New Sprinkler Controller

This past weekend, I sort of helped Raymond reprogram his sprinkler controller for his yard’s sprinkler system.

I’ve been thinking about mine for a few months now, as it quit working at the beginning of the summer for some reason.

The system at our house must be 25 years old, at least… It was an old Weathermatic RM Series sprinkler controller:

The problem I was having was that the sprinkler system worked very sporadically. Zone 2 would work all the time in manual mode, Zone 1 seemed to only work before 7 a.m. and Zone 3 would only come on after 6 p.m. The timer and automatic controls were worthless, and none of the zones would shut off after 30 minutes like they were supposed to.

My solution for most of the summer was to just turn it off, and to water the yard by hand, or with a sprinkler I attached to the end of a hose or two.

So, now that I’ve lost some grass from the insane 100° months we’ve had this summer, I finally decided it was time to fix the problem last weekend.

I looked at the manual. No help… the manual told me a little about the wiring, but was no help on the servicing side (too bad I didn’t know there was a service manual available online a week ago).

So, I thought about just replacing the controller. I have no idea where the valves for the zones are, so troubleshooting those didn’t sound like an easy task, and besides, they worked, when I could get them to come on… so the problem had to be in the controller.

I took it off the wall last weekend, and looked at the wires… It was a big jumble of wires, none of them the right color, and also not labeled. The 25 year old wire coming from the yard had all weathered to be the same color, and none of it had any markings…

So I asked Raymond about it, and he agreed, I should replace the controller.

Christine and I stopped at Home Depot on the way home from the lakehouse on Saturday, and she drove Jack around the parking lot (he was sleeping) while I ran in and bought a $50 RainBird PC 506 Sprinkler controller (it looked simple to operate and was under the $50 limit I’d set for myself – besides Raymond had a RainBird controller, so it had to be a good brand, right?)

When we got home, I pulled the old one off the wall (after I disconnected it from the power) and nearly dropped it on my foot. That think weighed a ton. I deposited it in the trash, then tried to figure out the wires coming out of the wall.

No help.

I connected the wires, in what I thought was the right order, connected the power to the new controller, and made it cycle through one cycle of all the zones.

I blew a fuse on zone 2.

So, I disconnected that wire, and started cycling through all of the zones… and guess what?

It worked.

So, I arranged the zone wires like I wanted them, powered it up, set the schedule, and watched my sprinkler system run through a quick 1-minute-each-zone test cycle, and then stood back and admired my handi-work.

But there was a problem. I have one wire left over that’s not connected to anything:

I have no idea what that wire is for, but it seems to not be needed… maybe I have a 4th zone I don’t know about? I’ll leave that job for another day.

Hopefully now I’ll have greener grass in a few weeks without any more work.

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