The Topcon AES-35 retrofit autosteer system now has a smaller and stronger motor, and there’s a fresh AGS-2 receiver on offer. How well do they perform?

Now that most tractor makers offer a branded autosteer system on new product, is there still a case for retrofit? Japanese GPS wizard Topcon certainly thinks so, and of course it’s always useful to buy a system that can (in principle, if not practice) readily be moved between tractors, sprayers or harvest machinery.

We last looked at Topcon’s solution way back in 2010, liking its quiet and smooth operation. Since then, the steering unit — a replacement wheel with integrated electric motor — has morphed into the AES-35, gaining power and shedding depth. For this test we’ll look briefly at system setup, then in more detail at field performance.

Still quiet
After using a puller to crack off the tractor’s standard steering wheel, the AES-35 went on easily. Like its forebearer, it operates virtually without noise and with no vibration. It’s fast, spinning the wheel at up to 150rpm if needs be, and is now weatherproof. Although the unit is slimmer, the test Case IH Maxxum 130’s
column stalks were still out of comfortable reach; convenience in other applications will vary. But full column adjustment remains, which is a definite plus. Autosteer engagement is initially by a rocker switch on the unit, then either from Topcon’s X35 display or from a floor switch. Foot operation is a good option while hands are busy at headlands.

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