Hello all! Yes I ran away - temporarily. I had gotten so far behind on farming, maintenance, building, all the usual things and really needed to focus on that for a while. It is so very easy to start answering questions, write some new code, test some ideas and poof the hours tick by. This project can use up more time then i ever thought was possible. I really should have said that 4 months ago, for that I apologize. Covid as you know has greatly complicated life and like many of your countries Canada is struggling.
So maybe it is time for some realities. AgOpenGPS was only ever supposed to be a section control project that turned my air seeder off and on using GPS from an onboard existing unit. It really took off, algorithms for many of the usual guidance and features were discovered and the project grew to where it is now - almost too complicated. So many great ideas keep coming in, features, languages, code, really good stuff. But the one thing that keeps it from growing now is me. I am just a hack programmer, learned C# building AgOpenGPS, put together a collection of ideas that seems to work ok. But the code is very difficult to expand. Changing a small thing turns into hours of rewriting and changes throughout the program. Willingness to accept many different types of hardware/boards/gps etc further greatly complicate the project.
Daniel over the past few months has added many really cool features, fixed up a LOT of the code, removed duplicate code etc. I almost don’t even know how it works anymore lol. The version still needs to be finished and is a huge task yet gong forward. I am unsure whether to just fix some of the necessary changes that should be for v4.3 or just wait for v5 with significant changes. You can see it on the unstable branch of the AOG repository.
There also is Drive. It has become the test bed to try algorithms, and for me the fundamental getting the position, the heading, fixing roll and offset properly has really become my focus. Not mincing words, it is quite difficult to do. You can’t calculate roll for example and how far the antenna moves over until you have a heading - but you can’t calculate heading till you start moving - but you can’t calculate your correct position - so how do you calculate where you are??? Well it seems the answer is time travel, oh yes it is possible and required.
The other challenge is draft, the tractor is pointing one way but heading in a different direction. Not even dual antenna solves those problems. And these are very real fundamental problems that need attention. No amount of cool features made or fancy graphics will solve those problems. The BNO055 is no end of aggravation as well. Some new chips and firmware look to be quite promising so a single CMPS14 can do all the imu duties again greatly simplifying hardware.
Being able to reliably detect backing up, and autosteer in reverse and forward are really handy, these concepts need some work and need that work first. A guidance line is just a set of points - right now they are all separate with each line having all the guidance code separate as well. Make 1 line that can represent all the different types and greatly simplify. These are fundamental program requirements.
So Drive has become a place to figure out some of these huge challenges and that is my focus for now. I hope to make a video on time travel and knowing what direction we’re heading soon to help explain. But I think Drive can also be much more - a simple guidance program without all the bells and whistles, simple to use, simple to set up etc.
So we are at a bit of a crossroads. Where do you see AgOpenGPS heading? There are the realities of time, we all farm, do we risk blowing up the whole project by thinking too big? Would someone like to take over the project management? I suck at project management - would be the very best thing for AOG. Does Drive have a fit for those who just want autosteer and way less buttons? All the autonomous stuff is another huge discussion. How do we progress or even maintain a project that normally would have 15 to 20 full time skilled paid people in an open source sharing environment that is all volunteer?
Your thoughts greatly appreciated on AOG’s future.