April 6, 2015

As I am writing this there is snow falling, but in the last couple of weeks I have been in shorts one day and had my winter boots on the next week. That’s the beauty and charm of Minnesota some say. To me it means that almost every stitch of clothes I own are scattered throughout my van! In the morning its jeans and a hoody and by the end of the day it is shorts and a t-shirt.

Regardless of weather one of the questions most of us that are in Land Surveying get asked from our clients as we meet them on their property is “What are you guys looking at through that thingy”. Let’s start by saying the “thingy” is our total station. It is a machine that measures angles and distances, and it is not a camera in the general sense of the word. But I guess I haven’t answered the basic question being asked: What are we looking at through that thingy! We are looking at another Land Surveyor who is holding a rod that has a prism on it. So the easy answer is we are looking at another surveyor. The more difficult question is how does that relate to what we are doing at the time.

So we are looking through our total station, measuring angles and distances to generate co-ordinates for specific points. These points have data that tells us the direction and distances between points and the difference of elevation between these points. This is now done by computers, but if you’re a “seasoned surveyor” such as myself you know that this is derived from complicated math formulas which us “seasoned surveyors” had to do without the aid of computers many years ago. Now we have computers that generate these points by accurately measuring angles and distances and doing those formulas in the matter of mili-seconds.  I fondly look back at the good old days of doing these by hand, but I much prefer the computer to do the work.

At Advance Surveying and Engineering we have taken it one step further and we are using what we call a robotic total station. The difference between the above mentioned total station and the robotic total station is the word robotic. So we now have instruments that have servos built into them to track a prism on the end of the road, thus making our field crews more efficient.

So whether you see someone looking through that thingy, or you just see that thingy, please remember that there is a person holding a rod out there and if you are driving please be aware of that person and help to keep us safe.

We at Advance Surveying and Engineering really enjoy sharing this information with our clients when we see them on site. Once our field work is complete, but before we leave, please ask us for a demonstration on this equipment. It is really fascinating instruments that are fun to operate and fun to watch.