Dr. Scott M. Baker's Battery-Powered Sprinkler Remote Makes Use of an ESP8266's Deep Sleep Mode

Designed to run for as long as possible on three AAA batteries, this one-button box triggers a RainMachine sprinkler system.

Dr. Scott M. Baker has shown off a Wi-Fi connected button, powered by an Espressif ESP8266 microcontroller, which has only one purpose in life: to trigger a garden sprinkler system.

"The way the pipes are configured for the sprinkler system, there’s a master valve in front of the yard hydrant that I use for my garden hose (there are reasons for this, but they are due to plumbing, not due to electronics!)," Baker writes of the project. "I have a RainMachine smart sprinkler system controller, so I can easily trigger the master valve from my phone or iPad."

"However, I don’t always have my phone on me, and it’s an extra step to open up some app and login just to be able to turn on a faucet. So, I put together this ESP8266-based remote control."

Powered by an ESP8266, this sprinkler-triggering remote makes use of deep-sleep to preserve battery life. (📹: Dr. Scott M. Baker)

To avoid the need for mains electricity, Baker turned to a trio of AAA batteries which run through a Microchip MCP1700-3302E low drop-out regulator. A physical button, meanwhile, interrupts the ESP8266 from its deep sleep mode — which keeps energy consumption to a bare minimum when the device isn't in use.

"No custom pcboards here. I assembled the regulator and its capacitors by soldering the components and wires together," Baker explains of the physical side of the project. "Then I gunked them up good with the hot melt glue gun."

"The battery holder came from Amazon — it’s a quad AAA holder with one of the slots wired across. The button also came from Amazon, the result of a search for 'waterproof button' (which I’m not entirely convinced is waterproof; we’ll see). The blue case is an 'S3 T2000 Watertight Case,' which I’ve used in a few previous projects."

Baker's full write-up is available on his website, while the project source code has been published to GitHub under an unspecified open source license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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