Tri-States Grain Conditioning General Manager, Dan Winkowitsch, takes the mystery out of setting up your new GrainTRAC. Go from making frequent trips to your bins to quickly checking all of them remotely in a few easy steps.
When many people purchase GrainTRAC, it’s with the idea of installing it themselves. Once it arrives though, they may ask themselves, How can I possibly go forward on this? There are all these wires. Never fear. It’s as easy to connect GrainTRAC as it is to play a matching game. And we’re going to show you how right here.
Getting Started with GrainTRAC Setup
Well, we start with the detailed easy-to-follow instructions that come with the GrainTRAC unit and go back to the basics. Remember, all temperature monitoring systems have one or more cables hanging in the grain bin. And those cables have sensors on them. They hang down inside the grain mass. TSGC cables are blue.
Once the cables are in place, either newly installed or from an existing portable system, a lead wire comes out of the top of the cable. The lead wire goes from the blue temperature cable, and hooks into the GrainTRAC unit on your bin. That’s what we’ll be working with – that lead wire.
But before you connect a lead wire to the GrainTRAC unit on your bin, you have to get it ready. If you have a temperature monitoring cable with six sensors, your lead wire will have one group of wires inside. If your cable is longer, and has 12 sensors, you’ll have two groups of wire inside. And if your cable has 18 sensors, you’ll have three groups of wires inside your lead wire.
The following video shows you how to strip, separate, splice and crimp these wires. For GrainTRAC, you only need to strip and separate the wires into their groups of six. Watch how simple it is to prepare your lead wire for connecting to your GrainTRAC unit.
Stripping and grouping wires in a lead wire – watch up to 5:03 in the video.
Creating a Data Path from the Bin to You
Now your lead wire is ready. You’re going to take it and run it through the conduit, bringing it up into the unit. Once you have it inside, you’ll separate out your three groups of wires. (This depends on how many sensors are on your temperature cable. Six sensors = one group of wires, twelve sensors = two groups, and 18 sensors = three groups.)
We’re going to work with the white group, so fold back the brown group and the orange group, if your cable has them. Now, once you’ve separated out your white group of wires from your lead wire, you’re ready for the instructions that come with the unit.
Most of us who’ve worked with machines and electrical devices all our lives resist reading the instructions. But if you don’t read the instructions that show how to connect GrainTRAC, you won’t hook it up right. That will only make it take longer.
Inside the instructions, you’ll find a sensor board diagram. Remember from a couple months back when we talked about the basics of GrainTRAC, there’s a clear path for grain temperature data in your bin to you.
Temperature cable sensors read the temperatures in your grain at various points. That collected information is sent to the sensor board via the lead wire, and is passed on to Crop Link. From there, it’s sent through a modem that delivers a message to a secure server. You log in on your computer and retrieve the information from the server. Pretty straightforward.
Connecting to the GrainTRAC Sensor Board
The sensor board diagram in the instruction manual will show you exactly which wire you hook up in which spot. If you refer to it conscientiously, it will work well for you.
To get started, you’ll need an ink pen. That’s a tool everyone has access to. Make sure your unit is unplugged and turned off before you hook this up.
Take the white wire, also called the common/constantan wire, and depress the tab above the Cable 1 slot with your ink pen, slide the wire into the slot, and release the tab. Now you’ve got it in place.
The next wire is always going to be your black wire. Looking at the sensor board diagram, you’ll see a row of sensor slots on the left side of the board. They’re numbered Sensor 1 to Sensor 32 top to bottom. You’ll do the same thing. Depress the tab next to the Sensor 1 slot with your pen, insert the black wire, and release the tab.
Connect the rest of the wires from the lead wire to the sensor board the same way. Note that the sensors on the temperature cable in your grain bin read from bottom to top. Sensor 1 is at the bottom of your bin cable and Sensor 6, 12, or 18 is at the top. The number of sensors on your cable determines if you have 6, 12, or 18 wires to connect.
Matching Wire Colors to the Sensor Board Diagram
So, assuming you have a cable in your bin with six wires, you already connected Sensor 1, which is black. The rest of the wires in this group go in this order: Sensor 2 – blue, Sensor 3 – green, Sensor 4 – red, Sensor 5 – yellow, and Sensor 6 – clear. Now you have Cable 1 from your bin connected to the sensor board.
If your cables are longer, they’ll have more sensors, either 12 or 18. The common/constantan wire for the next group of six wires is brown. The sensor wires are color coded the same as the first group. They go in slots 7 through 12. The common/constantan wire for the last group, if you have 18 sensors on your cable, is orange. The sensor wires are again color coded the same as the first group. They go in slots 13 through 18.
All common/constantan wires from a single cable go in a single slot. So if your cable in your grain bin has six sensors on it, the white constantan connects to the Cable 1 slot. If your cable has 12 sensors, both the white and brown constantans go in the Cable 1 slot. If your cable has 18 sensors, all three (white, brown, orange) constantans go in the Cable 1 slot.
Connecting More Cable Lead Wires to GrainTRAC
You’re now ready to connect Cable 2 to your sensor board, doing exactly what you did with Cable 1. It’s extremely important to note that sensors 1 through 32 are numbered top to bottom. But sensors 33 to 63 on the right side are numbered bottom to top.
Let’s say you’re connecting two cables from your bin to the sensor board. And let’s imagine they each have 18 sensors. Cable 1 will take up the first 18 slots from top to bottom on the left side. Cable two will take up the remaining 14 slots on the left side. You’ll still have four sensor wires left to connect. You’ll connect those wires to slots 33 through 36 on the right side, going bottom to top.
Also keep in mind that there are only 62 usable slots per sensor board (sensor slot 63 is not used). So, let’s say you have four of the longest cables with 18 sensors each. Those four cables would take 72 slots. Your sensor board has room for 62 slots. That means that only three cables could connect to the sensor board. Your fourth cable would need to be connected to a second sensor board. You can’t connect some of the sensors to one board, and some to another.
When you have connected all the sensor wires to their slots according to the instructions, you’ll turn GrainTRAC on. The on switch is to the right of the battery on the main communication board. You can see it in the photo below.
Working Together to Manage Your Stored Grain Remotely
Once you’ve turned on your GrainTRAC system, call Tri-States Grain Conditioning at 800 438 8367. We’ll make sure you were able to connect GrainTRAC correctly, or we’ll help you if something is wrong. Your system will be up and running, and you’ll be very happy with GrainTRAC.
Now you’ve seen for yourself how easy it is to install GrainTRAC or to upgrade from a portable unit. Why would you wait any longer? You can manage the grain in all your grain bins remotely from the comfort of your home, or anywhere. GrainTRAC is easy to install, and it’s easy to use.
If you’re ready to make the move to remote grain monitoring, call one of our GrainTRAC specialists for a free quote. They’re ready to get you started with GrainTRAC, and provide you with the tech support you need.
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