Considering Reach for tractor guidance, how quick can I get it going

I just found out about Reach, maybe a bit late as this is our last year of field farming (planting the last fields down to hay) but there’s still time to get some value out of it. We currently operate with no GPS just markers in the old fashioned style. I am thinking of pairing Reach with an Android tablet and running a software such as Agribus-NAVI to track overlap and misses while seeding and keep my lines straight over the hills.

So I have a few questions as to whether I should bother purchasing a pair and trying them out. We will be seeding in a week or two as well as building a lot of fence, which looks like a great usage case for this product.

  • Will it work mostly out of the box, i.e. slap the receiver on the tractor cab, pair with base station, pair with bluetooth and go, or is there a bunch of tinkering to do before I can operate with it? I have already tested the android device with other, inaccurate GPS devices and it works well other than the lack of accuracy.

  • I have a pair of 3DR radios, knockoffs unfortunately, that I use with a Pixhawk based UAV for telemetry. Will these work for the communications between base and rover, again without too much tinkering? Will the included cables in the kit suffice to hook these up?

  • What update rate and accuracy can be expected in RTK mode when traveling at field speeds (1-10mph)

  • Can the base station locate itself, i.e. with PPP or must it be placed on a survey marker? And for that matter, if I’m just using it to avoid overlaps in the field, can I just throw it down somewhere and allow it to operate in a relative mode?

  • What happens if communications are lost or lossy between base and rover? What kind of accuracy can Reach achieve in an un-linked state, anyway?

I know these are a bunch of questions to just toss out here but I couldn’t find the answers in the documentation, at least not quickly. Thanks for any help.

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Hey, some good questions. I’ll try to give you good answers.
1. Yes, it will work out of the box (with a few settings to adjust). There will not just be an “on” switch for you to turn on. You will have to plug it in and connect to it via wi-fi.Then you’ll have it give it a wi-fi network name and password for it to connect to internet and update. You’ll have to initiate it via Reachview app. There will be a few settings for you to adjust but all info can be found here. Then, “yes” it will work out of the box!
2.Yes, I have “3DR” knockoff radios that work fine. I’m not sure about what the maximum distance they can be used at.
3. I can’t give you an accurate answer to this question on update rate and accuracy. It depends what info you’re trying to send via correction. GPS is 14 Hz. I want to try it to compare accuracy in my friends farm equipment with their “high end” equipment and compare but I haven’t got around to it yet this spring.
4. If you’re just trying to avoid overlaps in a field you can just drop it down and go. For consistency, drop it the same place each time. But if it’s just for seeding. You can just turn it on and go.
5. Also, I have experimented with the app you named and it seemed to work via bluetooth. I couldn’t get it to work any other way.
6. I don’t think your uncorrected accuracy would be very valuable. Maybe somebody else can comment on how to use it.
I am not a farmer but have messed around with various farming apps using Reach. “Simple” is such a relative term. If you are familiar with terminology like “Pixhawk, 3DR, PPP, RTK,”, I’m guessing this will be a piece of cake for you. Take it for what it’s worth till somebody that knows more answers.:slight_smile:

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I’ll add my perspective on the questions I have experience with.

With a few minutes setup, it will come alive out of the box pretty easy. I spent as much time coming up with a mount and ground plane for putting the antenna on the tractor as anything. You’ll probably want an antenna extension cable. Works well with android location mocking.

Depending where you are at, also check to see if a free RTK correction signal is available. some states offer.

Reach can update @ 14 Hz. I find 5 Hz, using all the satellite systems to be the best. This is plenty fast for light bar type of guidance apps.

If you loose communications with the base, the system will drop into single mode. No GPS system is very accurate in single, it’s just the nature of the beast. My experience is the signal will jump so much on the guidance app that it is useless.

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  1. i use reach with ceragps with automatic steering.

reach at 5hz works very well for that.

  1. you can use a free ntrip server to locate base station position. if you move your base you can automate that setting at base station.

  2. a connection loose for some seconds are no problem for rtk stability. driving without corrections (single) is no good
    for agriculture use.

andreas

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Thanks for this good input everyone. Looks like I’ll be ordering a pair of these.

Unfortunately I live in the hills where cell data does not reach, so internet based corrections are unavailable and I’ll have to use a radio link between the two units.

Without IP corrections what options do I have to locate my base station precisely for surveying fencelines etc?

If you need to know accurate absolute position without real time corrections, you would probably have to post process your logs or you could have a surveyor come mark a known point somewhere with good sky visibility. This would serve as your known point for all future operations with 10 km or max radio range(if it’s under 10). But in your case, where you’re marking out a fence line, you don’t need absolute accuracy to draw a straight line between two known points. I did this the other day using QGIS.
My workflow would be as follows.
1.(Before survey) Update Reach and configure radio setup in office. I would configure base station to measure for a couple of minutes to average its position. Set Rovers position output to TCP. These will be default settings for future power ups.
2.(At site) Set tripod up and attach Base Reach. Once it’s in place, power on. This is when it starts measuring for it’s position so I like to wait till it’s in its final position till I power it on.(It will wait for the preset time until the position is averaged before it starts transmitting correction data)
3.Power Rover on and wait for correction data. You will need to connect to Rover via ip address to view this. I like to have my device (tablet in this case) set to automatically connect to Rover’s wi-fi. That way you can just open your browser after a few minutes and enter the i.p. address. You can have it bookmarked as well because in this case it will always be the same one. If you do everything right, this whole operation can take place in one or two minutes…Depends on your configurations.
4. Wait for fix. In open skies, this can take only a couple minutes or less. This, however, is highly dependent on various factors. That’s dealt with elsewhere in forum.
5.Once you have fix, you’re ready to go. Go into Point Collection mode and go to Point A. Collect
6. Go to Point B. Collect.
7. Download survey as shapefile.
(The following procedure will work if you’re using a tablet running QGIS)
8. Drag and drop downloaded shapefile into QGIS.
9. Draw a feature(line) that will connect both points.
10.Enable gps in QGIS(connect to Rover IP and output port) and your realtime position will show.
11. Follow the line and mark it out.
12. To confirm your markout you could Collect more points in Reachview showing where you actually marked the fence. Save these as another survey and drag and drop them into QGIS to confirm that you actually marked it out on the line.
13. I tried this with other apps (Android) as well, but I had trouble zooming in on the line to where I could feel confident in the level of accuracy. Also,the drag and dropping the shapefile downloaded from Reachview is simpler with QGIS.

I am trying to show how quick and simple setup is once you have it all configured. I haven’t really answered your question on how to post process for accurate location of base station. Their is good documentation on post processing under docs.

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Thanks Brent for this detailed workflow. I use QGIS on the farm but didn’t know it could run on a tablet! My laptops are fairly cumbersome in the field and have comparatively poor battery life so I’ll have to give that a try.

My main interest in absolute positioning here comes from the fact that the line in question is very hilly, and I don’t think the 3DR radios can make it from one end to the other. I could put the base station on the highest hill and hope, but that still might not work. If I move the base station then I assume I will mess up my relative reference frame, making it impossible to shoot points A and B and have them line up.

However, if I have to move the base station due to poor reception, can I continue in the same reference frame by using the rover to shoot what will be the new base station location, then moving the station to that point and telling it that those co-ordinates represent its new location?

Yes, absolutely, that would be the correct workflow.

I should clarify about my device. It’s a Windows 10 Surface Pro, sometimes referred to as a tablet, but I guess I could say laptop so as not to confuse anybody. There is a QField version of QGIS for Androids but I haven’t found it particularly workable. I should experiment more.

I’m curious how you use QGIS on your farm, if you wouldn’t mind sharing a brief description of some of the task where you find it useful.Thanks

If you only need rtk for seeding or later for spraying and you dont need the tracks / precision again after removing the base in example for autosteering after weeks and months

my final suggestion for you is:

Place on reach on the top off one hill and use powerfull rfd 868/900 radio modems. If you dont have much hills in between it worked for me up to 3-5 km.

If you want to spend more money use 2 reachrs with lora modems.

You can set up the base reach to get his positon from single solution automatically.

After a time you can work with your rover a rtk level. If you remove base station and you start from the beginning againt the point a could not be again 100 % the point a from last work because of no accurate base position.

Or you can ask a land survey to mark you some postitions the you need to input data per hand in reach.

andreas

Andreas, how powerful of modems are you thinking of. Any specific brand you would recommend? I’m interested in the LORA modems and if they can be acquired and used with Reach easily, rather than buying Reach RS to get them.

With respect to QGIS, sure, we use QGIS for quite a few tasks, here are a few off the top of my head.

We farm hilly terrain with pothole sloughs so everything is on a contour around here, and the sloughs are differently sized every year depending on the moisture conditions. I fly a fixed wing UAV and create up to date orthophotos + DEM. We can then use QGIS to get accurate acreage estimates so we can order the right amount of seed/chemical for these odd shaped fields, which really matters with expensive seed like forage blends. Some fields can grow or shrink by 20 acres easily depending on water levels.

Same goes for fencing, we are converting our sheep operation to a managed intensive grazing system with ladder and rung fencing. The cross fences cannot be straight due to water and high hills so we use QGIS to plan out our fences and estimate how much wire and posts we will need to order to put in a fenceline.

Then when we are grazing we look at the pasture condition and decide how big the next pasture slice will be. If the sheep need 10 acres for the next week we can use QGIS to find out where to put our ladder rungs (temporary fences) to get that acreage even though the fields are odd shaped! Very handy.

Finally we use the DEM to do drainage simulations with GRASS. We have greatly improved the drainage around the barn and corrals, as analysis of the DEM shows how to move the least dirt to get the best results. Some persistent pools of water during spring runoff turned out to be held back by only small rises in the land, that were easily knocked out once we knew where to dig.

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Hi! I see you are an expert to qgis. I am starting from beginning now…

I only have a little farm with 50 hectare… so for me it is like a bit to play with it :slight_smile:

first i tried cheap 3dr radios at about € 30 - the work up to 1 km at best conditions on the ground

then i tried rfd900 (http://store.rfdesign.com.au/rfd-900p-modem/) at about € 200 - it worked up to 3-6 km on the ground with good line of sight and some trees in between. but for driving on the ground it is no good solution

now i work with mobile internet (telephone) wlan hotspot that is perfect for me at the moment

if have get one reachrs from emlid but i can´t test lora because it dont work with reach together at the moment.
´
for you as a power user i would suggest 2 reachrs - if money is not the big problem + one reach for you uav.

the avantage or reachrs is you dont need a power supply, its weather proof, you can mount it easy on a tripot …

Thanks for that explanation of how you use QGIS. It truly is powerful software. I also like using it with DEM but have only experimented a little with drainage simulatin with GRASS. I agree with Andreas Ortner’s advice on the radio and like he said, getting ReachRs would be the simplest. However, I understand the Reach kit will be compatible with LoRa radios yet. (Correct me, someone, if I’m wrong) Then correction data transfer over radio will be much more powerful for the Reach kit and we will more easily be able to use one Reach with Lora as base station permanently mounted out of the weather and one ReachRS as rover.

Hi Andreas,

I follwed some posts about your Reach RTK system and i’m thinking of building one for my company as well.
What are yourexperiences with the use of Cerea and RTK? What will be the lowest speed possible?
Do you have any difficulties with trees/treelines?

Thx!

Yannick

What you mean?

Rtk with reach is stable very well now.

The lowest speed i dont know. But i think some users work with <1km/h

Cerea is from spain. if you dont understand spanish the support is very horrible.

Now we have a big usergroup in germany and austria so we can help us together.

a

We are situated in the netherlands. I’d like to us the gps with 200mtrs/hour.
Since i have a programmer within our company id like to build an RTK gps system like you did.
Or is there any possibility to buy the exact same stuff as you drive with? or is it best to start from scratch?

Thanx!

Yannick

I am happy with my gps from emlid. I work with reach rs and also with reach.

You can contact cerea and you can buy tablet with all hardware you need.

Or you can diy like I and my friends.

If you understand german you can visit my forum at

Www.cerea-forum.com here you can get all information you need.
We have also a WhatsApp group for information.

Another project I follow is.

And

https://m.youtube.com/user/FarmerBrianTee

Next time I try to build that system.

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