Carlson SurvCE – a Data Collection Review (Part 1)

Lately, I’ve had quite a few people ask me “Jason, what’s the best data collector out there for me to use?” My answer is almost always going to be “whatever fits your company” – in other words, there is no blanket answer here. In my lifetime, I’ve put my hands on quite a few data collectors, from the HP41 running Hayes data collection (looked like a garage door opener) to a HP48GX running TDS (and SMI as well), to Leica Onboard, to TDS Rangers and Recons running TDS Survey software, and now I’m working with a Carlson Explorer 600+ running Carlson SurvCE with the GPS, Robotics, and Roads modules. Today, I will start my review of this data collector and let you figure out for yourself if this is a data collector for you.

First of all, if you’d like to follow along with the review and get the software in your hands to review as well, you can request a demo from Carlson here. Once you get the “play at home game”, you can now click on “More” to figure out how this software works.

How about reviewing this one screen at a time? Since each screen has multiple menus on it, that may be a bit easier. So today, we will start out working with the main screen, which can be seen below:

This is the File tab. It’s the basic “let’s get started” area of the software, where you’ll set up how your data collector works and then set up new jobs. It’s also where you will export and import data and exit the program. The submenus are pretty simplistic, which we’ll see below…

Tapping 1 (or pressing the 1 button – you have a full keyboard and a touch screen) will bring up the job menu. This allows you to open existing jobs or create new ones. Also lets you change your default storage location on the collector.

Option #2 takes you to the Job Settings tab. This allows you to set up everything regarding your job settings. Boy, that was pretty self-explanatory….here’s where you set how your GPS works, how you do stakeout, defaults for new jobs, your units, and options for how the program acts and feels.

Option #3 lets you view and edit points in your current project.

Option #4 takes you to the Configure Reading screen. This lets you choose how many readings to take with either a total station or GPS – it also configures displays for stakeouts (go north/south or to/from)

Option 5 takes you into the Code List window – where you can set up functions for automated linework and description key codes. MUCH more about that at a later date…

Option 6 is the data transfer tab. You have four choices – Carlson transfer, generic Kermit, SDR, and TDS transfer. I typically don’t use this since I’ve got the Explorer 600+ model – it has bluetooth, so I do a FTP download straight from the HD to my computer…no cables necessary!!!

Option 7 lets you export or import an ASCII (or TXT) file. Perhaps the simplest method of getting points from that nice orange and blue data collector into a format that Civil 3D can use…

Option 8 is the delete file screen. Do I REALLY need to explain this one???

Option 9 allows you to enter notes into the current CRD file. Any notes you want. No, really, any notes. Don’t talk bad about your survey drafter, though, because he or she may read said notes and get their feelings hurt.

Option 0 (the last one) is the exit button. Pressing that gives me nothing to post here with SnagIt – it exits the program. Again, does this really need explanation?

Coming soon, we go to the second tab, the Equipment tab!

Have fun!

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