The holy grail of agriculture GPS – cheap tractor auto steer that is also accurate. Is this possible? Indeed it is! The package below takes time to assemble and get going. The total cost for this comprehensive setup is very reasonable at around $600. Once again, please note that these auto steer components are in addition to purchasing one of the guidance systems I offer, such as the Ultimate Plus RTK packages. Any of the units I offer will run it, just note that for auto-steer, you would want the i5 model upgrade to ensure smooth operation and good performance. In the Ultimate Plus packages, that’s already included. You can first take a look at the high level overview of cheap auto steer, before continuing to read for more details.
Useful external resources for auto-steer assembly and parts
- There’s a forum where auto steer builds from around the world are discussed, and your questions can be answered here. This includes photos, and detailed descriptions. I encourage you to join if you intend to go the auto-steer route.
- Andreas Ortner offers some ready assembled components for auto steer on his website (translated to English, original in German). For around $40 USD, you can become a member of his site, and he will provide with expert level knowledge on the auto steer assembly and integration. I consider this an amazing value! He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the subject of auto steer assembly. The PCB board configurator tool allows you to order all the parts conveniently in one place at a good price. Andreas only within the EU, so the best option is to use a freight forwarding service in Germany such as this or this or any other. The total cost of the complete auto steer kit is in the ~$1500 range.
- An excellent source of hydraulic valves: firstname.lastname@example.org makes custom hydraulic valves to fit any tractor at a cost of around 550 euros ($600 USD). This is an excellent option, and he will be able to talk to you and offer personalized service.
Curious about what the auto steer looks like? Scroll down to the bottom of this page for wiring diagrams and photos. If you want to go from scratch, take a look below and what’s required. However, I do recommend
Cheap tractor auto steer component shopping list + order links
- Arduino Nano $8.
- Lifter sensor $10-50 you can pick any discussed there, but for example RQH100030 which comes as a set of two plus a waterproof connector for it. Alternatively, Delphi ER10031 $45. Here’s a helpful installation video.
- SOOW cable $8/meter typically 5-10m.
- Cat 6 cable used as signal cable $1/meter typically 5-20m.
- Waterproof electrical box $21.
- Waterproof USB connector $5.
- WF28 waterproof connector $15 (or $8).
- Optional but recommended: inclinometer $12 (or $9) and BNO085 ($25, Asia) which is much better than the older BNO055.
Parts specific to cheap auto steer with steering wheel motor setup
- Motor controller $42, motor $70, motor mounting bracket $4, and motor power supply $68.
- Clamping hub $7 – part 545632 which is the 12mm bore.
- Foam wheel $20-30 – 2.5 to 3 inches usually.
- Hub adapter $4.
- Sprocket $4.
- 6-32 x 3/8″ and 6-32 x 1″ screws $10.
- A metal bracket needs to be welded to hold the auto steer setup in place. Examples can be seen here or below.
Parts specific to hydraulic valve
- Comprehensive information regarding assembly
- If a Danfoss valve is already installed (e.g. on some JD, Fendt, Trimble) then this are significantly simplified.
Cheap tractor auto steer working example
Minimal steering wheel motor setup diagram (flat terrain):
… or with inclinometer and IMU (hilly terrain):
Hydraulic valve setup diagram for cheap auto steer:
Danfoss valve setup diagram for cheap auto steer:
Can EZ-Steer be integrated to work with one of my units? Yes, but it takes some hacking as described here.
Great companion for auto steer: cheap RTK for agriculture – basics
- RTK allows for sub inch accuracy and requires a base station to achieve it. Base station links to the tractor via radio link for this. More details here.
- Initially this was high end tech which cost tens of thousands. Now, you can buy a complete kit with antennas, and a Toughbook tablet or laptop with field guidance and management software from me for around $2000!
- RTK means you never have to worry about GPS accuracy, ever! The uBlox-based kits I offer have sub-centimetre accuracy!
- It’s a pretty good idea to use RTK for for planting. For spraying, you may be able to get away without it.
- There’s no way this should cost tens of thousands right now. This is purely ABSURD in 2022. The you-know-who’s don’t want you to know this, but it’s true.
Complete auto-steer ready RTK agriculture guidance packages
- $2525-2800 Ultimate+ RTK have crazy bright displays and enough processing power for auto-steer.
- $3075-3360 Everything 30 RTK range upgrade to 50 km (31 mi) and even more options.
The units I supply with cheap agriculture RTK are ready to use for farming GPS guidance. They are tough, and field ready! Based on refurbished Panasonic Toughbook tablets or laptops, they can stand up to field use for years.
Why get a an affordable farming GPS system from me?
All of the units below can’t beat the value I offer. They can’t beat the fact that there’s no subscription. Their functionality is similar. It’s a clear win, from a value perspective! EZ-Guide 250 | Topcon X14 | Agricision onTrak | Patchwork BlackBox Air | Sixty-5 Grass-Guide | FarmerGPS | Ag Leader Compass | Teejet Matrix 430 | Raven Cruizer | CenterLine 220 | John Deere | Trimble CFX-750 | FieldBee. My systems are compatible with with all tractor brands, such as: John Deere, Case IH, Massey Ferguson, New Holland, Fendt Mahindra, Deutz-Fahr, Kubota, Valtra, Claas, International, and others. Please contact me with any questions!