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Safety Remote Shuts Down Auger Instantly

By Paula Barbour

After learning about an injury to an acquaintance caught by a sweep auger, Jon Nohl stepped up work on a project he’d begun earlier. Luckily for the injured farmer, he was within reach of the power button when he got caught. Nohl knew that with his device he was working on, anyone could shut the motor off from anywhere in a bin. 

Nohl has completed a wireless, wearable safety remote with a power switch, three LEDs, and a start/stop push button, which he’s used for two seasons on his Hancock, Minnesota, farm.

How it works
The sweep auger motor plugs directly into an outlet on the receiving box. This receiving box and transmitter each have an XBee wireless transceiver inside. When the remote control is powered on, the first LED lights up. When the safety cord is connected, the second LED lights up. At this point, the sweep auger is off.

If the start/stop push button is pressed, the XBee radio in the transmitter (built by Digi International, a Minnesota-based company) signals the XBee in the receiving box to turn on the motor starter and power up the sweep auger. If the safety cord is pulled, the sweep auger shuts down. (The start/stop button needs to be pressed again to power it after the safety cord is put back on.) Pressing the start/stop button also stops the auger if it is running.

Built-in safety features include:

  • Deactivation of the sweep auger if communication is lost between the transmitter and receiver.
  • Quick deactivation by a pull cord on the remote (similar to one found on a treadmill). This also deactivates the auger if the remote happens to fall off the operator.
  • An e-stop button on the receiver box stops the sweep from that location.

Nohl says his total material cost was about $300. A 9-volt battery gives the remote about 15 hours of run time.

“We also have a new grain bin with an integral power sweep. With some minor modifications, I plan to make this device usable in that bin, as well,” he says.   

Nohl has also used radio transmitters to install a cab display for the scale reading on his planter. He plans to do the same for the grain cart, explaining that this is an inexpensive alternative to iPads and cellular data plans.

“On our farm, I can pursue my interests in improving and automating equipment, and I appreciate that,” he says.  

A $2,500 winner
Nohl is the next recipient of a $2,500 Firestone in-store credit offer for having his idea chosen as the Idea of the Month.

More about Jon Nohl
Minnesota farm: Jon Nohl grows corn, dry beans, and sugar beets with his dad, DeWayne, and brothers Gary, Kevin, and Michael in Hancock. They also finish hogs. 

Wife and kids: Nohl and his wife, Sally, have three sons and four daughters, ages 1 to 14. 

Next project: He will add his own flow meter to monitor fertilizer application (fertigation) through center pivots.

Hobbies: Nohl is interested in all things electrical, and he also enjoys spending time with his family.



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