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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tempo 24A - 24B Station Master Pro


I would like to start talking about test equipment. We all have had to trouble-shoot some kind or wireing issue in the field. This can be a big time waster and a major headache if you don't have the right equipment.

There is a lot of equipment that you can use to trouble-shoot wireing problems, and all come with a price. The one I would like to talk about is the "Tempo 24A - 24B Station Master Pro" In my oppinion this is the second most important piece of trouble-shooting equipment you can have. It will save you a lot of time, and money. You might even save some hair from head scraching. (Individule head scratching may very. <------ Disclaimer)

Have you ever found a controller or satellite box that has multible wires that aren't attached to anything. Their just sitting there and no one knows where they go. Have you ever found a splice box out in the field and wonder what wire goes to what head or valve. If I was to ask you to find the wire to station 12, in this photo could you?
The Tempo 24A 24B Sation Master Pro can help. To use the Station Master you hook up one lead to the wire you are trying to locate. Either at the satellite/controller or at the end of the wire which might be a valve in head, a valve in landscapeing or maybe a spice box. You hook the other end to a ground or stick a screw driver in the soil and use it. Turn switch to Tone and it will send a tone through the wire. Using the inductive amplifier (I call it the Lollie Pop) you push the button as you touch each wire until you hear tone. Now all the wires will have some tone, you are listening for the one wire that has the loudest tone. If the tones are to much a like you can turn down the tone until the red light disapears then when you touch the wires there should be one where the red light lights up and not on the others. Another great way to use this tool is locating extra wires. Say you have a valve that doesn't work but you have extra wires in the same box or at golf courses maybe they are burried under the head. You hook one lead to the extra wire, the other to a ground/screw driver. Then you can go to the satellite and listen for tone on your extra wires. Bingo you just save yourself some time in hooking up each wire until you find the right one. It takes some time to get used to but is well worth the money and time to use it. You can also use the Station Master to test each station at the satellite/controller for 24 volts, a short, an open or cut wire. Hook one lead to the common wire and then touch each stations terminal spot. you will see the lights on the unit turn green for good, there is a red light for short and another for open and one for 24 volts. If you want more information on this product or any others you find on this blog, you can eamil me at Irrig_Dude@yahoo.com or check with your local distributor. Happy New Year! and best of luck with all your irrigation trouble-shooting

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moisture Sensors

Hello All, There is a new buzz word in the irrigation industry, or should I say buzz words "Moisture Sensors". I recently did a talk on Moisture Sensors with Sean Vanos of the Seattle Seahawks practice field in Renton WA. It was held at the Washington Turf and Landscape Show in Bellevue WA. We spoke in front of the Athletic Field class and again in the Irrigation Serivce class, and wanted to also add it to my blog. Moisture sensors in the past were expensive and never really worked that well. When the soil reached field capacity they would shut the irrigation system off. Much like a Rain Sensor. Which is a whole other topic, and one that I will blog about at another time.
Today you can get moisture sensors that detect not only moisture levels but soil temperature and salinity. With these high tech sesnors you can get reprorts of what is actually going on at the root zone. These sesnors broadcast information every 5 to 15 minutes. This helps you better manage your water use. There is no more guess work with ET (Evaportranspiration) for differnet microclimates you may have on your properties. Your ET data may be calabrated from a sorce that is in 100% sun. How do you irrigate for a zone or station that is in 75% shade? There a little guess work, but with moisture sensors you know for sure what is happening at the root zone. Moisture sensors will save you water, money and time, meaning they pay for themselves. Turf Guard by TORO is making big strides in the Golf and Athletic field arenas. Not only are they saving them water and money but are promoting healthier plants and turf. For more information email me at Irrig_Dude@yahoo.com. Would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Digital Multi Meter

Fluke Multi Meter

I'd like to talk about "Tools of the Trade". Every month I plan to highlight one piece of equipment that I use out in the field. This month we will cover the use of a digital multi meter, or volt-ohms meter. This is a must have for all irrigation techs.

There are many types of multi meters on the market today. Don't get caught up in what I call "Fluke envy". Sure it's nice to have a meter displayed in the photo above and they are the best you can buy, but do you really need to spend $300.00 on a meter that is going to be thrown around in a tool box and cart? We all know that if you're trouble shooting an irrigation problem, you and your tools are going to get dirty and wet. Let the big boys play with their fancy $300.00 meters. I recommend you have a moderately priced sturdy one. You can get these from your local distributor for about $20.00 and it will do everything you need it to do. If you hook it up wrong and fry it, you're only out twenty bucks. The one I use cost me about $50.00. I have a little Fluke envy, but I do have a $20.00 meter for working in the rain and mud.

I bet you're asking "So why do I need a digital multi meter?" Have you ever tried to turn on a station and have it not respond? What do you do? Do you dig up the valve or head and replace it with a new one? What if that doesn't solve the problem? Now what? You likely just wasted a few hours of your time and no one digs holes just for fun. If a station doesn't come on, I will start by checking to make sure the valve or head is not manually shut off either at the controller or the station itself. You might want to check to see if the water source is shut off also. Next, check for Ohms resistance. First at the controller hook one lead of your meter to your common wire, and the other lead to the station you want to troubleshoot. If there is only one valve or head on that station you should get a reading of about 32 Ohms. If you have two valves or heads with two wires hooked to the same station you would get a reading of 16 Ohms, (you split it in half). If you had two valves or heads on one wire you might get a reading of 64. There is more resistance in the wire.

If you were to get a reading of zero or very low reading, you might have a solenoid that has gone bad and will need to replace it. After replacing the solenoid I will cut the wires and check Ohms resistance again with just the solenoid wires. Just to double check. If I have found that it is bad I will take the two wires of the solenoid and tie a knot. This way I won't mix my bad solenoids with my good ones.

If you get a high number or an OL (over the limit) reading, this usually means there is a cut wire in the field. If you suspect a cut wire, ask yourself and others, "has there been any digging in this area lately?" or "has someone been out trimming grass around the heads?" Another potential problem could be a splice has gone bad or was not properly installed. Check all splice boxes in the area and look for any evidence of loose wires or wires that may have been pulled apart.

Let's say that the Ohms test checks out fine. Now where do we go? Now you want to make sure that you have 24 volts AC going out to the field. Put your meter on 20 AC, turn the station on and, using the probes of the meter, touch one probe to the common and the other to the station you are testing. Did you get 24 volts? If so then you know the controller is good. If not then it might be the controller itself or just the station module of the controller. Some controllers have station modules that can be replaced. If you have one of these, take a good module and swap it with the one the is suspect. If the problem travels with the module then you know that one is bad.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions please respond to this post. If you feel like you don't want to post then you can email me at Irrig_Dude@yahoo.com.

In next month's blog I will discuss another tool that will help locate a wire in a splice box or bundles of wire in the ground. Stay Tuned. If you suspect there is a cut wire in the field this can be located with a Fault Locator, which is a great tool to have but is a little pricey. I will talk about the Fault Locator in a few months. If you need immediate help please post a comment and I will reply.


Happy troubleshooting and be very careful, electricity can kill!

Carl


This is a moderatley priced meter made by Greenlee.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Welcome and Happy New Year 2011


Welcome to the "Irrigation Dude" blog.

I wanted to start a blog for all of us in the irrigation world. My goal is to help everyone with any question they may have, and we all can help each other to become better irrigators. I will have a host of professional irrigation people to help out with questions.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is looking forward to 2011. I believe this is the year that the economy starts to turn around and we see more people spending money and playing more golf. I'm working on putting together an irrigation class, and I want to ask you: What would you like to see in an irrigation class?

At this time theses are the topics I would like to cover. If you have any other suggestions please feel free to respond to this blog with your ideas.

Topics for class

1. Electrical Troubleshooting: Controllers, Satellites and Valve-in-Head
2. Basic hydraulics
3. Basic irrigation design
4. Pipe gluing and repair fittings
5. Tools of the Trade: Troubleshooting Tools to Make Life Easier

Each attendee will receive documents on all topics covered a troubleshooting guide for their type of irrigation system. IE, Network 8000, LTC Plus etc.

We are trying to limit this to one day, but if there is enough interest we could do a larger class and hit more topics. Please give me your thoughts and lets have a great 2011!

Please don't forget to subscribe or follow my BLOG.

(Image courtesy of CT Photography) Salish Cliffs Golf Course 2010