Honorable Mention #7
Greener Lawn: A Sprinkler Control System
The well-made Greener Lawn system gathers historical weather data and forecasts and then makes intelligent watering decisions based on that data. The design features an ATmega128 processor connected to the Internet through a WIZnet WIZ810MJ. The weather forecasting and rainfall totals come from the National Weather Service’s FTP server. Linux shell and Perl scripts gather the data and parse out the rainfall totals. This is stored as plain text files on the Linux web server. A PHP script running on an Apache web server enables you to configure the sprinkler controller. A second PHP script ties all of this information together into a single downloadable file that is requested by the WIZ810MJ.
“A long-time pet peeve of mine has been watching underground lawn sprinklers running during a rain shower, or when it’s obvious that a shower is coming at any moment. It seems like such a waste to consume that energy and water. The Greener Lawn sprinkler controller system aims to be smart enough to make some basic decisions about whether or not it’s a good idea to water the lawn. It consists of two primary pieces: the controller and a web server. An ATmega128 processor connected to the Internet through a WIZnet WIZ810MJ is the controller that actually controls the pump and solenoids. I was able to offload all of the physical Ethernet packet handling to a separate ‘black-box,’ thereby allowing me to use the relatively simple and inexpensive microcontroller. Knowing that I had a good network controller that, with just a few lines of code, would start responding to ping requests expedited the development process.”—Zack Clobes