Easy Library Table

LibraryTableCompMy kids are in high school now so I thought it was time they had nicer desks than the ones we got them at Ikea. I wanted to make something that would last, that they could take with them to college and beyond. I also decided I didn’t want a desk with drawers on the side, just one small drawer at the top for pencils and papers. This was both because they already have roll around cabinets for bigger things and because I didn’t want to complicate this project with a lot of drawers, which are harder to build.

library-cWhat I really wanted was not a desk at all, but a Library Table. I’ve always like Craftsman style furniture, so I went looking for plans. The internet is a great place for finding just about anything and I quickly came upon two sets of free plans as a starting point:

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 7.31.23 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-10 at 8.04.02 AM

 

 

 

 

 

I liked features of both of these desks. But both were pretty complicated, using mortise and tenon joints and wooden drawer slides. I can use a table saw and other power tools, but I’m no master craftsman, so I set out to simplify the plans and come up with something I could do a good job building.

Joinery

The first thing I needed was a joinery system. I was really worried about this because all the joinery I saw being used in the plans I looked at seemed beyond my abilities. So I did some research and decided on using dowels for the main leg supports, rabbet joints for the drawers and biscuits for everything else.

Wood

When it comes to wood there are lots of choices. You want to select an attractive hardwood for durability. But that doesn’t narrow it down much. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area there are many different woods available. If you go down to Southern Lumber you’ll see an incredible selection. But you’ll also see eye popping prices. I did a sample pricing using cherry wood. It would have been a beautiful desk for around $1500 or so. Not only is it expensive, but at that price I would have been terrified with every cut.

redoakSo I went down to Home Depot and found that they had a good supply of red oak. Oak is great wood, if not very exciting. It’s hard, but not very difficult to work with. By contrast, I have some Ipé from a deck I had installed. It is a hardwood too. But it’s super difficult to cut and produces sawdust that’s a real irritant. Your eyes water, your skin itches and you just can’t wait for the whole ordeal to be over.

The oak at Home Depot was reasonably priced. I was able to get everything I needed for around $300. And it had nice straight boards with good grain at a variety of lengths and widths, all 3/4″ thick. They also have maple and cherry (and a little walnut). But they’re more expensive with much less variety and quality of boards. So red oak it was.

My one complaint about the Home Depot boards is that they put one or two stickers on each one. They are paper not plastic, so they rip easily and you really have to work at it to get them off. At first I thought I could just sand them off. But that’s much harder than it seems. So I recommend you get into a Zen place and peel off the stickers when you first buy the boards. The glue left behind is easy to sand off and you’ll be able to pick either side of all boards.

In the plans below I show all the wood and sizes needed. You’ll have to cut these out of various lengths of boards to get what you need. I’ll leave it up to you how you do that. Home Depot has lots of 7′ boards in 3 1/2″ and 5 1/2″ widths. But they have lots of other lengths and widths. If you have a way to transport it, you might be more efficient with a 10 or 12 foot piece of lumber. Just think about what combination of pieces you can get out of each board to minimize waste (both of wood and money).

Clamps

In the process of doing a few woodworking projects I’ve found that you can never have enough clamps. Seems like every time I start a new project I buy 2 or 3 new clamps. My favorites for long edge clamping are pipe clamps. pipe clampThey are pretty cheap and you buy a piece of metal pipe to make them any length you want. I have 4: 2 using half inch pipe and 2 with 3/4 inch, all 48″ long. They can really apply a lot of pressure and are long enough to clamp the legs to the cross members of the desk.

I also have several C clamps, some bar clamps in 1, 2 and 3 foot lengths, a some smaller (and less useful) spring clamps. Make sure you have enough of each.

Building the Desk

The Top

To make the top, you need to glue together enough boards to get the 24″ width needed, using biscuits for strength. I used all 5 1/2″ stock, 5 board wide, and cut off the extra 3 1/2″. I recommend starting with the top. You want to select the nicest boards, laying them side by side to see which have the most consistent color and grain and flipping them to see which side is nicer. I found that if you do this and use a light colored varnish you can’t really see any seams at all.

The Legs

The legs are 2″ x 2″ and 29″ long. Since all the wood from Home Depot is 3/4″ thick, I glued 3 boards together to get that thickness. Lots of glueing surface, so no need for any joinery Here. I actually glued together 3 – 5 1/2″ x 30″ boards and then cut them lengthwise into 2 – 2″ x 2 1/4″ legs. My plan was to put a veneer on the face of the legs with with the seams. You make the veneer by cutting a 1/8″ wide strip from a 3 1/2″ wide board and glueing a piece of that to each side. But I found I could put the veneer on one of the faces since the other would be facing to the back. That made it easier to cut the legs to exactly 2″ x 2″, without having to worry about the exact thickness of the veneer.

End Pieces

Once the legs are completed it’s time to attach them to the end pieces and the slats. I recommend you sand everything before starting assembly just to make it easier to get into all the corners. The easiest way to proceed is to drill the dowel holes in the top end piece and legs. In fact you’ll want to drill the holes for the cross pieces. That will be 4 holes for the back piece on both sides and two holes for each of the two front pieces on both sides. This will make it a lot easier to do the next step. There’s one last bit of work that needs to be done before assembling the front, so you might as well do it now. Cut the vertical biscuit hole for the right and left front pieces in the front legs. This will be between the two front cross pieces.

Now mark the centers of the attachment points for the slats and cut the biscuit holes for them, as well as for the bottom end piece. Now glue and clamp the slats to the top and bottom pieces and before they are dry, glue and clamp the end pieces to the legs. Assuming all the cuts are straight, everything should be perfectly square. But biscuits have a bit of slop, so make sure the slats like up with the center line marks you made. Set these aside and let them dry, then you’re ready for the next step.

Cross Pieces

Now it’s time to connect the cross pieces, making a structure that will stand on its own. Since you’ve already made the dowel holes, the only cutting here is the biscuit holes for the bottom cross brace in back. Once that’s done you can glue and clamp the two front top cross pieces, the back top cross piece and the back bottom cross piece. Let everything dry and you’re ready for the next step.

Front and Drawer Runners

These pieces fit together and attach to the desk using biscuits. After cutting the biscuit holes, glue the runners to the back then glue in the front right and left pieces. You might want to put a bit of glue on the top and bottom cross pieces, too. But everything should stay pretty solid from here.

The Drawer

The drawer uses locking rabbet joints in the front so it withstands repeated opening, and a standard rabbet in the back. Follow the directions in the link above to cut the slot in the front piece and the locking slots in the front of the side pieces. Then cut a standard 1/2″ x 1/4″ rabbet in the back of the side pieces. Once that’s done, setup the table saw to cut a slot lengthwise 1/4″ from the bottom of all sides and 1/4″ deep. This is for the bottom to slide into. Next glue and nail the sides to the front, then slide in the bottom plywood, then glue and nail the back to the sides. You just made a drawer!

Now is the tricky part. Assuming you got the measurements right, you should have just enough space for the drawer sliders to fit between the drawer sides and the slide supports in the desk. I had to shim a bit, using a couple of washers, to get things to fit just right. Also be careful to make the amount of space above and below the drawer the same. Take your time you should be able to get a nice smooth drawer operation with no rubbing of wood on wood.

Drawer Facade

There is a facade on the front of the drawer to hide the slides. I made a front as a single 3 1/2″ x 36″ piece and then cut it in 3 pieces to get the two side pieces and the facade. That way, the grain matches nicely. But you’ll have to trim the facade so it fits with some clearance. I started by taking 1/16″ off of all 4 sides and continued trimming tiny bits until there was good clearance, but not a big gap.

Next I drilled 2 holes in the front drawer piece (the piece behind the facade). Now I held the facade against the drawer front until there was the same clearance on all 4 sides, marked the positions of the 2 screws, and drilled pilot holes. Don’t drill all the way through the facade. I use blue masking tape on the drill bit 1/2″ down just to make sure. Then screw the facade on with 1″ wood screws and you’re set. Test the fit and do any final adjustments to the slides.

As a last step, drill and install your drawer pull. I used a simple burnished metal knob because it fit the look and only needed one hold to install. But the choice is yours.

Attach the Top

188101You attach the top using screw, not glue, to allow for expansion. I used figure 8 fasteners. If you can find them use the ones specifically designer for desks. They fit wood screws nicely without the need for additional washers. To install them select your locations on the desk frame (I chose 6 locations: 2 each on the front and back and 1 on each end). Then use a Forstner bit of the appropriate size and drill deep enough so the fastener sits flush with the top of the frame. Now go around, drill pilot holes and screw the fasteners into the frame.

UnknownForstner bits are not cheap, but they are really useful. They let you drill holes with flat bottoms and are perfect for this sort of counter sinking work. They’re not cheap, but you can buy them individually. So just get one of the right size for this job and build up your collection later. I bought a couple and then asked for more sizes for Christmas :-)

Next place the top on the frame and adjust it so it’s even on all 4 sides. Then mark the location of the holes in the fasteners, drill pilot holes and screw the top to the frame. You desk is now built!

Sand and Varnish

Hopefully you’ve been doing some preliminary sanding before putting everything together. If so, you just need to do a light final sanding and then wipe everything down with a damp cloth. Wait a few minutes for it to dry and then put on a coat of polyurethane varnish. A quart is plenty. Let that coat dry, lightly sand the entire desk, and give a pretty good sanding to the top. Then wipe off and apply a second coat. Two coats is good enough, but to get a really smooth top, you can sand and coat only the top once more.

I didn’t actually buy varnish from Amazon. I went down to the hardware store because they have Minwax stain samples. Red oak is a little light and doesn’t have that classic golden oak tone. So I got 4 samples and stained a scrap piece to see which one looked best. I ended up going with Golden Oak (bit surprise!).

Cut List

Library Table Exploded

  • Legs – 2″ x 2″ x 29″ (3 – 2″ x 3/4″ x 29″, cut to side with 1/8″ veneer on one side)
  • Top side – 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 17 1/2″
  • Bottom side – 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ x 17 1/2″
  • Side slats – 1/2″ x 3″ x 16″
  • Top – 24″ x 46″ x 3/4″ (3 – 5 1/2″ wide, 2 – 3 3/4″ wide)
  • Top back cross piece – 5 1/2″ x 36″
  • Bottom back cross piece – 3 1/2″ x 36″
  • Front cross pieces – 2 – 2″ x 36″
  • Front facing piece – 3 1/2″ x 36″, cut into 2 – 8″ side pieces and 1 – 20″ facade
  • Drawer slide supports – 2 – 3″ x 19 3/8″ x 3/4″
  • Drawer front – 2 3/4″ x 17″ x 1/2″
  • Drawer back - 2 3/4″ x 17″ x 1/2″
  • Drawer sides – 2 3/4″ x 19″ x 1/2″
  • Drawer bottom – 17″ x  18″ x 1/2″ birch (or any hardwood) plywood, one side appearance grade
  • Drawer slides
  • Drawer knob – to suit your taste

Enjoy Your New Desk!

Joinery for the Everyday Woodworker

08350-7Probably the most important skill for any woodworker is joinery. Attaching pieces of wood to each other is required on most any project and if it needs to withstand any kind of load you need a good strong joint. There have been lots of joinery techniques through the centuries, but modern techniques (together with modern glue) allow you to make stronger joints than every before.

Modern glues are really strong, but you need a lot of surface area for a strong joint, which is why techniques like mortise and tenon are so popular – lots of surface area on both sides of the tenon for the glue to hold onto. But I tried making one once, using a drill and chisel for the mortise and it ended up looking sloppy and was too loose. There are tools which make the process easier, but they are really expensive.

I’ve searched around and have found a couple of techniques which have worked well in a variety of projects. They’re very repeatable and while you have to invest in good tools to do them, they’re not that expensive and they use tools you’ll want to have around the shop anyway.

A word about glue

The purpose of most joinery techniques is to create enough surface area for glue to adhere and produce a strong joint. So choice of glue is very important. There are plenty of articles on the web comparing different kinds of glue. The one here was the most interesting to me. I found that a normal carpenter’s glue, like Titebond works well, cleans up easy and is reasonably priced. I’ve tried Titebond III, but it’s waterproof and I found that if it gets on any exposed surface you’ll see spots when you put on varnish. So I use it for outdoor projects, but I stick with Titebond I for everything else. I’ve heard good things about Gorilla Glue for woodworking, so I’ll probably try it someday. But for now Titebond is it for me.

Dowels

My first joint of choice is dowels. They require simple tools (a drill and doweling jig) and if you use enough dowels can produce a joint as strong as mortise and tenon. I use these when maximum strength is need, like in table legs.

The trick with dowel joints is repeatability. You need the exact same spacing in both pieces or things won’t fit right. There are many jigs on the market that let you get the right spacing, at various price points. They all have fixed spacing for the dowels, but many only let you have a fixed distance from the edge of the board. To change that you need to use shims and that leads to inaccuracy. img_9273So I went with the Jessem Doweling Jig because it variable edge spacing with detents so you can get nice repeatable results. It also has hardened steel guide bushings so it will (hopefully) last through lots of doweling jobs.

If you buy this or any jig, make sure to get a really big bag of dowels. You go through them pretty fast. The only downside to this jig is the fact that it doesn’t have a built-in clamp. So you have to use a wood clamp, which makes it a bit hard to line up just right. If I could do it over, I might have opted for the DowelMax, but it was much more expensive and harder to setup precisely.

The Jessem uses 3/8″ dowels, which are typically 2″ long. This is good for most jobs. They also make a 1/4″ add-on for smaller jobs and 1/2″ when you really need a lot of holding power. They have videos and instructions on how to do many kinds of joints. It’s been working great for me.

Biscuits

If you’ve ever watched The New Yankee Workshop you know that Norm Abrams loves biscuit joinery. This is a technique which requires a single purpose tool. But I find that I do biscuit joints so much that it’s well worth the investment. I found a great comparison of popular models. From this I settled on the Porter Cable 557. 81eJB3bQdzL._SL1500_It has a great fence which gives very repeatable results, has plenty of adjustments for biscuit size and positioning, and is reasonably priced on Amazon.  Plus it comes with a nice case to keep it in. Make sure you buy plenty of biscuits, you’ll go through them fast. I went with a big bag that has a variety of sizes.

I use biscuits both to join wood edge-to-edge for table tops and for edge joints that don’t need as much structural strength as, say, a table leg. For instance, I used them for the slats in my oak Library Table.

Drawer Joints

Building drawers has always scared me. The precision of dovetail joints and the complexity of the jigs required to get repeatable results feels beyond my abilities. But the great thing about the internet is that it can show you all kinds if alternatives with videos to make it look like something you could actually do. My favorite so far is the Locking Rabbet Joint. Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.21.12 AMI used this on the drawer for my library table and it worked great. The drawer is strong and straight and looks pretty cool when you have the drawer open.

I have a router table, but for the joints I did I used a table saw like it shows in the article. You just need to make sure the saw height is right. I have this nice little tool for this which is basically a piece of aluminum with various marked height steps.spin_prod_206235701 It is inexpensive and even comes with a companion router height gauge. You can get it at Amazon.

Once you have the height you want (I always make a pass on some scrap wood to make sure), you need to make the appropriate slits in the wood as shown in the article. When attaching, I used small brads in addition to glue for extra strength. But some people would say that’s overkill. With this type of joint, you need a façade on the front of the drawer, an extra piece of wood to cover up the joints. But for my drawer, I needed a façade that was a bit wider than the drawer to hide the slider anyway.

The Rest

There are many other types of joints and I’m sure I’ll try some of them in the future. But for now, these joints make me feel like I could build anything!

 

Remote Access Howto

Here’s the situation. You installed this cool sprinkler controller. You used a DHCP reservation so it’s always at the same ip address. Now you can always access it – as long as you’re connected to your home network. What if you’re in Hawaii?

IMG_1869

You’re sitting on the beach, sipping a nice drink from a coconut, and suddenly you realize that you just planted a new garden back home that really needs some extra watering. How do you control your sprinklers then?

What you need is the ability to remotely access your home network.

Before we go any further, realize that if you can access your home network from anywhere in the world, so can anyone else. So practice  safe web and always have good passwords on anything accessible from the outside. And when I say that I don’t mean that you should use password as your password (or admin or 12345678). Use a good password, like horse trolley dog boot (although now you shouldn’t use that either!).

To do this you need two things. First, you need a way to get the ip address of your home network router. Most home networks these days use a dynamic ip address. Your ISP changes your address from time to time, similar to the way the DHCP can change the ip of its clients. So you need a dynamic DNS service to associate a domain name with an ip address. That way the address can always be found from the domain name.

There are many services that do this. Some are free (like NoIP), but they usually have pretty severe limitations. So I opted for a paid service. I chose DynDNS (which also has a free service) because they can automatically update the ip address associated with a domain name by communicating with a variety of routers, including an Airport Extreme, which is what I have.

Setup is simple, and well explained on the DynDNS site. You want their Remote Access service. For $25 a year they will give you a domain name, which looks like <your name>.dyndns.org and will keep it updated with whatever your router’s current ip address is. When you sign up they will take you through the steps to setup your router and then you can access your home network with a simple domain name from anywhere in the world. You can even bring your own domain name (which can often be bought for under $10 a year) and use that instead of one of theirs.

Ok, you can get to your router, now what? Well, most routers (hopefully yours) blocks all incoming traffic. That’s to keep the computers inside your network from becoming some hacker’s plaything. But your router can let you open certain ports and redirect that traffic to a certain machine on your network. for instance if you want to login using ssh, you would open port 22 and redirect it to whatever computer you want to login to. As long as that machine has a strong password, you should be pretty safe from attack.

I wanted to access my Open Sprinkler PI server from anywhere in the world, so let’s use that as an example. By default, the OSPI server listens on port 8080, so that’s a reasonable port to open on the router. For an Airport Extreme, you open the Airport Utility app and do the following:

  1. Click on the picture of your router, press Edit and select the Network tab.
  2. Press the + button in the Port Settings: section.
  3. Make sure the Firewall Entry Type: is IPv4 Port Mapping and give your new setting a nice description.
  4. Set the Public and Private TCP Ports to 8080.
  5. Set the private IP Address to your OSPI’s ip address (configured as described here).
  6. Press Save and then Update.

When you router finishes booting up, you should be able to access that service from anywhere. For the above example try typing the URL in a web browser:

http://<your name>.dyndns.org>:8080

and you should see your OSPI control panel.

As a final note. Please be careful opening your network to the outside world. Hackers are relentless and will stop at nothing to compromise your system. So open ports carefully and protect any machines listening on those ports with strong passwords. The ssh port is an especially attractive attack vector. If you want to ssh to your computer, you can get a little extra safety by setting the Public TCP Port to some non-standard number (choose a number between 1024 and 65535) and only set the Private TCP Port to 22. Most ssh clients you use in the world can specify a non-standard port and that will make it harder for hackers to sniff out your ports and commence their attacks.

Have fun with your newfound worldwide power!

DHCP Reservations Howto

I recently installed an Open Sprinkler PI system in my house. This is a great system from Ray’s Hobby which has its own web server. You can access it from a web browser or with an iPhone app which talks to the same server. But you need to access the web server using an ip address, and the easiest way to set the system up is using DHCP, which assigns its own ip addresses. The only way to know what address the OSPI was given is to look at your router’s DHCP table, which is a giant hassle.

That’s what DHCP reservations are for. Every router is different, but most have the ability to assign a consistent ip address in the DHCP range to a given device on the network. Here’s how it’s done using an Airport Extreme and Airport Utility:

  1. Open Airport Utility.
  2. Click on the picture of your router.
  3. Find the wireless client called ospi (you might have to scroll)
  4. Roll over that name and you’ll see a popup.
  5. Write down the hardware address in that popup.
  6. Click on edit and then the Network tab.
  7. Click on + in the DHCP Reservations section.
  8. Give it a nice description and Reserve Address By: Mac Address.
  9. Type in the hardware address you wrote down (including the colons)
  10. There will be an IPv4 address entered, you can keep that or change it. Either way, that will be your reserved ip address.
  11. Hit Save then Update, wait for the router to reboot and your all set!

Now you can enter that ip address in your mobile app and always be able to access your OSPI.

That all works fine as long as you’re connected to your wireless home network. But what if you want to control your sprinklers from anywhere in the world? Well, that’s the topic of another post.

Open Sprinkler PI

OSPI

I recently automated my home sprinkler system and I’ve been so happy with the results that I wanted to share my experience.

Getting the Parts

I’ve had a pretty nice Hunter sprinkler controller for years but I wanted to automate the system. So after a bit of research I settled on an Open Sprinkler PI system from Rays Hobby. It had great documentation, is well supported and used a Raspberry PI as its controller. I’ve been wanting to play with a PI for a while now and this was the perfect excuse.

The Open Sprinkler PI system comes with a fully assembled board, a case and extras so you can hook it all up. All you need is the Raspberry PI and a few more parts. Here’s what I bought to get started:

From Ray’s Hobby:

From Amazon:

You will also need a micro USB cable to power the Raspberry PI while you set it up. Note, that’s a micro USB cable, not mini. I pride myself on having every imaginable cable. But I only had one of these and I had a devil of a time finding it. Order one from Amazon if you don’t have one.

You also need a 24VAC transformer. If you already have a sprinkler controller you probably have one of these. Unfortunately for me, my old Hunter unit had the transformer built in. So I went down to Home Depot and found a wall wart in the irrigation department that fit the bill. Amazon carries them as well.

Initial Setup

Setting the system up could not be easier. Much of the information is in the excellent user manual. Assembly is simply plugging the two boards together. But before you do that, set up your Raspberry PI. And before you do that, load the file system image on the memory card.  Download it from here and use these instructions to copy it. I have a Mac and I used the command line technique without any trouble.

This setup assumes you have a home network with a wireless router with DHCP enabled, and that you can access that router with some sort of admin tool (I have an Airport Extreme, so I use Airport Utility).

Once you have the disk image, it’s time to get the Raspberry PI onto your home network. This is the slightly tricky bit, especially if you are like me and want to do it “headless” – without connecting a monitor and keyboard to the PI. Use the low profile memory card adaptor that came with the Open Sprinkler PI and plug the memory card into the PI. Next plug in the Wireless USB Adaptor. You also need to connect to your home network with an ethernet cable. You need to use a wired connection so you can access the PI and setup your wireless network. Now connect the micro USB to power up the PI. You should see blinking lights for a while, but the wireless adaptor may or may not light up.

Login by opening a command line shell on a computer connected to your home network. I use Terminal on the Mac, but you may have to use a 3rd party program if you’re on a Windows PC. The Raspberry PI connects using DHCP, so it should already be on your network.

But first you need to figure out the IP address your PI is connected to. You can guess this if you don’t have many devices connected  and you know where your DHCP addresses start. But the easier way is to open whatever admin tool you have for your wireless router. It should show you all the DHCP clients connected and what IP address they are connecting to. Find the one named “OSPI” and write down its IP address (the 4 numbers separated by periods). Now in your terminal type:

ssh pi@<ip address>

This will respond with a request for a password, which is “raspberry”. Once you’re in you’ll want to setup your wireless network name and password. The best resource for this is on the Adafruit site. All I had to do was  open the network file:

sudo vi /etc/network/interfaces

Adafruit suggests you use nano, I prefer vi, your choice

and then add or modify the following lines:

iface wlan0 inet dhcp
 wpa-ssid "ssid"
 wpa-psk "password"

where ssid is the name of your wireless network and password is the one for that network. Now type:

sudo reboot

and disconnect the ethernet cable from the Raspberry PI. When it comes up again, the blue light on the wireless adaptor should turn on and you should now be able to login to your PI over wireless.

Beware, once you reboot, the Raspberry PI may connect with a different IP address. In that case you need to go to your router’s admin panel and find out what the new address is. You can avoid this by reading this.

That completes the setup of the Raspberry PI. The only thing left is to plug in the Open Sprinkler board, mount the whole thing in the case and take it to the location where you’ll be hooking it up.

Hooking It All Up

If you have an existing sprinkler controller like I did, you just need to disconnect the wires from the old and connect to the green screw terminal connectors that came with the Open Sprinkler. Remember which channel goes to which to make setup later easier. The small connector is for the grounds and the big one is for each channel.

ospi-channels
Channels (right) and grounds (left). You can easily put two or three wires in each ground hole.

 

You need a 24 VAC transformer as well. Typically this is what is running your current sprinkler controller. So you just disconnect it from that and connect it to the 2 pin orange screw terminal. This is AC, so it doesn’t matter which wire go to which terminal. Just make sure not to cause any short circuits.

ospi-grounds
Power connector. Even though the wires are different colors, they can go in either hole.

 

Now  plug in the green and orange connectors and you should see the lights inside case light up. Now you should be able to login just like you did when you were setting up the Raspberry PI.

myospi
My OSPI, happily running my sprinklers for weeks now

Web and Mobile Access

The Open Sprinkler software comes configured with a web server. Once up and running you can open your web browser and go to:

http://<your ip address>:8080

And you should see the web interface for the OSPI. There is also a mobile app for iPhone (and Android, although i didn’t test it). The documentation  tells you everything you need to know about how to set these up.

My one complaint about the software is the way you need to setup programs. Every sprinkler controller I’ve ever seen lets you set the start time and duration. You can often set multiple start times if you need to water multiple times a day for example. But it’s always been time/duration. In both the web interface and mobile app  you have to set start time, end time, a repeat time and duration. This allows you to  have the program repeat multiple times a day. That’s a nice feature, but you have to be careful about setting the program up to just have a single start time and duration. So make sure you set the end to longer than the duration x the number of channels you have. And set the repeat time to a large value so it doesn’t repeat. But one of the great things about OSPI is that it has a very active forum. I posted this issue and got a quick response that Ray was working on an update to make it simpler.

All in all, I could not be happier with the system! Thanks Ray’s Hobby.