PowerbyProxi > John Deere

John Deere

Wireless Power and Data transmission to ‘joint’ sensors on Seeder machinery


Phoenix International (now known as John Deere Electronic Solutions) commissioned PowerbyProxi to develop and supply a wireless power and data supply system for use in John Deere Seeder sensors.

Phoenix required a solution which would overcome limitations with wired systems to allow sensing at the Seeder joint.  Hard wiring for this application posed several problems; firstly physical wiring was prone to failure through wear and tear, secondly wires became impractical due to the in-line swivel joint, and thirdly,  frequent placement and recharging of batteries incurred high maintenance costs.


Seeder application:

A seeder is a machine for sowing seeds mechanically.  Sensors are used on Seeders to improve performance and extend the lifetime of the machine itself.   In particular it is desirable to sense both pressure on the Seeder wheels (via a strain gauge or proximity sensor) and also the speed of each Seeders’ wheel – this information will allow feedback of:

  1. Track depth – to provide control of the depth of seed plantation and soil compaction;
  2. Wheel speed – to provide accurate control of seed spacing (this is particularly important in large seeder arrays when turning)

With this end in mind, sensing of wheel pressure and speed require sensors to be mounted on the wheel thus creating unique power and data supply challenges.

The Challenge:

Getting power to the Seeder sensor and returning data

PowerbyProxi proposed  a system that would allow sensors to receive power and data wirelessly while mounted on the rotating or pivoting shaft.

In addition to a wireless approach, two other potential solutions were considered:

  1. Hard wiring a power supply from the tractor battery or sensor power supply network. This was deemed to unreliable and impractical given the in-line swivel joint and need for power supply through a rotational joint. In addition, the variable dig depth of the Seeder would create some further reliability challenges for a hard wire solution.
  2. The other viable alternative involves a battery based solution – this was deemed inconvenient and impractical for end users given the cost, difficulty and inconvenience associated with frequent battery replacement across multiple seeders.
The Solution:  Wireless Sensors

The solution will be based on PowerbyProxi’s wireless slip ring technology, customized to meet the requirements of the sensing at the Seeder wheel.

The proposed solution included a transmitter to be located on the stationary part of the Seeder joint (powered by the tractor battery), with the corresponding receiver located on the swivel section of the joint.

Phoenix seeder

Through alignment of the transmitter and receiver,  power and data was able to be transferred between the stationary part of the seeder joint and swivel section, without direct contact.

About John Deere Electronic Solutions (formally Phoenix International):

John Deere Electronic Solutions (JDES) strengthens and further differentiates John Deere’s global business by developing reliable and rugged electronic components and systems that function under the most extreme conditions which provide differentiating advanced technologies for Deere equipment, thereby increasing our end customers’ productivity.