US 20120221154Al

(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2012/0221154 A1
Runge (43) Pub. Date: Aug. 30, 2012

(54) IRRIGATION CONTROLLER WITH Publication Classi?cation
_ G05D 7/06 (2006.01)
(75) Inventor‘ (Télgnas H‘ Runge’ Manasquan’ NJ (52) us. Cl. ...................................................... .. 700/284
(73) Asslgneei The Tom Company An irrigation control module is described that adjusts a Water
_ ing schedule for a connected irrigation controller based on
(21) Appl' NO" 13/406’410 Weather data provided by a local Weather station. The irriga
. _ tion control module can add additional Weather-based irriga
(22) Flled' Feb' 27’ 2012 tion schedule adjustments to an irrigation controller that may
Related U s A lication Data otherwise lack the hardWare (e. g., Wireless transmitter, su?i
' ' PP cient memory) and software (e.g., evapotranspiration algo
(60) Provisional application No. 61/446,872, ?led on Feb. l‘ithms) I0 Store and interpret Weather data frOm a Weather
25, 2011. station.

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the communication tion softWare routine for a hygroscopic rain sensor. this [0010] FIGS. like numbers refer to like elements. schedule for outdoor lights) for a connected irrigation con [0017] As seen in the example embodiment of FIG. 20 and 21 illustrate the insertion of a memory infrared) communication mechanism can alternately be used. 24 illustrates a How chart for adjusting an irri ing. In this respect. be embodied in many different incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. 1). This Irrigation Controller With Weather Station. su?icient memory) and/ action With softWare of the module 100. the module 100 can receive [0005] FIG. the troller. 22. the connection of a rain sensor that interrupts Watering during In the draWings. [0019] The module 100 generally connects to an irrigation controller 122 via a communication link.. irrigation stations) of the irriga [0007] FIG. components of the module 100.. This output port is in communication With the electrical gation schedule according to the present invention. A display 102 (e. su?icient memory) and/or softWare (e. 1.. soil embodiments of the present invention. 2 illustrates the irrigation control module of ther.. 4-19 illustrate various interface display 130 or Weather stations 120.g. 25. In another example. Wireless transmitter.. Provisional [0015] Speci?c embodiments of the invention Will noW be Application Ser.. The irrigation control module 100 can add additional Weather SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION based irrigation schedule adjustments to an irrigation control ler that may otherWise lack the hardWare (e. LCD) is exposed on tional Weather-based irrigation schedule adjustments to an the front side of the module 100 for displaying information to irrigation controller that may otherWise lack the necessary the user. in Which 140 (see FIG. 25 illustrates a How chart for using historical microcontroller.872 ?led Feb.g.US 2012/0221154 A1 Aug. any Wired (e. card into the irrigation control module of FIG. reference being made moisture sensors 130. remote controls 150 and/or computers to the accompanying draWings. vidual device stations (e. rather. 27 illustrates a How chart for controlling a WEATHER STATION lighting schedule based on sunrise and sunset times of a speci?c geographic location. an output port external exposed through the module’s hous [0011] FIG. each of these devices can each be associated With indi FIG. data from the computer 140 and/or remote control 150. This antenna 104 and transceiver create a Which embodiments of the invention are capable of Will be remote device communication link that alloWs for Wireless apparent and elucidated from the folloWing description of communication With one or more Weather stations 120. and programming irrigation controller. forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodi ments set forth herein. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0018] Preferably. and Will fully convey the scope of the invention to those [0002] Many residences or commercial sites have irrigation skilled in the art. features and advantages of housing 103. 2. The terminology used in the detailed controllers that alloW a user to schedule irrigation of their description of the embodiments illustrated in the accompa laWn at speci?c times. based on this data. ing 103 that contains the electrical circuitry or components sends irrigation schedule adjustments to the main irrigation such as a microprocessor or microcontroller.. selective opening and closing over the front side of the mod ule 100. according to the present invention that is connected to an soil moisture data from the soil sensor 130. 1 illustrates an irrigation control module Weather data from the Weather station 120 or computer 140. 26 illustrates a How chart for a rainfall estima RJ-45 connector). Wires) or Wireless (e.g. However. 1. A front cover 106 is or software (e.g. g. In one example. While Wireless radio communi screens of the irrigation control module of FIG. each irrigation station. evapotranspiration algorithms) to store and attached by hinges at the bottom region of the module 100 for interpret Weather data from a Weather station. a Watering schedule for sprinklers or a lighting data from a Weather station. 23A and 23B illustrate an alternative communication link canbe a control Wire 114 that connects to embodiment of an irrigation control module. according to the present invention that adjusts a Watering Therefore. cation is preferred. 30. alloWing more individual feedback from ing to the present invention. these controllers are typically unable to adjust [0016] FIG. 2011 entitled described With reference to the accompanying draWings. link is a Wireless interface for sending and receiving data . Which is hereby invention may. 1. Wireless trans [0003] One embodiment of the present invention is directed mitter. Preferably the control Wire 114 connects via Weather data to calculate a change in an irrigation schedule. an [0013] FIG. and.. 2012 IRRIGATION CONTROLLER WITH [0014] FIG. such as the processor or [0012] FIG.. these embodiments are pro BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION vided so that this disclosure Will be thorough and complete..g. While interface buttons 110 and 112 alloW for inter hardWare (e. No. g. The control unit receives and stores Weather data irrigation control module 100 is composed of an outer hous provided by a local Weather station and. a communications port in the irrigation controller (e.g. rain. 3 illustrates a Wireless Weather station accord tion controller 122. especially from soil moisture sensors [0008] FIGS. the control module can add addi Wireless transceiver. Fur [0006] FIG. 61/446. the module 100 includes a Wireless radio antenna 104 that is coupled to a transceiver circuit inside the [0004] These and other aspects. 1 illustrates an irrigation control module 100 their schedules based on more sophisticated Weather data. In this respect.g. Weather data provided by a local Weather station 120. to an irrigation control unit that adjusts a device operation evapotranspiration algorithms) to store and interpret Weather schedule (e. hoWever. irrigation controllers tend to over Water turf during schedule for a connected irrigation controller 122 based on Wet Weather and under Water turf during hot Weather. RELATED APPLICATIONS DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS [0001] This application claims priority to US.g. memory and controller. Many irrigation controllers alloW for nying draWings is not intended to be limiting of the invention. [0009] FIGS.

evapotranspiration) the dome 128 affects light readings to a smaller degree. Which alloWs a user to data can be transmitted via a Wireless transceiver and antenna manually specify the type of irrigation controller 122 the 126 for processing and use by the module 100..g. For example.S. The up a Zip code in a postal code database (either stored on the time and date are also shoWn and are preferably automatically memory card 107 or from the intemet via the computer 140). sunrise and sunset times can be more of the station 120 preferably includes a battery compartment accurately determined via Zip code and a current date/time. Altemately. radiation adjustment factors for certain includes a Water history display 143.. the irrigation [0033] Preferably. and latitude/longitude coordinates). light during mornings or or lat/long coordinates). evenings) since they are calibrated for light readings under a [0031] With both the geographic location and time of year clear dome. Pressing the menu button 110 brings up crease a sprinkler’s runtime by a percentage. the rain sensor 129 is com use the proper communication protocol understood by a par posed of hygroscopic material that expands When contacted ticular irrigation controller 122.g. ture display 140 shoWs 52 degrees Fahrenheit. each of Which represents a prede Wireless transmitters and antenna).. or southern portions of North America. Schedule adjustment commands are deter the module 100 has adjusted the irrigation schedule in the minedbased on factors discussed in more detail beloW and are recent past. (or similar postal code as used in other countries) as seen in [0023] The solar sensor 123 is preferably composed of a the Zip code input interface element of FIG. account for more loW-angle light and therefore more accu may register a loWer radiation value than many plants may rately determine Water needs. that houses a battery to poWer the station 120. Zip code dome and loW angle light (e.. This example radiation data can be increased [0025] The loWer. For example.. an irrigation station’s irri this display 143 to determine a rough. the diffuse or semi-opaque solar dome 128 and a light sensor. When the user enters their Zip code into schedule percentage adjustment display 141 is set to 40% and the Zip code interface element of FIG.g. This alloWs the module 100 to [0022] In the present example. the display 143 need for on-the-?y calculations. Wire 114). In this respect.g. While the time can be manually set. a solar sensor 123 for sensing solar radiation and a automatically obtain the current date and time.. For example. thereby preventing the typically displayed after setting up the module 100 With the measured radiation from becoming skeWed by arti?cial lights Weather station 120 and during normal operation. Similar adjustments can be made for a controlled [0029] FIG. such as a computer or cell susceptible to inaccurate readings due to dirt buildup on the phone Which detects and supplies location data (e. Hence. the solar sensor 123 can sense and example. Which can further increase solar radiation accuracy. FIG. 3. the location can be inputted sliding sensor to produce a variable data reading. longitude) or can com over a light sensor. ably displays the percentage that the module 100 has adjusted the database may simply store this relevant and correspond the irrigation schedule of the irrigation controller 122 in a ing data for each Zip code and day of the year. 4 illustrates an example of a main or default example. it causes the dome 128 to angle light during Winter months as compared With the south light up instead of passing directly through the clear. For [0026] FIG. tionally. “Setup”.. g. information. 30. transmitted over the communication link With the controller [0028] The loWer portion of the display 102 shoWs various 122 (e. sunrise. When loWer angle light (i.g. the Wireless Weather station 120 module 100. latitude. light that is not directly the northern U. A tempera (e. 9 the module 100 looks the current activity status reads “Dry Out Remain 12 h”. 9. Alternately. “Timer”.. tends to receive a higher percentage of loW overhead) strikes the dome 128. the module 100 can more accurately measure [0024] In contrast. With moisture. “Sensor”. a schedule adjustment labels for the interface buttons 110. termined length of time (e.US 2012/0221154 A1 Aug.g. This hygroscopic material can expand against [0030] The module 100 alloWs the user to input the location a single “on/off’ sWitch or can move a position-sensitive of the module 100. 5. module 100 is connected to.g.. such as “Menu”.. Which alloWs and thereby provide more accurate solar radiation values. 7 illus temperature sensor 127 for sensing temperature. module 100 may include a GPS receiver chip for automati Many prior art solar sensors include a clear dome positioned cally detecting location (e.g. Which includes “Clock”.g. or simply interrupt a sprinkler from tion”. prior art ern US. relative estimate of hoW gation schedule).e.. alloWs a user to manually modify the date and time for the [0021] As seen in FIG. The display 143 prefer times of day. “Remote” and “Utility”. “Loca kler’s start or ?nish time. various solar radiation adjustments based on the current date [0027] The default interface display also preferably (e. 6 illustrates the clock interface screen that light. requested and doWnloaded by the module 100 from the irri This database may include data that alloWs calculation of gation controller 122. Addi that can be used to adjust a Watering schedule. the user can vieW tion’s operational schedule (e. shoWs a plurality of bars. Since these prior art solar sensors are municate With another device. the loW angle Winter sunlight of the northern US. decreases or interruptions to a device sta irrigation schedule Was adjusted. In this domes. the free How of air into the station 120. eliminating the chart or graph form. This database can similarly . operating. command may instruct the controller 122 to increase/de “Espanol” and “%”. one day) and Which has a height [0020] The module 100 determines schedule adjustments that corresponds to or is relative to the percentage that the such as increases. these sunrise and sunset times may determine a interface display according to the present invention that is WindoW of solar radiation monitoring. Alternately. slotted portion of the Weather station 120 proportionately to account for this loW angle Winter sunlight preferably includes the temperature sensor 127. sunset. The upper portion 124 [0032] Additionally. the outdoor lights on a house). In the example shoWn. 2012 between the module 100 and irrigation controller 122 (e. as latitude and longitude coordinates as seen in the location the rain sensor 129 may comprise a “tipping bucket” style coordinate input interface element of FIG. 8 or as a Zip code sensor that senses When a bucket tips as it ?lls With rain. modify a sprin the menu shoWn in FIG. actually receive. This Weather trates the Timer interface screen. the solar sensor 123 is calibrated for the and determine solar radiation data and therefore make a more diffuse solar dome 128 and therefore accumulation of dirt on accurate estimation of Water loss (e. the module comprises an adjustable rain sensor 129 for measuring pre 100 may also interface With a computer or other device to cipitation.