Pros: 6 stations, programmable dual settings, rain delay
Cons: Small, hard to read LCD screen, only 1 start time for all stations
Last summer we moved to a new home and for the first time in our lives, we hired a landscaper to install automatic sprinklers and make our backyard design come to life. It soon came to light that he did not have much experience in landscaping and the sprinkler timer that was already installed for the front yard could not be used for the back yard as he had planned. The next day he brought the Orbit 6 Station Dual Program Sprinkler Timer that was about ½ the size of our front yard sprinkler timer. The units now sit side-by-side in the basement and 4 stations are hooked up to our Orbit 6 Station timer.
The timer is very small and weighs approximately 1-¼ pounds. It is operated by 2 AA batteries and is compatible with 24-volt sprinkler systems. The screen is a small LCD screen and it is hard to see without good light and perhaps a magnifying glass and I'm near sighted. It has a rotary selector dial with a choice of A and B programming.
There are 7 push button keys for setup and program entry. The keys are used to set the time of day, watering time, watering days, start times, manual settings and rain delay functions.
The Orbit timer offers a reset button that clears all of your programming but does not remove the factory installed fail-safe program, which is turning on each station every day for 10 minutes. You must use a small pointed object in order to depress the reset button.
Current Time/Date: Before getting started with any programming, you need to turn the rotary dial to Time/Date and by using the + or - keys, you set your date and time. Holding the + or - key speeds up the forward or reverse motion into rapid advance mode. It is set at 12:00 a.m. With each entry such as year, month, day, press Enter to lock it in.
Watering Plan: Your next plan is to determine a watering plan. It is best to keep next to the timer; a diagram to show which areas of your yard is hooked up to each station. Some areas do not require watering as frequently; therefore you can adjust the time accordingly.
A and B Programs: The timer offers two watering programs known as A and B programs. Each stations can be set to either A or B or both. However A and B do not offer the same functions. Program A lets you schedule selected stations to water on specific days of the week or to water every 2nd day. Program A repeats itself continuously in successive weeks. Program B is your Interval, Odd, Even options, whereas you can set it to water on odd days only, even days only or interval days with settings of 1 watering every day, interval 2, every other day, and so on.
Start Times: Next is entering the start times for Program A or B by turning the rotary selector dial to the A or B section choosing start time. Once again use the + and - keys to select the start time and press Enter to lock in the time. This unit does not offer separate start times for each station. The stations will operate in sequence.
Watering Durations: Turn the rotary dial to the Station Duration position in either your A or B program. The cursor should start blinking at station 1 on your LCD screen on your bottom left where you see stations 1 thru 6 printed. You may set the water duration from 1 to 99 minutes. Press and hold the + key to advance and your - key to reverse, and then press Enter. When the minutes are set, a solid "A" or "B" will appear over station 1 towards the top left. The cursor will then advance to station 2 and continue blinking. Repeat these steps for all stations remembering to press the Next key after selecting amount of minutes. To skip a station, press the Next key. To erase previously programmed water durations, press the Clear key.
Assigning Water Days: Turn the rotary dial to Days of Week. The display will show an "A" and the cursor will blink under the days of the week along the top center to top right of your LCD screen. The days of the week are labeled as M, T, W, T, F, S, S. Press Enter to activate watering on Monday and the cursor advances to Tuesday, press Enter to activate watering on this day and repeat these steps for all days of the week. To skip a day, press Next. If you want to water every second day, press the Next key to advance the cursor to 2nd, then press Enter. If you choose to water every 2nd day, you cannot set specific days of the week for watering.
Program B: As stated earlier, this program is used to water at specific intervals between days (1-28) or on odd or even calendar days. The timer has a leap-year compensator and will ensure compliance thru the year 2100. Turn the dial to "interval" and select the number by pressing and holding the + or - key. To activate the water interval for every other day, press 2, every 3 days, press 3, every 10 days, press 10. To select odd or even day watering, press next. The cursor will move to either the odd or even setting, the press Enter. To erase a schedule press Clear.
Reviewing your selections: You can easily review your selections by checking start times in program A. After programming and reviewing, turn the rotary dial to Auto and your timer is set.
Semi-automatic: The Orbit Timer Sprinkler also has semi-automatic and manual operations available. To turn the sprinkler system on between settings without disturbing your programs, press the "manual" key and the small display will show AB, Manual, and All will be blinking and it will cycle through the stations of both A and B settings in sequence. If you just wanted to activate A or B program only, press the Manual key, followed by the Next key. This will activate stations in the A program then press Enter. You also have the option of activating B program only by pressing the Next key twice after pressing the manual key. Both of the above would be your Semi-Automatic functions.
Manual: For true manual, press the Manual key, then press Next three times. The display will shows a blinking cursor on station 1 along with dashes for the minutes. Set the number of minutes for each station as the blinking cursor moves to each station. Pressing the Clear key will revert the timer to your original watering plan.
Rainy Delay Mode: To stop watering for 24, 48, or 72 hours, use the Rain Delay mode key. Press the rain delay key once for 24 hours interruption, twice for 48 and three times for 72 hours, then press Enter. After the amount of time has been done, it will return to normal programming.
Off: To turn off the whole system, turn to Off. The timer remains programmed, but will not water.
What We Think of This Model
This unit is very small as well as the display. It is not sturdy and has a flimsy feel to it. It is not easy to set the programs and in fact becomes very confusing with the Next and Enter keys as to which one to press at what part of the programming that you need to have the book in front of you. We also need a timer that gives you the option of programming different start times for different stations. With this one you cannot. Some areas of your landscaping benefit by different times of the day or night better than other areas of your landscaping.
This would be a good automatic timer than not having one at all or for those that do not need to keep changing the settings frequently due to weather in your area. Our area is in the Pacific Northwest that is constantly changing from cool to warm to hot to cool to freezing so we are having to reset our sprinkler timers frequently. Those who have a more stable weather pattern would better benefit from this timer due to the complexity of programming it compared to the other one right next to it that is used for the front landscaping. The small size of the display makes it very difficult to see the blinking cursor.
Also, I was very disappointed to see that although it has a A program and a B program they have different functions and are not your true dual programmable programs.
Since it does function and makes a good starter one I do recommend it but do know there are easier ones out there and larger displays making programming your sprinklers faster. If we were the ones selecting timers, we would not have selected this one having had experience with several timers throughout our lives.