Protecting your sensor cables is crucial for maintaining the integrity and functionality of an onsite MCSS system. There are two main reasons why we need to prioritise the protection of sensor cables: mechanical damage and animals.
Mechanical damage is a common risk due to various farming equipment and activities. Equipment such as robotic weeders, brush cutters, pruning machinery, harvesting machinery, spraying equipment, and netting potentially threaten sensor cables. Accidental contact or entanglement with these machines can result in cable damage or disconnection, leading to disruptions in data collection and compromised system performance.
Almonds: Harvester Wine Grapes: Harvester
Avocado: Pruner Wine Grapes: Pruner
Additionally, various animals can pose a risk to the integrity of the cables, including sheep, cattle, kangaroos, mice and rats, rabbits and hares, and cockatoos. To prevent damage, it is important to take proactive measures.
One effective way to mitigate animal-related damage is through proper location selection.
Implementing physical protection measures is a key strategy. Using conduits and fencing can provide a physical barrier that deters animals from accessing the sensor cables. Conduits serve as a protective enclosure that shields the cables from potential damage, while fencing helps create a boundary that prevents animals from reaching the cables.
Cattle protection Brushcutter
Keeping the nodes and sensors away from areas where machinery operates can also significantly reduce the risk of accidental damage.
In row node Machinery damage
Above row node Above row node
To effectively implement conduit protection, specific tools are required. These tools include a drill, a 7mm hex head, a hex head for hex screws, a knife, a 0.5mm ferrule crimper, wire strippers, side cutters with no beveled edge, and a small Phillip's screwdriver. These tools aid in the installation and maintenance of conduits, ensuring the cables are properly secured and protected.
When conduiting your sensor cables without any cable joins, you will need a few essential parts and tools. Here are the necessary components:
20mm conduit: This serves as the protective enclosure for the sensor cables, ensuring their safety from external factors.
3 x Terry clamps: These clamps help secure the conduit to the desired surface, providing stability and support.
3 x Thin screws for Terry clamps: These screws are used to fasten the Terry clamps securely in place.
2 x Metal half saddle clamps: These clamps are used to attach the conduit to a wall or other surfaces, providing additional support and stability.
2 x 50mm wood hex screws: These screws are used to secure the metal half saddle clamps to the surface, ensuring a firm attachment.
Numerous small cable ties: Cable ties are used to secure the sensor cables within the conduit, keeping them organized and preventing any potential movement or tangling.
2 x Philmac 20mm pipe end connector female: These connectors are used to join the ends of the conduits, ensuring a seamless and secure connection.
2 x 20mm to 10mm reducing bush: These reducing bushes are used to adapt the conduit size from 20mm to 10mm, allowing for the proper fitting of the cables.
2 x 5mm cable gland: Cable glands are used to provide strain relief and secure the cables within the conduit, preventing any undue stress on the connections.
Leaf Wetness sensor conduit
To properly conduit the leaf wetness sensor, follow these steps:
1. Assemble the cable gland: Ensure you have the necessary components of the cable gland ready. This typically includes a nut, a sealing ring, and a body. Follow the instructions provided with the cable gland to assemble it correctly.
2. Screw the reducing bush into the pipe end. Make sure it is securely fastened.
3. Screw the cable gland into the reducing bush. Ensure it is tightened properly.
4. Gently slice off the corners of the plug: If the cable plug has corners, use a knife to gently remove them. This will make it easier to insert the plug into the cable gland.
5. Insert the cable plug through the cable gland:
6. Insert the cable plug through the 20mm conduit.
7. Pull the cable all the way through the conduit.
8. Insert cable plug through second cable gland from the other end.
9. Attach the gland to the conduit and tighten to create a firm and waterproof seal. This will protect the sensor's connection point from moisture and other external elements.
10. Leave 350mm of cable free
11. Tighten cable gland around the end of the leaf sensor
12. Insert conduit and tighten
13. Use terry clamps to mount the gland onto the post
14. Clip in the cable gland
15. Fasten terry clamps with cable ties
15. Fasten conduit with half saddles
After completing the previous steps, the finished product should look like this:
EnviroPro sensor conduit
For the EnviroPro sensor conduit, the installation process is similar to that of the leaf wetness sensor, with a few variations:
Follow the steps mentioned earlier for preparing the conduit, such as gently slicing off the corners of the plug and assembling the cable gland.
Screw the reducing bush into the pipe end, just as before.
Screw the cable gland into the reducing bush, ensuring a secure fit.
Insert the cable plug through the cable gland, as done previously.
However, in the case of the EnviroPro sensor, the end cable gland should be positioned against the green shaft of the sensor. Make sure it lays flat and is buried properly for a clean and integrated look.
When tightening the cable gland, take care to prevent the cable from twisting. To do this, hold the gland nut and twist the rest of the gland, ensuring a snug fit without putting strain on the cable.
Insert the conduit with the attached cable into the desired location and tighten it securely.
Inline Cable Join
The inline cable join is a crucial aspect of both underground and below-ground conduiting. This technique allows for the seamless connection of two separate sections of cable within the conduit. Whether you are installing an underground sensor system or a below-ground conduit, mastering the inline cable join is essential for a reliable and efficient setup.
To perform an inline cable join, you will need the following parts:
6 x Ferrules: These are small metal sleeves that are crimped onto the stripped ends of the cables to provide a solid connection.
1 x IP68 inline cable connector: This connector is designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions and provides a watertight seal for the joined cables.
2 x Hose clamps: These clamps are used to secure the rubber hose and provide additional protection and strain relief for the cable join.
1 x ~200mm piece of white rubber hose: The rubber hose serves as a protective covering for the inline cable join, shielding it from moisture and external elements.
To perform an inline cable join, follow these steps:
1. Cut the cable approximately 75mm from the end of the conduit using appropriate cutting tools.
2. Using a 6mm stripper, strip the outer insulation of the cable approximately 20mm from the end of the wire.
3. Pull back the shield to expose the individual wires.
4. Separate each wire from the group and ensure they are spread out.
5. Use a 0.75mm stripper to strip the insulation from each wire, leaving only 5mm of coloured insulated cable exposed.
6. Twist each cable tightly together to ensure a solid connection.
7. Attach a ferrule to the end of each cable by sliding it over the exposed wire.
8. Use a crimping tool to crimp each ferrule securely onto the cable.
9. Give a gentle tug on each ferrule to verify that they are tightly attached to the cables.
10. Slide the white rubber hose over the conduit, covering the joined cables.
11. Slide two hose clamps over the conduit, positioning them at each end of the rubber hose.
12. Slide the end of the IP68 inline cable joiner over the joined cables, ensuring a secure fit.
13. Tighten the joiner and lock it into place using the provided mechanism or locking mechanism.
14. Insert the crimped wires into the appropriate terminals within the joiner.
15. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws on the joiner, ensuring a firm connection between the wires and terminals.
16. Repeat the same process on the other side of the join, following steps 1 to 16.
17. Screw the glands onto the respective ends of the joiner, ensuring a secure fit.
18. Slide the white rubber hose over the join, covering it completely.
19. Position the join between the two hose clamps, making sure it is centered.
20. Tighten the hose clamps securely, ensuring the join is held firmly in place.
21. With the completion of the steps outlined above, the cable join is now securely and effectively protected. Finally, check that the sensor is working properly by performing the necessary tests or observations.
The proper installation of conduits, cable glands, ferrules, and hose clamps ensures the longevity and reliability of the join. Regular inspections and maintenance should be conducted to ensure the join remains in good condition and continues to provide a secure connection for the cables.