Tim Norris was one of the early pioneers in the construction of RTK tower networks. Through his consulting company, Agronomic Information Technologies in Gambier, OH, he launched the C.O.R.N. Network. (Central Ohio RTK Network).
Over the past two years, Norris has been looking at ways to integrate Ohio’s available CORS RTK network, a free, cellular based signal, into his high accuracy GPS signal offerings. In about a month, he will be ready to widely distribute a new offering manufactured by Trimble.
“CORS is going to provide an excellent opportunity for us to supply another option,” says Norris. “Where you have RTK base stations available, traditional RTK is still probably the best bet, but we’re hearing reports that the CORS service is very close.”
Norris actually purchased some modems and tried on his own to configure them to use CORS signals, but when Trimble announced its soon-to-be-available offering that would utilize CORS, he waited for the system to be released. He’s now a certified reseller of the Trimble CORS offering, which comes with the manufacturer’s new Internet-over-cellular communication package called Trimble Asset Manager.
At this point, Norris sees CORS as an important gap filler for his service area. In certain regions, the terrain gets profoundly hilly and makes line of sight RTK at best problematic, and at worst impossible. In these areas, cellular coverage is a viable option.
Norris is still working out the best way to build the package for clients, but for many, use of the CORS network will act as an insurance policy against the loss of a signal. The Trimble system will be able to toggle from CORS to ground towers without compromising accuracy. In some areas, CORS will be used exclusively to provide RTK correction.
“We’ve always wanted to offer a turnkey solution that allows the user to just turn the power on,” says Norris. “Then, it would automatically log in, put in the password and start streaming out the signal.”
Norris is not sure about the effect of increased data communication via cell, and it is a concern — the technology is gaining steam here and in other states where CORS systems are available. And then there are the differences in cell providers. Verizon has been proven as the most robust cell provider in Norris’ view, but the Trimble system uses AT&T. But he likes what he’s seen up to now.
The other exciting aspect of the Trimble Asset Manager package is in its tracking and communication capabilities. The system allows a main office to communicate with vehicles in the field and log machinery data to make it possible to analyze the efficiency and maintenance of equipment. And soon it will also be possible to transfer files wirelessly, allowing updated or changed prescriptions to be sent from the home office directly to a rig.
The trick will be marrying all these services into packages that make sense for the grower, but Norris says the understanding of the benefits, and therefore interest from clients, has been substantial.
To reach Tim Norris about his new service, click here to send an email.