Zigbee Irrigation Controller and Moisture Sensors - Eve is now Spruce


(Nate) #1

Hi All,

I want to show you an irrigation controller and moisture sensor project I have been working on and am planning on manufacturing for SmartThings.

When I got SmartThings I was looking for an irrigation controller to hook up to it. I couldn’t find one that did what I wanted, at least, not easily. I wanted to be able to have it change it’s schedule based off some kind of moisture sensors and use the weather forecast. I also wanted it to spray some neighborhood pets that were making a mess of my mulch beds.

**So I built Spruce. **

Spruce uses a Zigbee radio to connect to SmartThings and then a series of apps depending on what it needs to do. It is 8 zone with touch buttons and LED status for each. The Spruce logo in the center changes color to indicate connection. It uses the same standard 24vac power supply just like every other irrigation timer.

We also have a Zigbee moisture sensor, the Spruce Sensor. The moisture reading uses capacitance so there are no electrodes to corrode.

Since Spruce pairs directly with SmartThings and uses the Switch Zigbee cluster it is easy to write apps to utilize the Spruce moisture sensors and the weather API. One smartapp has straight forward manual scheduling that is set up for zones without moisture sensors. And another smartapp uses moisture levels and weather to decide when and for how long to water. With the Switch command, the built in SmartThings motion triggers work to switch on a zone to scare off unsuspecting pets digging around in the yard.

**With the flexibility of SmartThings and all the sensors and external triggers available, the options are pretty limitless. **

At my house I have been running 5 zones off of it without issue for 2 months now, although I have recently started updating the code to become fully Zigbee HA compatible. There is still some testing to go, but joining, fingerprinting, device identification are all fully functional and SmartThings installs the device without issue. I still have an issue with the “st cmd” and have been using a workaround.

I have also been experimenting with moisture sensor control and several different feedback loops to see which method generates the best watering schedules. The water needs are based off published papers. The whole system is getting installed at 2 people’s homes this weekend, so we will have some more data points for functionality and moisture control loops. I have to say, running with moisture feedback and weather forecasts is pretty cool!

Its pretty neat to see the notifications that Spruce is rescheduling because Zone 2 moisture is 75% or Spruce is rescheduling because of 80% chance of rain! SmartThings is awesome!

A long story, short, partway through testing, I though this would be cool to manufacture. So I went through a few iterations of PCB boards and built some prototypes.

I still have a few things to work out from a manufacturing and Zigbee HA compatibility viewpoint but it is almost there. The IC uses the Arduino Leonardo bootloader with USB so it is hackable. There is a touch IC and LED driver onboard as well as AC to 3.3v power chip. The prototypes shown are 3D printed but will be injection molded in the future.

6/15/15: We have successfully funded our Kickstarter, pricing was very competitive with other devices out there, beating most by a healthy margin when you already own SmartThings. We’re also now taking preorders on our website.

Visit us, Like us, Follow us and sign up for our Kickstarter email list! :smile:

What are your thoughts?

Spruce Irrigation
Orbit Sprinkler Timer (Iris)
Adam and Eve: Latest update
(Longhorn84) #2

Cool! What are you using as the central controller?

(Darryl) #3

Needs a pump start relay!

(Nate) #4


With the SmartApp, it is easy enough to change a zone to a pump start or master valve. Is that sufficient? I researched this earlier and am under the impression most pump relays accept the 24VAC signal since most irrigation controllers output that signal.

Is that what you use or a dry contact?

(Nate) #5


SmartThings is the gateway to the cloud, Eden connects to SmartThings wirelessly and replaces a traditional timer and takes over for solenoid valve switching.

(Darryl) #6

Yeah that is probably adequate. I currently use EtherRain7P, which is using a 24VAC signal.

(Dave) #7

Wow, this looks fantastic and I’m really impressed as it seems to be a from scratch 1 person project. Hope to see the Kickstarter soon.

(Anthony) #8

I’m really excited for this!! I’ll back this all day long!!

(Longhorn84) #9

I guess I meant, what do you plug the wires into? For example, if you have 8 zones?

(Nate) #10

Here is a picture of the back of the Eden controller prototype, 24vAC from an Orbit wall plug (Home Depot), then 2 common terminals followed by 8 station terminals. The wire shown is Home Depot Sprinkler Wire, which then runs under the house to the 3 Orbit Solenoid valves in the back of the house and 2 Valves at the front of the house.

Typical irrigation wiring runs 1 common to each valve bank then ties them all together there, so only 1 common is needed at the controller for each group of valves, of course you can put more than 1 common wire into a common terminal.

I am excited for this too…
Working hard to come up with the smartest, yet simplest watering algorithms to make it as hands off as possible. The aim is to maximize adaptability to reduce water use but still have healthy plants without the user having to do anything, other than initial setup.

(llcanada) #11

Any chance of a zwave version?

(Brian Smith) #12

What I really like about this is local control. When you have a contractor come over to work on your system, they don’t need you there nor do they need access to the network, etc. just touch the box. That is actually a very big win over the other systems I have seen. They forget that regular people don’t do their own system. They leave it up to a contractor to maintain.

I could even see combining this with a Aeon MiniMote for complete remote control without a smartphone. Just leave that outside for your contractor with a note and they could control all 8 zones!

(Dan) #13

This looks like an awesome project! I’ll back it if the system is affordable. I can see a lot of uses for this, particularly with my micro-irrigation systems. I don’t have a full irrigation system, but do some extensive things with micro-irrigation to keep my decorative plants, fruits, and veggies happy. It might be worthwhile to see if the team at Oso (www.myplantlink.com) is willing to team up with you as they have experience with this, including the manufacturing aspect. They were also successful on Kickstarter. If you want feedback on the proposal, feel free to post a link (or send me one) to the project preview. The group on here is surely friendly and constructive. :smile:

(Steve Ganz) #14

Any plans for a 12 or 16 zone version? I’ve been using Rachio Iro and have been pleased so far but would replace it with a SmartThings compatible device in a heart beat.

(Nate) #15

Zwave -
No plan at the moment, but will seriously look into it after this version is rolling along. Fully aware, more brands support zwave than zigbee.

More Zones-
Based off current quotes, and barring too many hidden costs, the target is to keep it affordable to the point that adding a 2nd Eden controller isn’t cost prohibitive when compared to similar products.

Is installing 2 out of the question for you guys with more than 8 zones? Is it cost or function driven?

Local control-
Will most likely have a touch disable built in as well, either in the app, or the center logo which is also touch.

(Brian) #16

Can you slip us a ballpark of what you are thinking? $50, $100, $150? What about the sensors?

(Nate) #17

Thanks for the ideas, will keep it in mind, both plantlink and sharing the kickstarter pre-release.

I am going to be vague for a little longer, as I am still compiling quotes and figuring our manufacturing costs. The early bird Kickstarter prices will be a great value. The Eden controller + SmartThings hub will compete with the Wi-Fi based solutions so that should give you an idea of the Eden price. Moisture sensor price will be similar to other SmartThings sensors.

(Nate) #18

Thanks to @urman

who helped me get the “st cmd” command working… zigbee update took care of it. That was a major step toward Zigbee Home Automation compatibility, meaning when complete the devices should work with ANY zigbee HA system. Zigbee HA is the “standard” for devices across platforms to talk to each other. So if Revolve for instance gets their Zigbee working, we should be compatible with that as well.

Also installed a system at someone else’s house over the weekend, went well. The SmartThings hub is at the back of the house, Eden controller in the garage. 1 Adam sensor in the front flowerbed capturing data from the front lawn/flowerbed sprinklers and another in the back catching the back lawn. We will add more sensors later on. For now we transferred the existing schedule over to observe current water trends. In 1-2 weeks, will activate moisture/weather control and improve on water use and “best watering practices.”

Took 5 minutes to replace the irrigation controller with Eden and less than 5 minutes to set up the schedules.

They had 2 irrigation controllers, another outside at the back of the house, for you guys with high zone count, are you primarily using one controller or multiple, in this case it was probably cheaper/easier to just add a second controller. I think the labor to run or add wiring can be more than simply adding a 2nd controller?

(Brian) #19


If you need any pre-kickstarter beta testers, ill be happy to volunteer. :smiley:
I currently have 6 zones with no smarts.

(Stan) #20

Hardware design looks elegant.