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Member for
5 years 2 months


# of Wiki Edits:

# of Forum topics submitted: 17

# of Comments: 52

Stream of Forum Topics

In 50 characters or less... Posted by Post datesort ascending Last comment Number of Comments # of Comments new to you
Blog started jbd Monday, November 10, 2014 - 7:16pm Monday, November 10, 2014 - 7:16pm 0
Livestock? jbd Monday, October 20, 2014 - 8:33pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 10:00am 4
Design info? jbd Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 5:31pm Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 5:31pm 0
Starting work on software jbd Saturday, June 7, 2014 - 10:05am Saturday, June 7, 2014 - 10:05am 0
Just got new equipment jbd Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 10:44pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 10:09am 2
SARE 2014 Funding jbd Friday, February 28, 2014 - 1:43pm Friday, February 28, 2014 - 2:34pm 2
More quick attach specifications jbd Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 8:09pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 8:09pm 0
Project Bibliography jbd Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 1:00pm Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 1:00pm 0
Search Box? jbd Friday, November 23, 2012 - 6:40pm Friday, November 23, 2012 - 6:40pm 0
GPS Communications jbd Friday, November 23, 2012 - 12:05pm Friday, November 23, 2012 - 12:05pm 0

Stream of Forum Comments

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<p> Do you want to correlate bales with their production location in the field? Or just know which field a particular bale came from? Either way, you'll need a way of identifying each bale in order to correlate back to where in the field that bale was produced.</p> <p> With windrowing and tedding, it may be more difficult to determine which section of a field the hay in a bale came from. You can probably get within 20' feet (depending on width of your tedder/rake), but when the grass gets thin, then the numbers would get a bit sketchy.</p>
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<p> I don't think you really want to replace the existing counter; you really just want to count bales and log their production.</p> <p> The first thing I would consider is all the interface points to existing systems - both mechanical and telecom. And one would need to know what software will be at the other end. The reasoning for this is:</p> <ol> <li> Do you want this to work for many models of balers, or just yours?</li> <li> Do you want to send the data real-time or accumulate it on a SD card? (How the information will be used on the receiving end can answer this question.)</li> </ol> <p> However, knowing how most balers work (for small square bales), I would look at attaching a reed switch to the trip arm that runs the counter. Put a door sensor at some point in its travel path, and then count the number of pulses using a Beaglebone/Ardinuo/RaspPi/... (By "count", I mean generate a data item for each pulse - that data item could include GPS location, date/time, and a count.)</p>
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Do you mean cellular wireless, 802.14.* wireless, 802.11 wireless, ...?

Otherwise, there's lots of things that could be "connected", but must be connected without a wire. Fields, stock, product, equipment, ... Fields for monitoring soil health, stock for monitoring their health, product for location and maximum sell date, equipment for maintenance records and uses... There's lots of things, and a few tools already on this site - just need more, and its becoming apparent that a method of integrating the info produced by the tools is needed.

One of the biggest ancillary "problems" that goes with wireless, is how to get the power to the device - if only to support the device and its ability to transmit/receive. Batteries go only so far, and are a pain to maintain when they are remote. There needs to be better solutions!

Another thing is recordkeeping - for example, you move goats to another pasture - having that move automatically recorded for you would save a lot of time at the end of (a perhaps hectic) day, and it would be accurate. Same with equipment... I don't know how often I've missed fluid changes because I couldn't remember how often I've use the tractor/truck/... And plants, not only would it be nice to know how wet/fertile/... your soil is - you could save lots of water by not watering it if you didn't need to... Or if you had it automatically watered at night instead of during the day.

The list goes on and on...


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Well, I've got 3 base stations and 5 ear tags working. Still waiting for nickel & dime hardware (connectors for batteries, boxes, ...)

The base station software is 95% complete - all that's left is (maybe) coding the failover logic when we lose wi-fi access and including the time-of-flight numbers for each ear-tag (even though it will be wrong).

Also, configuration of the system is non-trivial, so I'll probably have to code some auto-configuration logic into the system - but not before the end of the month.

The ear tags are a lot heavier than I wanted; the batteries are over 2/3 of the weight, but I wanted 1 mile distance between tags, and that consumes a lot of "juice". I may be able to conserve power by setting sleep intervals for the tags, but not in the first release!

Otherwise the base stations and "ear tags" are ready for outdoor testing. I just have to cut holes in the boxes and shrink wrap the ear tags. Then we can do some testing - so probably not until next weekend!

I expect to publish all the code and do presentations in January 2016. And maybe do some documenting...

The images are of a base station (out of the white weather-proof enclosure), and a top view of the base station. The last picture is of the "ear tag" transceivers - left one is a debugging connection hooked up to the computer, and the right one (with battery) will be shrinked-wrapped and applied to an ear tag.

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I've got most of the software written, but have run into some design problems (turns out tracking time-of-flight for XBee radios won't work), which will require some software re-writing. But, I'm making lots of progress. 

Goal is to have a demo by the end of December.

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<p> Forums associated with this tool are:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="/forums/local-zigbee-network-farm" target="_blank">local-zigbee-network-farm</a></li> <li> <a href="/forums/rfid" target="_blank">RFID</a></li> <li> <a href="/forums/current-state" target="_blank">Current State</a></li> <li> <a href="/forums/isoblue-approach-more-open-precision-ag" target="_blank">ISOBlue</a></li> <li> <a href="/forums/just-got-new-equipment" target="_blank">Just Got New Equipment</a></li> <li> <a href="/forums/starting-work-software" target="_blank">Starting Work on Software</a></li> </ul>
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But, not in the first version!

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Some testing here indicates that two-way time-of-flight measurement won't work with XBees. I suspect it has a lot to do with:

  • The frequency band is used by a lot of other devices, requiring non-deterministic noise "abatement".
  • The way the XBee's radios seem to work doesn't lend themselves to time-of-flight measurement.
  • A few other factors that I'm not sure about.
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I've gotten the "pingtags" application coded and working. But now I have to build out more hardware for a better test. This means eartags and more base stations (anchors).

What people won't be seeing is all the software I had to write to figure out the Beaglebone Black, GPS and XBee's. But I hope most of that is now past.

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Is to have several road maps with respect to where the reader is coming from... For example, a person looking for technology would be interested in welding, crop practices, livestock practices, ... But a person looking for a community with which to share ideas would be interested in forums, people (usually in a geographical area), ...

I'm proposing different "road maps" to the site for people with different "origins of thought". This lets us address multiple demographics/interests with the same content. In IT parlance, we're just adding indexes to existing content. Also, let the author/reviewer of the content decide which category their content should belong in.

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I agree that user blogs would be useful, but the word DGrover used (curated) has a lot of hidden technical details - who would do and how would curating be done? Especially in a community. I think we would need applications (as users apply to curate something) that would need veting (who does that) and/or voting and inviting users to curate. Maybe a moderated forum would be better?

There's also the question of evolution of a curated blog... If blogs are originally "owned" by one (or more) people, then how should they morph from being a single person blog, to a group/community blog?

Note that I think much of the problem is "how do we handle as a group" rather than "what technology do we use".

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Note the requirements!

Spent Monday evening with RJ trying to create a sandbox FarmHack.net site. Got it working!

Assumptions are:

  • You're using Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS (Note: This is NOT MS-Windows or Apple MacIntosh) with a LAMP stack. (LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP).
  • You're using the Apache 2 web server (this comes with Ubuntu)
  • You have sudo access (permissions to execute privileged commands)
  • You understand git ('git' is a program name, and not a typo).
  • You understand ssh and PKI (and how keys work)
  • You have 'drush' on your system.
  • You have copied the Live site (all the Drupal files), the database, and the non-Drupal files to a location on your local computer.

If you don't understand any of the above assumptions, then you should get a mentor to help. RJ Steinert, Mike Stenta, or Bruce Dawson have experience as of this writing.

The procedure (for Ubuntu) is as follows:

  1. Create a directory to put the site in. I'm using ~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb. Note that the Apache2 log files will go in ~/Desktop/FarmHack.
  2. cd to ~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb. Then "mkdir .git" (make a directory for git).
  3. Create a Git configuration file (~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb/.git/config) with the following content:
        repositoryformatversion = 0
        filemode = true
        bare = false
        logallrefupdates = true
      [remote "getpantheon"]
        url = ssh://codeserver.dev.adabf944-5abf-457b-a44c-bc74efaabcf3@codeserver.dev.adabf944-5abf-457b-a44c-bc74efaabcf3.drush.in:2222/~/repository.git
        fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/getpantheon/*
  4. cd to ~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb and use the command "git pull getpantheon"
  5. You will then need to execute 'git reset --hard' to eliminate the metadata created by the 'git pull'.
  6. Next, from the same directory, you'll have to perform a 'git merge getpantheon/master'.
  7. The next steps involve getting the Apache2 webserver and the MySQL database configured.
  8. cd to /etc/apache2/sites-available
  9. Create a file named 'farmhack.sandbox' with the following content:
    <VirtualHost *:80>   
      ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost   
      ServerName FarmHack.sandbox   
      RewriteEngine On  
      RewriteOptions inherit   
      DocumentRoot /home/jbd/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb   
      # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,   
      # alert, emerg.   
      LogLevel warn   
      CustomLog /home/jbd/Desktop/FarmHack/access_log combined   
      ErrorLog /home/jbd/Desktop/FarmHack/error.log   
      <Directory /home/jbd/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb>     
        Options FollowSymLinks     
        AllowOverride All   
  10. Enable the site by going to the Apache sites-enabled directory and creating a symlink to the farmhack.sandbox file created previously:
    cd ../sites-enabled/
    sudo ln -s ../sites-available/farmhack.sandbox .
  11. Next, tell Apache to reload its configuration files:
    sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload
  12. Make farmhack.sandbox a host by adding it to your /etc/hosts file:
    sudo vi /etc/hosts
    At then end of the file, add the line: farmhack.sandbox
    and exit the editor.

  13. Create the database by loading what you copied from the getpantheon live backup site, specificially the database file. First you'll have to unzip it:
    gunzip farmhack_live_2014-12-23T00-07-18_UTC_database.sql.gz
    This will create a farmhack_live_2014-12-23T00-07-18_UTC_database.sql file - and remove the ...gz file. You'll note the .sql file is larger than the .gz file - the gunzip command simply uncompresses the file. The next step will be to create the database.
    mysqladmin -u debian-sys-maint -p create rjstatic_farmhack_beta1
    The above mysqladmin command will create the database (but not populate it). However, you have to give the command a privileged user and password (-u debian-sys-maint, and -p). The user and password is found in /etc/mysql/debian.cnf (you'll need to use sudo to view the file). The next thing you have to do is permit the user and password in the settings.php file to have access to the database. This is done by using the mysql command to grant permissions to that user:
    mysql -u debian-sys-maint -p mysql
    create user 'rjstatic_beta1'@'localhost' identified by 'XXX';
    grant all on rjstatic_farmhack_beta1.* to 'rjstatic_beta1'@'localhost';
    flush privileges;

    In the above, replace 'XXX' with the password that you got from the settings.php file

  14. Now, load the data into the database with the following command:
    mysql -u rjstatic_beta1 -p rjstatic_farmhack_beta1 <farmhack_live_2014-12-23T00-07-18_UTC_database.sql

  15. Next, change the $base_url variable in the settings.php file to:
    $base_url = 'http://farmhack.sandbox';  // NO trailing slash! 

  16. The settings.php file is in the sites/default directory of the website. In my instance, this was ~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb/sites/default/setings.php

  17. The next step is to reset the caches:
    sudo drush vset preprocess_js 0 --yes
    sudo drush vset preprocess_css 0 --yes
    sudo drush vset cache 0 --yes

  18. Now, you have to create a temporary directory:
    cd ~/Desktop/FarmHack/devweb
    mkdir tmp
    chmod 777 tmp

  19. The last step is to login to the web site as the first user - also known as the admin user.
    drush uli

  20. Finally, you should go to http://farmhack.sandbox, and you should be logged in as user1.

You can now work on the site without disturbing the production site at http://farmhack.net

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Severine: I'm looking for additional information (date, location, ...) on Ag Kawamura at American Farmland Trust, and a website (if there is one).


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I was there too (Bruce Dawson), just having technical problems with my headset.

Some comments on the above notes:

  1. Have several "Like" buttons - "I Like The Tool", "I Use The Tool", "Would use, but...", "Have used, but..."
  2. For tracking, are you looking for something more than content revisions? If so, can you describe what you are looking for?
  3. "Forking" tools is a good idea, and could provide "breadcrumbs" back to the originator.
  4. Scoring/rating tools and documentation is a good idea. Provide anonymous traceability would be nice too (so a developer could request an explanation from a rater).
  5. Another goal could be to provide fodder for a periodic FarmHack event where selected tools are displayed and presented.
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Do you have any hunters in the area? They can probably brief you on how to quickly kill a squirrel (I've just stepped on the head and pulled - but the definitions of "humane" differ depending on the jurisdiction). They may also be able to rid you of a few squirrels - they really just need pellet guns.

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Was there an off-line follow up conversation on this thread?

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I'm going to look deeper, but ISOBlue's specs indicate their devices are only precise to 2 to 3 meters; I'm going for the sub-foot (12" - < 0.3 meter) range of precision.

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Farm Hack will only use and promote open-source software. Closed-source (proprietary) software can be referenced, but not promoted or used. This is to further the culture of collaboration, sustainability, and protection.

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Is to detect current going to the speaker (probably with a relay or SCR or somesuch) of a standard smoke alarm, and then the FIDO could send a notice out. You just have to get the voltage levels right :-)

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Finally got a custom built kernel to boot off the SD card. Its a bit awkward due to all the ssh dancing and IP address changing, but it appears to work.

So, I now have a working and (I hope) stable development system. Time to take a baseline backup and start work on the device driver changes. Also have to get the debugging environment set up.

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I've assembled and tested the BeagleBone Blacks, and soldered together the XBee and GPS units for each of three base stations.

The next step (and a rather big one at that) is to download all the kernel sources and find the serial device driver so I can modify it to perform very high resolution timing. Then I have to build and test, and repeat until I get it right.

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GPS has a resolution of about 50' (even with WAAS). Precision systems will usually set up 2+ transponders at known locations (known to the inch), and the guidance system will work off those.

Most of the discussion in this DIYDrones thread doesn't appear to realize the limitations of GPS - or even care about them. (And I understand why - DIYDrones are mostly interested in mapping and navigating.)

When you have large equipment in a field, you need precise control; nearly to the inch if you're planting/cultivating row crops.

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Hey Louis... Sorry to hear about your weather station project. All I can say is look at their reasons and try again - a lot of projects don't get funding on the first attempt!

BTW: Our SARE grant calls for some consultants/experts. When is the next time you'll be in the area?

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These should be relatively easy to implement using FidoNet type (or similar) technology.

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Any idea why things got a lot "busier" in October? Also, there is a precipitous drop in December - I think; could this be the result of a DDOS attack? (I've had problems accessing the site from time to time over the past two weeks.)

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I don't see an attached screenshot!

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Inspecting fields. Counting cattle/goats/livestock. Checking for downed fence lines. Checking water, mineral trays, ...

Of course, you would need video on the UAV, and a high-speed data/video connection to its camera.

Weather is the biggest challenge - it can't be used in moderate wind or gusty conditions. So a fairly good "localized weather" station system might be in order too. Another challenge might be areas of high pollen concentration - depending on the drive mechanism for the UAV.

What we found is if we have to go to the field anyway, then we might as well do the inspection ourselves rather than fool with setting up and packing away a UAV. Having a fixed, computer controlled flight path for a large field might make it more worthwhile - but then there's problems with RC radio range.

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For doing something like this... Popularity? Hits? I forget its name.

I've noticed that this sorta information encourages people to come back more often to see what the "really hot" discussions are all about. However, it also encourages "flame wars".

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The number of reads and possibly the popularity of the article wrt other articles in the same group. I think exposing user names might be seen as a challenge to privacy.

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Do you have examples of other structures? I was thinking that each tool could have its own "forum", but you might need something like Organic Groups and a specialized content type to implement this.