Data processing: generic control systems or specific application – Specific application – apparatus or process – Mechanical control system
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Field of the Invention
The present invention refers to an electronic interface associable with an electronic control unit for an automatic watering system for remote controlled management of the system.
For the maintenance of lawns, gardens, kitchen gardens and other cultivated spaces, the employment of automatic watering systems controlled by programmable electronic control units is already widespread.
In addition, systems for remote controlled management of automatic watering systems that allow to modify the control unit programming parameters by remote control through interfaces of communication with the control units, a modem or a computer are already known.
The need to manage watering systems from a distance is felt more and more, as it allows to reduce the costs for the personnel that must carry out the maintenance. The remote controlled management of watering systems allows to employ maintenance personnel in a purposeful way only when and where it becomes really necessary.
Major producers of automatic watering systems supply the necessary equipment for this kind of control both in terms of hardware and software. However, the remote controlled management systems that each producer of automatic watering systems places on the market are not flexible, in that for a certain type of control unit it is necessary to purchase the hardware (control unit and communication interface) and the management software from the same producer of the control unit. Remote controlled management systems that are flexible and that allow the remote controlled management of a generic control unit are not known.
All this is obviously disadvantageous for the users, that are bound to purchase the equipment from one single producer, and it also creates barriers to the entry of new firms on the market.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Object of the present invention is to provide a communication interface to be associated to a programmable electronic control unit for controlling an automatic watering system, that could be interfaced to a generic electronic control unit among the ones that are and that will be available on the market in order to allow the remote controlled management of the watering system, at least from the point of view of the remote monitoring of the watering system.
According to the present invention, such object is attained by means of an electronic interface that is associable to an electronic control unit for an automatic watering system for the remote controlled management of the system, said electronic control unit having a plurality of output lines suitable to control a respective plurality of electro-valves of the watering system, the interface comprising a data processing unit microprocessor connected with first interfacing means of said processing means with at least one communication channel having a remote controlled management apparatus, characterized in that it comprises second interfacing means of said processing unit with a first plurality of input lines of the interface that are connectable with output lines of the control unit, and first memory means associated with said processing unit in such a way that said processing unit can detect the changes of state of said output lines of the control unit and memorize such changes of state in said first memory means, and can communicate them to said remote controlled management apparatus upon request.
The interface according to the present invention allows to remotely monitor a watering system controlled by a generic electronic control unit. In particular the interface allows:
to control the control unit operation; and
to record the events connected with the control unit operation.
Preferably the interface comprises an interface circuit for a flow sensor for the interfacing of the processing unit with a line coming from a flow sensor of the watering system. In this way the interface is capable to control the water flow of the electro-valves managed by the control unit.
Preferably, the interface comprises an interface for data transfer to/from a control unit provided in turn with a similar interface, and memory means suitable to memorise programming parameters for the control unit, that are transmitted to the interface from the remote controlled management apparatus, and programming parameters read by the control unit that can be transmitted to the remote controlled management apparatus, upon request. In this way, for the control units that allow to do so, the interface allows the remote reprogramming of the control unit and the remote verification of the programming parameters of the control unit.
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Jacobson & Holman PLLC
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