Automating pool or spa water level

Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:02 am
berkinet offline
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Automating pool or spa water level

(Discussion moved here from this thread )

Korey wrote:
(1) Here is my skimmer location :( :
(2) What are you using to detect the contact closure on the float valve?

(3) Guess we should almost have a separate thread as this is gotten away from the RainMachine info! :o

(1) Ahh, yes I see. One possibility I see from the photo would be to push a small rigid tube just under the concrete and use that to route a pair of wires to the skimmer. You might even be able to push through a direct burial cable without a conduit. Then use an angle float glued to the inside of the skimmer. Just out of curiosity, above and to the left of the skimmer, is that an access cover to something? The other possibility is to use something wireless attached to the dog? Actually, you might be able to use something like a wireless door detector (Z-Wave) in a well sealed box inside the skimmer- maybe glued under the cover, and do the same with the switch.

(2) I am using a Phidget InterfaceKit digital input. But, anything capable of detecting an open/close state would work. Say, I/O-Linc, Z-wave receiver, etc.

(3) 8)

Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:53 am
berkinet offline
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

In another thread,RogueProeliator wrote:
In that case... a bit more info.
...let me know what you think:... ...We have an unused pipe that connects to the pool about a foot or so below the water line,.. ...I'm kind of thinking I could attach to that vertical piece (assuming it goes to depth there and horizontal to the pool) OR cut into it somewhere just off the pool. Point being, the water level attachment would not be at the skimmer. However, my thoughts are that the inlet being lower would help to ease wave motion (though you seem to have that somewhat solved with logic anyway).

Sounds good to me. I only chose the skimmer because in my case it was the only way to do it... short of drilling into the pool from the outside (very low SAF). Actually, being away from the skimmer is probably an advantage. The distance from the pool to the sight glass (the vertical pipe) is irrelevant and as long as the top of the pipe is higher than the pool, water can't come out of it. So, you can place that anywhere out of sight and convenient for your wiring. Of course, you could do wireless as well (as suggested to Korey).

As previously, the hardest part is getting the switch assemble mounted in the pipe so the switch is at the right height in the pipe. BTW, you can use any diameter pipe or flexible tubing, for the horizontal run - smaller is probably better - for damping. But, for the vertical piece you need to have something big enough for the switch to slide into.

At the top of the pipe I used a slip to thread adapter and a plug and then covered the whole thing with a larger sized slip cap.
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Or, off course, you could also use a slip to male and a cap.
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.

Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:28 am
roussell offline
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

At a previous home, I installed a Maxbotix ultrasound sensor under the dive board, and facing the water, it tied into an Arduino and reported the distance between the face of the sensor and the water level in inches. The measurement data was available in real-time, but I only read it once at midnight (averaged several readings over an hour, actually) to avoid splashes, pool toys, jumping in diving board, etc. from interfering with the measurement. It worked well for almost 3 years before we moved. I have a pool again, but haven’t done the install at this house, mostly due to time constraints.

I see Maxbotix has more variations on the sensor product line now, might be worth a look.

https://www.maxbotix.com

Terry




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Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:33 pm
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

Hmm, I wonder if a combined approach would be easiest -- utilize the idea of the pipe but substitute the float switch with an ultrasonic sensor. Could be wrong, but my guess it would be easier to calibrate without having to jump through hoops of getting the height right.

These are great ideas!

Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:58 pm
roussell offline
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Automating pool or spa water level

RogueProeliator wrote:
Hmm, I wonder if a combined approach would be easiest -- utilize the idea of the pipe but substitute the float switch with an ultrasonic sensor. Could be wrong, but my guess it would be easier to calibrate without having to jump through hoops of getting the height right.

These are great ideas!


There’s no calibration with the Maxbotix ultrasonic sensor. You apply power and it starts spitting out distance in inches. I just measured the distance from the bottom of the diving board to the centerline of the pool skimmer (my ideal waterline) and used that measurement as “full”. If the sensor measured less than that “full” distance, the pool had a lot of extra water, usually from rain. If the sensor measured a greater distance, it needed water. My fill pipe would supply about an inch of water per hour so it was easy to calculate how long to run it.

Terry


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Posted on
Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:05 pm
berkinet offline
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

roussell wrote:
At a previous home, I installed a Maxbotix ultrasound sensor under the dive board...

A few thoughts... A pipe may have accoustic issues because of the enclosed space. Also, as an enclosed environment there could be humidity problems. I use a Maxbotix sensor for a fuel oil tank and in certain cases it gets condensation in it and goes whacky for a few days. For use under a skimmer cover I would be concerned that there would not be enough distance. The minimum distance the sensor can measure is 6 inches. Also, it may be difficult to find a wireless means of connecting the sensor.

BTW I mounted my level switch onto a piece of all-thread and was able to adjust it fairly easily with a large enough range to set it. Precision is not really an issue.

Posted on
Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:59 am
berkinet offline
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

I found some interesting devices at Omega.com. In particular[url=https://www.omega.com/pptst/LV170.htmlthis optical sensor [/url] was something I hadn't seen before. They also have a number of other products that might be promising. In particular, the LV series and the LVC series. These look like professional quality and the prices generally seem to confirm that. Though, the LV-10 is reasonably priced for a DIY project.

One note on mounting sensors like the LV series. I attached a threaded tube to the top of the sensor and then fed the wiring up the tube. There are all kinds of brass tubing products with internal and external threads that can work here. Note also, you can drill a hole in the side of the tube to have an exit for the wire if you don't want it coming out the top. You can then use threaded nuts or even a rubber compression fitting to hold the assembly in place in the pipe cap/plug

I also found this article. Some electronic skills required. But, it looks like an interesting way to go. Though, the actual project construction details are not in the article.

For Korey I'd think something like the LV-10 hanging from your skimmer cover (you could glue it to the cover, or drill a small mounting hole and use a small bolt to hold it in place) along with a modified Z-Wave door sensor might do the trick.

Posted on
Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:38 am
Colorado4Wheeler offline
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Re: Automating pool or spa water level

One somewhat low-tech way to do this would be to use a Z-wave leak sensor and open it up to access the sensor leads (generally to metal feet on the sensor) and run wires to where your desired water level would be, then treat it backwards from its design - instead of doing something when it detects a leak it instead does something when it does not detect a leak and is, thusly, not in an alert state.

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