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Stackyard News Mar 2010

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John Deere RTK Goes Mobile, and Further

John Deere’s AMS (Agricultural Management Solutions) division has announced two new ways of supplying farm vehicles with highly accurate GPS correction signals for precision farming applications – a mobile RTK system with an industry exclusive ‘fall-back’ feature, and a unique method of extending the signal reliably from an RTK base station.

StarFire Mobile RTK

Using the StarFire RTK (real time kinematic) system, it is possible to achieve a repeatable accuracy of only +/- 2cm. This is recommended for customers who require the very highest levels of accuracy for crop establishment, treatment and harvesting applications, such as potato growers or those wishing to carry out controlled traffic farming (CTF).

As an alternative to the existing base station system, the new StarFire Mobile RTK option instead uses a modem connected to the vehicle-mounted StarFire iTC receiver to provide a correction signal via the Vodafone mobile phone network and a central internet-based server.

The central server automatically calculates the optimum error correction for the vehicle’s location, maintaining +/- 2cm repeatable accuracy regardless of the vehicle’s position. In this way, StarFire Mobile RTK eliminates the build-up of inaccuracy at distance, which is inherent in all base station RTK systems. The correction signal is provided by Axio-Net, a member of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) group.

Other benefits, over and above those offered by fixed base station systems, include wider coverage without the need to maintain a ‘line of sight’ contact with the base station. RTK accuracy and repeatability can then be employed more practically by those working over wide geographical areas (for example contractors), without the need to change receiver settings.

Signal loss caused by hills, trees or buildings, which strongly affect the performance of base station RTK systems, is not a significant factor in StarFire Mobile RTK operation. Signal acquisition is extremely fast, from one to three minutes, and the modem can be quickly moved from machine to machine along with the GreenStar display and StarFire iTC receiver.

StarFire Mobile RTK also includes a ‘fall-back’ to satellite-based SF2 correction (+/- 10cm) in areas where mobile phone coverage is poor. With this industry exclusive feature, StarFire Mobile RTK allows work to continue in situations where users of other types of GPS correction system would be forced to stop.

StarFire Mobile RTK works with any of John Deere’s GreenStar 2 in-cab displays, and offers an ideal upgrade for existing users of SF1 or SF2 correction signals who are looking to increase the accuracy of their operations. Initially the Axio-Net correction signal is available across most of central and eastern England, and it is recommended that the Vodafone coverage for a particular area is checked before ordering a system.

New multiple repeater for StarFire RTK

John Deere’s new StarFire RTK multiple repeater is designed to extend and improve the range and effectiveness of an RTK base station network. This industry exclusive breakthrough makes it possible to use several radio repeaters per base station without the signal interference issues encountered by other systems, in which only one repeater can be used. It does this by using different frequencies for receiving and retransmitting the GPS correction signal.

With this exclusive John Deere technology, up to nine repeaters can be linked together with a single RTK base station. This greatly reduces the cost of covering a wide area with the RTK signal, and multiple repeaters do not need to be licensed like the higher powered base stations. It also provides the extra flexibility needed to get the correction signal around almost any obstacle, and makes the system easier to set up for shared base station networks.

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