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Tour a really 'wired-up' farm

  • 01

    Alex Shaw's hobby is computers. But now, he's putting that hobby to work on his farm, in the process helping his Oneida, Illinois, farm family keep tabs on just about everything that's going on around the corn, soybean and cattle operation. See how!

  • 02

    Shaw, an Iowa State University Management Information Systems (MIS) student, operates a website, wireless Internet infrastructure and web camera system on the farm that allows him and others in the family to keep an eye on critical processes, like the grain dryer, grain leg and cattle feeding center.

  • 03

    The cameras in those 3 locations stream video live onto his farm's website, which makes it easy for his family -- and absentee landowners -- to keep an eye on what's happening. "The dryer camera was there so we could check in the middle of the night to make sure are dryer was still running by the lights on the display," Shaw says.

  • 04

    Here, Shaw's mounting the camera on top of the grain leg, which provides a wide-frame view of the farmstead. He's looking to get a better camera with more zoom functionality this summer.

  • 05

    Here's one camera mounted on the family's Deere 8310 tractor. The machine's also got its own wireless Internet connection so there's web access wherever it's driven.

  • 06

    The Shaw farm's grain leg is the epicenter of its wireless infrastructure. There's a directional antenna (that short angled pole just to the left of the grain dryer) pointing at the web connection in the house, then an antenna at the top that provides connectivity within a 2-mile radius.

  • 07

    Even wireless technology doesn't work with a little farm ingenuity, right? Here, Shaw used a loader to help install the camera for the pit for the grain leg.

  • 08

    Here's the server Shaw built to host the family's website and the bandwidth required by the webcams around the farm. Shaw's work to "wire" his family's farm started out as a 4-H project, he says.

  • 09

    What about mobile devices? That's part of the farm's present and future. "We have also wired up the farm so that we can turn on all of our grain system from a mobile phone anywhere in the world," Shaw says. "When my father is at work he can turn on the leg and a bin and fill up the overhead for semi drivers, all from his phone."

See how a young farmer has turned a hobby into a major utility on his family's farm (photos by Alex Shaw).

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