Top Crop Manager

Maintenance
GPS monitors and displays

Technology continues to change the face of agriculture, and so too are the faces of many of the GPS monitors and display panels now available. To help with the decision-making process, this feature provides a glimpse into some of the more-recent designs.


November 5, 2008
By Top Crop Manager

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Console display for sprayer station
Spectrum Technologies now offers an after-market display unit that connects easily to existing WatchDog Sprayer Stations. It is particularly suited to sprayer rigs that do not have in-cab computer systems or other monitoring devices.

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The new display enables users to view and track wind speeds and direction, air temperature, humidity, dew point and barometric pressure, while on the go, using the WatchDog Sprayer Station. Weather data can be collected and downloaded to a personal computer with Console Sync
software, which is also included.

The Sprayer Station handles adverse conditions with a UV stabilized, compact housing that is waterproof and  resistant to chemicals. Reliability is enhanced by eliminating moving parts, replacing wind vane and cups with ultrasonic transducers.
Spectrum Technologies
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Improving control of application
Ag Leader Technology is adding new features to its DirectCommand application control system. The system now interfaces to the Raven Sidekick chemical injection pump for control of chemical injection applications. The InSight display and CAN module replace the Sidekick console, directly connecting to the injection pump. Automated prime and
calibration routines, as well as advanced sensor diagnostics are part of the new direct injection module’s functionality. It can be used for herbicide, fungicide and insecticide applications, along with N-Serve injection applications.

DirectCommand now comes with three channels of
granular product control within the spreader module,
providing operators the capacity to apply as many as three products simultaneously at varying rates. DirectCommand simplifies spreader control by controlling the conveyor and spinner speed, along with monitoring bin levels. The system reads ground speed and automatically adjusts product flow to match target application rates. The spreader control system supports PWM, motorized servo, Mark IV.2, Mark IV.4 and Mark V hydraulic control values.
Ag Leader Technology
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Precision guidance with added touchscreen
Hemisphere GPS recently introduced its Outback S3 system, the next generation in Outback Guidance products. It combines the most popular features of the Outback S2 and the Outback 360 with the latest developments in Crescent GPS receiver technology, and has a large colour touchscreen for constant situational awareness.

The Outback S3’s 8.4in, high resolution touchscreen displays clear and easy-to-read data in real-time. There is a variety of basic guidance patterns with the ability to set
multiple guidance lines and return points in a single task. The electronically integrated Outback Steering Guide uses GPS data and specific job details to display simple heading direction and provide precision guidance. It can also set perimeters, drop flag markers, create job templates and record job specifics such as the type of crop, wind direction and temperature. Such data can then be transferred to Field Notes personal computer software via a USB thumb drive to
generate maps and reports.

Although Outback S3 is loaded with features and the latest technology, it is reported to be extremely user friendly.

The Outback S3 is also expandable to work with a variety of other Outback Guidance products and accessories. Outback eDrive TC GPS assisted steering system extends the functionality of the Outback S3 by utilizing GPS technology to aid in more uniform treatments and less waste. Combined with the Baseline HD, Outback S3 and eDrive TC can provide a higher level of accuracy, a necessity for precision applications. Outback S3 is also expandable to work with Outback Automate, an automatic boom control system that monitors and controls individual sprayer sections to help minimize overlaps and skips.
Hemisphere GPS
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Collaborative effort to steer straight
The FarmPRO GPS steering and application control system is a new product on the market, and a result of an ongoing collaborative effort between AutoFarm and Raven Industries.

The unit is designed for professional growers and custom applicators. It unites the Viper PRO display panel and control system from Raven with sub-inch accurate RTK AutoSteer from AutoFarm. The FarmPRO system offers a wide selection of steering and application control systems that is conveniently detailed for the operator on a single large-screen display.

The design takes what have been multiple, but separate, applications, and integrated them into a single-controls stream with just one terminal in the cab.

The list of automatic steering and application control functions available through the FarmPRO system includes: WAAS to RTK steering accuracy options, as-applied maps, variable rate control of as many as five products, automatic boom height and boom section controls, a 10.4in colour touchscreen display, Windows XP operating systems, a shape file format for exporting to office software, data transfer capability using a USB key and auto calibration of steering and application functions.
AutoFarm/Raven Industries
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Feature-loaded lightbar
The AgGPS EZ-Guide 250 lightbar guidance system is one of the newest releases from Trimble. The AgGPS EZ-Guide 250 is an entry-level guidance system, which offers an economical choice for growers wanting to invest in precision agriculture, allowing operators to steer tractors, sprayers, harvesters and other farm vehicles. The system boasts an easy-to-use interface, an integrated WAAS/EGNOS GPS receiver with sub-metre pass-to-pass accuracy and real-time mapping
capabilities.

The EZ-Guide 250 features a 4.3in colour display with 15 guidance LED lights. The high performance guidance pattern graphics are now equivalent to units which were more costly in the past. Users have the option of selecting overhead or perspective views of the operation, and data logged by the unit can be transferred to a personal computer using a USB flash drive. The system also supports multiple guidance
patterns, including the FreeForm guidance system, which provides unlimited patterns and shapes enabling users to find the specific pattern that suits their needs for specific fields.

Also, the EZ-Guide 250 is compatible with Ag Leader’s EZ-Steer 500 assisted-steering system with T2 terrain compensation technology and the AG15 high accuracy antenna. In all, these systems provide operators with the ability to upgrade their guidance systems as the technology
is enhanced. The EZ-Guide 250/EZ-Steer combination guidance system can be moved from one vehicle to another, offering users increased flexibility. And the unit’s rugged cast aluminum housing provides reliable operation and durability.
Trimble
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Highly visible lightbar system
The Topcon PCS-100 is another of the lightbar guidance systems that are now available to growers, helping them increase their on-farm efficiency while reducing overlaps and extending hours of operation. It marks the next generation of operating simplicity in a lightbar guidance product. The design of the PCS-100 features a detachable lightbar for optimum ‘field of view’ placement and a 5.0in high visibility colour display that operates in separate ‘day’ and ‘night’ modes.

At just two pounds, the unit is lightweight and portable, yet rugged and easy-to-move from vehicle to vehicle. With visually-aided on-screen setup and push button controls, the PCS-100 is simple to operate, with minimal training or instruction. The full colour display and detachable lightbar allows optimum placement and visual reference. To aid in working longer hours, the large colour screen is backlit and the LED lightbar is adjustable.

Other features include multiple patterns including straight line, contour, pivot and last pass. The LED settings are adjustable to match a variety of working conditions, and its ambient light sensor maintains sharp display contrast. On-screen status indicators include row number, speed, area applied and field area. There are interchangeable field views including overhead plan and path view, and there is a functional zoom with features for swath, guidance and field views. There are also multiple language options available.

Operators can use data logging with field notes for simple file transfer via the USB port. The PCS-100 is also ethernet, CAN and RS-232 capable. n
Topcon
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Two partners release second-generation software
The AF-Viewer II is now available to growers, a joint offering from AutoFarm and developer Farm Works Software. The system is another of the many GPS steering systems to ease the collection and field-to-office transfer of GPS-generated farm management data.

AF-Viewer II software is compatible with virtually all AutoFarm GPS steering systems now in use, including the A5 RTK AutoSteer system, DGPS AutoSteer, RighTrac, OnTrac and ATC, as well as the FarmPRO GPS Steering and Application control system.

When the system was released early in 2008, the intention of AutoFarm was to make the AF-Viewer II software available to existing customers at no charge, provided they register their AutoFarm steering system with a product serial number.

The software is Windows-based and runs on Windows versions 2000 and higher. It is designed to collect and store field management data and allow users to Read and Write from any of the AutoFarm terminals via datacards or a USB key, depending on the products.

The AF-Viewer II also offers set-up files on farms, fields, crops, people, equipment and products or supplies like seed, fertilizer and chemicals, allowing customers to collect and save information in a structured archive. The software will read coverage maps and boundaries with AutoFarm
hardware, with jobs and maps exportable via ArcView Shape File or an FODM (XML) file. It will work in standard or
metric measure systems, and supports multiple languages, including English, French, Spanish, German and Danish.
AutoFarm
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