Meld signals to exploit maximum connectivity

Despite a major investment in RTK, which is used to improve data from satellite positioning systems, many producers still experience signal loss and become frustrated at the wasted time waiting for the system to come back to life.

The situation is more maddening when using RTK to guide a tile drainage plow, in which case the operator can lose confidence that his renewed signal is putting the plow down to the correct depth. An even greater frustration is the time wasted if producers have to stop to manually measure tile depth to check it or recalibrate.

That’s the situation Bobby Boggess found himself mired in last fall when he moved his green RTK system over to his newly acquired tile plow.

Boggess farms 1,500 acres of corn and beans near Hardin, Kentucky. Using the radio-based RTK from his local John Deere dealership, he says that he typically lost signal three or four times a day on his planter, sprayer and combine.

“Now, when I’m talking about losing signal, I’m not talking about just the 15 or 30 seconds kind of stuff. I’m talking about having to shut down and then bring everything back up,” says Boggess, noting that it cost him about five minutes of field time every time it happened.

“On things like planting and harvesting, I felt the new location spot when I got the signal back was OK left and right and down the row. It was close enough for guidance, but it was still frustrating.

“But tile is a different story. They say the vertical signal for the plow is more sensitive. I was worried about how my RTK would handle depth control, so I went shopping for a solution.”

Water doesn’t run uphill, so there’s no room for elevation error with tile drainage. Concerned that RTK signal loss could have a devastating impact on any new tile installation, Boggess searched for a way to ensure against signal loss.

When he heard about Intuicom’s RTK Bridge-X, he decided to try the device on the tile plow. The Bridge melds RTK signals from every available brand and type of source. It provides consistent steering and elevation control.

Signal sources include wi-fi, internet, Bluetooth, ethernet and cellular. It serves as a wi-fi hotspot with internet access to smart phones, tablets and laptops in the cab. And because it’s a Bluetooth receiver, there’s no bundle of cables connecting the various devices.

“When you’re plowing (tile), the last thing you want is to be running a 1,300 foot lateral and lose signal, or even fear that you are going to lose signal. You have to stop, regroup and start all over again,” Boggess explained in a news release.

He says the installation was simple. It doesn’t add new RTK signals. It maximizes the different signals already available.

“I put about 30 days on my plow using the Bridge last year, and I never did lose my signal the whole time. Not once.”

As an added benefit, Boggess says signal capture in the morning is faster with the Bridge than it was as a subscriber solely to the Deere system.

“Now, when I crank my Intuicom system up, my feed is instantaneous. I go to a green satellite and I keep that solid green satellite on the screen all day. That’s something I couldn’t say with my previous RTK system,” Boggess said in the release, adding that it was easy to install and get it running.

“It’s a big capital outlay (RTK), that’s for sure, so you want to know it’s working for you. And it’s got to be simple to use.

“You take a bunch of guys like me in their 50s and 60s and we’re still trying to figure out how to use our iPhone, most of us. The Bridge is simple enough for us.”

For more information, contact Boggess at bgboggess@mchsi.com or call 270-519-1290.

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