Smartthings Multi are wonderfully sensitive to vibration. I use one on my shower head to detect a shower in use and turn on/off a fan. You can find them reasonably priced on eBay. If you were to zip tie one the pipe it should work like a champ.
With a water softener, there has to be a discharge of waste water into a drain. To prevent backflow, there is supposed to be an air gap between the end of the discharge hose and the drain. If you get a water leak detector with a probe, you can probably locate the probe in the air gap such that the flow of waste water wets the contacts when the water softener is recharging. However, I have not tried this myself.
I have an Ecolink Z-wave leak detector arriving in a couple of days. This thread has inspired me to try using the detector on my own water softener to see if it works.
My water meter is connected through the Internet to my local water supplier. I can get hourly water usage data by logging into my account. If the water usage is higher than normal during a 24 hour period, I get an email alert. That usually happens when my wife washes several loads of clothes and also when the water softener regenerates. I might try to see if there is any way to extract the data from the web site to display on a Dashboard.
This was my thought. Another might be to see if you can use a contact sensor to sense the "normal" position of the valve. Some valves just turn to different positions during the regen cycle. If you have access to a portion that turns, you could put half of the sensor on the stationary part and the other on the rotating part. OPEN would be regenerating.
This is a good idea, but if yours is like mine, they only use solenoid valves, so no rotating part, if this is your case, you could use a small relay in parallel with the solenoid valve that closes a contact on a contact sensor (there are some with connections inside but forget which have them).
If you have a mechanical clock driven mechanism, there are usually piston type valves that move like the valves on a trumpet. Typically, there is some type of cover over the mechanism to prevent dust and dirt out of the valves.
If you have one of the newer electronically controlled mechanisms, accessing the valves would be difficult.
Great idea, however I don't think the motion sensor will reliability trigger. They usually work on receiving IR changes from a body that is a different temperature than the sensor.
However you might try connecting it to a contact sensor. I am thinking if your contact sensor magnet was in a tube or some other contraption to keep it near the contact housing. Then when the string pulls it, hopefully far enough away from the housing to trigger.
I love the ingenuity of your sensing method. I hope it works as expected.
I do not have any of the Aqara sensors. There is lack of reliable vibration sensors that work with Hubitat. Although there are community drivers for the Xiaomi/Aqara devices, they are not officially supported. That is a shame as Aqara has such a complete line of sensors and they are readily available at reasonable prices.
I have a few Smartthings Multisensors that include vibration sensing, but they are no longer available. I have one of the Aeotec Multipurpose sensors that include vibration, but at $60, they are too expensive to purchase for all the possible uses for such devices. They would be handy for jewelry boxes, silver chests, china cabinets, lock boxes, filing cabinets and anywhere else things of value are stored. The Aqara vibration sensors are only $20 which is more reasonable.
I will be watching this thread with great interest to see if the Aqara vibration sensor does pair easily with Hubitat and stays connected reliably.
Just love this, and yes, Rube would definitely approve of your setup.
I am curiuos why you want to know when your water softner is cycling. I ask because I have a water softener and have no idea when mine cycles, and didn't know I should wonder/care about that. Appreciate a little eddication on this.
I ordered a Aqara vibration sensor and Aqara water leak sensor for testing purposes. I know they are not officially supported by Hubitat, but there are community drivers available.
Did you have any issue setting up the Aqara vibration sensor using those drivers?
I have a water softener, but have no need for a sensor to know when it is running. My softener discharges into the sump pump pit so every few minutes the sump pump turns on to pump out the water. Sometimes it wakes me in the middle of the night. However, there are plenty of other uses for vibration sensors and water leak sensors.
I have had no problems. It is detected as a Zigbee device promptly by my HE7.
Be sure to download and install the Aquara driver first.
Also, one difference that may be affecting some people is that you have to push the pairing button again after you specify preferences in the driver app. Just a regular push until the light blinks.
" * 5. How do I adjust the sensitivity of the vibrations?
Open the Mijia app and enter the Vibration Sensor page. Click the "..." in the top right corner, then select "Adjust vibration sensitivity". You can then choose the appropriate sensitivity and press OK. Finally, single press the reset button on the device to complete the set up according to the tips. If the set up fails, please retry by following the same steps."