As I write this, we are less than two weeks removed from the most recent ISOBUS Plugfest, held at the Maritim Hotel in Stuttgart the week of 16 October 2017. As in past years, the Plugfest itself was held Tuesday-Thursday while several other AEF meetings were scheduled Monday-Friday. The Plugfest this year was either the biggest ever, or at least quite close (I do not keep track of all the numbers from prior Plugfests). We had over 150 participating engineers with 130 products testing in over 3000 different test slots. The participants, plus the visitors, made the total attendance close to 250 people. Kudos to the Maritim staff for putting up with that many AEF people for the week!
I, personally, only spent just over one day at the Plugfest, as I was in AEF meetings the other two days. Wednesday morning was the AEF General Assembly meeting, during which we learned about the 2018 objectives and budget and also witnessed the election of a new AEF treasurer. Wednesday afternoon was the AEF Conference Day, which had several speakers covering various Big Data concepts as they relate to Ag electronics. The speakers came from both inside AEF project teams and outside the AEF altogether and this mix of internal and external experts gave a very comprehensive view of this rapidly expanding subject matter. On Thursday, I joined the Communications & Marketing project team again as we discussed ways to better engage member companies and share the AEF message to end users and dealers. Then on Friday, after Plugfest was over, I joined the Engineering & Implementation project team meeting to learn about a variety of technical initiatives that AEF is working to incorporate for future ISOBUS features. Had I really wanted to (which I did not), I could have joined project team meetings on Monday and/or Tuesday as well, but my week was busy enough with what I already planned so I called it good there.
As promised in a previous blog post, DISTek had both a server station (running an ISOBUS display) and a client (implement ECU) participating at Plugfest. Our server station was our recently beta-released VT Server application running on a PC with a USB-CAN dongle, but we have customers also integrating this on ruggedized displays and are planning to offer it for commercial tablets soon. Our ISOBUS client was a customer application of our VIRTEC ISOBUS stack, similar to other applications we have had at Plugfest in the past. One of our customer implementations has successfully passed the UT 2.0 AEF conformance test and, based on a modification to the code tested at Plugfest, should also pass the AUX-N 1.0 AEF conformance test.
I have said it before, but I will say it again: If you work in the field of Ag electronics, or any rugged off-highway electronics, you owe it to yourself to visit a day of Plugfest. The traditional Wednesday conference day is a great opportunity to hear some big-picture talks about AEF and the industry, as well as visit the Plugfest, but if Wednesday does not work then come on Tuesday or Thursday to witness the Plugfest and what it is all about. The next Plugfest will be in May 2018 in Lincoln, NE, or you can wait until we go to Bologna, Italy, in September.