6) Monitoring cartridge filter pressure (my current analog gauge has been dead for a year, and I never look at it, but hey, another geek factor)
7) Be able to select light color
8) Integration with Alexa
9) Solar is already fully automated with Goldline controller. But it would be nice to see temps and control it remotely (more of a geek-factor than a requirement)
 

WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
From what I can tell, most of what I can do can be accomplished with raspberry pi, relays, breakers, etc, as many of you have trail-blazed already.

But I do have a few questions (disclaimer, I am early on my Node-RED research):
1) Does Node-RED provide for timer functions?
2) I am hoping that Node-RED has state/variable information. I will need to make some decisions (if poolPumpON=TRUE then setReturnValvePOOL()).
3) How are folks measuring if water is flowing? Using variables in Node-RED? Or taking measurements at the time the decision is required? (i.e. measure pressure at filter, etc)
4) How does one handle "Override" situations? i.e. raspberry pi gets taken out by lightning, and it will take me a month to get it replaced/reprogrammed/etc, can one manually turn the pump relays on? I saw a video where @cmc0619 can momentarily test a relay, but that looks like it is for testing. Common scenario- I am out of town, and significant other calls about "The waterfall is not on. What do I do?" (anyone with more than one remote control knows what I am talking about....:oops: ).... if there are any Modern Family watchers here, singalong.... "The snow flake makes it cold-cold-cold, the set temperature makes it hold-hold-hold" ...I digress...
5) Does anyone have experience with actuating a valve only 90 degrees? (I have been reading about that the microswitches are only at the extreme ends)

I need to be able to rotate this 90 degrees clockwise. And then when done, 90 degrees counter clockwise:
ReturnValve_sm.jpg
 

cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
170
Cherry Hill, NJ
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool Edge-40
From what I can tell, most of what I can do can be accomplished with raspberry pi, relays, breakers, etc, as many of you have trail-blazed already.

But I do have a few questions (disclaimer, I am early on my Node-RED research):
1) Does Node-RED provide for timer functions?
2) I am hoping that Node-RED has state/variable information. I will need to make some decisions (if poolPumpON=TRUE then setReturnValvePOOL()).
3) How are folks measuring if water is flowing? Using variables in Node-RED? Or taking measurements at the time the decision is required? (i.e. measure pressure at filter, etc)
4) How does one handle "Override" situations? i.e. raspberry pi gets taken out by lightning, and it will take me a month to get it replaced/reprogrammed/etc, can one manually turn the pump relays on? I saw a video where @cmc0619 can momentarily test a relay, but that looks like it is for testing. Common scenario- I am out of town, and significant other calls about "The waterfall is not on. What do I do?" (anyone with more than one remote control knows what I am talking about....:oops: ).... if there are any Modern Family watchers here, singalong.... "The snow flake makes it cold-cold-cold, the set temperature makes it hold-hold-hold" ...I digress...
5) Does anyone have experience with actuating a valve only 90 degrees? (I have been reading about that the microswitches are only at the extreme ends)

I need to be able to rotate this 90 degrees clockwise. And then when done, 90 degrees counter clockwise:

1. Yep! If you haven't seen my youtube on the node-red side of my controller it's here and describes the scheduling I can do. You could also just use a simple inject node to kick a flow off
2. Yes. @Katodude is making use of these I know in his flows. You can store things in flow or global variables. There's also a switch function that simplifies a lot of that logic
3. I bought one of these. I've been dragging major butt though this year and haven't hooked it up yet. But you'd hook it into an ADC and take a reading, do some math, and boom you have GPMs
4. As I've said before on here, one raspberry pi is never enough! :) I've been extremely lazy this year, I haven't even hooked up my pi to my relays yet. I just hotwired the VS pump and heater in my enclosure to their breakers bypassing the relays. It's getting real old though so I'm going to have to resetup my pi soon but you can run it as normal even if something were to happen to the pi
5. I've watched a few youtube on this in anticipation of doing it myself. You can open the box and rotate the cams to click the microswitches anywhere in the cycle. But that particular requirement you have actually looks like what they come defaulted to, so you'll be fine.
EDIT: 6. Welcome to the club!
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,624
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Welcome to the dark side!!!

First rule of DIY pool controllers is copy copy copy. Life gets much easier that way. Everything you listed is very possible and not overly difficult. So you mention redundancy.

I would start by buying 2 raspberry pi’s. And get at least 2 (3 is better) micro SD cards. These parts are relatively cheap and if anything ever breaks you already have spares.

You will need 2 of these relay boards, so buy 3 and you have a spare in case of a failure.


I also have a super watchdog so if the pi bombs out it will automatically reboot it.


Any of the standard valve actuators will work for you. I have the Intellivalves because in the future I will be able to set them to multiple positions. It does not sound like you need to do that so just buy the Hayward or Jandy actuators. I have heard some not so great things about the Intermatic ones but no personal experience there.

Read through my thread and @cmc0619 thread and you will find a full list of stuff you need.
When you buy the high voltage relays but a few extras also (you are starting to see a trend).

The most expensive thing in the build is the box. Buy a din rail box from Altelix. You will probably have to pay about $120 for that. Unless you have a better way to mount everything. The din rails are awesome for keeping everything clean.

We are happy to share code and ideas. Ask lots of questions and post your progress.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,624
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Oh, and while you are order from Sequent, I also have a breakout board and the din rail mount for the pi. The breakout board will make it easier to wire the temp sensor in.

 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
591
Gilbert, AZ
The most expensive thing in the build is the box.
Haha...true if you don’t value your time monetarily...compared to my engineering salary (I’m retired now), I’ve spent $10Ks working on my pool projects/hobby. Using the standard building blocks (Raspberry Pi, Node Red, etc) will help tremendously but be prepared to spend some (hopefully fun!) time on this project.

Welcome aboard @WannaPool! Looking forward to following your progress...
 

WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
Thanks for the great info. I did some playing around with Node-Red yesterday (Windows install), and created an pre-alpha version of the GUI. I followed the Logitech remote control methodology: Create an "Activities" page which makes things simple to operate for the layperson (Run Spa, Run Spa without Heat, etc), then also have individual "Device" pages for the more technical/detailed control on the individual elements. I successfully tested access from iPhone while at house, and also over VPN while away from house.

I do have a question about my light-
In the @cmc0619 build thread, it looks like he has 120V lights. My lights are 12V. 120V is stepped down through a transformer in my Intermattic box
From the specs in the box:
TRANSFORMER RATINGS:
INPUT: 120 V, 60 Hz, 3 A MAX
OUTPUT: 12, 13 OR 14 V -300 W LAMP MAX ANY TAP
There is a single breaker for the light (assuming on the 120V side of transformer), and little plastic reset switch (looks like a momentary contact switch).

I am thinking I will need to add this transformer to my new box.
Anyone else dealing with automating 12V lights?

BTW, lighting is one area the once wired up, I will most likely be paying an electrician to sign off on the work.
 

jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
591
Gilbert, AZ
12VAC right? I went with this cheap transformer for my Pool LEDs: 3.3Amp. It’s a finished model vs a bare transformer.


Ideally you could get a DIN mounted one like this one (but this is 240vac, so no go for you probably) if you are doing a DIN build. The others guys might have some options for you. That was the first item that popped up, there could be others.

 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,624
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
I just ignored my lights since they were controlled by a switch I had in the house that I automated with my home lighting automation. However, switching 12V is easy. Just get the right transformer and then switch it through one of the relays in the hat.
 

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Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,624
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Simple UI is good too. I have mine set up very similar. Here is a screenshot from the iPad it just scrolls vertically on the phone. I then have a second menu where I have some details about the pump.
 

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WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
@jonpcar Thanks- I will look into the DIN idea. But I think the rating needs to be pretty high (my color changing light has 2x75W bulbs, and I assume the spa light is at least 75W). Do you have a 120VAC outlet in your controller box for that sealed transformer?
 

cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
170
Cherry Hill, NJ
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool Edge-40
I do have a question about my light-
In the @cmc0619 build thread, it looks like he has 120V lights. My lights are 12V. 120V is stepped down through a transformer in my Intermattic box
From the specs in the box:
TRANSFORMER RATINGS:
INPUT: 120 V, 60 Hz, 3 A MAX
OUTPUT: 12, 13 OR 14 V -300 W LAMP MAX ANY TAP
There is a single breaker for the light (assuming on the 120V side of transformer), and little plastic reset switch (looks like a momentary contact switch).

I am thinking I will need to add this transformer to my new box.
Anyone else dealing with automating 12V lights?

BTW, lighting is one area the once wired up, I will most likely be paying an electrician to sign off on the work.
Those specs look a lot like this unit on Amazon. You'd want a safety transformer for sure. Could you just repurpose the transformer you already have?
 

WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
I could- It just won't be as pretty :)

LightTransformer_sm.jpg

Good point about the safety transformer- It looks like they have more isolation.
 

cmc0619

Gold Supporter
May 2, 2018
170
Cherry Hill, NJ
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool Edge-40
I could- It just won't be as pretty :)

View attachment 143563

Good point about the safety transformer- It looks like they have more isolation.
Well THAT I understand! Pretty cost me an extra $150 when building my controller and it was worth every penny.

I found some safety transformers that look like they'd fit the bill. Link
 
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jonpcar

Bronze Supporter
Jun 1, 2016
591
Gilbert, AZ
Could you just repurpose the transformer you already have?
Wannapool, I forgot to get back about your transformer...yes your wattage needs are much higher than my pool lights need. If you don’t want to mess with running 120vac around, why not go with a version of cmc’s idea...but just run your 12VAC from your existing box over to your new pool controller box ( I did that for my 24vac valve control) OR run your control logic over to a (new) relay where your existing 12VAC transformer resides ( I did that for my pool LED)?
 

WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
jonpcar- I am actually re-evaluating automation of the light. The interesting part would be to select a color, instead of physical wall switching on/off to do this. But color selection on this light is not very deterministic.... I am not sure it could be effectively automated (Color is created by a spinning color wheel). Controlling the light from inside the house has never really been an issue (we use it a lot). The only inconvenience with the light is when we get to bed and realize it is still on... then we need to run across the house. I may just throw in an Alexa wall switch to solve that.

I would like to get rid of the Intermatic power/timer/distribution box completely- If so, I am thinking about just cma0619 re-purposing, and physically moving the current transformer into the new control box.
Then again... part of me wants to keep in on the wall and somehow wire up as an "override" in case the control system fails for an extended period of time.... (it would be nice to be able to MANUALLY turn on the power relays...)
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,624
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
I would like to get rid of the Intermatic power/timer/distribution box completely- If so, I am thinking about just cma0619 re-purposing, and physically moving the current transformer into the new control box.
Then again... part of me wants to keep in on the wall and somehow wire up as an "override" in case the control system fails for an extended period of time.... (it would be nice to be able to MANUALLY turn on the power relays...)

You could use the Intermatic box as your load center. Remove the pins on the timer wheels so it is always passing power through to your new controller. If the electronic controller fails you can bypass the relays and use the manual timer again.

You might also be overthinking it since I have installed my controller it has been rock solid. I have spare hats and relays and even my dev pi. Everything that is mission critical I have a back up of. Actually except the power supply for the pi. Going to order one of those now, it was pretty cheap. The 24VAC power supply was a little pricey but it is not mission critical and I do have a ugly one I can use in a pinch while I order a new one.
 
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WannaPool

Well-known member
Feb 17, 2011
57
So I received my Raspberry Pi last night. Perhaps someone can help me. I am unsure of the orientation of the IDE cable to connect the hard drive. Does this look correct?

IDECable.jpg

Just kidding :p
I was kicking myself because I thought I had some microSD's around, but nope- Emergency trip to Best Buy to stand outside while en employee with a mask and gloves ran inside and grabbed me one. A car trip and spending $5 more could have been avoided by Amazon Prime Next Day Delivery, but hey... I needed it RIGHT NOW.

Setup so far has been pretty straight forward. Accomplished:
1) Securely connected (mac filtered)/reserved seated to wifi. Probably will eventually just hardcode IP. Does anyone have issues with Wifi when this is in case around all the high voltage?
2) Installed remote desktop, so now I can just login from my office machine. No telnet, ftp, etc.
- One thing I've noticed is that when using windows remote login, I cannot shutdown the pi from the pi desktop interface (button doesn't work). I have to shut it down from command line
3) Node-red can now send emails and texts using gmail smtp server

I am having issues with node-red-contrib-amazon-echo. Trying port 80, which is suggested for new Amazon devices. I could not get it to work on Windows node-red (no new devices discovered by Alexa). Trying on the Pi, the user account does not have permission to listen on port 80. Exact error: "Error: listen EACCES: permission denied 0.0.0.0:80." Kind of odd that is not populating with 127.0.0.1, localhost, or the actual IP. Some google searching results in this can be fixed by running node-red as root. Which when you do, you seem to lose all your flows.... and also, there is no good reason to have to run software like this as root. I found this, Amazon Echo Hub, and made the required changes. Unfortunately, alexa is still not discovering any node-red "devices."

Waiting on an 8 relay Hat which I ordered yesterday.
Also need to figure out which temp sensors and pressure sensor to buy. I am planning on adding in PVC T's with threads for the temp sensors to both my pool and spa pump return lines.
 
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