Open a Drain or Pump Water out of a small Bowl?

Why do I suddenly have this compelling urge to automate my toilet? :thinking:

heheh… nahh, seriously it’s an inspiring endeavor.

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I figure since there was some discussion, earlier, about actuating a drain plug, thought I would share a link to this device I found while looking into patio door lock/unlock ideas.

basically a little linear actuator. not clear if it has limit switches or not.

Ok, so maybe a little too small

But it did get me thinking about using car power lock actuator again, considering the Zigbee interlocking relay option, or more so with the momentary operation, in this case.

Edit: OK, so I discovered a snag with the Door Lock Actuators as it relates to the dual relays, with both polarity reversing and double momentary switch options.

So, the momentary option doesn’t configure as polarity reversing, and the interlock or polarity reversing option isn’t viable with actuators without limit switches on the actuator.

So, more complicated than I initially thought.

Besides, I think this project is near perfection, as it is.

My current issue is that the gravity drain just trickles out and barely drains. All of the valves and solenoids I’ve been testing with are likely designed for some degree of water PRESSURE. So I still haven’t been able to get the water to effectively drain out of the bowl yet.

I’m back to the concept of open/close flapper/plunger devices but have no devices in mind to accomplish this.

Before looking at specific devices, I suggest you try a simulation, because I don’t think just a gravity drain is going to solve the algae issue. :thinking:

To do the simulation, let the basin fill with water. Turn the water flow off. Manually remove the drain plug and let it drain. Manually put the plug back in. Do not rinse the basin or use a towel or do anything that your automated system would not do.

Now just wait for however long your normal schedule would wait. Then check the basin and see if you consider it clean enough for your dogs to drink from the next time.

If you’re OK with those results, then you can start looking at the parts for an automated drain control.

Yes, this step had already been completed and I’m content with gravity draining results. My search is not too find something automated or powered.

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Have you thought about just a slow leak to drain the bowl. Public pet water fountain bowls do this. They fill up and then just drain slowly. So auto fill to level when motion detected. Then it will drain out when no dog there.

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It’s funny you say that because when the solenoid opens on the drain since there is no water pressure, it already slow drains so given that information you just gave me, I may try that solution and play around with it see how it works

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Just remember that that solution will typically use significantly more water than a time schedule. Although it depends how often the dogs drink. (More water in the dogs means less water on the ground.)

Worst case is your dog only goes over to the fountain two or three times a day and drinks less than a quarter of it. If the basin drains completely before the dog returns, you’ve just used three full basins of water and the dog has only drunk 3/4 of a basin. That’s a lot of wasted water.

Since you have multiple dogs, it may not be as bad, since they are all getting a chance to drink before the basin fully drains. but it’s just something to be aware of. and if you get any false motion alerts, including at night when the dogs are in the house, the basin will keep refilling and draining 24 hours a day. So the very least you may want to turn off the motion sensor detection when the dogs aren’t in the yard. :thinking::dog:

I do also have some 12 volt motion sensors that I have used in the past for other projects, and the water flow inlet is pretty quick so in theory I should be able to use emotion sensor open that inlet valve and pump a good amount of water in fairly quickly every time there’s motion. I would rather the bowl overflow then not fill up enough

Any ideas of a slow leak solution?

So as of now, I have a 12v motion sensor connected to the inlet that fills the bowl to a set level and as long as there is dog motion, it will continue to fill to that level … In case multiple dogs are drinking.

After 20 seconds of no motion, the inlet valve shuts and won’t fill any more until there is motion. This is assuming that I have the Smart Switch turned on to actually provide power to the motion sensor.

At this point, I am free to turn on the drain pump under the bowl, connected to about 2 feet of hose in a bucket. The hose is so I can pull all of the water out of the bowl but there still be water in the hose to keep the fountain pump primed. (I burned out one pump not having water coming to it when I turned it on)

I may consider a slow leak solution but not sure how to go about that. That will get me to remove all the pumping altogether, which I’m okay with either way.

Very close to completion!

I would use a plastic end cap where you would add the drain pump. But drill a small hole in it. Time the draining effect. You could use a hose to direct the water away or recapture it in a lower container and use for watering plants… less waste.

This is the kind that I know of… Dog Watering Station
but I’m sure your diy skills are up to the task…

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So, I have a thought on the drain thing… First of all this wouldn’t be considered eco-conscious, and it’s theoretical, as far as my understanding is concerned.

It relates to the “venturi effect” The idea being, rather than just having the drain solenoid open for gravity drain, the solenoid valve could be feeding water from the supply line and with the Venturi effect would pull the water from the basin out. Alhough that supply water would also become waste water.

Might be worth looking into, and it’s interesting enough, anyway. I would search “Venturi Tee” to get an idea.

Typical use focuses on air being fed rather than supply water, as the image below:

That’s an interesting concept. Once I get all the dogs cycled and watered outside, I’ll drain and bring the bowl in to see what I can come up with.

Thinking back on this, I’m not sure that this address is the issue fully. I think the bigger issue is being able to provide a drain outlet as opposed to actually getting the water to drain. Once I have an outlet opened in the pool, I have no issue getting the water out but the problem is having a closed and momentarily opened drain type apparatus.

If you want to be able to open and close the drain automatically, there are A couple of possibilities.

as @johnconstantelo mentioned there are existing valve control devices that work well with smartthings that are intended to turn a water valve off when there is a water leak. But you can use them to open or close any regular turning valve that fits the size. The main issue is that these things are huge, like breadbox size. Also expensive, maybe 180 bucks, maybe even a little more. ( except for the popular dome zwave model, which runs about $80.) But implementation is simple. Just attach a pipe to the drain that has the right kind of turn valve on it.

Here’s the dome valve controller. (Only available for the US.) It has an official Integration in the smartthings app under “valve“ device type.

As long as you’re using gravity drain, this is by far the simplest, although not the least expensive, approach. Because all you have to add is a valve into the pipe anywhere downstream of the basin and you’ll be able to open and close it with smartthings.

There are other options as we discussed previously that involve actuating the drain control, but as long as you’re OK with the size, the dome unit should be reliable and simple to implement.

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Right… I was thinking about that as well. The best I could come up with using the Venturi effect was having the drain pipe rise up and bend 180 degrees at the static water level of the bowl before continuing back down it’s normal drain path.

I’m not sure if that would ultimately create a geyser in the bowl, or what, but I think having a smaller pipe between the bottom of the bowl and the tee influences the effect to draw the water out.

The whole notion could prove fruitless. I couldn’t help but float the idea, as I get into things like this… concepts etc…

This seems to be headed towards an actuator…

Edit: The one like JD describes, is great due to the fact that the open close control is built into the device. I would note differences between Zigbee, Z-wave and WiFi as it applies to Smartthings.

I actually have one coming from China, should be here any day… paid like $25

I completely forgot about this. I know it was mentioned and I’ve even seen this in my searching but in my conceptualizing and over-creativity, it didn’t even occur to me that I could install this inline(hopefully) to the existing piping.

As mentioned, I fused a slip to female 3/4" pvc coupler to the bottom of the drain to adapt it to a more available thread format. I will look into these Dome(or similar) devices and see how it works out.

Back to Amazon!

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