The Useful Duck!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

I fix electrical stuff I wired myself

I am blogging this morning with my iBook G4.
This is the last Motorola G4 and thus the last real of the real Apple computers.
I used to care about Apple in much the same way that local folks who have never been to U of O and are probably not degenerates care about the Oregon Ducks.
It was somewhat of a philosophic debate, reduced instruction processors vs super clock speed. I liked the idea of reduced instruction, the computer knew how to do things on its own. Thus free will vs legalism, democracy vs totalitariansim.
However, as all great freedom movements tend to do, Apple has become a closed minded system and where it once provided helpful interface to those of us who didn't understand computers it now restricts us with planned obsolescence, pointless layers of copyright protection, and focuses on form over function.
In the meantime, the other systems which we Apple fanatics saw as restrictive, have improved greatly, or rather Apple has become so much more restrictive and less innovative that the competition has caught up. Or perhaps it is this... I hate Windows so much that I use a Mac, and that is really not a good reason to buy a car or an operating system.
But, this was not the point of my morning blog post.
I got onto this topic because I was using my Windows XP tablet yesterday when I was working on my tractor GPS wiring. It kept losing the connection to the GPS and I would have to do a search for the USB to RS 232 converter. I really want a new Windows tablet with a touch screen and outdoor viewable screen and a flash drive as the vibration of the mighty Hercules engine tends to kill hard drives.
The point of my blog post was that I have spent three (3) days working on my home built run/hold system that puts the FamerGPS, Microtrak Acre Counter and Micro-trak SprayMate II on hold when the drill is lifted.
It is overly complicated...
The way it works is as follows: When the drill is lowered for planting, a magnet switch completes a circuit which sends power back to a KC HiLights headlight relay in the tractor cab.
The relay energizes and completes a circuit where a signal coming from the positive battery terminal goes to the switchbox provided by FarmerGPS which makes the little tractor on the computer screen start painting a swath.
But, then it got a little more complicated...
I decided to hook up my Micro-Trak acre counter. I just added another KC HiLights switch.
Then the control switch for the Smucker Landmark foam marker melted in the cab filling the confined space with acrid fumes.
So, I decided to use a KC Hilites relay to keep the 30 amps of power drawn by an electric air pump and a water pump running at the same time, out of the cab.
And then I got to thinking, I could use a windshield wiper delay timer to run the foamer wide open for 5 seconds and shut it off for 15 seconds and I'd get piles of foam instead of a drip every two inches and perhaps I would not use so much expensive foam conentrate.
So this added another switch and two relays to my already crowed control box which was just an electrical junction box I got from the local large hardware store.
Then the foamer quite again and I got tired of working on it so I took it off and my little helper bottomed the seat out on the 12v relay box.
And there was that short circuit that melted the main power cord all they way back to the non functioning circuit breaker.
So, I decided to rewire...
It was way more work than expected.
I should have color coded the wire.
I should have drawn a wiring diagram.
This is what it looks like now.


  1. Congratulations! Now Clean it up, miniaturize it, and sell it to the competition. Surely there are lots of farmers with outdated equipment that would love to replace the small child hanging onto the drill with one hand & spraying shaving creme with the other.

    1. I'm going to patent the shaving creme de menthe idea.

  2. Wow, that is a lot of "junk" in the cab. I don't know which is worse, having all that automated control stuff to do the job or trying to do it manually as I do. Busy fingers pushing the rocker switch to shut off the seeder, another button to stop the acre counter. Then reverse repeat all that a few seconds later as I complete the turn.

    1. Well the double throw single pole switch that puts the system onto automatic failed and so I'm stuck turning it off manually at the end of the field anyway. However, it is just one switch. I can never remember to switch it back on.

  3. I think I know what the switch marked 'boom' does, I hope I am wrong.

    1. Next I am going to add the switch labeled, "drop anvil."

  4. It actually looks pretty tidy to me. I like the control box idea, I've just got the little side-mounted run-hold switch. As much as I like MT stuff, I wish it was made a little easier to move from tractor to tractor.

    1. My goal was to be able to disconnect the power connections, put the Spraymate on a magnetic base, and move the whole switchbox to another tractor. I have done that before and it takes about a half hour. This is more streamlined.
      The calcanacre and the GPS is hardwired into the tractor. I use a small magnetic antenna if I want GPS on the other tractor.


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