What to Look for When Choosing a Wireless HDD Guidance System


A wireless, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) guidance system consists of a transmitter unit attached to the drill rig and a receiver unit attached to the bottom of the drill string. The two units communicate with one another through radio frequencies using antennae. The resulting communication allows for real-time data collection, which enables the precision placement of pipe.

Precision installation is necessary for many hdd projects, including boring underneath rail lines and highway overpasses, drilling through dams with minimal surface disturbance, creating access tunnels with no ceiling collapse, and laying pipelines with little to no disruption to existing ones infrastructure.

The following is a list of the most important factors to consider when choosing a wireless HDD guidance system:


When choosing wireless guidance, accuracy should be chosen carefully because it may need to stretch across areas with challenging radio frequency interference.



You must define the purpose of your HDD system. Is it strictly to have a wireless connection, or is it a full turn-key solution that includes wireless rig controls? Knowing this information will allow you to narrow down which product(s) you should be looking at.

Size of Drill Pipe


You must look at the available drill pipe sizes your rig is capable of running and determine if the HDD system can handle those pipe sizes.

In order to send a signal, only one wire needs to be run down the drill pipe to provide power for both the data collector and the joystick. However, if you would like an additional wireless rig control, you may need to run separate wires for each component. If this is your case, then it’s also important that your RSS (remote switch station) has enough output channels to run all of your necessary circuits.



You will also want to ensure that the wireless technology you choose can work at up to 500 feet below ground level or to depth, if applicable. While most HDD systems are only rated for approximately 300 feet below grade, so it’s important to be sure which products can meet your particular depth requirements.



You will need to look at each product’s frequency and determine which is right for the hdd projectst. You should choose one that runs in the 900 Mhz range to ensure it doesn’t interfere with wireless devices such as two-way radios and cell phones.



Lastly, you will want to look at the cost associated with each product and compare that to the features you will need. While it might be enticing to go with a slightly cheaper option, you also don’t want to end up paying more in the long run for something that doesn’t meet your needs and/or isn’t compatible with your rig.

One of the most common complaints about HDD guidance systems is interference from other wireless devices such as two-way radios and cell phones. In order to ensure that doesn’t happen, make sure you choose a product that runs in the 900 Mhz range.

Each HDD guidance system varies in price based on which additional features it includes and whether or not it needs separate wires for each wireline option. However, it’s important to remember you get what you pay for, and the most expensive product is not necessarily going to be your best option.

It may also help to consider a turn-key solution that includes wireless rig controls. Not only will this take care of your wireless needs, but you will also have a proven product that has been used on many HDD jobs.

In Conclusion…

Choosing the right system for an HDD project, whether it be at a long-distance or short-range, can be difficult if you don’t know what you are looking for. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing any wireless HDD guidance system, including the type of machine, the depth you need, accuracy and speed, among other things.

It’s important to know your specifications before making any purchases or even thinking about getting involved in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) activities.