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Video Camera Scans Sprayer Marker Furrow
"It lets me follow the marker furrow made by my 95-ft. sprayer without having to strain to see it. Greatly reduces operator fatigue," says Bill McLaren, Maidstone, Sask., who designed a video camera system that mounts on his sprayer to help guide it through the field.
The heart of the system is a pair of cam-eras, each mounted 2 1/2 ft. from either end of the sprayer. The cameras focus on the furrows made by disc markers at the end of the sprayer. A video screen mounts in the cab directly in front of the operator. McLaren simply watches the screen and adjusts steering to keep the furrow at the center of the screen.
"It's almost like I'm sitting on the end of the sprayer boom while I drive the tractor. All I have to do is watch the monitor screen," says McLaren.
McLaren bought a home security camera system, which included cameras and video monitor, at Radio Shack for $500. He mounted each camera inside a plastic pea-nut butter jar and packed it with foam rubber, then replaced the lid with a clear glass lens that clamps in place, making a water-proof seal. A rubber ring inside the jar keeps the camera from rotating.
"It works especially well for me because I have a bad back that makes it hard for me to twist and turn. However, I think it would help anyone who operates a sprayer," says McLaren. "I use it on all my crops. One unexpected bonus is that when spraying a lush green crop I can see the wheel tracks so well I don't even have to use the disc markers, which can cause crop damage. If I come to a place where I can't follow the wheel tracks, I simply drop the disc marker back down again.
"I originally wanted to use the cameras on my chemical fallow land where I use Roundup to bum weeds down. I didn't want to use disc markers because they kick up dust that covers the weeds and deactivate the herbicide, causing a green strip of weeds along the furrow. I thought that the cameras could follow the wheel tracks so that I wouldn't have to use disc markers. How-ever, I found that the wheels don't make much of a track in dry stubble.
"Mother advantage is when I'm spraying near the edge of a field I can see on the camera if the end of the boom will clear brush, sloughs, power poles, etc.
"I use a 4 video screen, but I think an 8 in. screen would provide a clearer picture. Glare from sunlight can be a problem in the early morning or late afternoon.
I mount a plastic ice cream pail lid over the camera whenever I think glare might be a problem. I thought the picture would be shaky, but my Flexicoil sprayer has a good boom suspension system and the trailing arms that support the wheels are mounted on shock absorbers so it rides smooth," says McLaren.
He used part of an old cultivator shovel to make a "saddle" for each jar. The saddle is welded to a clamp that bolts onto the toolbar. To remove the camera he simply removes two nuts.
A 3-ft. long wire at the back of each camera "quick connects" to wire mounted the length of the implement. "I also plan to mount a separate set of wires on other implements so that I can use the cameras on them without having to transfer wires," says McLaren. "I may use the cameras on my air seeder, cultivator, and combine. I'll mount the camera on the rear fender of my tractor for use with the air seeder and cultivator. I plan to cut a hole in my combine and mount a camera in it so that I can watch the sieves from the cab."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill McLaren, B & D Farm Ltd., Box 403, Maidstone, Sask., Canada SOM 1MO (ph 306 893-4751).

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1993 - Volume #17, Issue #5