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  25 responses to Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • Ferdinand L
    Comment on Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design (September 1st, 2010 at 17:55)

    Jon, Thanks so much for this. You’re quite good at determning how things work, graphical representation, technical description (and tearing things apart!). So, I’m curious: did this unit fail due to blockage of the restricted flow passage, unseating or of the spring, problem in the motor or gear to drive the pin, eclectronics, or…?
    My Vigoro model operates somewhat differently, with ball valves. Still troubleshooting my failure…

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

    • Hello Ferdinand, thank you for the positive feedback! This unit hadn’t actually failed for me. I replaced it with a Orbit 4 Zone Watering System (The blue one in the other article) and that has been working out great for me. I felt it was worth showing what is inside these devices we trust our lawns and plants to. The Orbit uses the ball valves as well I believe, I am going to ‘open up’ one of the valves to see how it works. The valve I removed from the 3015V is not going to waste however, I will probably re-purpose it for water cooling on one of my laser project ( which I’ve been meaning to get back to work on.

      In looking at this Vigoro valve, I don’t see a lot that could go wrong from it unless it had an electrical failure. The gears are fairly durable and the fact that it’s only a pin that moves in and out to activate the valve minimize physical stresses just down mostly to that pin. If you find out what has happened with your Vigoro, please post back, I am curious in hearing.

      Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • Hey this is Jon-A (not to be confused with JonC)…. I am trying determine how to interface directly with the Orbit Vigoro valve and open and close it through my own interface. Putting a meter on the timer/controller when it turns those valves on for a duration and then of, it seems to put a certain voltage to open, and then later when it is closing the valve it puts another volatage to the valve. Between the open and close times there is no voltage going to the valve. I can open the valve by puting 3v(from 2 AA batteries), but I am unable to close it without reattaching the valve to the coltroller. Do you have any idea how to open and then close the valve through your own interface. The Orbit Vigoro I have is the 345-179 model. It looks a little bit different than your contolller, but I am hoping the valve interface is the same.

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

    • Hi there Jon-A, Have you tried to just reverse the voltage to the valve? I think that should solve you problem, if not let me know and when I get home I’ll dig into one of my spare valves and see what’s going on in there for you. Let me know either way, it would be good to hear if you got it working. Is this some kind of micro-controller project you’re working on?

  • I called Orbit and they said to just reverse the polarity. 3v DC is the amount they said to use to open it and then just reverse the polarity to close it. The open part works but not the close. I am trying to control this through a parallax basic stamp controller. For now I am just directly making the connections to open it and close it. The close when attached to the timer has a little bit of a delay, but closes just fine. When I open it by applying volts, I have to reattach to controller to close it. Any thoughts or ideas you come up with would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

    • Does your valve had a stereo headphone type plug? Might be worth cracking the case open (some are glued, some are just snapped together) to get a better idea of how it works.

      I just spent about 45 minutes pulling apart my system to figure it out. With the system I have, the valves have a gray angular body with a water inlet and outlet. A wire comes from the valve and terminates in an oval shaped end with two pin sockets which connects to the box.

      The Orbit sprinkler box I have is powered by two 1.5 volt batteries, but internally it has a boost converter which charges a 2200uF/25 volt capacitor to well higher than 3 volts (closer to 12 volts). When you turn the valve on with the control unit, there is a several second delay which is used to charge a capacitor in the control box. This is then switched with a transistor through the solenoid in the valve. When you cancel the program, there is again another few second delay where the capacitor charges, and the transistors switch again, turning the valve off.

      I would recommend using higher voltages and see if that works for you. You may be able to turn on with a lower voltage, due to the pressure from the water in the line providing some assistance, but not have enough power at 3 volts to force the valve closed against the water pressure. I used a 12 volt power source to successfully open and close the valve repeatedly.

      The coil in the solenoid provides quite a bit of kickback voltage when the magnetic field collapses, which will quite likely damage a micro-controller, because you need to trigger it forwards and backwards you can’t use a blocking diode so you’ll need to come up with a creative way to keep the HV spike from getting to the micro-controller. This is also a common problem with relays and micro-controllers. In their circuit it takes 4 transistors, two on each lead, to provide polarity switching on their valve.

      Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • My valve does not have a stereo plug. Just a two (large Pin) plug. I tried using twelve volts to close the valve with not success. When it opens there is no water or water pressure connected to it. I am currently just trying to open and close the valve stand-alone. I tried the 3volt and 12volt and reversing the polarity on both, with not success. When I hook up to the timer and put a voltmeter on the timer side of the plug I can see the momentary pulse of electricity that closes the vavle back up. Although because it is happening so quick I don’t know the exact amount. So I am wondering if it is a specific amount (of volts/amps) that is sending a specific signal to the valve. It can’t be that complicated that I shouldn’t be able to get this to open and close. One side note is I am going to be requlating air through the valve and not water, but this should be able to do what I need. If I can’t get this to work do you have any ideas/suggestions of another electronic valve that I can open and close with 12volts or less DC? The valve can’t weigh more than maybe 5 ounces at most. I don’t expect you to spend too much time on this, but any quick thoughts is great, otherwise I will go to plan B, what ever that may be. I did have a valve that did what I wanted. It was just controled by a silonoid so when it had power to it the valve was open and when I turned the power off it was closed. This orbit vavle would be better because having the valve open for two house or more doesn’t have any draw on it, so I have better battery life. Thanks for your help so far and again, don’t spend too much time on this, but your thoughts would be great.

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

    • That’s really confounding for me, I think I’d need to see it in person to figure it out because it doesn’t operate like any I’ve seen before. I put my timer unit on the scope and there was nothing fancy, just a quick spike each time it switched.

      How much airflow do you need to be able to move through this valve? Do you need a valve with that large of an intake and outlet? You could trying checking out products similar to Clippard Minimatic or STC Valves and also do a Google search for ‘electric pneumatic valves’ or ‘solenoid valves’ to get started then try to find a ‘latching’ type valve so you don’t have to keep your power on all the time. Might even be able to find a useful sponsor on this page for valves, being a valve page and all.

      Hope that helps to get you started.

      Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • Jon-c, thanks for you help and input. The latching valve suggestion was very interesting. Here are a couple things I found. There are a few sprinkler valves that offer latching solenoids and run off 9volt DC transiter type battery. I am not sure but I think the reason for that is they may have timers that would still run even if the power is out and it could operate the vavles on the 9volt backup battery they have. Like I said I havent researched that yet, so it is my thought. I did find a very cool valve that runs a fair amount of air through and still runs on 12volts. I am bench testing it now and it is working like a charm. The valve I got is:
    Thanks for your help on this. Jon-A

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • This looks like the unit that I have. I am merely trying to change the 9V battery but I cannot get the back off! I have taken out the screws and used a screwdriver but it must be ultrasonically welded as well! Do you have any suggestions? I have almost dug through the casing already & that little door is not budging!

  • EXCELLENT! Very well documented description of a Solenoid. Thank you very much for your insight. Diagrams were very helpful!

  • a well documented exploded views.. hats off!!
    i’ve got three of these, after one year of great service only one is running well and the rest are leaking at the bottom hole.. (same true happens with my neighbor since we bought at the same time)..
    need your suggestion on how to fix this leaks, are the two bottom holes are intended for future leaks..
    your solution/s is really appreciated..

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

    • Hi Freddie, unfortunately if water is leaking out of the housing then the seals on the internal valve have failed or if you’re in a freezing environment and they were not drained of water over the winter the plastic valve housing may have cracked.

      Unfortunately these do not seem to be built for long term use as I’ve seen complaints of this type of failure on this site.

      When you compare the valve on these type of sprinkler timers to a valve that is used on a commercial or in-ground home sprinkler system you’ll see that these are much smaller in size. I suspect they are limited to a relatively low number of open/close cycles in comparison to a larger and more durable valve.

      The larger valves use a higher voltage and higher current power supply to open and close the valves. To make a timer this small they downsize the power supply (batteries) and the valve solenoid, as well as the valve to make it work.

      If you look at this orbit valve linked below, it’s almost as big as the whole sprinkler timer.

      Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • nice site, JonC, and nice overview of the Vigoro 3015V internals. I can almost smell the burning plastic that started the process.

    I have this unit and it has a cracked input fitting. I can’t tell if its replaceable or not from your teardown. Do you know?

  • Hi and thanks for your fantastic teardown of your valve. I have a very similarly numbered unit, but the internals are different. Mine is the Melnor AquaTimer 3015_PRL_02 and the valve is much smaller and has a large visible coil, suggesting that it’s a solenoid instead of a geared DC motor. It also looks too small to have a diaphragm inside. Maybe it’s a toggling ball valve of some sort? Here’s a picture:

    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • Veey good work JonC!
    Your post is so wonderful that helped me greatly while I doing my repairing.
    My Vigoro 3015 had a totally different problem. The location of my hose bibb is bad which resulted in the timer got wet fiarly easy. During our 1 week off time a small amount of water was leaking in on the LCD desplay and I can’t read it any more. After several hours of try I concluded I had to tear the case appart and clear the display surface. Right before I did that I found your post and immediately realized it was not reversible and I won’t be able to seal it back on as good as manufacturer orignally did.
    I made another approach and patiently “cook” it in oven at 170 F (no and off every 5 minutes to avoid overheating).I am still half way done but I knew it was a better way because I could barely see the numbers now already.

    Thanks so much!


    Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • George Michael
    Comment on Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design (August 20th, 2015 at 07:14)

    Hi Jon C. Thanks for your in-depth description about the Timer. The outflow from my timer is a trickle and not a flow, please advise on what could possibly be my problem. Regards.

    • Hi George, I’m glad you like the information. If you’re getting low flow, it’s probably worth checking the filter screen on the input side of the timer, if it has one, to make sure it’s not plugged up. If it doesn’t have a filter, try to look down inside the water inflow side and maybe spray some water down in there to rinse it out. Debris from a hose or plumbing work can clog the valve. If you have hard water it’s also possible that there’s some mineral inside, maybe you could find a way to get some CLR scale remover (used for bathrooms, etc) into the valve from both sides and see if any scale buildup gets cleaned out. Due to the way these valves work I’m sure there could be other internal issues which could be causing this as well.

      Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design

  • Hi – not sure if you are still answering questions about the 3015 timer or not but mine programs fine but when hooked up to the faucet, the water is not controlled and runs continually. Is the timer toast?

    • Hey there, sounds like the valve is toast. It could be either a defect in electronics triggering it to be open all the time, the mechanism could be worn out or maybe there are mineral deposits inside the valve which are not allowing it to close. You could try soaking it and then rinsing it out with CLR to remove the hard water deposits, but other than that it might be time to get a new timer.

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    Review of a Couple of Brands of Sprinkler Timer / Watering Timers | Jon's Home Blog Comment on Vigoro 3015V Sprinkler Timer Internals and Valve Design (August 31st, 2010 at 22:53)

    […] you liked this article, please see my other Lawn Related Posts and also my new article where I disassemble the Vigoro 3015v to see how the valve works. Tags: Electronics, Lawn, Orbit, sprinkler, […]

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