tractor guidance

 i have a project in mind involving my tractor and my farming operation. what i want to do is use gps to steer the tractor for me (that i will be riding in at all times!) so i can focus on other tasks while doing tillage and planting.  it will only have to drive in a straight line i will make the turns and line up for the next pass.  my thoughts were have a pixhawk and piksi along with a stepper motor assm to manually turn the steering wheel. two methods i was thinking of were trimble ez steer or agleader.  we have used a light bar guidance on our farm before but this year going to conservation tillage and need to drive over the previously placed fertilizer strip with the planter within 4" or better. with our small farm we can not justify the large expense of RTK.

what is everyone response or concerns to this idea?  i appreciate any input or suggestion i can overlook some important details at times


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    • Ebay link to EZ Steer & EZ Guide

      Hi Andy, There is an EZ-STEER guidance system on ebay today for $4,035 it in Kentucky; As the Piksi boards are delayed, you might be

    • Developer

      Hello Andy.

      That looks like a great project. Here are a few tips that i would like to contribute:
      * I would use a big dc servo drive for steearing. A step motor is prone to lose steps which coulf be disasterous in your applicaation.
      * I would really consider investing on a android tablet to knpw whats happening with the autopilot ( running a software like droidplanner).

  • Hi Andy, I am pleased you have raised this question on the DIY Drones forum, my business carried out some trials three years ago in 2011, we used a Leica system and a brand new JD 8345R. Our research was into the improvement of NRTK signals. There is a paper about this on our web site, the project was called Area2D.

    see or follow this link Area2D by G2way

    Whilst carrying out the research we held a Precision Farming event and through organising the event, we hit upon the idea of using micro UAVs to monitor crops, that's how our Low Level Earth Observation business started, which is starting to grow very well, as you can fly a micro UAV commercially in the UK.

    So my interest was also triggered after seeing the Piksi and PixHawk board, but I suggest you wait and see what the Piksi can do, it should be shipping soon, but the "Proof is in the eating". I have access to the UK's leading GNSS laboratory at the University of Nottingham, so we can compare a Piksi to the leading military systems and see how it really does perform, before investing time and money in an auto steering solution.

    I plan to start working on this after the summer, as I have lots of commercial missions to fly, plus design and build a new wing.

    Best wishes,


    Nottingham, UK.

    Low Level Earth Observation G2way
    Low Level Earth Observation G2way
    • Moderator

      The RTK add on for APM has the potential to make the current tractor systems dust. But.... if they make the connectors to the tractors licenced not so much. 

      Interesting times for sure. Big business must be hoping the OS folks don't notice how simple commanding tractors is.

      Keith speak to Rob at he has designed some outstanding wings. So much so that other folks with better marketing heads have copied them 1:1 and sold them to the FPV market as an innovation. So save yourself some time and get Rob to make them. He will not rip you off and that's probably why he is not a multimillionaire.

    • Hi Gary,

      You're correct to state that the CANBUS formats will present an issue for any third party guidance solution being fitted to an auto-steer ready farm machine, I think that's why Andy was probably thinking of using an after market product which connects to the steering wheel or column like the Trimble Ez-Steer or

      Ravens SMARTRAX mechanical drive system Guidance systems by Raven

      When a farmer spends 1/4 million US $ on a new tractor, they are not bothered about $20k for the guidance system, the price is justified by the support they receive. 50% of farms only buy "Green & Yellow" kit, so if it does not have a JD part number, you'll never sell it to more than 50% of the Western Agri market. Having said that. there is a massive business opportunity for low cost guidance systems in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Brazil.

      UnmannedTech put me in touch with Rob and I have had initial discussion already, I was surprised to learn that his designs are behind a few of the Delta wings being produced commercially, but thanks for the heads up,



  • Check the specs of both manufacturers. 

    Depending on your location and number of visible satellites, you don't need RTK for an acceptable precision.

    On some agricultural forums like agtalk, you will find testimonials of people having used dgps/egnos precision for tillage AND planting.

    You must be aware that this precision has it's limits though: depending on your field length, pass to pass precision may be ok or may have to be corrected manually due to the inconsistence over time. For coming back to the very same spot hours/days/months later, you need higher correction methods that have their price. 

    Since you have made first steps to gps guidance with a bar, chances are that you could have access to RTK signal from a tower or from a network at reduced price, in some areas, these signals are even publicly shared (corrs networks in the usa). 

    In order to increase your payback, I would investigate into what is needed for yield maps and resulting variable rate prescriptions.

    • And a good company that offers cell modems to use ntrip if your existing equipment doesn't have one is mywayrtk.
  • Hi Andy. I work as a precision ag specialist in west texas and install/maintain our machine guidance systems on tractors, sprayers and planters. We are an AgLeader blue delta dealer. I am totally interested in a low cost alternative to agleader, but with their reliability, as on average completely installed it costs over $20k for a versa, geosteer, autotrac-ready kit on a deere (that's cheap)... I will do some searching for a while back I had seen a youtube video of a guy who had a pc and some other gear in his combine and was autosteering it.

  • i think its an interesting thread but my expertise are limited to aerial vehicles idk if anyone can help u in this forum but i hope u get the help u need and please post progress.

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