WatchDog: It's Like Magic

My Generation

GSI's dryer monitoring systems has made our life easier (and safer) during Harvest11.

Published on: October 6, 2011

Remember my husband's little brush with farm un-safety? Well, after I wrote about it last year, the good folks at GSI contacted us and said they occasionally like to have farmers try out their products. They thought we might be, ahem, good candidates for one of their WatchDog dryer monitoring units.

Essentially, the WatchDog lets you remotely monitor your dryer, via internet access or direct connect – from the house, smartphone, farm, wherever. Or in other words, you don't have to get up in the night, drive to the dryer, check the dryer, fall out of the dryer, get knocked out, wake up and drive yourself home. In fact, you don't even have to leave your bed!

It's beautiful, really. And, factoring in sleep and safety, may well be worth the $2,330 price tag.

Illinois harvest safety

This is what checking the dryer has amounted to this fall: the laptop next to the bed. John gets more rest, during what is the most draining and stressful time of the year for him. And I get peace of mind, knowing he is less likely to sustain a head injury in the middle of the night. I really appreciate that.

From the laptop, John can do everything but fire up the dryer. He can shut it down, he can check temperatures, adjust heat and drying settings and monitor grain flow. It's like magic.

It didn't take long to set up either. Our GSI dealer brought the computer board by one day earlier this fall. It took John about 10 minutes to mount it inside the Vision Control box. He figures he spent another 15 minutes setting up the WatchDog with internet address numbers.

How we came to get an internet connection at the dryer site is another story. We had done some checking last winter and learned we had three choices:
1/         Direct connect. If the dryer's within 1,500 feet of a house with a computer, you can run a cable from the house to the dryer. No internet necessary. (No dice for us; house is 3 miles from dryer.)
2/         Cellular modem. From a cellular company, a cell modum is installed inside the dryer control box, connecting the dryer to the internet. (This would've been an option for us but an expensive one. The modem ran $800-900, then a monthly $9 fee. However, the company we spoke with couldn't confirm that the monthly fee wouldn't increase based on usage. They were a little sketchy on a lot of details, actually.)
3/         Ethernet connection. A stand-alone internet connection, at the dryer. (This is what we did.)

As it turned out, a neighboring farmer had been talking to DerbyNet, a local internet service provider, about getting internet service at his farm. At that time, DerbyNet told him they didn't offer service in his area but if they could get an antennae "on top of that grain leg down the road" (that would be ours), the farmer could get service. So the neighbor talked to John and John called DerbyNet. They were a dream to work with; they said if he could find five people willing to sign on, they'd put up the antennae. John found eight; several more are waiting for contracts on their current service to expire, then will sign on with DerbyNet.

(Score for one more option for rural internet access.)

Once the antennae was in place and an internet connection was secured, it was a matter of hooking up wires and connecting the WatchDog with a laptop. Basically, John followed the instructions in the WatchDog manual and it all worked like a charm. We can even check it from my iPhone.

The verdict? Handy. Safer. Easy. Smooth as butter.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    hmmm

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ive heard Delux Grain Dryers have something similar to this coming out next year. I will definately be getting it for my dryer!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hear that the Mathews Company have MCtrax - You can see all the important dryer information on a simple browser / smart phone device while you're picking corn. Installation is simple - They have it down to a box, ac adapter and two Ethernet cables.

  5. H. Spangler says:

    Oh, boo for waiting on cell modems - I hope it comes through soon. And the combination of eras...that's so perfect! I hadn't noticed that but you're so right. That '80s alarm clock was my husband's from (probably) high school. And I bet you know why we can't replace it, right? ...because it still works...

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great Product. I do love the combination of eras in that photo. Antique nightstand, quilt, 80's era alarm clock and laptop with wireless internet. That is farm life today!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I'm looking forward to being able to use it, unfortunately I have been waiting on a cellular modem for over a month, and still no answer when I will get it. And, from what I understand, I am not the only one in that boat.