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US5260875: Networked agricultural monitoring and control system

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Filing Information

Inventor(s) David S. Tofte · Richard Heiniger · Steven W. Vogel ·
Assignee(s) Micro-Trak System, Inc. ·
Attorney/Agent(s) Merchant, Gould, Smith, Edell, Welter & Schmidt ·
Primary Examiner Thomas G. Black ·
Assistant Examiner Louis-Jacques; J. H. ·
Application Number US7748182
Filing date 08/20/1991
Issue date 11/09/1993
Predicted expiration date 08/20/2011
U.S. Classifications 364/424.07  · 364/424.01  ·
International Classifications G06F 770  ·
Kind CodeA
International Classifications 364424.01;424.07;551.01;424.03;424.04 ·
18 Claims, No Drawings


Abstract

A controller system having a half-duplex serial line as a bus for transferring commands, status and data between all controllers in a planting and spraying system. A bus master connected to the serial line synchronizes each controller to the network while a base console coordinates the operation of each planting and spraying system. Separate system controllers operate in conjunction with each system accessory module to control the components of each planting and spraying system. Operation of a spray control module is controlled by the sprayer control console, operating in conjunction with a base console. A planter monitor module provides control over a plurality of components in a seed-planting system. A base console with a primary user interface and a planter controller console with a planter user interface are connected to the planter monitor module over a communications medium. Operation of the planter monitor module is controlled by the planter controller console operating in conjunction with the base console.

Independent Claims | See all claims (18)

  1. 1. An apparatus for managing a plurality of agricultural devices, the apparatus comprising:memory means for storing program code and data used in operating one of the plurality of agricultural devices;user interface means for displaying status and control information associated with one of the plurality of agricultural devices and for receiving user modifications controlling operation of one of the plurality of agricultural devices;communicators network means for receiving and transmitting signals between a processor means and one of the plurality of agricultural devices, the signals relating to the operation of one of the plurality of agricultural devices; andprocessor means, electrically interconnected to said memory means, said user interface means, and said communications network means, for identifying each agricultural device to be managed, for accessing program code and data stored in said memory means associated with each identified agricultural device, for receiving status and control information from the user interface means, for generating control signals controlling one of the plurality of agricultural devices, for supplying the control signals to the communications interface means, and for providing status and control information to the user interface means;wherein one of the plurality of agricultural devices comprises spray control means or controlling transfer of a tank fluid from a sprayer tank to a spraying boom, the spray control means comprising:(a) fluid transfer means for transferring the tank fluid from the sprayer tank to the spraying boom, wherein the fluid transfer means comprises:(i) boom solenoid valve means for controlling the flow of tank fluid to the spraying boom;(ii) pump means, connected to and controlled by said boom solenoid valve means, or pumping fluid from the sprayer tank through a pump means input to a pump means output; and(iii) pump feedback means, connected to said pump means, for directing a portion of the tank fluid from the pump means output to the pump means input in order to control fluid pressure of the tank fluid;(b) pressure monitoring means for monitoring the fluid pressure of the tank fluid and for supplying a signal indicative of the pressure of the tank fluid to a fluid control means;(c) fluid flow monitoring means for monitoring flow of tank fluid to the spraying boom and supplying a signal indicative of a rate of flow of tank fluid to a fluid control means; and(d) fluid control means, connected to said pressure monitoring means and said fluid flow monitoring means, for controlling the flow of tank fluid, wherein the fluid control means comprises:(i) boom solenoid valve control means, responsive to control signals received from the processor means and connected to said boom solenoid valve, for controlling operation of said boom solenoid valve; and(ii) pump feedback control means, responsive to control signals received from the processor means and connected to said pump feedback, means for controlling the amount of tank fluid fed from the pump output means to the pump input means.
  2. 2. A vehicle-mounted, modular system for managing spraying and planting operations involving a plurality of agricultural devices including a farm implement and a sensor, the system comprising:a network, wherein the network comprises a bus master and means for communicating between devices connected to the network;a base console, connected to the network, wherein the base console comprises a first controller, first display means, connected to the first controller for displaying status and control information, user input means for receiving control instructions from a user, monitoring means for monitoring distance graveled by the vehicle and first network interface means, connected to the firs controller and the network, for transmitting and receiving messages on the network;a subsystem accessory module including a second controller and device interface means, connected to the second controller, for receiving status information from and transmitting control information to one of the plurality of agricultural devices; anda subsystem console, connected to the network, wherein the subsystem console comprises a third controller, second display means, connected to the third controller, for displaying status and control information related to a subsystem, accessory module control means for exchanging status and control information with the accessory module and second network interface means, connected to the third controller and the network, for transmitting and receiving messages on the network.
  3. 4. An apparatus for transferring fluid from a sprayer tank to a spraying boom mounted on a vehicle comprising:(a) vehicle monitoring means for receiving information indicative of the speed of a vehicle on which a spray boom is mounted and supplying such information to a fluid control means;(b) fluid transfer means capable of connection to a sprayer tank and the spraying boom comprising:(i) boom solenoid valve means capable of being connected to the spraying boom for controlling the flow of tank fluid to the spraying boom;(ii) pump means controlled by said boom solenoid valve means for pumping fluid from the sprayer tank from a pump means input to a pump means output; and(iii) pump feedback means connected to said pump means for directing a portion of the tank fluid from the pump means output to the pump means input to control the pressure of the tank fluid;(c) pressure monitoring means for monitoring the pressure of the tank fluid supplied to the spraying boom and supplying a signal indicative of the pressure of the tank fluid to a fluid control means;(d) fluid flow monitoring means for monitoring the flow of tank fluid to the spraying boom and supplying a signal indicative of the flow of tank fluid to a fluid control means; and(e) fluid control means interconnected to said vehicle monitoring means, said pressure monitoring means, said fluid flow monitoring means, and a user interface means for controlling the transfer of tank fluid comprising:(i) boom solenoid valve control means responsive to control signals received from a processor control means and connected to said boom solenoid valve for controlling operation of said boom solenoid valve;(ii) pump feedback control means responsive to control signals received from a processor control means and connected to said pump feedback means for controlling the amount of tank fluid fed from the pump output means to the pump input means; and(iii) processor control means for processing the signals received from the vehicle monitoring means, pressure monitoring means, and fluid flow monitoring means and generating control signals for said boom solenoid valve control means and said pump feedback control means; and(f) user interface means interconnected to said fluid control means for receiving control information relating to the flow of tank fluid and displaying information indicative of the flow of tank fluid.
  4. 10. A system for monitoring small discrete particles having a high dielectric constant, such as seeds, that pass along a path, the system comprising:a network, wherein the network comprises a bus master and means for communicating between devices connected to the network;a base console, connected to the network, wherein the base console comprises a first controller, first display means, connected to the first controller, for displaying status and control information, means for monitoring the distance traveled by the vehicle and first network interface means, connected to the first controller and the network, for transmitting and receiving messages on the network;a planter monitor unit, comprising a sensor for detecting passage of a particle along the path;a planter accessory module including a second controller and planter monitor interface means, connected to the planter monitor sensor and the second controller, for receiving signals, from the planter monitor unit sensor in response to detection of a particle by said sensor;a planter controller pod including a third controller, second display means, connected to the third controller, for displaying status and control information, means for monitoring operation of said planer accessory module and second network interface means, connected to the third controller and the network, for transmitting and receiving messages on the network.
  5. 11. A method of identifying a first container from a plurality of containers, comprising:providing card reader means for continuously sensing voids in a film of conductive ink deposited on a card;depositing conductive ink in a pattern on a card;attaching the card to the first containerassociating the pattern of conductive ink on the card with the first container such that the first container can be identified by placing the card into the card reader means; andorienting the card in the card reader means in order to continuously read the conductive ink pattern.
  6. 13. A distributed system for controlling a plurality of agricultural devices including agricultural implements and sensors, wherein the system comprises:a plurality of consoles, including a base console and a subsystem console;a network, connected to the plurality of consoles, wherein the network comprises communication means for communicating between the plurality of consoles;a subsystem module, connected o the subsystem console, wherein the subsystem module comprises means or controlling one of the plurality of agricultural devices; anda bus master, connected to the network, wherein the bus master comprises means for synchronizing communication on the network through issuance of multi-processor synchronization commands;wherein the base console comprises:user interface means for receiving user commands and for displaying status and control information;network interface means, connected to the network, for communicating over the network;programing means, connected to the user interface means and the network interface means, for controlling the display of status and control information, for executing program code in response to user commands and for communicating with another console of the plurally of consoles; and wherein the subsystem console comprises:network interface means, connected to the network, for communicating over the network;communication means for communicating with the subsystem module; andprograming means, connected to the network interface means and the subsystem module, for executing program code in response to user commands received by the base console and for communicating with another console of the plurality of consoles.

References Cited

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