Author Topic: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station  (Read 22214 times)

Tornado Tim

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2012, 11:25:33 PM »
Steve, once your ISS turns over 1 year old the look of it being "new" and shiny will be gone :(

I got my VP2 in 2009 and it has lost all its shininess when i first got it......

Fantastic write up btw, did Davis give you a new Vp2 console? Lucky guy!!!!

elagache

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Sorry, my bad . . . . (Re: Soil Moisture/Temp Station)
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2012, 11:37:48 PM »
Sorry Steve  :-[

I tried, as quoted below. I haven't done more on it yet.

Running a little too fast around here . . . . didn't "speed-read" your write up carefully enough . . . . . .

Suffering from a little too much soil moisture around here at the moment!

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

Steve

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2012, 12:59:36 AM »
Fantastic write up btw, did Davis give you a new Vp2 console? Lucky guy!!!!

Thanks! Yes, they included a VP2 Console and Windows version of WeatherLink. I won't even open either, as I have the system connected to my VP2 Console and Weather Envoy.

I wasn't able to fit the Soil Moisture sensor in the 1/2" Schedule 40 pipe, and I don't have a drill to fit to drilll it out. The instructions spec Class 315 Irrigation pipe, which has an ID of .715 compared to .602 ID on the1/2"  Schedule 40 PVC pipe. 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC is .804 ID, and too sloppy, so I'll see if I can fid some irrigation pipe.
Steve - Avon, Ohio, USA


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elagache

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Puzzled by choice of pipe (Re: Soil Moisture/Temp Station)
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2012, 03:49:48 PM »
Howdy Steve and WeatherCat Davis fans,

I wasn't able to fit the Soil Moisture sensor in the 1/2" Schedule 40 pipe, and I don't have a drill to fit to drilll it out. The instructions spec Class 315 Irrigation pipe, which has an ID of .715 compared to .602 ID on the1/2"  Schedule 40 PVC pipe. 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC is .804 ID, and too sloppy, so I'll see if I can fid some irrigation pipe.

I was puzzled by the choice of schedule 40 PVC pipe.  In a perfect world why choose plastic for starters?  Plastic will be much slower to react to temperature changes than any metal and schedule 40 is very thick pipe.  Wouldn't the thinner 125 PSI plastic pipe provide enough strength without slowing the thermal response as much?

I suppose copper pipe is not acceptable for some obvious reason I can't think of?  Too bad aluminum pipe doesn't exist.  It would be plenty strong, corrosion resistant, and excellent heat conducting properties.

I'm mostly thinking aloud here, but it does seem like schedule 40 is overkill for the task at hand.

Do let us know what you come with to protect your sensor.

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

Steve

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2012, 04:18:18 PM »
The pipe is just for installing the Soil Moisture sensor, and only covers the very top of it, not the sensor area itself. So the pipe material doesn't come into play at all other than PVC is easy to work with and bonds to the sensor housing. The reasoning for the PVC is as much a handle to install as anything. Installation procedure is to drive in a steel pipe to extract a plug. The end of the steel pipe is slightly smaller than the rest of the length. This allows easy insertion of the sensor, having to only push it in the last couple of inches, then backfilling. The whole idea of installing this way is to disturb the surrounding soil as little as possible.

Steve
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elagache

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Worth adding something to "grab"? (Re: Soil Moisture/Temp Station)
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2012, 06:09:26 PM »
Hi Steve and WeatherCat gardeners,

Sorry if my questions seem out of whack.  It is hard to understand something like this without actually having the device in hand to see how parts fit together.

The pipe is just for installing the Soil Moisture sensor, and only covers the very top of it, not the sensor area itself.

I'm just wondering what could be done to further reduce the risk of damaging the sensor when removing it.  Would it be worth gluing a "T" at the top of the PVC pipe to give yourself something that can be more easily grabbed?  Or if you "follow da' instructions" you shouldn't have any trouble pulling the sensor out of the soil?

Just curious . . . .

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2012, 08:34:08 PM »
Well, if you follow the instructions to the "T", you need to make one of these to poke the hole in the soil:




This makes a larger access hole and a smaller hole at the bottom to press the Soil Moisture sensor into.

Then you are supposed to glue the Soil Moisture sensor onto a piece of PVC, which allows you to insert the sensor in the hole prepared by the tool above. It would be a loose fit all the way down until the sensor met the smaller diameter, then snug for the final 2". Remember, some people put the sensor down 2,3, or 4 feet.



Now do I really need to go through this with my sandy soil? Probably not. I'm only going to put it 10-12" down for starters, which is below root level for most of what I grow. But I figure if I'm reviewing and testing it, I might as well install it per the manual. I don't know if people remove them during the winter (recommended) but if so, the T-handle would be a good idea.

Looking for something to use in the garage has prompted a 2-day cleaning. All winter the garage becomes a place to toss things to go out in the barn, in the attic, taken apart and torn away, etc. With it being a Saturday and our temperature here of 75˚ (when it is normally in the 40s), I don't want to go to town and get anywhere near Home Depot. Its got to be crazy there today! We'll go Monday when all those poor suckers have to work. :D
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elagache

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2012, 12:26:33 AM »
Howdy Steve and WeatherCat gardeners,

Well, if you follow the instructions to the "T", you need to make one of these to poke the hole in the soil:

I retrieved your image.  Skitch was "hidin' it"  :D

Golly, I don't know if that would work so that well.  If your soil is real soft and loose, it would cave in before you got too far.  If the soil is hard . . . . . I dunno' . . I think you need an soil auger bit.

I don't know if people remove them during the winter (recommended) but if so, the T-handle would be a good idea.

What do the folks on WXforum do?  If removing the probe was sufficiently easy, I think I would be inclined to remove it.  This sort of a probe has really harsh duties and if your goal is actually to help your plants, it isn't doing you any good during winter.  So to extend the life of the probe, keeping out of the potentially freezing ground seems like a good idea.  Of course if you are just plain curious, how could you pull it out when the coldest soil temperatures you'll record  [freeze] are in the dead of winter!!  [snow]

Looking for something to use in the garage has prompted a 2-day cleaning.

 ;) What's the matta' with ya!!   First reading the instructions, now cleaning the garage!!  I'm going to report you to the lazy male slob police!!   [lol]

I don't want to go to town and get anywhere near Home Depot. Its got to be crazy there today! We'll go Monday when all those poor suckers have to work.

Now you are making sense!  [tup]  Although I've completely given up on Home Depot.  Fortunately, we have a few more choices in hardware stores theses days and sadly, Home Depot never did outgrow its warehouse model - to its real detriment!  :(

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

Steve

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2012, 02:37:07 AM »
OK, we left off with the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station temporarily installed. It has taken longer than expected to get back to it, but I made a lot of progress today.

I used a five foot long piece of galvanized pipe to mount the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station. I decided to mount it all one one post rather than have wires running from one to the other.

I used a post hole digger and dug down about 18", and then used a sledge to drive it in another 18" making sure it was plumb as I went. This left 24" sticking out of the ground for mounting the Station and Leaf Wetness Sensor.












I then mounted the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station housing and the Leaf Wetness Sensor on the new post. In conversation with Davis Support and on forums, and decided to point the Leaf Wetness Sensor north, simulating leaves not in direct sunlight. There isn't any siting suggestions in the instructions or on Davis' web site.








Next I planted the Soil Temperature and Moisture Sensors. I couldn't find the Class 315 PVC irrigation pipe that's specified for installing the Soil Moisture Sensor. But my soil is so loamy that I was able to insert it easily without. I used a broom handle and marked 10", then stuck this in the soil. I carefully removed it, and then inserted the Soil Moisture Sensor in the hole. I inserted the Soil Temperature Sensor at the same depth next to it, and then packed the soil over both sensors. I used one of the supplied wire clamps to hold down the wires in the garden bed.












Next, I wired all three cables into the Leaf & Soil Station housing, using the clamps to hold the wires in place. I temporarily wire-tied the cables to the galvanized pipe, and will organize these better later.








Below is a chart showing the Leaf Wetness, Soil Temperature, and Soil Moisture. You can see that I had the Leaf and Soil Temperature sensors attached from the preliminary setup, and that the Temperature Sensor was showing our abnormally hot day. Then both were disconnected during installation. I had "conditioned" the Soil Moisture Sensor prior to installation per the instructions, but in this weather, it must have dried out too much. The spike in the Leaf Wetness reading was accidentally getting the Leaf Wetness Sensor wet while watering the peas sprouting in the adjacent garden bed.




So, aside from tidying up the cables, the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station is completely installed, working correctly, and ready to begin testing in our gardens. I will continue to review and report on this installation. I have the Soil Temperature and Moisture Sensors planted 10" deep, as most of our garden crops are shallow rooted. I can see a desire to add additional sensors, both deeper in the garden and in the yard to give a better overall sense of the soil conditions. The latter would be of more interest to my web page viewers, as well.

As always, comments and questions are welcome. I want to thank [urlhttp://davisnet.com/weather/index.asp]Davis Instruments[/url] and Sierra Communications for making this Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station available for use to review and test.

Stay tuned,
Steve
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elagache

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Thanks for the update! (Re: Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station)
« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2012, 07:53:00 PM »
Howdy Steve and WeatherCat fans,

Thanks for that update!!  [tup]  Golly just going through those pictures made me tired!!  [sleep]

I'm under the gun again, so I'll have to come back to this later, but thanks for going to so much effort to detail things!

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

 ;) P.S.  If you are so energetic, would you come up here and wash a car for me?   [lol]

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Re: Thanks for the update! (Re: Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station)
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2012, 08:33:31 PM »
;) P.S.  If you are so energetic, would you come up here and wash a car for me?

I don't even wash my own cars! That's what rain is for... :)
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elagache

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No wonder Midwestern cars are rust buckets! (Re: update!)
« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2012, 02:08:41 AM »
Be careful Steve, . . . .  ;)

;) P.S.  If you are so energetic, would you come up here and wash a car for me?

I don't even wash my own cars! That's what rain is for... :)

 ;)  Haven't you heard of acid rain? . . . .  [heavyrain]  What you didn't know is that all the Pacific rim auto manufacturers have developed the ultimate weapon and profit system: "guided acid rain!!" [lol2]

Its enough to keep a mature Buick in the garage!!

Grin and bear it!!  [goofy]

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

P.S.  ;) Okay, so I lied, they don't send guided acid rain, they just pay off the politicians who . . . . fix the roads and allocate the salt!!


Steve

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2012, 02:10:17 AM »
I made a temporary web page with just a graph for the Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station data. I'll do something different once I get an idea of how I'm going to use it and present it. Take a look at: http://www.avon-weather.com/soil.html




The Leaf Wetness is a linear scale from zero (dry) to 15 (full wet)
The Soil Temperature is self-explanatory and is in degrees F
The Soil Moisture is a scale from 200 (bone dry) to zero (soaking wet)


Below is a conversion chart for Soil Moisture for sandy loam soil I found from Montana State University




Using the current reading of 13 cB at 10", I have 1.25" of moisture content. With the current ET of .16", I have about 8 days of moisture available. (1.25/.16=7.8 ) However, we are getting a nice rain shower now, so everything will change. This is going to be interesting to keep track of!

Thanks for following along,
Steve
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Steve

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Re: Review & Testing of Davis Leaf & Soil Moisture/Temp Station
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2012, 09:12:24 PM »
Stu,

On the Live Data Viewer, there are temperatures listed for Leaf Temp 1-4, but the Leaf Wetness Sensor does not state that it has a temperature probe as part of its specs. The Leaf Temp 1 is the same temperature as the Soil Temp 1, so is this assuming the same? Air temp at the moment is 42˚, but Leaf and Soil Temp are both show as 50˚

Thanks,
Steve
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elagache

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Davis "feature" ???? (Re: Davis Leaf & Soil)
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2012, 09:54:29 PM »
Howdy Steve, Stu, and WeatherCat gardeners,

On the Live Data Viewer, there are temperatures listed for Leaf Temp 1-4, but the Leaf Wetness Sensor does not state that it has a temperature probe as part of its specs. The Leaf Temp 1 is the same temperature as the Soil Temp 1, so is this assuming the same? Air temp at the moment is 42˚, but Leaf and Soil Temp are both show as 50˚

Perhaps appropriate given where these sensors are located, but as far as I can tell - Davis makes this situation as clear as - mud!!   :o

There appear to be three spec sheets that seem relevant to this question:

The actual sensor specs are very helpful . . . . except for one minor detail - neither mentions any capacity to measure temperature, nor are temperature ranges mentioned in the specs.

The third document fortunately clarifies the matter completely . . . . .  It does mention temperature ranges . . . . in general.  As if the station was somehow generating the temperature values and indeed from which probe?? .  . . .  ???

So . . . . . as soon as somebody can figure out how this all actually works . . . . . could ya' please explain it to me!!

Cheers, Edouard  [cheers1]

P.S. Oh by the way.  There are only 2 conductors supposedly for the soil sensor while the leaf sensors requires 4 . . . .  So how is soil temperature and moisture determined simultaneously from electrical resistance alone?