Extend contact closure from one site to another


#1

Hello! I’m new here, and I’n not too bright, so I hope someone can help me with my issue.

I represent a residential community that has a shared water well. The well pumps water to a large storage tank several thousand feet away. Originally there was an underground hard-wired connection between a float switch in the tank and the pump; via that link, the float switch would trip a relay at the well that, in turn, activated the 240-volt pump. Some time ago the wire got cut or damaged. We couldn’t find the fault, so a radio link was installed for this purpose. However, there is no line of sight between the two locations and when the leaves are on the trees the radio link is very unreliable. So we are wondering if a data link via the Internet might be an alternative. We can get Internet connectivity at both ends.

The question, therefore, is: what products (hardware and, if necessary, software) - if any - would allow the float switch to trip the pump? Ideally, there would be no requirement for a computer in the loop. We’d just set up either a static IP address for the appropriate device on each end or use DDNS to accommodate IP address changes via DHCP, set up port forwarding in the routers at each end and be done with it.

Any and all advice and counsel would be most appreciated!


#2

Hi,

First can I ask what wireless product you are using now? We offer this product which has a standard range of 2 miles:


Now if you mount the antennas for these products up on a pole you will get really good range. You can increase the range even further(up to 25 miles according to wireless module manufacturer) by using higher gain Yagi style antennas.
If at all possible I recommend sticking with a stand alone wireless system for this sort of application. We have sold thousands of these wireless boards for applications just like you’re describing.


#3

Thanks for your response Travis. I do not currently know what the current wireless product is, but I’ll go look and get back to you shortly. Stay tuned!

Brian


#4

Does this photo answer your question Travis?


#5

This appears to be the product:

It is 900mhz and has a transmit power of 250mW. Honestly that looks like a pretty good solution to your application. If I were in your shoes I would try first mounting the antennas up higher, then if that does not work contact www.l-comm.com and get a higher gain 900mhz antenna.

I could sell you a product that does the exact same thing but there honestly is no reason you cannot use what you have.

If you decide you really want to go with an internet connected product let me know.


#6

Alternate antennas have been tried, and we cannot go higher with them. There’s a 160-foot difference in elevation between the tank and the pump with LOTS of trees and a mountainside in between. I’d like to see what we can do with Internet, if anything.


#7

Ok. Do you just need to transmit a single contact one direction I assume?

Do you have WiFi network coverage where the boards would be installed?


#8

You could use two Photons with one of these boards, and one relay board.

You could also add a pressure gauge to the Tank Site and not have to depend on the floats/probes, or if you want a backup to them.


#9

Yes, Travis. WiFi can be easily provided.


#10

Hi,

It will require some really simple firmware to be written into the boards but I would recommend the boards in this cart:
https://store.ncd.io/kc/6fr4

I added 1 hour of custom firmware development which will be used to write firmware into the boards to make them an internet mirror pair. Each board has a relay on it and 7 digital inputs. We will use one input on one board and 1 relay on the other. Essentially when the input on one board closes the relay on the second board will turn on, and when that input opens the relay will turn off. This should do exactly what you need.

If you have any questions on this please let me know.

Thank you,
Travis Elliott


#11

Very good Travis! Much appreciated. I will have a few questions for you about setup, e.g. getting a message sent and delivered from one end to the other (address via domain name using DDNS, fixed IP, etc.). I have to first investigate WiFi range extenders in case the range of the existing WiFi access points is inadequate. Stay tuned to this channel.


#12

These boards will communicate through Particle’s cloud service which is free up to I believe 25 devices. No fixed IP, DDNS, or any of that setup is required.


#13

Wow; that’s great! Never heard of Particle until now but have just checked their website. Getting close here.


#14

The NCD.io equipment will also work with Particle Electrons (Cellular) if you decide not to worry with WiFi on both ends. The Cellular Service is only $3/month (per Electron).


#15

Very interesting Ryan. That might well have been the preferred way to go. However, according to Particle’s website, they work only with AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. Verizon is the only carrier that provides service in our area. Dammit.


#16

Let me know if you have any questions on Particle @blshaw45. I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

@rfontaine has a whole lot of experience with Particle and their cloud. He is an actual user of our products and can provide some user feedback as well.


#17

Great. Thanks Travis. I’m waiting on a vendor of WiFi range extenders to answer couple of questions.

Brian Shaw


#18

Brian,
I can tell you from my personal experience, I’ve been surprised with the Particle Electron.
I have several that function fine on AT&T in places that an AT&T cellular phone shows no bars.
One Electron operates underneath a Verizon Tower in a location that seemly has No AT&T Service.

Just remember, pushing a few bytes of data is much easier than Voice Communication.
Adequate reception for an Electron is not the same as our “normal” thinking for phone service.

The NCD.io boards work great with the Photon (wifi) or Electron (cellular).

You may want to consider purchasing an Electron and finding out if you have adequate Electron service at the Tank and Well sites. If the Electron doesn’t work out, I’d be shocked if you couldn’t find another use for it :grinning:

There is no right or wrong answer…both have their advantages.


#19

Many thanks Ryan. I would definitely prefer cellular. I might, indeed, give it a try. Can you tell me exactly what piece parts I would need for the entire solution?


#20

I’d recommend two of these boards:


With two Electrons plugged into them.

Both boards have 1 relay and 7 inputs. In your use case you would just use the relay at one end and only one of the inputs at the other end. I recommend using the same boards mainly because it will simplify the firmware since we can run the same code on both boards(I know that sounds strange but trust me it’s the way to go). I believe I have firmware ready to go for this since I did almost the exact same thing for our local municipality to control a remote pump feeding water to a stand pipe on the other side of town(same relay board and Electron modules).