Ability to disable Wireless Flow Meter radio? Australian usage


#1

Hi team,

I’m wondering if there’s a possibility for the option of the Wireless Flow Meter radio to be disabled from the software, either as a user controllable option, or based on the country of usage?

I would really like to buy the Gen 3 to upgrade our irrigation system at home, but as has been highlighted in different topics on the forum the frequency used isn’t legal in a good handful of countries outside the U.S.

Thanks,
Darren


#2

@xaedian - see this post where Franz/Rachio mentions that they are looking into selling the Gen3 down under:


#3

Thanks @DLane, I had read that thread a few days prior but had forgotten about it. I think, in its own merit, it’s still a valid question or alternate solution before a possibly International product is released.


#4

@xaedian, flow meter radio within Gen 3 itself is a receiver, as such it does not broadcast in any troublesome frequencies and should not, by itself, present a problem. It is, however, a good idea to avoid buying the wireless flow meter itself as it does feature a transmitter which could cause issues.

Keep in mind that Rachio is a 110V device and you would need to acquire a 220V to 110VAC or 24VAC transformer to use included power adapter or replace it outright.

Cheers,
Gene


#5

@Gene, the initial user that indicated the frequency use problem in Australia indicated that the R3 controller both received and transmitted, but I’m not sure what information this is based on:


@franz indicated in the same thread that the R3 couldn’t be sold for use in Australia due to the conflicting band usage, but didn’t specifically state that it’s only the Wireless Flow Meter that is the part that cannot be used, putting more weight behind the argument that maybe the R3 controller does have a transmitter too. Possibly it’s used to pair the devices together? I’m not sure.

I’d very happily buy the R3 if I knew with certainty that the controller doesn’t transmit.

Thanks for the information regarding the power adapter, I had seen that elsewhere but it’s always good to have the heads up! :slight_smile:

Thanks,
Darren :smiley:


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#6

After further checking. I was wrong. Rachio does feature a trasmitter (FCC link) for a LoRa radio, no clue as to conditions which would cause it to transmit.

Live and learn :wink:


#7

Thanks @Gene


#8

@Gene - how about firmware update to the flow meter and telling the flow meter measure, since the flow meter isn’t measuring 24 x 7 x 365.24 to conserve battery power. :wink:


#9

a firmware update which both sets frequency to location might solve all issues? or does the hardware not work that way?


#10

If there isn’t currently a way of disabling the transmitter with software, how about a hardware solution. It may be as simple as snipping one wire on the board. Rachio could help us out with a clue. Maybe even just post a board schematic.
I realise that it may void the warranty, but I don’t care about that. I’d rather it be legal. It seems like a great product apart from that one minor flaw which limits its use outside of North America.


#11

Has anyone made any breakthroughs on this?

I desperately want to get the gen 3 (for obvious reasons), but would like to know if there is a way to disable/remove/block any transmissions that could interfere with Australian mobile phone frequencies.

Is there something as simple as removing antenna? Does anyone have pictures or schematics of the transmitter?


#12

Fcc (link) has the picture of the Gen 3 with antenna’s marked.
Look for the attachment: InternalPhoto-w-antennas (couldn’t hotlink directly to the file)

There are also better / close up pictures, but without the label for the antenna.
Look for the attachment: Internal Photos_16 zone

Keep in mind that 8-zone version is identical as far as this topic is concerned.

If you wish to go with the hardware modification route, than it seems you can either remove the antenna itself (marked ANT2 on the board) or the smaller C78 cap (closest to the antenna) which is in line on the signal path.

Cheers,
Gene

P.S. As always, attempt this at your own risk. Without buying / using the wireless leak sensor, the 900MHz radio will likely remain idle so the hardware modifications are unlikely to make any real difference.


#13

Ok, I’m willing to give this a try. I have an R3 sitting on the shelf, and I’m not going to be able to sell it on, so I might as well see if I can disable the water flow antenna.

From my reading of this forum, the base station broadcasts via that antenna whether or not the flow meter is configured.

I have one question. If I remove the antenna chip, will I need to put something in it’s place in order to maintain a circuit, or can I just desolder it and remove it?


#14

Removing antenna, or the cap leading up to it, would have a similar effect to removing a detachable antenna from the router, at least on the models which support it. The wireless controller will continue sending the data, but the signal gain will be negligible. Be sure only to remove either ANT2 or C78 components.

Frankly, I would simply wrap an aluminum foil aver the left top side of the Gen 3 controller. This will reduce the signal gain quite a bit, for an added effect a small copper wire can be run between the foil and any of the common terminals. You can buy the HVAC sticky allinum tape anywhere hardware supplies are sold, for an easy application.


#15

Ok, so I took the plunge and the device seems to be fine!

I went all-in and removed the 900mhz antenna completely (a quick bit of soldering did the trick). We (in Australia) won’t be able to use that antenna anyway so it was entirely redundant.

Having put the Rachio back together, I ran through the setup, transferred my settings from my R2 and did a full test. It all seems fine to me.

DISCLAIMER:

I am aware that I have voided my warranty.

Please don’t try this yourself unless you’re willing to take the risk of bricking the device and/or losing any warranty on the device.


#16

@Wedgie congrats on being the first (as far as I know), legal, Gen 3 owner down under :wink:


#17

Fortune favours the brave :slight_smile:


#18

Encouraging and commonsensical thanks @Gene. It would be nice if Rachio would simply confirm this, or provide any other information. I bought and happily installed my R3 here in AU before realising there was such an issue, but haven’t been busted by the spectrum police in the first 10 days anyway.


#19

I bought a scalpel at Jaycar after discussion of the various alternatives with the guys there, and sliced and turned up the copper between the transmitter and the cap, which should do it. Didn’t trust myself with soldering iron or dremel tool. Rachio support did tell me that R3 users have been caught and fined in AU.