Carlson SurvCE – a Data Collection Review (Part 2)

Last week, I started showing you Carlson SurvCE, a data collection package that runs on your Windows CE 5.0 enabled handheld computer. We took a look at the first tab, the file tab. Today, we’re going to take a look at the second tab, equipment.

Click More to go find out what the equipment tab is all about…

Carlson SurvCE supports two main types of instruments, GPS and conventional (total station.) To get GPS and Conventional Robotic functionality, you have to purchase those options. Since our demo comes with all options, we will take a look at the differences between Conventional and GPS.

First, take a look at the top of your screen, near the middle. You will see an icon that looks like either a GPS rover or a small total station. This indicates whether you are in GPS mode or Conventional mode.

As you may notice in the somewhat fuzzy image above (I blurred it to highlight the icon), I have 5 options on this tab. If I select a GPS instrument, I have may more options (10 choices, as a matter of fact…)

As you can see, the icon looks like a small GPS receiver, which means that we are in GPS mode. So let’s take a look at our options.

Option 1 lets us select our instrument. Most brands of GPS and conventional total stations are available. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t find one that was missing, even some of the older WILD models (anyone remember the T-16? I’ve used one…) There are even quite a few instruments out there that I didn’t recognize, but there’s nothing surprising there. For people wanting to see a demo, there’s a very generic GPS simulation instrument that you can select to get a feel for how the GPS data collection works. Here’s a hint about that, though – you can’t configure the base or the rover in simulation mode. For this particular post, I will be using the Leica Series 500 GPS model to show you the various options. As I stated before, the options for conventional data collection are pretty much the same, just more limited.

The next two options (2 and 3) allow us to configure the base and the rover – options not allowed in conventional mode. Here, we select the sensor type and antenna type of the unit that we’re using. This is also where we put in our antenna height and elevation masking. Once you get that selected the next menu requires you to set your initial position – options are to read from GPS, enter Latitude/Longitude, or Enter Grid System Coordinates. You can also use known positions, including a previously surveyed point or local coordinates. NExt, you are required to enter the number of samples that you want to take when storing a GPS reading – max number of readings is 999. (Note: I can’t show this, because it errors out if I’m actually selecting data – since it’s not connected to a base, it gives me error messages. Play along at home with your version and you’ll see what I’m talking about) Configuring the rover is pretty much the same, just not as many options (because it gets it’s data from the rover.) Here is what it looks like:

Next, we go to option 4, which is receiver utilities. This is where we power on or off the receiver and set the radio channel or radio type. This is where we will really set up the communications between the base and rover.

Option 5 is the GPS Localization screen. You have two options here – by points or by Helmert. If you already have known points, those will be good to use – it’s how we do things here (another note: Alabama DOT has come in and set very good control in every township/range in the state to allow surveyors to (relatively) quickly tie into state plane coordinates, so our job is pretty easy when we do GPS work)

Option 6 is the monitor/skyplot feature. This allows us to see in real-time what our northing and easting is, along with various precision readings (GDOP, TDOP, HDOP) and the latency. The second part lets us see our lat/long and what our elevations are based on the GEOID file that we have loaded (it gives boh ellipsoid and ortho elevations.) The SATView option lets us see where in the sky the satellites are, and SATInfo lets us know which satellites are useable or not. The Ref option tells us information about our reference station.

Option 7 is the Tolerances tab – this allows us to define the HRMS and VRMS tolerances that tell us if our position is fixed or floating. It also allows us to set up our stakeout tolerances.

Option 8 is the Comm Setup option – allows us to set up how our data collector communicates with our units. For those of you lucky enough to be using Bluetooth-enabled receivers AND the Carlson Explorer 600+, you can connect to your receiver wirelessly. VERY sweet….it’s how I download points to my computer, by the way…

Option 9 allows us to configure Peripherals. What are peripherals, you may ask? How about laser finders, depth sounders, and light bars? All of those can be set up here, along with how they communicate with the collector.

The last Option (option 0) is “About SurvCE” – it shows what software version you’re running, and what modules are enabled. If you buy an additional module, you can activate it here by clicking on “Change Registration”

Later this week (hopefully) – The Survey tab (we’re ACTUALLY going to collect data here!!!)

Have fun!

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